Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson
For December 10th, 2010 Edition.
Well, the 2010 Wisconsin/Michigan gun deer seasons are finally coming to a close. Now all that remains is the Monday Morning Quarterbacks rehashing the results. In an attempt to simply inject a bit of humor into the subject I’ll offer up this attempt at literature I chose to call “The Anatomy of a Deer Hunt.” Enjoy!
It all begins two or three weeks prior to “opening day.” Expectant nimrods (the dictionary definition: “Grandson of Ham. Mighty hunter) begin to organize their equipment, sight in their weapons, clean up the deer shack, (if there is such a structure) and scout the woods for sign.
Let’s start with “scouting for sign.” The uninformed might think “sign” refers to those roadside signs that warn motorists they are entering a “deer-crossing zone.” If you have ever taken close notice of those yellow and black signs the only deer pictured on these road-crossing areas are bucks! I have often wondered why does and fawns don’t use the same crossing areas, and if not – then where do doe and fawns cross highways? (Possibly the same place chickens do?)
Hunters searching the woods for “deer sign” are actually looking for “rubs” on small trees, which are created by the male deer when they rub the velvet off their antlers. Rubs are also created by bucks to “mark their territory” warning other male deer that all the hot does in this neighborhood are already claimed.
“Scrapes” are also classed as “sign.” Scrapes are also made by “bucks in rut” scraping the ground with their hooves, which is another type of warning to competing bucks to “keep out.”
“Cleaning out the deer shack” amounts to unlocking the door, hauling in dry wood and filling the coolers with beer and other alcoholic beverages. Often the work crew assigned to this project will take time to test the quality of the selected internal body stimulants and play a few hands of poker to warm up the cards.
“Sighting in the weapon” amounts to spending an hour or more at a shooting range attempting to place a high speed projectile into the center of a “bull’s eye” on a paper target at ranges well beyond the distance they will be able to see a deer in the woods. This can amount to a pricey afternoon considering the cost of bullets now a days.
“Organizing their equipment” is an event, or series of events, that varies a great deal from nimrod to nimrod. Although my personal list of necessary deer hunting equipment may not be representative of the norm, here’s what I need to gather and pack out to my hunting location.
Extra bullets, knife, doe in heat scent, human cover scent, rattling antlers, grunt call, propane heater, four propane tanks, binoculars, and a soft, comfortable cushion for my fanny. My rifle, lunch, thermos of coffee, water bottle, radio and battery operated hand held video poker machine comes with me on opening morning.
Now lets turn our attention to the different types of modern day “stands” that are in use today. Things have changed since years ago when hunters dressed in woolen clothing marched into the snowy landscape and plopped their posteriors on a frozen stump to hopefully await the arrival of a buck. This age-old method has understandably evolved into something much more sophisticated!
Younger nimrods tend to use “tree stands”, of which there are two types. One type is a commercially manufactured contraption made of metal that includes a ladder leading to a platform where the expectant hunter will sit for hours waiting for the trophy of a lifetime. These tree stands are secured to a stout tree and the hunter straps him or herself into the seat with a strap, which is much like a seatbelt in a vehicle. Those who do not opt to strap themselves safely into their high-rise stand are often referred to as “hunting accidents” after they fall to the frozen ground breaking numerous appendages and bones in the process. “Falling from a tree stand” now ranks as the number one deer hunting accident.
The second type of tree stand is the “home made” variety. This type of tree stand is usually classed as “one of a kind” models. Generally these are permanently attached to one or more stout trees and to be legal in Wisconsin must be on private property.
Older hunters, who have grown tired of climbing ladders and sitting on cold metal seats – or have acquired a strong dislike for falling out of tree stands, frequently build a modern “ground stand.” These have replaced the older “frozen stump stand.” I gave up hunting from tree stands over a decade ago, even though I had never fallen out of one. I simply became “chicken” to climb twenty-four feet in the air and spend the day in an often-swaying apartment any longer for fear I might fall and leave wifee poo with my insurance money!
“Ground stands” have evolved from sitting on a frozen stump to deluxe apartment complexes. I have two such developments on our property. Built with comfort as the major objective both are fully enclosed, swing up windows, cartpeted floors, propane heaters, and a swiveling bar stool for seating.
Opening morning is always filled with expectations of bagging a buck and beyond that possibly the trophy of a lifetime. And for this nimrod, that is what happened at 11:15 on November 20th, which was opening day of the 2010 Wisconsin deer season.
The buck was a three and a half year old eight-point specimen that came charging into one of my shooting lanes with intentions of wooing a doe that happened to be slowly wandering through the swamp near my apartment complex. Although not one that would register a score high enough to be listed in Boone and Crocket, it was the largest buck out of the thirty-seven I’ve bagged over the past 56 seasons, not counting the mule deer I bagged in Wyoming in 1990.
The actual weight of deer and fish tend to generally be grossly over estimated by those who harvest them and many arguments have taken place over just how much that particular buck or musky actually weighed. So, this year I decided I’d check out my own estimates as to how big my buck actually was, the results of my investigation follow.
Prior to processing the animal I silently predicted it was probably in the 150-160 pound “live-weight” range, although one of my hunting companions that helped me drag it out of the swamp was sure “it’s gotta be at least 200!”
On Monday afternoon I began butchering the beast. With the aid of a digital scale I kept track of the actual weight of each section of the deer as it was removed from the carcass.
|Four legs below the first leg joint removed:||5.4 #|
|Head and antlers||7.0 #|
|Front shoulders||17.8 #|
|Rib cage sections||12.8 #|
|Spine with backstraps & tenderloin||21.8 #|
|Hind quarters||35.6 #|
|Tallow removed while butchering||5.0 #|
|Grand total including bones||127.8 #|