Finding dead heads

greekfreak

5 year old buck +
hey guys,

Just curious, what is everyone’s thoughts on finding dead heads when you know who shot them?

Is your first instinct to give it to the hunter? What if he didn’t do his due diligence? What if he perpetually messed up the shot placement? To an ignorant level?

What if it’s the biggest buck the man’s killed?

What if it’s some bozo and the third year in a row you’ve found his buck?

What if he’s a stand up guy and truly made a mistake?

Is there a line? Where’s the lesson learned?

These are questions I ask as someone who finds 6-7 dead heads a year (all get salvage tags) and to be honest, is really really sick of it. Calm down, practice with that weapon you got there, and don’t take stupid shots. Seems easy right?

Am I the ignorant one? Am I just being senile?
 

Howboutthemdawgs

5 year old buck +
I wouldn’t give it to them. But I probably borderline on asshole and I have very little patience for stupidity and reckless especially when it impacts my enjoyment.
 

Catscratch

5 year old buck +
Sounds like you have done a great job of making amazing habitat... deer go to where they feel safest when hurt.

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g squared 23

5 year old buck +
If the hunter put in reasonable effort to find the deer and obeyed all laws, they deserve closure and the head.


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Booner21

5 year old buck +
I would say 3 strikes and he is out but would definitely give them the benefit of the doubt because crap happens and there is a good change you will at some point need some help in return.

I have never had a deer leave my property until it did and it went onto my neighbor who I have let track on me 4 or 5 years in a row. He let me and the deer was recovered thankfully.


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Derek Reese 29

5 year old buck +
I was the hunter in this scenario a few years ago...rattled in a good chocolate-horned 8 to 30 yards (I was really rattled myself), then shot as he quartered away at about 40. Pretty good shot, but it was too far forward. Lots of blood initially, but then it petered out after about 200 yards and we spent 2 days grid searching for it. A guy tresspassing on our land (he was sitting in one of our stands) who had permission to hunt a nearby neighbor was telling my dad about this big chocolate 8 that his kid had found about 150 yards from where we lost blood laying in a creek..he even told my dad he would bring it up for me as it was definitely the same buck...never saw the guy or the buck again...I would say I was disappointed, but never expected to see that buck again...at least he showed my dad a pic....
also the biggest buck we ever have found in our area died in front of a trail cam (we think a neighbor gut-shot it on the last day of the rifle season).....it was on my dad's HS friend's property which borders ours...if it had an intact rack it mighta went 180" and was over 22" wide
 

DJN

5 year old buck +
Completely agree there is a difference between a random incident and repeat offenders. We have a small group of serial “wounders” that have permission to hunt the neighbor’s property. Have found 5 dead heads in the last four years, 3 of which I know they had drawn blood on. Sure, things happen, but when they start the conversation with “I didn’t have a good opportunity but it was so big I just had to chance it!”, it doesn’t start things off on the right foot. We give them permission every time they ask to track a deer. Judging by my trail cam pics, they usually spend about a half hour looking and then go back to hunting. I still helped them drag one this fall they “shot as it stepped off your property” and ran back on before falling, but my willingness to help only goes so far. I could go on and on about the issues with this group but I’ll spare y’all.
 

PatinPA

5 year old buck +
Pretty sure in PA you're technically not allowed to keep deadheads. I found one as a kid exploring a fencerow behind my parents house on Christmas day with a new BB gun. It was a really nice buck for back then. Probably 110-120. It had been shot in the jaw. Found it laying in a creek, probably died of thirst. We cut the head off and gave it to a friend who was an amateur taxidermist. The mount hung in our local archery club for years. The funniest part was there were a couple of guys hunting small game in that fence row a couple of weeks later. Boy did they scurry out of there when they saw a dead deer with the head cut off. Always assumed it was someone trying to jacklight it but who knows. Could've been someone just flinging lead on brown is down day.
 

Apple Junkie

5 year old buck +
As greekfreak, and several guys above point out, it’s can be a tough call. It seems that when it becomes a pattern of unethical behavior, that is when I would draw the line. I think Booner, DNJ, and Prairie hit the nail on the head. I am fortunate to have reasonable, ethical neighbors. I encourage them to track a blood trail onto my property if necessary, but now that everyone has cell phones, call first so we all know what is going on.

The worst scenario is like Derek’s experience, where common decency is not reciprocated. On a farm closer to home, that happened to a close friend many years ago. Everyone in town knows who shot the deer, and whose wall it now hangs on. They guy that recovered the deer across the property line refused to give it up - and the shame endures to this day.
 

greekfreak

5 year old buck +
As greekfreak, and several guys above point out, it’s can be a tough call. It seems that when it becomes a pattern of unethical behavior, that is when I would draw the line. I think Booner, DNJ, and Prairie hit the nail on the head. I am fortunate to have reasonable, ethical neighbors. I encourage them to track a blood trail onto my property if necessary, but now that everyone has cell phones, call first so we all know what is going on.

The worst scenario is like Derek’s experience, where common decency is not reciprocated. On a farm closer to home, that happened to a close friend many years ago. Everyone in town knows who shot the deer, and whose wall it now hangs on. They guy that recovered the deer across the property line refused to give it up - and the shame endures to this day.

What if you are not fortunate? Like i believe i am. I am almost in the situation described in the second half of your response. However the guy that shot the deer was a complete doofus and could not have done anything worse. From shot placement, to running the deer down across four properties, 2 miles, and 2 of my own farms. Then not finding it. I gave him all permission. Grid search my entire farm, and feel free to bring some extra eyes to help look.

He did neither of those. Kinda just chalked it up as a loss. I typically do not give dead heads back. I usually know who had shot them and I never reach out when I find the deer. No lesson learned IMO. Even adults are like children. Give them what they want when they do wrong and you end up with bigger messes than you bargained for.

Now word got out. "greekfreak" found the buck that so and so shot.
 

TWIG

A good 3 year old buck
Can't say that I've ever stumbled upon a fresh dead buck. They've usually been laying weeks or months till I find them. Finders keepers at that point.

It's kind of funny now but I've had a dead head stolen off my woodpile out behind my house. Head laid up there for months before someone snagged it.
 

Bszweda

5 year old buck +
If I found a dead head the neighbor shot and it ran onto my property and I found it after season i'd give it to them. I guess keeping a good relationship with my neighbors would be more important than a dead head I didn't shoot. Next season I might be in a similar spot and hopefully they would do the same for me.
 

Derek Reese 29

5 year old buck +
Pretty sure in PA you're technically not allowed to keep deadheads. I found one as a kid exploring a fencerow behind my parents house on Christmas day with a new BB gun. It was a really nice buck for back then. Probably 110-120. It had been shot in the jaw. Found it laying in a creek, probably died of thirst. We cut the head off and gave it to a friend who was an amateur taxidermist. The mount hung in our local archery club for years. The funniest part was there were a couple of guys hunting small game in that fence row a couple of weeks later. Boy did they scurry out of there when they saw a dead deer with the head cut off. Always assumed it was someone trying to jacklight it but who knows. Could've been someone just flinging lead on brown is down day.
yeah it is illegal to pick them up but i think you can pay like 10$/point or something to keep them..or tag them...i think when my dad found it it was at least February and there had been like 10 different animals that had stopped by to feed on it...
 

greekfreak

5 year old buck +
Can't say that I've ever stumbled upon a fresh dead buck. They've usually been laying weeks or months till I find them. Finders keepers at that point.

It's kind of funny now but I've had a dead head stolen off my woodpile out behind my house. Head laid up there for months before someone snagged it.
It’s been about a month since he shot it. Not fresh by any means
 

PatinPA

5 year old buck +
yeah it is illegal to pick them up but i think you can pay like 10$/point or something to keep them..or tag them...i think when my dad found it it was at least February and there had been like 10 different animals that had stopped by to feed on it...
Didn't know we even had the option to buy them. I've only ever found two I think. That one I mentioned and one laying on the trail we walked up on a property I used to hunt. We thought that one got hit by a car and got about 100 yards before dying.
 

SWIFFY

5 year old buck +
Id give it back if I thought the guy "deserved it", If I didnt feel that way, Id keep it.

Its yours now. Off your land. Do what makes you feel good and what you think is the best decision. Simple as that.
 

Tree Spud

5 year old buck +
Fool me once, shame on you ... fool me twice, shame on me ...

I have neighbors who are serial "wounders" also. People who consistently wound a deer with a poor shot have no respect for the animal. They don't deserve the head.

Based on your description of the events, no reason to enable bad behavior.
 

MRBB

5 year old buck +
I have found hundreds of deer after the season .
over the yrs, most times I had NO clue who shot them,
BUT if I did know, I would simply base things on the person! IF again I knew them!
things like, are they ethical hunters, did they try to find it, and last if you were in there shoes would YOU want them to give it back to you!
some states it illegal to posses them too, so check your rules before taking them out of where ever you found them

That said, over my life time, I had two folks that knew me, helped me look for the lost deer for days, find them weeks later and returned them to me, and I was very grateful they did so,. gave me a closure on things I other wise wouldn;t have! maybe trivial to some, but that again comes down to the person at hand!
we all don;t view deer the same
 

Bill

Administrator
I gave a guy a dead head last year after denying him permission to track the deer. Long story, I posted about, but the deer would have been spoiled by the time he asked to track and I wasn't letting him mess up my sanctuary. Gave him my word I'd give it to him if I found it, so I kept my word.

I won't do it again. (for him) It does depend on the person. Most of my neighbors would be torn up about loosing one and we'd both know which deer it was. Those guys get it back and they a pass to track.

Heck one of my neighbors owns everything surrounding about a 20 acre piece I have near my farm. He's on the hunt for a set of sheds from a good buck that lived. He asked if he could shed hunt that 20 and I said go find them. Depends on the person....
 
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