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Dealing with Dead Deer Critters

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Joined: 14 May 2007
Posts: 579
Location: Gallatin, TN
Real Name: Jason W. Gatliff

PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 11:24 pm    Post subject: Dealing with Dead Deer Critters Reply with quote

Many times a freshly killed deer can be a lot of work to get out of the woods. Here are some tricks that I've used or helped my cousins/uncles do.

Anymore, everytime I down a deer I like to keep the liver, sometimes the heart as well. When dressing the critter out, only open the body cavity as far as the sternum, or bottom of the rib-cage. Then cut the diaphragm away, reach up in, cut the windpipe/veins, and pull out the critters engine works. I also don't split the pelvis when field dressing, cut around the anus and carefully work the connective tissues around the "pipes" loose inside the pelvis. It takes some patience, but once you get it right you'll be able to pull the tubing out from the front cleanly. It helps greatly to tie off the anus as soon as you have cut it loose, you could use a bit of string- I usually just pull off a strip of basswood bark from a sapling or a thread from my hunting shirt. After this is done, you can carry the liver/heart in the body cavity as you drag said critter back to camp with less likelihood of loss/soiling. If it is warm, it keeps flies and dirt from the hams, which are opened when you split the pelvis. I open the brisket and pelvis when the critter gets hung up for cooling. If it might be the next day before the deer is moved, cut a stout stick and put it through the back legs. Find a healthy tree with a stout branch 7 feet off the ground, cut it off leaving several inches of stub and hang the deer on it, head down. This lets the blood drain away from the hams &c, and is better than leaving it on its side for an extended period. I've had a couple of bucks killed in rut develop a strong, acrid flavor on one side, where the blood settled to, if that makes any sense. Take the liver & tenderloins (those strips INSIDE the body cavity along the backbone, the long ones on the other side are the backstraps) back to camp and eat 'em for supper.

Transporting Carcasses;
If you carry a short piece of rope, a handy way to drag a deer is by putting a loop around critters neck, allow 5-6 feet of rope, and securely tie the other end to a stout stick a couple feet long for a handle. You can place the stick against your stomach and arm when you gotta grunt it out.

If you have help, meatpole it, just make sure you're wearing some orange & the deer is too in a heavily hunted area.

As boys, we killed a few deer where we couldn't get them out easily, like a few miles back in the woods. Since we always butchered our own deer, pigs, cattle, &c.., it was no problem to hang it up in aforesaid manner, skin it, lay the skin on the ground, and bone off all the meat on the deer onto the flesh side of the hide. When skinning, we'd leave the front legs as a tube by peeling the skin as far down as possible. After all the meat is on the hide, use bark or lacing to "lace it closed from neck to tail. Then lace across the bottom, and lace the front leg skin to the outside corners to make a "backpack". It helps to bind the whole thing snug with rope or strips of bark, kinda like compression straps on a modern pack. It seems that about 1/4 to 1/3 of the deers live weight actually is meat, per-se, so the load isnt too bad. Now on an elk it would take several trips. A basket pack or packframe would obviously make this method easier.

Submitted by: Jesse Mains - on January 19, 2001

Jason W. Gatliff
Historical Enterprises

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