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Deer Dragging Volunteer

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Deer Dragging Volunteer

After some talk recently of “Managed Deer Hunts”:http://www.foodnewsie.com/articles/the-managed-hunt and Venison Sausage, a decision was reached to take on the role of Deer Dragger. Deer Draggers are normally sleds or simple carriages with extra large wheels to negotiate the terrain found deep in the woods; they are tools hunters use to drag deer from where they’ve fallen to where the hunter next needs them. Just weeks after helping with the Duck Harvest which became very personal, This Author wasn’t sure how emotions were going to go during this investigation.

Hunter sets up. Hunter waits. Hunter shoots deer. Hunter drags deer to staging area. Hunter field dresses deer. Field dressed deer is dragged off the field. That’s it; that’s a twelve hour day that might result in one or ten carcasses.

The grown-up nature of dragging a carcass through the woods isn’t for everyone. Indeed, as this post has been vetted around various friends and food industry folk, reactions to this Deer Dragging need on the part of hunters range from trepidation to a casual acceptance. Not everyone in the twenty-first century is quite “at home” with the idea of Where Food Comes From which is the current theme of the site. In harvesting food of all kinds from the suburban kitchen sink to the city’s rooftop chicken coop there’s accidental gore. Things happen. Animals happen in one piece; food happens in pieces.

As described earlier, the Managed Hunt took place in a deeply wooded terrain. Boundaries which are clear lines on an old map are far from obvious when trekking through shrubs and around old trees. Plastic orange tree-ties help the hunters negotiate their deer stand locations, but for the Deer Dragging volunteer grunt, it’s simply nothing more or less than acres and acres of random woods lit by a low Autumn sun casting a dim warm light on a chilly, but not frozen, day.

Deer Dragging Volunteer

It's not important to show the gunshot in its 100% truth. The icon is located correctly and the kill was clean; the deer's ticker took the shot which is, ideally, how one would best respect not making game suffer.

We enter the wood line on the wrong side of a dry ravine. Everywhere there’s about a four-inch carpet of brown, dry leaves and there are no hunters or carcasses or tree stands to be seen. This is when the warnings come to mind: You’re now possibly in the line of fire. You’re a movement in the boundaries of people you can’t see who have been working since before dawn that same day to shoot and collect person-sized things that are moving in the woods. The pair of volunteer Deer Draggers become orange by donning hats and turning a coat with orange lining inside out.

It’s a relief when the hunters are contacted. They were only about 150-feet away as a straight line and they’re jovial, friendly. It’s in the their voices; the relief is here and they can take a short break. They’ve become masters of the five acres they’ve watched over for hours and hours. The Deer Draggers (two of us) just arrived, are not. When crossing the dry ravine and ascending the far side, This Author slips and stops the fall by landing hand-first.

I spring upright immediately:

  • I won’t be the clumsy putz character, and;
  • The sharpest thing to ever cut me just sliced the meat of my left hand.

We never looked back and never identified what made the cut. Thick, dark red blood began running a solid quarter-inch stream from a razor-thin cut that went about a half-inch at the deepest point. Without so much as laying eyes on quarry or hunter, we two Deer Draggers now only had three hands to work with. On meeting the hunters, they’re young, fit, smiling, gracious and good-natured. They’re standing near three deer that have already been field dressed.

Field Dressing Deer 101 (text only)

1 MAKE AN INCISION FROM THE BREASTBONE DOWN TO (BUT NOT THROUGH) THE ANUS OR VAGINA. DO NOT CUT SO DEEP THAT YOU SLICE INTO THE INTERNAL ORGANS. 2 REMOVE THE URINARY BLADDER AND TRACT. 3 ROLL THE INTERNAL ORGANS OUT OF THE ABDOMINAL CAVITY OF THE DEER. 4 RETURN TO THE UPPER PART OF THE DEER AND CUT THROUGH THE EDGE OF THE DIAPHRAGM, WHERE IT MEETS THE RIBS. 5 CLEAN THE BODY CAVITY. 6 REMOVE THE DEER FROM THE FIELD. PDF Source

Field dressing an animal is a very physically and mentally demanding activity. Even at its cleanest, good field dressing will leave evidence of field dressing.

Deer Dragging Volunteer

Politely desaturated in key spots and darkened here and there, this is the end of the line for dragged deer. The deer have been field dressed and not too warm at this point. Time is of the essence and despite the challenges, we did OK.

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