hunting near deep water - The HuntingPA.com Outdoor Community
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-13-2018, 12:30 AM Thread Starter
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hunting near deep water

When hunting near water, how likely is it for a deer that is shot to run toward deep water that it would need to swim through? They know the area; if they typically swim across there when spooked, will they swim if wounded/dying? I'm trying to evaluate some spots I hunt. Now that I use a climber fairly often, I have a nagging worry of killing a deer and having it float past while I'm trying to scramble down and shed my harness.

Last year I shot a big old doe after she crossed a creek. No fawns with her. Shot was with inline, 75 yards, feet still wet right near the bank, looked/felt like a good hit, and she immediately ran up the bank and out of sight where it is thick with briars. After crossing, I was never positive exactly where she mounted up the bank; blood/hair from the hit was in the water so no help there. After maybe 15 minutes of worry a grid search paid off; one shoulder was destroyed, one lung was hit, but she was still hanging on for a coup de grace. Big old doe, no teeth left, 42 lb of burger plus the neck, even minus one shoulder. Biggest doe I have killed. I felt bad having to shoot her a second time.

Now I am thinking, IF I had seen that deer on my side of the river, and shot it, would it have tried to cross and died mid way across? How common is it for a hit deer to try to cross it can ford? How about water it needs to swim?

I shot another doe with grown up fawns near a wide creek after they had crossed. This one was with crossbow and was a double lung, maybe 8 yards out and 9 yards down, I held really low...she ran full out for 5-6 seconds up along the trail parallel to creek, and then right turn and 12 feet down the bank toward the creek. The fawns followed. I was sure I heard her crash and thrash. I could see a deer stand in the creek and look back, then bounded off across. I was confident the doe was dead, but not sure where. I got down and found the bolt and spitfire destroyed by the rocks; followed the huge blood trail, watched the water as well for her to float by, but found her piled up behind a big log, right before the creek bank. Double lung, 7 seconds, seems about right. But what if that 7 seconds put her in the middle of the flowing creek?

Has anyone lost a deer this way?
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-13-2018, 06:24 AM
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If you are talking about the top front teeth, they don't have top front teeth.

When you are up to your butt in alligators, it is hard to remember your intent was to drain the swamp. Stay focused!
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-13-2018, 07:44 AM
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A friend of mine shot a large buck (multiple arrow in the deer) that swam across the Susquehanna river clear to the other side while they were tracking it.

A few guys kept an eye on the buck while the others hitched up and launched a boat to go after it.
One of the guys (he has hands the size of a 12lb bowling ball) grabbed the buck by the antlers and dragged it into the river to drown.


That being said, I would have no concerns hunting again near deep water myself. It's a non-issue for me.


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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-14-2018, 09:12 AM
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I have watched deer swim over a mile across the Allegheny Reservoir. Deer do not mind swimming at all and they're quite good at it. I don't see how it would be likely or unlikely at all for a wounded to cross or attempt to swim any water. It's just like hills....we may hate having to go up and down them, but deer don't mind at all.
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-14-2018, 09:19 AM
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The Susquehanna River has Islands in the middle between York and Lancaster Counties. When I used to hunt water fowl on the river during deer season I saw deer swim from shore to one of the islands several times, then when the shooting started on the island they would jump in the water and swim back.

When you are up to your butt in alligators, it is hard to remember your intent was to drain the swamp. Stay focused!
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-14-2018, 09:38 AM Thread Starter
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That is how I see it as well; they will cross at will normally, so probably will cross when shot if they think that is the way to get away, or if rest of the group goes that way first. There are some spots I want to hunt but am very leery because I expect their first reaction to danger would be to cross the water. They would end up dying 30 yards out in deep water. Even 15 feet out is too deep. Throw in a climber and I halfway expect to lose a deer that is not a high shoulder rifle shot.


At the same time, if it was that likely, it should have happened enough that people have heard stories of it, and I never have.
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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-14-2018, 10:03 AM
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shot a small 4 point years ago during archery season along muddy creek in crawford county. that buck jumped into the creek, i searched the other side and couldnt find the deer. i went back the next day and found it downstream, in the water, wedged against a small tree that had fallen into the creek. when i gutted it, the insides had ice crystals in it from the water being so cold.


i dont think it was purposely trying to get into the water, i think it was just trying to put as much distance between us as possible. they cross this small creek a lot, not deep enough to swim in a lot in of places, so its easy for them to cross.

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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-14-2018, 10:17 AM
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Years ago my brother shot a nice buck in rifle season it tried to swim across Raystown, it died about halfway across. We didn't have access to a boat so it was never recovered.

Are you really old enough to remember when there were huntable numbers of deer on public land?
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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-14-2018, 10:47 AM
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One time while going across Tioga/Hammond to hunt, 6 deer swam within oars length of our boat. Pretty cool, it didn't seem any more difficult for them than running. I've hunted near large bodies of water or larger streams quite a bit. Have seen wounded game cross larger creeks a few times, but never a large body of standing water. But I'm sure it does happen. Only once have I seen an animal expire in deep water, and we were lucky it drifted to shallow water. Not real fun to retrieve a deer in waste high 40* water, but better than losing it. I'm glad I wasn't the guy who shot the deer and had to get wet.

I would say the odds are generally in your favor of a hit animal staying out of the water, but you should have a retrieval plan in place just in case.
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-14-2018, 11:23 AM
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lost a doe in the clarion river a decade ago. water was high and swift. I shot her about 20 yards from the bank and she made a direct line into the water and got out 30 yards and then expired. There was no way to recover her.
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