Iíve got my deer, now what?

My previous articles have revolved around the how to get a deer topic, but what must you do after the recovery?

While the technical aspect of a hunt is quite important, it may all go for nil if you donít clean or track the game properly. There are several scenarios to be understood before you attempt to recover your animal. The shot you take dictates the whens and hows of your recovery and cleaning process. Shots may be broken down into five categories. Clean hit, semi-clean hit, gut shot, head or neck shot, and a haircut.



For a clean hit, one in which the bullet passes through the heart and lungs, you will find large amounts of blood at short intervals and typically find the animal within 100 yards or so. As long as the temperatures remain below fifty degrees, you will have several hours before the animal must be field dressed. Temperature also plays a major role in the recovery and cleaning process. If temperatures are above 50 degrees, you will need to recover and clean the animal ASAP. Bacteria will begin to reproduce rapidly, so if you have made a good shot recover, and clean the animal immediately. As for the clean hit scenario with temperatures in the 40s, the animal will spoil much more slowly. This offers the hunter time to stay on stand and fill another tag if possible.

I describe a semi-clean hit as a shot that hits the vitals, but enters or exits the entrails. This type of shot requires rather quick attention. The animal typically expires within one hundred and fifty yards, but you must recover the animal as fast as possible. Because of the compromised intestinal track, you have much less time to wait before field dressing. I recommend if water is present, clean and wash the body cavity out immediately. If no water is present, I recommend not field dressing without washing because contaminants will absorb into the meat as it dries. If left intact until washing, everything should rinse out, but if you let it dry it will stick and most likely ruin a lot of meat.


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