It can happen to any one of us, any time, on any hunt. You take a quick shot at a huge black bear or maybe even a bull moose or elk, and it drops in its tracks only to bound back to life moments later. You watch in dismay as it crashes head first into thick cover, scrambling all the while to stay on its feet before disappearing from sight. It is obvious you hit it, but you are not sure how hard. Did you flinch at the shot? Did you fever up and blow the shot? Did you hit it in the paunch? The liver? The leg? Maybe you just stunned it! You hope to find it dead in the morning, but heavy rains are on the horizon and will surely wash out the blood trail. You cannot wait until morning. You have to blood-trail the critter as soon as possible, and you have to do it right. If it is still alive but mortally wounded, you might inadvertently push him further into the bush, where your chances of recovery are small.

How long you wait to pick up the blood trail depends on evidence you gather at the scene, but one thing is for certain: You do not want to go after your trophy with your heavily scoped magnum at port arms. You want a gun that is easy to swing in tight places and powerful enough to put the critter down for good. And if you do not think a wounded moose or elk is dangerous, then think again. Even a whitetail buck can and will gore you given the right set of circumstances. Here are some choices to ponder.

Levers For Trailing

One of your options is a Winchester lever action Model 94 Trapper chambered for either the .44 Rem Mag or the more potent .30-30. Muzzle energy for the .44 with a variety of 240-grain pills is around 1,600 foot-pounds of energy (fpe), whereas a 150-grain .30-30 Nosler Partition is nearly 1,800 fpe. The real beauty of this gun is its 16.5-inch barrel. Even though you can stuff it to the gills with bullets, it is light in weight, easy to carry and, when blood-trailing in thick cover, quick to come to point…

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