Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Permission to Track

I have been in the situation where I was tracking a deer I had wounded.  I had hair at the site where I hit it.  I had a decent, not great but decent blood trail.

And it was getting dark.  Or it was raining and the blood was washing off the leaves.

Michigan law requires that you have permission to track a wounded deer onto property that does not belong to you.

My moral code requires that the hunter make every ethical effort to 'bring to bag' any animal they have reason to believe they hit.

Trying to contact property owners when under time pressure takes much of the joy out of hunting.

I have six neighbors who have property that abuts mine.  I gave each one of them a copy of a letter very similar to this one.

9870 Somewhere Hwy
Eaton Rapids, Mi 48827
October 9, 2013


This letter gives permission to those people hunting on your property, either you or your invited guests, to track wounded deer onto my property during the 2013 hunting season.

It is my expectation that the person who is tracking the deer saw physical evidence that they hit the deer (blood or hair) before they come onto my property.  It is also my expectation that weapon discipline will be used.  That is, weapons will not be pointed toward the house and the chamber empty unless you see the deer and need to finish the job.

A courtesy call to my cell phone 517-XXX-XXX will be much appreciated as I may be hunting and will want to coordinate when you enter the property.  Heck, I will probably help track the deer and drag it out.

                                                                                                                Eaton Rapids Joe


  1. Good job. Louisiana law lets you enter any property to track a deer, but you must leave your firearm at the last property line where you were legal. In short, if you don't have permission to enter the property, the law allows you to get the deer, but you can't carry your gun. It works for us, and most property owners are understanding and helpful.

  2. That is a decent law. It avoids the charade of "I was just looking for my deer." when they were actually hunting.

    There have been at least two times when I caught up with my deer and it needed another shot.

    My biggest concern is shots 2-through-5 when there is more adrenaline and, possibly, less aiming. Having the pipe empty seemed like a decent compromise.

    One reason that it is important to call ahead is that a hunter is supposed to be sure of his background. That is pretty easy for things like buildings and pastures that don't move. Tracking a deer onto property where another hunter might be could be tragic...not so much that the trackers would be misidentified (although that can happen) but because the hunter might not see the trackers on the other side of a thicket or through the tall grass. Trackers have been known to flush deer that were bedded down. If the deer run through the grass toward a hunter it is possible that the trackers will be down range of a hunter.

  3. I've only had to track one on one occassion, my first bow hunting season where I pretty much nicked a young buck in the ass (and yes, I didn't live that one down for a while) There wasn't much blood but I tracked him anyway. I knew the neighbors and I still worried about someone else thinking I was a deer.

    I saw him the next day (he had an unusual rack) none the worse for wear it seems and let him pass in peace.

    1. Thank-you for taking the time to comment.

      My younger brother and I pretty much took it upon ourselves to learn to hunt. We thought we were doing a mighty fine job of it until my brother finagled an invitation to hunt with the Strimbeck family. They hunted to put meat in the freezer.

      The patriarch was named Cecil...but he preferred to be called Zeke. He was a welder and would repair your broken farm equipment when-ever, where-ever. It could could be sunk axle deep in a peat bog with frozen crust of ice (not uncommon occurance) at 2 AM. He would get out of bed, suck down some coffee, rig it, weld it, run it to test the repair. More than one farmer came back to his field and found the combine parked in the corner of the field with a full bin.

      Zeke was also an elder in one of those little sun-bleached Bible churches. Many of the old ladies in the pews held title to multiple sections of land.

      Zeke's word was gold to those farmers and widows and he, and his party, could hunt ten square miles of prime Michigan farm land.

      Zeke, and the party, would track any animal that ANYBODY shot at. I was with them when they spent 3 hours looking for a deer with NO sign that the shot hit it.

      Granted it was the middle of the day and not a prime time to hunt. But to a young, wet-behind-the-ears hunter it was eye opening.

      Little Bro and I would unload our guns at a deer. We would look for hair (expecting to see one or two bushels based on the magazine articles we had read) then we would stroll down the path we thought the deer took for about 50 paces looking for either a dead deer or 5 gallons of blood.

      We thought we were crappy shots.

      Our shooting improved immensely after getting schooled in deer tracking by Zeke.

      Sadly, Zeke and his wife died in a house fire about 20 years ago.


      PS, thanks for commenting.

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