Tracking and Blood Trailing
After you have taken your shot, always assume you have hit your game animal. Watch how the animal reacts to the shot and follow the direction of the animal until it is out of visual range. At this point be patient and wait 10-15 minutes before heading to the location of the hit.
This is the time to start blood trailing, and looking for signs that indicate where the animal went after it was shot. Look for blood, bone fragments, hair and fluids on the ground or on leaves to get an idea of the direction the animal went. Most animals that do not expire right away will try to make their way toward a water source.
Take your time and be patient - not all trails will be straight or obvious. Depending on where the animal was shot, the trail might be difficult to follow. If the animal was shot in the heart or liver, you may see large pools of blood, especially if there is an entry and exit wound from your shot. If it was shot in the lungs, there will likely be bright red, frothy blood. In either case, the animal will expire very quickly and should not be too far away.
If the animal was shot in the gut, however, blood drops will be farther apart, and will likely be mixed with clear or yellowish fluid. In this case, the animal will take longer to expire - it is therefore a good idea to wait another 20 minutes before you start to follow the blood trail.
Flag the location of the hit and the blood trail with blaze orange surveyor's tape. If you lose the trail, go back to the last clear indication, and search in increasing circles until you find the next blood drop. It is your responsibility as an ethical hunter to make every effort possible in order to recover the animal. Remember to take your surveyor's tape down before you leave the area.