Deer Hunting Basics

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Published on: Oct. 2, 2001

Last revision: Nov. 9, 2010

watch the deer intently as it runs away. Mentally mark the exact spot where you last saw it. Keep listening, for you may hear its final struggles. Some deer, of course, may fall immediately or only take a few steps.

The surer you are that you made a good shot, the less time you need to wait before trying to find the deer. It's a good idea to wait at least 15 minutes to give the deer-and you-time to settle down. If you think you may have had missed the vital area, you should wait an hour or more. A wounded deer will tend to lie down, but if pressured it will keep moving.

Depending on where it is hit and the type of wound, a deer may or may not leave an easy-to-follow blood trail. Marking the trail with bits of paper towel as you follow it will make it easier to pick it back up in case you lose it. The trail of paper will also give you a better sense of the deer's direction of travel.

Approach a downed deer carefully. It may not be dead. Be ready to shoot again. Before deciding the deer is dead, touch the end of the gun barrel or the point of an arrow to its eye. If you get no reaction, the deer has become venison. Punch your permit and attach it to the deer.

Field dress the deer the same way you would eviscerate a chicken before putting it into the pot. After carefully cutting through the stomach skin, remove all internal organs and the deer's digestive system from stomach to anus. Most of it will roll out in one big mass. Take care not to puncture any parts, which could leak unpleasant tasting juices onto the meat.

Drag the deer out with a rope attached to its head. Carefully mark the location and get help if the deer is exceptionally heavy. A deer can be dragged out easily if you tie it into a plastic snow sled.

Take your deer to one of the official deer checking stations listed in the back of the Deer and Turkey Regulations booklet. This is a quick stop, and your participation helps biologists manage our deer population more effectively.

You can cut the deer up yourself at home or take it to a meat processing facility. You will usually get a combination of steaks, roasts, stew meat and hamburger from your deer. For an extra fee, most processors will make specialty products, such as jerky, salami or sausage, from your meat. Savor the venison as you have savored the hunting experience.

Deer on the Move

  • During the fall, deer tend to stay in forests during the day and move to open areas at night.
  • In mild weather, deer activity decreases with wind speed.
  • Through the fall season, a large buck will be on the move about two hours a day more than a small buck.
  • In the fall, bucks and does move about the same amount. However, bucks are more active than does at night, while does are more active than bucks during the day.
  • Daily deer activity peaks around the time of sunset. Another peak occurs just after sunrise. Researchers have also identified a midday peak and two nighttime peaks.
  • During cold weather, the post-sunrise peak becomes less prominent.

Rubs and Scrapes

  • During the pre-rut and rut, bucks make both rubs and scrapes. Rubs and scrapes are often found in the same general area.
  • Rubs are places on trees or brush where bark has been worn down to the inner wood.
  • Scrapes are areas of pawed ground that are usually from football to beach ball size.
  • Bucks make rubs while removing velvet from their antlers. While making them, they also deposit a scent that marks their territory.
  • Bucks also sometimes spar with small trees and brush, rubbing them clean of bark.
  • Large-antlered bucks often make their scrapes on larger diameter tree trunks than do smaller bucks.
  • Does and other bucks may visit a scrape made by a buck, but usually only the buck will visit a rub line.
  • Bucks primarily make their scrapes at night

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