When at first you don't succeed...
After failing to harvest a deer my first year I decided to enter into the Saskatchewan big game draw the next year.
Luckily when the draw results came out mid-July and I was drawn for antlerless mule deer. This would allow me to harvest two doe mule deer in the fall.
The next few months were spent reading as much as I could about different topics and watching countless videos on YouTube.
I wanted to ensure that if I was able to fill my tags this year that I would be able to handle every aspect of what needed to be done after the shot with as little waste as possible.
First, I debated if I should get a new rifle. In all fairness I had thought about this since I went hunting for the first time but I finally decided against it. I made the decision to wait on the new rifle until I had actually shot, skinned, butchered, and ate an animal before spending $1000 on a new rifle and scope.
Second, I wanted to make sure I would be able to field dress the animal. I kept looking online for a sale on a hunting knife set and it finally came around September. I purchased the Outdoor Edge Skin N' Bone combo set. It was 50% off online one night and I couldn't pass it up. The reviews were decent and I wanted to try the gut hook that was built into the skinning knife.
Now that I had the knife set I needed to learn how to skin and gut the animal. For the next few months I spent countless hours watching YouTube videos on how to handle an animal after the shot. Needless to say whenever my wife opened up the YouTube history list it did not impress her.
Finally, the time came to start the hunt. Now if you remember from my last post, we have a lot of mule deer in the area and I was confidant I would fill both of my antlerless mule deer tags. I found my strange hunting gear from last year and waited for first light before I took off.
I hadn't driven ten minutes before I saw the first mule deer herd. I took a look at them through the scope but I decided that I would pass on this opportunity and wait for the next herd.
I continued to walk and drive different areas for the morning and then headed home for lunch. Before going in for lunch I decided to take one more drive through the field close to the ranch and I came across two does and I decided that I would try to take one of them.
Getting out of the truck I loaded the clip into the rifle and chambered a round. Then I started to stalk the two unsuspecting does by walking into the wind and using straw bales as cover.
I was able to get within 80 yards before I took the shot. The doe ran about 10 yards before she dropped to the ground. Lung shot.
I waited a few minutes and approached the animal. I wanted to make sure the animal had expired before I had to get close to the dangerously sharp hooves of a potentially wounded animal.
After confirming the animal was dead I instantly became nervous. The hunt is the easy part. After the shot is when the hard part starts.
I retrieved my bag from the truck and brought out the knife set. Now I won't go into detail as a video works better so I have added the video below to show how to field dress an animal. I could try to describe in detail but I guarantee you it would not be half as helpful as a video.
I did not make that video but it was one of the videos I used when I was learning. I will make one this fall if I am lucky.
After loading my catch into the back of the truck I cleaned up and headed back to the ranch where I was able to hang up my deer to allow any remaining blood to drip out rather than pool and spoil the meat. It was left in an un-heated shop to cool off. The main advantage of hunting late season is that you have Mother Nature to help cool off your meat quickly.
One down, one to go.
I did see a few deer over the next few days but I wanted to enjoy my hunting trip and took my time in selecting the second animal.
Two days later I was walking another coulee when my second deer jumped out 30 yards in front of me and we stared at each other for what seems like an eternity. I made my decision, brought the rifle up, and fired. It was not the best aimed shot I have done but it was perfect neck shot in my opinion and she dropped where she stood.
Now here's the thing. She dropped and then slowly slid down the side of the coulee. At the time I didn't think it was a big deal but I found out quickly it was very problematic.
Here is a word of advice before I go any further. Buy a winch for your truck or whatever you will be using. This would have prevented me from going on the following adventure.
After the doe stopped sliding down the hill I walked back to the truck to get my gear to help recover the animal.
Once I was back with the truck I unloaded the calf sled and some rope to retrieve my game. After getting to her I realized that the calf sled was not going to work due to the thick brush she had fallen into. Also trying the haul her out was next to impossible. I worked close to an hour and I was only able to haul her up about twenty feet. With about another forty feet to go.
Then I had an idea. There was one spot in the coulee that seemed less steep so I decided to drive the truck down as far as I could, attach the rope to the truck, and back out. It was a great plan except that when I went to back up the hill the truck tires just spun.
I was stuck.
I pulled out the trusty phone and the battery was almost dead but I thought it was enough for a phone call.
Well I did have enough juice to make a call but once the other person picked up the line the phone went dead.
So my options were limited. I could try to get out with the truck but it wasn't going to be an easy job. Or I could walk five miles to get a tractor.
Needless to say I started to walk.
After four hours of walking, driving the tractor, and getting myself unstuck I was tired and ready for bed but I still needed to prep the animal. I then remembered that we have an engine crane at home that I thought would help to gut the animal. I was correct and I would recommend to anyone that this is by far the easiest way to field dress. Now it doesn't need to be an engine crane but any hoist would do. Buy a gambrel from any sport shop and you will be amazed at how easy it is to skin and gut your deer.
Then it was off to Hub Meat Market in Moose Jaw to get both my deer butchered. One day I will try to do the butchering myself but probably not for a couple years.
FYI. Hub Meat Market does a fantastic job of sausage and jerky. The sausage has a hint of spice to it but doesn't bother me and I am quite sensitive to spice. I have also never tasted as good of jerky as what they make. You get your own meat back and the service is fantastic!