Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Whoever draws first blood owns the deer…

Deer seasons are opening all over the country. Archers always
get the first crack at them and then the rifle, shotgun and
muzzleloader hunters get their chance. Every year it seems there
are more than a few confrontations between hunters about who gets
the dead deer. I just saw a recent post
where a melee over a carcass caused some injuries that sent a
couple of the hunters in for first aid.

What typically happens is the deer gets shot by someone but the
wounded animal runs some distance where it is shot by another
hunter and finally drops. Who should the deer belong to? The hunter
who drew first blood, or the hunter who put the last shot into

It’s hard to make the claim that it should be the hunter that made
the kill shot because the first shot might have been a kill shot.
The deer just had enough adrenaline pumping to get it in range of
another hunter. Maybe that first shot would have caused the animal
to succumb.

There was a situation last season where a young hunter (12 years
old) in Minnesota shot a deer on public land that made it onto some
private property where it died and the landowner claimed it. The
grandfather of the boy whined and howled and wailed about the
injustice of the situation but it didn’t faze the landowner who
kept the deer.

I wrote a story in the Outdoor News a couple of years ago about the
hunter who was on a corner where private and public land
intersected. He could see another hunter in a stand on the private
property shoot two does that ran down to within about 20 yards of
his stand and died. He finally wandered up to the shooter’s stand,
took some heated verbal abuse for trespassing and then explained
that the two deer that he shot were laying dead by his tree stand
on the public land. The private-land hunter admitted that he
thought he had missed both does and after inspecting the two dead
deer tried to talk the hunter who had informed him into taking the
small doe he had shot. That wasn’t going to happen as the
public-land hunter was holding out for a buck. Additional hunters
from the private-land group finally got called over and one decided
to use his tag on the smaller doe.

So whose deer is it anyway? Does the first shot count or the second
shot? Does the place where the deer falls, public or private land,
make the determination? These questions will be asked as they are
every year because this situation always arises.

Here is my take on it. Whoever draws first blood owns the deer,
even if they only nick it in the rear-end. Should I hear a shot and
a deer come running into my range and I drop it with a well placed
bullet and then find two holes in it, if another hunter wanders
over and says he shot it first, it’s his or her deer, no matter how
big the rack.

Now if a twelve year old comes along after I shoot a big buck and
says he wounded the deer, even if I don’t find but one hole in it –
mine, I’m going to help him gut it and drag it to wherever his
hunting mentor is parked. I believe in what goes around comes
around and there will be a bigger buck just around the tree line
for this good deed.

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