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Approach Animals from Behind!

Editor's Note by Tim H. Martin: Before you read Matthew McDaniel's tip, I'd like to relate a potentially dangerous instance that occurred while I was on a black bear hunt in Saskatchewan years ago.

One of the hunters in camp had shot a bear and was approaching it with our guide. Its head was down and the hunter was about to walk up right to it, sit down and have his photo made. Fortunately, the guide, who was cautiously easing forward, saw the bear blink. He immediately motioned for the hunter to stop, then shouldered his gun and shot the bear. The "dead" bruin got up in a ball of fury and ran about 50 feet before finally expiring. When approaching downed animals, it pays to be observant!

Approach Animals from Behind!

Now, for our Tip of the Week.

By Matthew McDaniel
Photo by Ryan Noffsinger

My father always taught me that a deer's behavior is often deceptive, especially if it is injured or wounded.

Deer will sometimes play possum, as they do instinctively as a fawn, allowing danger to pass by. Sometimes a deer does this in a semi-conscious state because of an injury, sometimes on purpose.

I'm sure you've heard stories of hunters who thought their deer was dead, only to have it jump up and run away when it was touched.

Here's what you want to do:

Each time you walk toward a downed animal, make sure to approach from its hind end, keeping a close watch on its head and eyes.

If the deer has not expired and is only lying still, it could kick, flail or get up and run away. You do not want to be in its path, especially if it has antlers!

Make sure to watch the deer's eyes to see if it blinks, even if its head is down. Then, from behind the deer, use a long stick or your gun barrel to prod its hind end, then use it to touch the animal's eyeball, too. If it does not blink, it's okay to walk around to the business end. If it blinks, stand back, study the injury and determine whether or not you need to administer a follow-up shot.

This all might seem like common knowledge among hunters, but I'm surprised how many times I see hunters on television walk right to a deer and grab its antlers without doing the above-mentioned tests first. Better safe than sorry!

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