How Long Can A Gut Shot Deer Live?

Author: Jacob Smith
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Every shot would instantly kill a game animal in a perfect world, but as hunters, we are aware that this is not always the case. We all try to live as morally and kindly as we can. But almost all of us have made a mistaken hit on a game animal; it just happens. No matter how skilled or experienced you are, you will occasionally miss the mark.

How long can a gut shot deer live? Even though deer can sometimes heal from injuries to their flesh and muscles, a belly shot will always result in death, which usually happens within 12 hours. A gut-shot deer won’t typically travel far unless it is startled, too. If the deer has been hit in the stomach, back out as quietly as you can and then wait as long as you can.

To learn how long does it take a gut-shot deer to die read this article until the end.

How long can a gut shot deer live?

Leave him alone if you are certain that the bullet missed his important organs because they were too far back. A deer with a gut shot may live for more than 24 hours.

This kind of hit will usually result in the deer hunching its back and slowly walking or trotting away, making it easy to identify. Although there may not be much blood, if you are a bowhunter, your arrow will probably tell the whole tale.

With a gut shot, you almost always get a clean pass through because you completely missed the rib cage. The hit was most likely in the paunch if there was no blood and only green or brown remnants of undigested food on the shaft.

The arrow will smell as well. After a shot to the liver or gut, the deer’s tail will frequently be up. The next choice is clear once you have established that the shot was indeed a gut shot: back out.

The need for water will increase as infection from toxins sets in and body temperature rises. Dehydration is exacerbated by septic illness and blood loss.

Although the “water idea” isn’t always true, it’s not unusual to locate a gut-shot animal adjacent to a body of water. It is common to observe several beds next to one another with trace amounts of blood.

If pursued too soon, a deer with a gut shot might travel for miles. Wait at least 8 hours before beginning the trail (weather permitting). Better is twelve hours.

In general, a gut shot deer can live anywhere from a few hours to several days, but this is not a guarantee.

Factors Affecting Gut Shot Deer Survival

There are different factors that can impact the life span of a gut shot deer and some of them are:

Location of the Shot

One of the most important factors affecting the survival of a gut shot deer is the location of the shot. A shot to the liver, for example, is more likely to be fatal than a shot to the intestines.

Type of Weapon Used

The type of weapon used can also play a role in the survival of a gut shot deer. A high-powered rifle, for example, is more likely to cause significant internal damage compared to a bow and arrow.

Health of the Deer Before the Shot

The health of the deer prior to the shot can also impact its survival. A healthy deer is better equipped to handle the physical stress of a gut shot compared to a deer that is already weak or sick.

Immediate Response of the Deer After the Shot

The immediate response of the deer after being shot can also indicate the likelihood of its survival. A deer that immediately runs off, for example, is less likely to survive compared to a deer that remains still for a short period of time.

The survival time of a gut shot deer can also be affected by human intervention. If the deer is located and humanely dispatched as soon as possible, its survival time will be shorter compared to a deer that is left to wander for an extended period of time.

Does a gut shot deer leave a blood trail?

Wait till the morning if your shot was taken at night. The following day, go there and start tracking. Knowing that deer gutted rarely leave much of a blood trail will help you focus your search efforts. Learn how to find a deer with no blood trail.

How long can you wait to gut a deer?

The venison diminishes in quality since the animal does not “bleed out” rapidly. The deer’s blood will deteriorate and destroy the meat if you wait too long to retrieve it. Before pursuing a deer that has been gut shot, bowhunters used to wait eight to twelve hours.

What does a gut shot deer smell like?

My buck, who was in mid-October, occasionally visited the neighbor’s corn pile but largely had green food in his rumen. I double-lunged him, and he raced about 35 yards before being field-dressed in less than 30 seconds. His abdomen had an exact Kalamata olive odor!

How long to give a gut shot deer with a bow?

While there are differences of opinion, it is generally agreed that a deer hit in the heart can be recovered immediately, a deer hit in the double lungs can be tracked in 30 to 90 minutes, a deer hit in the single lung or liver should probably be given closer to 4 to 6 hours, and a deer hit in the gut should be given 8 to 12 hours or more.

What color blood is a gut shot deer?

A stomach shot deer will have blood that is brown to yellowish in hue and may contain partially digested food particles. Usually, the smell of this blood is somewhat filthy. A belly shot to a deer may leave far less blood behind since there is less artery pressure.

Will a gut shot deer mule kick?

You most likely get a good lung/vital area hit if they kick their back legs like they’re doing a mule kick. If the deer hunches up in the middle, a gut shot is likely. After waiting about 15 to 30 minutes, go inspect the impact zone. Finding the arrow can reveal a significant portion of the story if you shot your deer with a bow.


A gut shot is always fatal for deer, and death usually happens within 12 hours. The ideal amount of time is twelve hours, but if the situation calls for returning sooner, attempt to wait at least six hours before starting the track. Then move cautiously and slowly.

Gut-shot You might be able to locate a faint blood trail since deer will bleed. Given that the deer could still be alive, move slowly and silently. There is a fair possibility for a second shot if this is the case. Use of a tracking dog is an even better solution. Actually, they can track a panned deer easily.

Knowing the lay of the land is also helpful. Deer wounded by gunfire frequently, but not always, head to water.


How far will a deer run with a gut shot?

Nearly all deer hit in the gut will lie down within 100 yards.

How long is a shot deer good for?

You might have up to 12 hours if it’s warmer outside, and it isn’t too humid or rainy; any longer and you’re significantly pushing your luck. The greatest amount of time you should wait before the meat begins to spoil is 24 hours if the temperature is colder.

An expert in deer hunting with 10 years of experience in the field and woods. Certified as a hunter by the State of California. I created Deer Hunting Life as my personal blog to share my experience and tips on deer hunting.