I almost didn’t post anything about my only deer kill of 2016 because it was honestly somewhat embracing. On further consideration, I decided to tell the story because I believe there are several lessons and techniques that can be learned from my experience.
One morning during the New York firearm season I was loading the farm truck with garbage to take to the dump. As I was finishing up, I glanced into the field behind our sheep pasture and fencing and spotted two does grazing. Of course, these were the only deer I had seen after nearly a week of firearm hunting.
I ran upstairs and grabbed my Remington 760 30-06 and quickly returned to the yard. Propped up on a trailer, I tried to calm myself for the shot.
I slowly squeezed the trigger and felt the shot break. I watched as the doe lurch from the impact. She spun around the ran for the woods to the left of the clearing.
I decided to give her some time to expire, and grabbed my rangefinder to see how far the shot had been. It had been a 180 yard shot, and the farthest I had pulled the trigger on an animal.
There was very little blood where the doe had been. Just a few drops and a single bone fragment. I marked the trail with bits of toilet paper as I went. I lost the trail in the field and decided to walk the field edge to look for blood wiped on the tall grass. My hunch was correct and I found just a small trail that eventually went dry. Frustrated, I went inside to fill a spray bottle with hydrogen peroxide. This trick can make unseen blood foam white and be more easily spotted. Unfortunately, there was not enough blood to be found. A light rain made it even worse. I grid searched to the best of my ability, and followed deer trails and various hunches to no avail.
Feeling discouraged, I went back out the next morning and followed a different trail that I hadn’t spotted the day before. There she lay about 70 yards from the place of impact. The shot was just a tad high, and although my 150 grain Remington Core-Lokt’s had liquefied the heart and lungs, all the blood had pooled in the chest cavity instead of leaving a good trail.She was slightly bloated, so I tried to gut and skin her as quickly as possible. She was a little stinky upon opening her up, and there was a slight green hue to some of the membranes.
I am by no means telling anyone to eat rotten meat, but I decided to try to salvage what I could. I butchered the better looking pieces and cooked a small piece just to test out. The meat was very, very gamy from the blood sitting in the meat for so long, but it did not taste rotten.
I soaked the meat (20+ lbs) in a 5 gallon bucket with a mixture of lemon juice, water, salt, and ice for a day or two. This served to kill bacteria and leech as much of the off tasting blood out as possible.
I then drained, dried off, and packaged the meat. I let it freeze for at least 2 weeks to kill anything left over.
It certainly wasn’t the best tasting deer I’ve ever had, but it tasted just fine in various stews and other saucy applications.
While I never got sick, I do not recommend eating a questionable kill. I trust my judgement when it comes to edibility, and I detest the thought of killing an animal and wasting the meat. Maybe I got lucky. Don’t try this at home kids.
The whole ordeal was not a pleasant experience. I felt no pride or sense of accomplishment. But instead of moping, I decided to salvage what meat I could, and tried to use it as a learning experience. Among other lessons, it was a good opportunity to practice blood trailing techniques and try out the peroxide trick (which does work).