By the time you are reading this, the early season archery hunt for deer will be in full swing if not a day away and this year we know the archery hunt has been expanded into the city limits of Thunder Bay in order to reduce deer numbers.
The bear season is already two weeks old, and the opener for archery moose is a few weeks away.
The temperatures have been smoking hot and for a hunter trying to harvest a deer or bear, there are some concerns that need to be addressed once an animal hits the ground in this heat.
Big game hunting is one of the most gratifying experiences any serious hunter can have, and I for one have been doing it all my life. Many moose, deer and bear have been laid to rest by my sharp broad heads over the years, and although the actual approach, stalk or shot is the most climactic part of the hunt, the real work starts when that animal has been cleanly dispatched and is facing north on the forest floor.
Walking up on 1,000 pounds of moose, 400 pounds of bear or 200 pounds of deer laying on the ground and wondering what to do next is what I am going to talk about.
One of the most important parts of any hunt is what happens after the shot, and in my 25 plus years of big game hunting experience I can honestly say the field care and meat preparation will make or break your dining pleasures in the months to come. When the temperatures are high and time is critical, it’s imperative you get it cooled down as soon as possible.
Once an animal has been laid to rest the first job at hand should be to attach the legal validation tag on it and mark the appropriate dates and times; this should be the first action on any downed animal.
The second chore is the removal of the entrails or what is commonly known as gutting the animal. Now this is where some hunters stumble and have a little difficulty.
Removing the innards is not as hard as you may think. If a process is followed and the right tools are used, this job can be very quick and easy, but learning the ropes is the initial task. Just like learning how to fillet fish, practice makes perfect.
Gutting a moose or a deer the first couple of times I would highly recommend someone be with you who has done it several times and is efficient at it so you can follow his lead and learn from experience.
There is nothing worse than slicing up the tenderloins or mistakenly cutting open an internal organ that leaks or can taint the meat, and trust me it’s not hard to do if you don’t know what you’re doing.
The first few times, go slow and learn the process so in the future you will become better and faster, until one day you will be teaching someone else.
Once the entrails are removed get the animal out of the woods and off the ground. This may be a little easier said than done if this deer moose or bear is back some 500 yards in a swamp some where, however, with today’s modern machinery and technological advancements, there are not too many places where an animal cannot be extracted out of the woods.
Once back to camp you have several choices in how to proceed with this animal and one deciding factor will be the weather.
If it is unseasonably warm out, as it has been, you will have no choice but to get the hide off of it and get it into a cooler ASAP. This has happened to me in past hunt camps, and one of the most important parts of meat preparation is the cooling down process.
It is my recommendation to get the animal de-hided and wrapped in cheese cloth. This will ensure protection from insects, and at the same time let the meat hang, cool and age in the best way possible.
Make sure you have extracted the broad head or bullet if it’s still embedded in the carcass as this can severely damage a butchers saw in a hurry. If you cannot find either, make sure you inform the meat cutter beforehand so he is cautious when cutting.
If you want more information on field care and proper prep on big game animals, make the effort to go and talk with a reputable meat processor or go online and read as much as you can. There is a lot of good information on the web.
Good luck and be safe.
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