I can’t wait for opening day of archery deer season. But, the temperatures are forecast to be mighty hot and the humidity is going to be high. Knowing that, it’s best we be prepared not only for our own comfort while in the stand, but in caring for the carcass after the shot. A little preparedness will go a long way to preserve the high quality of the venison you put on your family’s table.
To begin with, be picky about your shot. Yea, all of us know that we should only take high-percentage shots and not stretch the limits of our archery ability, but it’s especially important during the heat of early season. Keep your shots close and certain, be picky about the shot angles; broadside or quartering away are best. The point is, don’t be so eager and rush your shot. A long recovery is something you want to avoid.
Now, when I do take a shot, I like to wait twenty or so minutes before starting on the blood trail. In cooler temps I’ll wait a bit longer, but I let the shot appearance and the blood trail be my guide. If the shot looked good and the blood trail is heavy, I move in to make the recovery. Those few minutes saved can go a long way toward prime venison versus an off flavor outcome.
Surely, you’ll want to take the time to get a few photos, good photos go a long way in preserving the memories of the hunt, but don’t waste any time doing it. Get the deer field dressed as soon as possible and get the meat on ice. I never hit the woods in the early season without a cooler full of ice or frozen jugs of water. I prefer the frozen jugs, simply because if the hunt ends without a shot, I can refreeze it until the next time.
I quarter or bone out the deer and place the meat in a cooler on ice and keep it that way for up to five days by draining the melted ice and replacing it each day. This helps age the meat and draws a lot of the blood from it; the end-result being tender and delicious venison.
For those of you who are fortunate enough to let the air out of a real wall-hanger, you will have a few steps of your own to best prepare your buck for mounting. I had a talk with one of our local taxidermists, Tim Ellis, from Ellis’ Taxidermy in Inverness, and picked up a few tips I’d like to pass along.
First, when recovering your deer, rather than dragging it, a game cart goes a long way to prevent rubbing hair out of the hide. But, if you have to drag it, be sure to drag it out head first, so that the hair will be pushed back naturally and not upwards where it can break or fall out.
Next, when skinning and dressing the hide, never cut up through the brisket or neck and be sure that if you aren’t bringing in the entire hide, to cut it off far enough back, at least as far back as the midpoint of the ribcage. When it’s time to stretch the skin over the mounting form, your taxidermist can always cut away the extra, but can’t add to it if it’s cut off too short. Men like Tim are artists, not magicians, so leave them enough to work with.
And, whether you cape out the deer yourself or leave the head and antlers intact, ice it down as quickly as possible also. Cooling it and keeping it that way until you deliver it to the taxidermy studio will prevent any slippage of the hair. Nobody wants to get back a mount with bald-spots because of their own neglect in the field.
As always, feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]. God bless and good hunting!