Ask The Biologist

True Blood

True Blood

By Bob Humphrey

Exactly how much blood can a deer lose before it succumbs to its wounds?

QUESTION: How much blood must a deer lose after being shot with a broadhead before it dies? — Joe R.

ANSWER: I found several unscientific sources that claimed deer will die after losing between 2 ½ to 2 ¾ pints of blood.

The Texas Bowhunter Ed course notes: “An animal must lose about 1/3 of its blood to die of hemorrhagic shock, but that can vary depending on how fast the blood is lost.” The manual also states: “There is approximately one ounce of blood per pound of body weight in the circulatory system of animals like deer.”

If that’s true, a 150-pound deer has about 9 pints of blood. Other sources I found say it’s more like 8 pints. That means a deer could lose between 2.6 and 3 pints, which is pretty close to the above. Bear in mind, this takes into account only blood loss. If your broadhead pierces the lungs, they will fill with blood and effectively drown the deer more quickly. If your arrow pierces the diaphragm, that creates a pressure differential (sucking chest wound), which can also hasten demise.

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Copyright 2018 by Buckmasters, Ltd.

Copyright 2017 by Buckmasters, Ltd