A Hunter’s Dilema: To Bone or Not to Bone?

These Deer are Alert and Watching!

The Boning Process

After bringing your game down, you must decide whether or not to bone.  Boning simply means removing all the meat from the bones — usually in the field.

Some folks swear by it while others swear at it!  Here are some of the pros and cons of boning.

The Downside of Boning

Why would it be a bad idea to bone out your game?

  • It dries out the meat,
  • The meat can get that ‘gamey taste’ or even spoil,
  • Dirt and other contaminants can affect the meat.
  • If you are boning, you aren’t hunting.
  • State regulations may require you to remove the animal in a particular way, so it can still be identified.*

As you cut the meat away from the bones, it exposes that meat to the air, which dries out the flesh.  When you are ready to prepare your game for processing, you may have to throw away overly dried, shriveled meat.

When you are out in the field, sanitation conditions are dicey.  The chances of the meat spoiling — or adding that gamey taste — increase the longer the meat is exposed to the elements.

Another issue is the fact that if you are busy boning, you are not hunting!  Some hunters see this as a terrible waste of their limited hunting hours.

Finally, nothing else matters if your  state requires you to remove game from the field in a certain way, so it can still be identified!

The Advantages of Boning

There are a couple of reasons you might want to bone out your animal in the field:

  • You are only moving meat, thus reducing the weight of your pack back to camp.
  • If  you had to bring ice to keep the meat safe, you won’t need nearly as much to cover the meat, instead of the carcass.

Finally

The rule of thumb among seasoned hunters is:  Only bone out an animal as a last resort when the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

Of course, if your state specifies how an animal is to be transported from the field, all other considerations are immaterial!

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* The state of Texas requires that deer be removed from the field in quarters, so the animal can still be identified.

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‘Early Snowfall’ Rear Window Graphic used by permission of Vantage Point Graphics.

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This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

 

 

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Published in: on December 8, 2010 at 10:29 am  Comments Off on A Hunter’s Dilema: To Bone or Not to Bone?  
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Ready for Deer Hunting Season

Article first published as Ready for Deer Hunting Season on Technorati.

The Rut Distracts Deer from Their Usually Cautious Behaviors!

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You have done it all: You have watched the deer trails in preseason; studied the topographical maps so you can see the lay of the land in your sleep, and gotten the fix on the prevailing winds of your hunting area. You are ready for deer season!

Deer Are Ready

While you have scoured the catalogs for the latest gear in hunting deer, your foe has been getting ready too. As summer changes to fall, the blood testosterone in the bucks rise, which signals the antlers to harden and the velvet to curl up and fall off.

Without a mirror to view his ‘rack,’ bucks start whacking their antlers against small saplings or cedar bushes. They need to learn what they can and can’t do with their head-gear! This exercise also develops their neck and shoulder muscles.

Before the rut starts, the male deer start sparring with other bucks in the group, honing their skills and determining their hierarchy in the herd. The prize: The dominant buck will mate with the most does.

Surprisingly, dominance is not determined by antler-goring but by deer flailing each other with their front legs, while standing on their back two legs!

If you are lucky enough to witness one of these fights, you will be struck by the awesome and savage majesty of nature!

Fortunately for hunters, as time moves closer to breeding, the bucks lose interest in fighting with each other and start searching for receptive does.

Deer Season and ‘the Rut’

State game wardens generally set deer hunting season during the deer breeding season. This is good timing for hunters because deer, which are usually extremely cautious, wily and nimble, let their guard down for a few weeks.

However, once a hunter zeroes in on a whitetail, the buck literally snaps to attention! The hunter usually only gets one shot because the buck does the impossible: He jumps, he swerves, he soars – and he’s gone!

The Annual Conflict

The reason most hunters return each year is because they love pitting their deer knowledge against the instincts of a beautiful foe.

Deer hunters come out second-best so often because they are fighting for their dinner, while the buck knows he is fighting for his life!

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“Dream Team One-on-One” – used by permission of Vantage Point Graphics!

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This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

Published in: on December 2, 2010 at 1:24 am  Comments (6)  
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Happy Thanksgiving!

Watch for Those 2 Legged Varmints; They Can be Brutal at this Time of Year!

Have a Wonderful Thanksgiving!

Published in: on November 24, 2010 at 9:29 am  Comments Off on Happy Thanksgiving!  
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Another Amazing Story: Deer Flies In & Out of Car!

Truth Can Be Stranger Than Fiction

In today’s story, a deer flies through the front windshield of a car, strikes the three occupants and continues on its way out through the back windshield!

 

Lucky to be Alive!

Read the Whole Story!

 

Yesterday’s Truth Can Be Stranger Than Fiction

If you missed the grizzly story yesterday … here it is!

Harley Hog and Rider Hit Grizzly; Rider Survives, Harley & Grizzly Don’t!

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This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

Published in: on November 23, 2010 at 12:23 pm  Comments Off on Another Amazing Story: Deer Flies In & Out of Car!  
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A Few Tips for Deer Hunting from a Tree Stand

Tree Stand Safety

A tree stand in a wonderful invention but wind, weather and time can wreak havoc on the structure.

  • Before hunting, check the stand for safety.
  • Check the fastening system that keeps the stand attached to the tree.
  • Are the tree spikes secure?  Can they hold your weight?
  • Make sure your string or rope (used to raise & lower your unloaded weapon or bow) is secure and ready-at-hand.
  • Do you have a harness system that secures you to the tree?

    Tree Stands Can Really Make a Difference! Make Sure They are Placed at Least 10 - 12 feet up - and out of a Deer's Line of Sight!

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Check the color of your tree stand.  I knew a hunter who never got within shooting range of a deer until he realized the bottom of his stand was shiny.  When he painted the tree stand matte, he solved the problem!

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Deer Stands in Dry Areas

In dry areas, deer will drink water each day.  Before setting up your tree stand near a water source, make sure the tracks are fresh.

  • Deer usually get water in the afternoon, before going out to feed and in the morning, before heading to their bedding areas.
  • Have you checked the topographical map for the area for the number & size of local watering holes?
  • Your best chance of getting a deer while watering is if the watering pools/ holes are far apart.
  • If there is too much water in a small area, the deer can pick-and-choose the spot and your chance of being at the right place is smaller!
  • Deer know they are vulnerable at watering holes & they stay alert. Skittish deer will bolt at the first sign of movement or noise.  They don’t hang around to find out who/what made the noise!

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Tree Stand Deer Hunting on Public Lands

  • Stay in your tree stand as long as possible if other hunters are around.
  • Some hunters hunt in the early morning and leave by 8 am, to get to work.
  • Between 10 am and 2 pm:  hunters are moving to and from lunch.
  • All this hunter movement keeps the deer moving too.
  • In this situation, your best tree stand spot where wooded areas meet and form a natural funnel.  Deer prefer to avoid open areas and use these natural screens.

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More on this topic soon!

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This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

Published in: on November 22, 2010 at 12:05 am  Comments (1)  
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Using Camo and a Blind When the Deer Aren’t

Article first published as Using Camo and a Blind When the Deer Aren’t on Technorati.

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Used properly, camouflage can significantly improve your chances of getting close enough to a deer to shoot.  However, camouflage doesn’t cure all problems — all the time.

Face Paint, Face Veils & Head Coverings Disguise the Human Form!

How Camo Helps

Whether you use face paint, head veils/coverings or other camouflage materials, they usually do a great job of breaking up your outline.

They also help you blend in with your surroundings, thus forcing deer to use his other senses to find you.

Ground blinds in camo patterns extend your ability to hide while offering you visibility of your surroundings.  Here are a few hints about camo and ground blinds:

  • Bowhunters should locate their blinds about 15 – 20 yards away from trails made by game.
  • Use curved edges when covering your hiding spot, rather than squared edges.  It looks more natural.
  • Set your ground blind at a higher elevation than you expect to see game.  This takes you out of his direct line-of-sight and usually gives you a wider view.
  • Cover yourself completely; your skin, watch and weapons must be matte.  If a deer sees the sun reflecting off  the face of your watch — you are toast!

Other Considerations While Hunting

Safety is your first consideration — for yourself and other hunters.  Here are a few tips so you don’t become accidental prey or hurt others!

  • A bright orange vest/jacket/hat should be worn on your way to your hunting spot.
  • Don’t wear or carry anything that is the color of the game you are seeking.
  • Hang a tag of bright tape on the animal when you are field dressing or carrying game to your vehicle.
  • When you hear another hunter approaching, call out in a normal voice to alert others.  Do not shout, use a whistle or use an animal caller.
  • Be extremely careful of using an animal caller when other hunters are in your hunting area.
  • Be sure that you will have a clear shot and that you can see on the other side of the animal — before you shoot.

Remember: Safety takes a few extra seconds, but regret lasts for a very long time!

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Come Back Sunday for a Look at 5 Dynamite Firefighter Graphics!

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This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

Published in: on November 19, 2010 at 11:15 am  Comments Off on Using Camo and a Blind When the Deer Aren’t  
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What’s So Great About the New Camouflage?

This Ghillie Suit Jacket is 'Leafy Green' Pattern.

If you have been in a hunting goods store lately, you have seen a dizzying array of camouflage patterns.

Three or 4 years ago, I was sure there were a ridiculous number of camo patterns and that the market was saturated!

Hah!  Boy was I wrong!  High-definition and other ‘new generation’ camo patterns have really become popular.

Who would have thought?

Back to the Basics

Camo has become as much a fashion statement as a way to hide from game.  If you looked at the vintage photos I ran a few weeks ago, none of those hunters had camo.

Some hunters today, however, seem to think that camo clothing makes them invisible.  Thus, today I’m sharing a cautionary tale.

Game Outsmarting Hunters

Deer, and other wild game, use their senses to detect trouble (Psst:  All hunters = trouble).

They use these 3 senses to stay away from trouble:

  • eyes
  • nose
  • ears

Camo helps protect you from game’s prying eyes.  By wearing a camo pattern that blends in with your surroundings, you become harder to see — but not invisible!

Blending in is very important!  If you are wearing the camo pattern in the photo above while hunting in an area of dead brush and dry river beds, you will not blend in.  You might as well be wearing neon!

Eyes and Movement

There’s a second factor in what deer (and other game) are watching for — movement.  The more you blend into the background, the more movement you can get away with — without being discovered.

That is where these ‘new generation’ camo patterns are so useful.  High-definition (or hi-def) fabrics are much more 3 dimensional than previous patterns.

This RealTree Hardwood Green Pattern Seems to Have Leaves Layered on Top of Twigs & Branches of Trees!

The vertical lines of the branches are like woody areas.

However, the best camo in the world will not protect you from the keen senses of your prey, if you are:

  • moving while game is gazing directly at you, {eyes}
  • walking and making noise like a human (instead of other game), {ears}
  • wiggling too much while in your tree stand, {eyes}
  • smelling like a human, {nose}
  • having nicotine, alcohol and gasoline/oil odors on your person, {nose}
  • allowing sunlight to strike shiny surfaces near you (your watch, your weapon, etc.), {eyes}

Finally

Camo is a wonderful tool; combine its use with good woodsmanship skills  for a successful hunt!

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This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

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Published in: on November 11, 2010 at 9:24 am  Comments Off on What’s So Great About the New Camouflage?  
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More Interesting Facts about Whitetailed Deer

A few days ago, I wrote the first part of this article (with the very snappy title) — Interesting Facts About Whitetail Deer.

The White Fur is Obvious on these Deer in this 'Woodland Splendor' Scene! *

Fur Colors on Whitetails

Last time, I told you that whitetails are always dressed for the weather:  a reddish-brown coat in the spring & summer, and a gray-brown (heavier coat) for the fall and winter.

These coat colors help them hide in plain sight;  they are generally the same color as their surroundings.

We call these deer ‘whitetails’ because of the fur on the underside of their tails.  When they are ‘on alert,’ deer raise their tails.  They show alarm by twitching their tails and racing or bounding away from what scares them.

Whitetails have other white details on their bodies.  There is a ring of white fur around their eyes and a line of white hair between the nose and the face.

They also have touches of white fur in their large ears, under their chin and on the throat.  Deer have white fur bellies and on the inside of their upper legs.

Deer shed their fur twice per year, but grow new antlers each year.  Obviously, good nutrition is critical to do this important work (shedding and growing new fur and antlers).

Antlers by the Season

It is hard to imagine that a buck grows and sheds his antler ‘rack’ each year.  The antlers start as two beams upon which tines (or points) grow.

Looking at the buck above, I believe there are 8 points (3 on the left side and 5 on the right rack).

Deer shed their antlers in the winter (after the rut), and regrow them in the spring.  Thin skin, called velvet, cover the new, tender tines/points.  This velvet is shed before autumn.

Before the Rut

Antlers are an important part of buck’s behavior used in the weeks before the rut (deer mating season). Deer are herding animals and  dominance is determined by fighting.

By looking at these racks, you can imagine that buck fights can become rough.  The winning buck is the dominant animal of the herd and he mates with the most does (when they come into season).

Finally

Generally, most states set hunting season around the time of the rut.  This helps hunters because most bucks have other things on their minds and are not as careful!

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Woodland Splendor‘ used by permission of Vantage Point Graphics

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This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

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Published in: on November 2, 2010 at 12:18 am  Comments Off on More Interesting Facts about Whitetailed Deer  
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Keeping the Gamy Taste Out of Your Wild Game

These suggestions will help reduce or eliminate the ‘gamy’ taste in your wild game.

From the time that you bring the animal down — to the time that you use the meat, there are plenty of opportunities to impair the flavor of your hunted game.

These are a few of the problems that you will need to address — to keep your game tasting fresh.

From the Moment You Shoot the Deer Until the Time You Eat the Meat, There are Many Chances to Damage the Flavor!

Transporting Your Venison

When I see a hunter carrying his deer on the hood of his vehicle or in the open bed of the truck, I wonder, “What is he thinking?”

Would you leave un-frozen meat out of the refrigerator for 8+ hours — and expect it to taste fresh?   Carrying a deer in an open truck is a near-guarantee of off-tasting meat.

Also, an exhaust system of the average truck can heat the truck bed to a temperature that will spoil the meat.

Keep the meat iced down, in large igloos.  As an added precaution, the igloos should have layers of insulation between them and the bed of the truck.

Boning the Meat

Off-flavors can be the result of not trimming the meat carefully.  Fat can turn rancid (even in the freezer) and that will affect the taste.

By removing the bone and cutting the animal along  large muscle groups (hams and fore legs, for example), you save room in the freezer.

Also, cut off portions where the bullets have damaged the meat (bloodshot) and any area that seems tainted or suspicious.  Leaving these portions can produce an off flavor when the meat is used.

Preparing Meat for Freezing

When boning the game, leave the meat in meal-sized portions — and leave them whole.  The less surface area exposed, the better your meat will taste.

As meat portions are thawing, cut the larger cuts into steaks, etc. (if that is how you want to cook them).

Freezing with Two Layers

Have you ever wondered why deer processors  wrap deer twice (with plastic wrap and then with coated freezer paper)?

The plastic layer seals the meat so there is little dehydration. The combination protects the meat for a year, or more.

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Remember: Deer meat does not freeze until it gets down to 28 degrees! The longer it takes to freeze, the more likely the meat will have an off taste!

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Great Eight‘ is used by permission of Vantage Point Graphics

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This blog is a companion to my website: GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

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Published in: on October 29, 2010 at 1:01 pm  Comments Off on Keeping the Gamy Taste Out of Your Wild Game  
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Interesting Facts About Whitetail Deer

Have you ever wondered why deer eat at night and spend most of the day asleep in their bedding areas?

At Alert: He Senses that Hunters are Near!

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This habit certainly has something to do with wanting to avoid hunters, but the grazing and eating habits also have something to do with their 4  chambered stomachs!

Basic Facts About Whitetails

Whitetail deer roam from Canada to Peru and from the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains to Florida.

Whitetails are in 45 of the 50 states; they are not in:  Alaska, California, Hawaii, Utah and Nevada.  However, their cousins, mule deer and black-tailed deer, are in some of these states.

Wikipedia states that the current population of whitetails (in the US) is about 30 million!

Here in Texas, the 4 million we have are:

  • in the piney woods of east Texas,
  • the hill country in the center of the state,
  • the flat lands of south Texas … and (now)
  • the desert regions of west Texas!

As you can see, whitetails are adaptable to different habitats.  As ‘ruminants,’ these mammals eat plant-based materials.  They soften it in the first stomach, regurgitate it, and re-chew it. (Yum!)

This process is helpful to avoid hunters!  They graze during the night hours, eating as much as they can find.  As light comes over the horizon, whitetails head for their beds, where they doze as their stomachs slowly digest the food.

Depending on where they live, they nosh on seeds, grasses, acorns, corn, berries — and occasionally, folk’s flower beds!

Because these 30 million are running out of room (due to man’s encroaching on their wild lands), whitetails are ‘nuisance animals’ in some areas.   When there isn’t enough food to support the deer population; they help themselves to local gardens and suburban plantings, dumpsters, etc.

Changing Fur

Whitetails always dress for the season!  In the spring and summer, they are reddish-brown.  When the weather cools down, they shed their summer colors and put on their heavier buff-gray-brown coat.

Fawns born in spring-summer, have a coat similar to the adults, with one exception — white spots (a la Bambi).  These spots fade to nothing by the time the fawn is 4 months of age.

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Next Time: More Whitetail Deer info for inquiring minds!

(Whitetail’s antlers, spike deer and the rut)

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‘Autumn Haze’ shown by permission of ClearVue Graphics!

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This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

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Published in: on October 25, 2010 at 8:20 am  Comments (1)  
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