On The Hunt: From License to Harvest
Let’s say you have passed your hunter education course. What do you have to do to go hunting?
First of all, you need to decide what you want to hunt and where you want to hunt it. Go meet the landowner, and get permission to hunt before the season begins. Next, you purchase a hunting license. Some species such as bear, deer, and elk also require you to buy a special tag. Be sure to check with the license dealer or review the Hunting Seasons and Regulations pamphlet to find out what tags may be required.
Suppose that you are skilled (or lucky!) and bag a deer. What should you do? First of all, be sure that the deer is dead! Approach the animal carefully from behind, and check to make sure that the eyes are open. If the deer’s eyes are closed, it’s not dead! Remember to be careful; a wounded deer is still powerful, and the sharp hooves can cut! Shoot the animal again if it is not dead.
Once you have determined that the deer is dead, the next thing you need to do is notch your transport tag! You must immediately notch the tag (cutting out the date and the month), and then attach the tag to the animal. It only takes 60 seconds to notch the tag and attach it to the animal. Be sure to carry some strong string so that you can affix the tag.
After the tag has been notched and attached to the animal, you can field dress your deer. If you have never field dressed an animal, be sure to hunt with an experienced person who can help you. It is not difficult to field dress an animal, but it helps if you have an experienced person show you what to do. In addition to the information provided here, refer to “Field Care of Game” in Unit 16. Also, there are a number of good videos available that show how to field dress big game animals.
There are three simple rules to follow in field dressing any animal.
- Keep the animal clean. Don’t allow hair, dirt, flies, etc. on or into the animal’s carcass.
- Keep the animal cool. Gut the animal (removing all internal organs) immediately after tagging. Remove the hide as quickly as you can to promote cooling.
- Keep the animal dry. Don’t allow the carcass to get or remain wet. Wipe off blood with a dry cloth. Get the carcass into a dry area.
Field Dressing Larger Game
Here are some additional tips for dressing large game:
- Because it’s harder to move larger animals, you may need to skin and quarter the animal to pack it out, particularly in a remote area.
- If you’re unable to hang the animal for skinning, begin by making a lengthwise cut and removing one side of the hide. Then turn the animal onto the skinned hide and skin the other side.
- To keep dirt off the meat, use the inside of the removed hide as a protective mat as you quarter the animal.
- Put each quarter in a game sack and attach the sacks to a backpack frame for the hike out.