New York Hunter Safety Course


Shot Placement

Shot placement is crucial to achieving a quick, clean harvest of game animals. Since hunters do not want to wound a game animal and have it run away and not be found, it is every hunter's responsibility to first practice at a range, and study about the animal being hunted, to ensure that they can place a shot successfully. A properly placed shot should be made in the vital organs of the animal, such as the heart and lung area.

Tracking a Wounded Animal

After taking a shot, wait for at least 15 to 20 minutes before retrieving the game animal. Patience is a must at this point. Remember that if the game animal does not drop immediately after having been shot, it will try to hide in a safe place. It is every hunter’s responsibility to find any animal they wounded. This calls for patience and persistence, so take your time and be thorough.

When tracking the game animal, look for signs that it was shot - drops of blood on the ground or on plants are good signs. Take time to observe everything in the immediate area. You might find some hair or feathers on the ground or see a trail in the direction that the game animal ran. It is a good idea to carry some blaze orange or other brightly-colored flagging tape with you to mark the blood trail as you move through the bush. This will show the general direction in which the animal ran (be sure to remove any flagging tape when you are done). Should you lose the animal’s trail, return to the last place where there was a clear indication of the animal, and try again. You might have to get close to the ground in order to find small drops of blood. Finding the animal can sometimes take a very long time. However it is your duty as an ethical and responsible hunter to find the animal. Don’t give up.

Approaching a Downed Animal

Once you find the game animal, approach it with caution from the rear. That way, if it is still alive and jumps up, you will not be in its way. If you see any movement from the downed game animal, you will have to take another shot at it - aimed at the base of the skull where it meets the spinal column, or in the heart and lung area. Most game animals will have their eyes open when they expire. Be sure to immediately attach any game or harvest tag as required.