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Thread: My first deer!

  1. #1
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    My first deer!

    Yes, I know some of you took your first deer when you were 10, and have shot so many you stopped counting decades ago...

    But I grew up in the south of England where (at least among my families social circle) owning a shotgun was highly unusual and a rifle almost unheard of. So I had to wait till I moved to the USA 5 years ago to learn to shoot and start hunting.

    Anyway, some of you who commented on the threads I started as I prepared for this year's deer seasons

    http://gunrightsmedia.org/showthread.php?t=424107

    http://gunrightsmedia.org/showthread.php?t=423683

    had asked me "how things went?", so I thought I'd relate my first successful deer hunting year in Iowa.

    After getting a "new" slug barrel for the family 20 gauge, I bought a tag for the 2nd Iowa shotgun season (Dec 10 -18th). Went out 3 times with friends. Saw several deer but didn't take a shot. One popped its head out of thick brush barely 10 yards from me, and I just wasn't ready, and it turned and disappeared back into the undergrowth. Another crossed a field into the woods where I was sitting maybe 60 yards behind me, but unfortunately between me and the road, which had several buildings along it, and from the angle I was at I just couldn't see a safe shot. The others were all probably out of shotgun range, and certainly out of range of a 20 gauge with iron sights and a very inexperienced hunter.

    So I bought a tag for the January "antler-less" only season. Now virtually all gun hunting in Iowa is "Shotgun only". The only exception is the January "doe season" and then only in the Southern 2 tiers of counties (along the Missouri border and 1 county up from there). Fortunately for me, I live next to those counties, and I have a friend with land in 1 of them. So I was invited to rifle hunt the January season.

    I was going to use my only centerfire rifle, my Milsurp Turkish Mauser that I've just fitted with Mojo peep sights. But we spent New Years with relatives in northern Iowa, and I got talking hunting with them - and ended up being lent a rifle. A DPMS LR-308 with a 4-15 x 44mm scope...

    Not my first choice as a hunting rifle, but it had a $200 scope on it, so I wasn't going to say no.

    So, after 2 range trips and c. 50 rds of .308 getting it sighted in, I took it out. No luck first 2 trips, but 2 weekends ago I went out Sunday afternoon.

    I was sitting at the bottom of a valley, with a large field in front of me, scrubby trees and brush across the fenceline to my left and thick woodland to my right, with about 250 yards of pasture between. We were expecting several groups of deer to cross, left to right, around dusk. I'd been asked to let the first group cross right over, as we had a shooter in the trees on the other side - unless they spooked and ran backwards, in which case I might as well take a shot.

    Which is exactly what happened. Around 5:10pm. 5 deer jumped the fence and started walking across the center of the field. About halfway across, directly in front of me, they saw, heard or smelt something and stopped dead in a cluster. Unfortunately, at that point they were directly behind 2 trees in the center of the field! Then they started back - not running, but clearly alarmed- tails up, jog 10- 20 yards, look round, jog on. I followed them in my scope, hoping they might change my minds, but when the first 2 jumped the fence I realised it was "now or never". By this point all my plans to try to find the biggest doe in the group had vanished from my mind. I just pulled the crosshairs onto the deer closest to them and followed it. About 10 yards from the fenceline, it stopped and looked back. I centered the scope, held my breath and squeezed the trigger...

    It ran on and jumped the fence and I lost sight of it. To be honest, I thought I'd missed - I don't have that much confidence in my shooting abilities. So 45 minutes later when i was searching the area with a flashlight, looking for signs I'd hit it, i was feeling rather glum. Then my friend - who'd been up the hill on the other side of the valley joined me with the words "have you found it yet?" "So you think I hit it?" "I'm sure you did- I saw it cross the fence and it was behaving very strangely".

    10 seconds later I saw blood on the snow.

    Its just as well K had seen which way it went after I lost sight of it, because since I shot it the fog had come down and 6pm that night might as well have been midnight. If he hadn't known the general area to look it might have taken us an hour to find, following the blood trail by flashlight. Even though it only went about 70 yards.

    Turned out I'd hit it exactly where I'd aimed. Not a textbook perfect shot - it could have been a little further forward - but it went straight thru both lungs. A small button buck - not much meat, but should be tender.

    Anyways, far more detail than most of you are interested in, but I can't help being a little over-excited - still!
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    Last edited by BritishHistorian; February 1st, 2012 at 10:15 PM. Reason: added pic
    I'm a skinny, rather geeky, over-educated Englishman living in the small-town MidWest who believes in the 2nd Amendment and the RKBA... my existence messes with people's stereotypes :-)

  2. #2
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    Terrific!

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    Congratulations. All hunters like hunting stories. The non-hunters moved on two sentences in.

    May your good fortune continue, and enjoy the venison.
    Paul
    People have some respect for the complexity of technology. But almost every ignorant fool thinks he understands money and economics.

  4. #4
    Congratulations!

    Thanks for posting too, this is inspirational to me. I also didn't grow up hunting and want to start.

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    Awesome.

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    You done good, the shooters who aren't real hunters wouldn't have bothered looking. I'm glad you found it, the effort just makes it all that much sweeter.

    By the way that gun might not have been your first choice but it was an excellent choice.
    1934 National Firearms Act, 1968 The Gun Control Act, 1986 Firearms Owners Protection Act, 1993 Brady Handguns Violence Act, 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, 1995 Gun Free School Zones Act, NO MORE COMPROMISING

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    Not bad for a "Limey."

    If you marinate the tenderloin in a dark lager beer with just a hint of ginger in the fridge overnight then broil it wrapped in a strip of side meat or bacon you will know why God in his infinite wisdom gave us taste buds.

    And for what it's worth, I can give you a rather detailed account of my first deer harvest even though it's been a husband and two kids later.
    Last edited by Selena; February 2nd, 2012 at 01:20 PM.

  8. #8
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    You'll never...

    British Historian, have another "first deer!" Good on you passing up those earlier, questionable, shots! And congratulations on having harvested your deer!

    Nice tale, well told. Agree that the .308 is a fine deer cartridge, but FWIW, your Turk Mauser (I believe in 8mm Mauser) would have worked just fine with those Mojo sights, too.

    And good on you, persisting in the tracking. Some (ahem!) "sportsmen" might not have put in that much effort.

    And after the deer is down, then starts the real work of gralloching (yes, I'm a Scot) dragging in, and butchering. I hope you did the butchering yourself, with help. If not, try it yourself next time--Saves $$, and you can cut it as YOU want it.

    Oh, and you should save the hide, have it tanned, and make or have made a pair of slippers or some such. That'll last far longer than the meat!

    Now, Selena gave you a very nice recipe for the tenderloin. Everybody and their brother will give you a recipe for every part of the deer except the hooves, if you ask around. For instance, I tie a rolled roast of shoulder or leg meat, put it on the rotisserie over charcoal in the Weber, stab it all over and shove cloves of garlic in the stabs, and baste with whatever's handy. Butter with ketchup and mustard goes well, or any of the commercial pork-rib sauces, or there would be other suggestions in almost any cookbook. There, I've done it too, and you didn't even ask!

    Anyhow, congratulations, welcome to the hunting fraternity, and may this be the first of many deer for you. It never gets old!
    Last edited by Smokey Joe; February 2nd, 2012 at 11:05 PM. Reason: The usual--had another thought.
    God Bless America

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  9. #9
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    Just remember that venison should always be rare, except maybe in a stew or something like that... Venison is lean and gets dry if you cook it well done.

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    Good job, and you told it well.
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  11. #11
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    Rare? No chance of nasty parasites in venison?
    Also, will the meat go dry after cooking even if marinated first?

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    There's far less chance of parasites in venison than in beef and we eat that rare. It's moist and tender when rare, dry and chewy when cooked well done.

    Of course you can also cook it like a pot roast, covered for several hours until it becomes tender. But then it's just meat taking on the flavor of whatever herbs you added. It's good, but loses the distinctive (good) flavor of venison.

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    Congratulations!

    Even better, you did it with an Evil Black Rifle!

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    Congrats! Thanks for sharing.

    Catherine

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    Never ate any meat rare.. it's not common here, that practice.

  16. #16
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    Rare

    The same cooking rules apply for any of the very lean (larger) game animals.

    Elk (not elg), if cooked the same way as beef, comes out dry and tough, pretty much like venison.

    Bison is also much lower fat than beef, although in flavor it's very similar (most can't tell the difference), and as a consequence much better results are obtained cooking it more toward 'rare' than 'well done'.

    Even within grades of beef, the really lean cuts perform better if cooked less, while the fatty cuts will need more cooking to render much of the fat.

    (Now, with squirrel and rabbit, even though the meat has nearly no fat, I'm not sure that cooking it 'rare' would be a good idea. No direct experience, though.)


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    Well, with rabbit and squirrel, I have always preferred wet cooking methods (saute or simmer or slow cook), to keep it moist and tender while getting it done.

    And I've done that with venison too. It works fine. The "gourmet of backstrap" may think it's not the best way, but if lean meat spooks you, just cook it with moisture.
    Paul
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    Been away for several days, so finally getting round to responding...

    Thanks for all the kind comments!

    To clarify so I don't get too much credit... I didn't spend an hour+ searching for it. I shot it at about 5:10, and waited till the end of shooting hours, 40 mins later (1/2 hour after sunset) till I went to look for it. I'd probably spent 10 minutes looking when the others arrived and moments later I saw the first blood (I'd been looking too high up the hill- in the the fog I'd miscalculated where I'd shot it). Then we spent 20 minutes tracking it about 30 yards over the fence when my friend when on to where he thought it was and found it a minute or so later. Perhaps 35 minutes tops.
    And after the deer is down, then starts the real work of gralloching (yes, I'm a Scot) dragging in, and butchering. I hope you did the butchering yourself, with help. If not, try it yourself next time--Saves $$, and you can cut it as YOU want it.

    Oh, and you should save the hide, have it tanned, and make or have made a pair of slippers or some such. That'll last far longer than the meat!
    I did "gralloch" (field dress for those of you not wearing a kilt :-P) it myself, following instructions from my friend. Easier than I thought, actually. I didn't butcher it myself. Its a skill I'd like to learn, and intend to one day, but not this year, 2 months after the birth of our 3rd child...

    I took it to our local meat processor and picked up 40lbs of venison 3 days later. Ate the first of it shortly afterwards - small roast, wrapped in bacon and roasted for c. 45 minutes to a perfect medium rare. Delicious!

    I did get them to keep the hide... its currently in the freezer... trying to decide if its worth doing anything with. I was going to send it off to be tanned, but when i looked at it its really so small it would barely make a doormat if tanned "hair on", and probably less than 3 sq ft of usable leather. It would be cool to have the hide from my first deer, and it seems an awful waste to just throw it away (tho I'm sure thousands of people do) but really not sure it I can justify spending $60 on that little leather. Again, one day I'll learn to tan myself, but haven't got the time this season.
    Even better, you did it with an Evil Black Rifle!
    Evil Camo Pattern rifle, actually :-) But yeah, definitely a hoplophobes nightmare rifle, complete with 20 rd mag (all its owner had)

    Don't have a pic of the rifle used (it was back in the truck by the time the photo was taken - everyone was in a hurry to leave due to the foul driving conditions), but it was this in camo and with a flash suppressor and an even larger scope...
    I'm a skinny, rather geeky, over-educated Englishman living in the small-town MidWest who believes in the 2nd Amendment and the RKBA... my existence messes with people's stereotypes :-)

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    If you don't do anything else with the hide, get a possibles bag or a pair of gloves made. Deerskin gloves are a wonderful luxury.
    Paul
    People have some respect for the complexity of technology. But almost every ignorant fool thinks he understands money and economics.

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    I have skirts made with less...

    A well tanned piece of leather of any size usually suggests a use of it's own. Perhaps a mouse pad? the backing in a picture frame showing a snapshot? A grip pad for the steering wheel of your vehicle? Sew on cartridge loops and attach to the stock of your rifle? A holster for your cell phone? It's not the size of the leather, it's the size of your imagination.

  21. #21
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    Congrats on your deer.

    Savor the moment and use the hide for something. I'm going to WY for my first antelope hunt later this year and already have a plan for the hides. Hair off, three to five hides tanned by myself, will make a good buckskin outfit for my mountain man clothing that I will wear in SASS. It will look authentic because it will be authentic.

    I will also have the pride of knowing I made my own outfit. That alone makes the effort worth it.

  22. #22
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    That's really brave !! i tried to shoot deer but the circumstances happened that my gun got jam and i failed the target .

  23. #23
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    Welcome to the Forum, Kripnal.

    Brit Historian, maybe we can get an update.
    How was the rest of the venison,
    and what's the decision on that hide?

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    Way to go BH; you did everything right and that's saying something. An ethical, safe, responsible hunt followed by care and enjoyment of the product. Kudos to your friends also for their aid and assistance the way they did that. Hope you continue for the rest of your life and teach your children the same skills and your enjoyment of the experience. By the way, I don't think your shot should have been further forward. I always always pick a double-lung placement rather than destroying the front shoulder(s). You would have picked up a lot less meat from the butcher with shoulder placement. Encouragement to learn your own processing; probably would have been 60lbs of meat instead of 40, and it's tremendously satisfying. That first bite just seems better when you've done the whole thing.

  25. #25
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    Congratulations on your first deer. An unforgettable experience, I'm sure.

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