Tricks for Finding Lost Hunting Arrows

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A hunter was impaled by an errant arrow and broadhead earlier this fall. Avoid a potentially lethal accident by taking a few easy precautions

Search for your lost arrows. Don't leave them in the field. It's dangerous. Image by Bill Konway

KKTV in Colorado reported that a bow hunter had to be airlifted out of the wilderness near Steamboat Springs after he was impaled by an arrow and broadhead apparently fired and lost by another hunter earlier this season. Routt County Search and Rescue said the hunter accidently walked into the arrow while hiking off trail through the woods. The arrow pierced the man’s leg above the knee, and he couldn’t walk out. He sent an SOS on a rescue beacon, and was later airlifted out by helicopter.

Colorado search and rescue said this was the second time in as many years that its team has recovered someone pierced by a lost arrow and broadhead.

You can surmise that in both these instances the arrows were fired by elk hunters, or perhaps mule deer hunters, from the ground. The shafts missed their mark and came to rest horizontally in brush or on the ground with razor-sharp broadheads exposed. The unlucky victims stumbled into the broadheads and were injured.

When we shoot at a whitetail and miss from a tree stand, most of the time the arrow sticks partway in the ground with broadhead buried. But sometimes a shaft deflects off a limb or sapling, sails and comes to rest on the ground or tangled in brush with broadhead blades exposed and potentially dangerous. After a blown shot, we should always try to find and retrieve our arrows to prevent a freak accident from occurring. Not to mention that we can save $15 to $20 by finding and reusing that shaft and broadhead!

Arrow Finding Tips

Wrap shafts in fluorescent orange, yellow, or green that is easy to spot and stands out from leaves on the ground and brush. Fletch shafts with brightly colored vanes; flo-green and flo-orange are good choices, as are bright red or even pink.

If legal where you hunt, consider using lighted nocks. Whether you miss a doe or buck clean, or make a great shot and get a complete pass-through, the faint glow of the nock will help you locate the arrow and broadhead.

When you miss a whitetail clean as a whistle from a tree stand, compose yourself and tamp down the frustration. It’s part of the game. Then, before climbing down, use your binoculars and search the ground and nearby brush thoroughly for the arrow. When you spot it, pick a nearby rock, stump or tree and use it as your landmark. After you climb down, the woods will appear completely different than they looked from 20 feet up (especially if it’s gotten dark). Look for your landmark, walk over and retrieve your arrow.

If you look closely but can’t see the arrow that missed its mark, pinpoint where the deer was standing as best you can, walk over there and look for loose dirt or parted leaves or grass where the shaft might have bored in and become buried.

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