American Bushman

"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing." —Benjamin Franklin

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Weekend Update III

Today we're going to get a little gory and there's a picture of a dead animal at the end of the post so be forewarned in case you're sensitive to that kind of thing.

I stood there looking at my animal thinking about how so many stories had reported deer "playing possum" and jumping up when the hunter least expected it and, despite the obvious signs (no breathing, hole in neck, blood, etc.) I was still not convinced that my shot had done the job so quickly.

I needed to tag the rear leg which involves cutting the skin between the rear "hamstring" tendon and the muscle in the upper rear leg and I though, for sure, that would startle the life back into the deer so I put my weight on the head (I'm a big guy and even this deer would have a hard time jumping up with me on his head) and reached forward to slit the skin. I used my custom Fallkniven F1 with blaze orange handles and it slid through the skin like a hot knife through butter. Easy. No jumping deer either.

Now that the deer was tagged I had legally harvested an antlered deer.

I needed to gut the deer to get the internal temperatures down as quickly as possible as I am planning on eating the meat and don't want to risk spoilage. You could skin the deer at the same time as you're gutting if you want to maximize cooling but I chose to leave the skin on to better protect the meat inside from insects and debris. Getting an animal out of the woods and home can be a dirty process if you've got any distance to travel.

Gutting process below:

I flipped the deer on his back and spread his front legs. Then, I took my knife and made a shallow cut from his sternum down to his abdomen. Then I had to move further back, spread the rear legs, and continue the process all the way down to under the tail.

I hadn't made my cut deep enough and had only cut through the skin leaving the membrane underneath intact. I worked my hands under the skin a bit to give me something to hold on to when I skinned the animal after dry aging the meat and then went back for a deeper cut.

This time I cut all the way down to the sternum and through the abdominal membrane. The gut smell came wafting out but I did not find it objectionable. I hadn't split the ribs and had a very hard time trying to get the guts out. I had also forgotten to cut out the rectum. These are, I hope, rookie mistakes and they're definitely things I'll remember to do next time.

The process, to this point, took me about an hour. I hadn't ever processed an animal this large before and have heard the warnings about cutting the guts so took my time and was very thorough and very careful.

Dan and Spen had finished hunting for the day and came over to help walk me through the parts of the process I hadn't done correctly. This was very helpful and I'm glad they came along as I would probably still be out there trying to figure out the process otherwise.

First, I split the rib cage up between the rib and sternum through the cartilage. The F1 did an admirable job here though I did roll a spot right near the tip. Then I finished the cutting down to the tail. I hadn't gone quite far enough and had left the sex organs intact by simply going around them. When I was instructed to remove them I had to ask a couple of times to make sure I'd heard correctly. I had.

Now I had access to the guts but had to really reach inside the body to get the diaphragm cut away and to loosen the connective tissue holding in the organs. I cut off the lower intestine and then reached way up inside and cut the esophagus and, when we flipped the deer right side up, the guts and blood fell into a neat little pile below.

I went through them and picked out the heart and liver and bagged them up. The stomach, kidneys, lungs, and intestines I left on the ground. I had nicked the stomach and a bit of material had come out but nothing that would foul the meat. I also tore what must have been the spleen as I was removing the guts and the extra blood splashed into the gut cavity.

It wasn't a perfect job but I had managed to get the guts out (with some help) and I hadn't destroyed any meat or hide in the process. So far so good.

There was no running water out there so rinsing the cavity was going to have to wait and I was fortunate to have somebody nearby with a 4-wheeler to help me get the carcass from the woods to the parking lot where, I had heard, a DNR Agent was waiting to check in my deer. By the time we'd gotten to the lot, however, he was already gone and he never did come back.

Dan and Spen got a couple of pictures of me with my first deer.

A long shot, clean kill, and a beautiful deer. I don't think the weekend could have gone much better. Despite freezing and being miserable all day on Saturday I have to say I'm excited about the prospect of going hunting again and see it as an opportunity to once again connect with the "circle of life" as well as an opportunity to learn more about the process from preparation to hunting to shooting to gutting to skinning to butchering to cooking to eating. There's just so much that goes on in the hunting process besides what the anti-hunters would have you think.

Thanks again to Dan and Spen for sharing with me the things I didn't know I didn't know. Thanks to Johnny for loaning me your harness, sharing your tree stand, and helping me get my deer out of the woods.

And thank you for reading,



At 11:34 AM, Anonymous said...

Excellent post, I enjoyed your success very much!

As for holding down a deer, I'm not so sure. The strength of animals I've wrestled with, by accident on the trapline, has shown me the special strength that animals have - very much stronger pound for pound than humans.

At 12:04 PM, Blogger American Bushman said...

LOL! I agree. I put my 230 pounds squarely on his head though hoping that leverage was to my advantage.

Thanks for your comment.


At 10:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

man.. that is a fine looking buck...

congrats brian... shot with the blackpowder gun too.. right on man..

mtnfolk mike

At 4:43 PM, Blogger The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Well played old son! I'm totally stoked for you, you must be made up.

I've just (yesterday) found a permission just outside London and hope to have a deer of my own in the freezer before December is out.


At 7:37 PM, Blogger American Bushman said...

Thanks SBW. Are you hunting with bow or firearm?

Sounds like you've got quite an opportunity. I look forward to hearing of your success. :)

Thanks for your comments,


At 2:57 PM, Anonymous Pablo said...

Great stuff Brian. You must be well chuffed. Great achievement.

At 9:29 AM, Anonymous George Hedgepeth said...

That is a really pretty buck! Very happy this turned out so well for you buddy!


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