The Learning Season


Please don’t scroll down to the photos in this post if you don’t want to see something that might offend you if you are offended by dead deer.
I’ve been hunting several times. So far, I haven’t shot a deer myself, but I’ll keep trying. Meanwhile, I’ve learned a lot even without shooting one. I’ve learned how to use a shotgun. I’ve learned how to hunt. And today I learned how to field dress a deer. I got to cut it and pull out the insides–by myself! With hands-on instruction from my neighbor, of course, but I was the one doing the work. And I learned that I can drag a deer by myself, if I have to, since I practiced dragging this one, after I pulled the guts out with my bare hands–which was awesome!!
Things got real bloody right after that photo was taken.

Morgan called this picture “hauntingly beautiful” and I know, it’s dead deer, but I think it’s really pretty, too.
The most significant thing I’ve learned so far is–that I like this hunting thing. My neighbor also showed me how to skin a deer and cut out the tenderloins and backstraps. Hopefully, I’m going to get a complete butchering lesson sometime soon also!


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  1. desertrat says:

    Woo! I’d love to hunt but have to travel pretty far to do so. not many Deer to be had here in the Mojave 🙂

  2. Kathi says:

    One more accomplishment toward self-sufficiency. So proud of you!

  3. Tow Lady says:

    Well, it’s official. You really CAN do it all, lol. Congratulations!!! :hungry:

  4. lattelady says:

    Good for you. Nice young tender venison. Yummy.

  5. The High Altitude Tea Duchess says:

    I’m super jealous. I kind of want to learn this too. I say kind of because I’ve never done anything like this and I don’t know how I’d do, but I’m curious and eager to learn. Good for you!

  6. mschrief says:

    Good for you, Suzanne. Too bad to many don’t realize how their food comes to them. To be there, to take the animal for food, is as basic as it gets.

  7. Susan4 says:

    Great work! We home butcher venison and find that it’s far superior than the results of taking deer to the processor for regular butchering. Most processors do sausage pretty well, but they don’t remove all the fat (largely inedible in deer), membrane, silver flesh, connective tissue etc. and the results are too gamey for me. Learning to home field dress, age, and butcher is well worth any deer hunter’s time and effort. 8)

  8. ibpallets (Sharon B.) says:

    I did my first skinning this year and also, I got to field dress it too!
    It was totally awesome. Used my Larry knife- you need to get a Larry knife now too!

  9. GrammieEarth says:

    YAY for you! I’ve hunted many times with others and love it! No, I’ve never shot one myself, and probably won’t, but I’m good to go in all other aspects of hunting. Yes, I’ve had my cold hands warmed by innards, and have probably eaten a couple of full grown deer myself over the years! I love looking for signs and the tracking. Yes it is a thrill when one is brought down with a well placed shot…and then the work begins!!

  10. CarrieJ says:

    Oooh..that’s a good idea for a workshop! Field dressing and butchering. I’d come to that.

  11. yvonnem says:

    I don’t think I could that. I would at least need some rubber gloves!

  12. Sue, a Florida Farm Girl says:

    I’m not a hunter. I was cured of killing any living thing back when I was a teenager and killed something just showing off for my boyfriend. However, I’m glad to see that you are using the animals you bagged. If you’re not going to eat it, don’t kill it is my credo. My hat is off to you for learning how to do all of this for yourself.

  13. Sue, a Florida Farm Girl says:

    And, just to clarify, (in case anybody was wondering) I do indeed know where food comes from. I was raised on a very basic farm where gardening and butchering were what kept us fed.

  14. Leck Kill Farm says:

    I grew up helping the hunters in my family process their deer. It is nice you have someone to teach you the basics. In my area, hunting is declining as are the butchering skills that accompany it.

  15. bonita says:

    My feeling is as long as you kill the animal humanely and give thanks when you eat it, hunting is more than (just) a sport. Good for you for learning field dressing.
    Aren’t you glad that you have passable roads at Sassafras Farm?

    AND That photo is more than pretty—it’s absolutely exceptional. Should enter it in a photo contest or submit to hunting periodical. [Another crack from the peanut gallery offering ‘advice’ on what you should do with your talents :)]

  16. Cheryl LeMay says:

    It’s so good that you’re learning this. I have only seen it done once. I have cut up a deer though and I routinely butcher our poultry. If you shoot a buck save the antlers and mount them yourself. They are so beautiful.

  17. Journey11 says:

    Sounds like you had a good teacher! I am always shocked and dismayed by how many hunters that don’t know to take out that backstrap right away. It’s the very best cut, like filet mignon on a deer!

    I agree with Morgan; that is a very interesting composition on that deer head photo.

  18. Claudia W says:

    You are awesome. You make all of us women proud!

  19. chickenhead says:

    I am glad to see a down to earth posting that portrays the matter of fact idea behind hunting. Hunting for food is in no way offensive or wrong. I am glad that you post reality and enjoy hunting. Here is a practical tip that may help in the future. You may want to put on a pair of plastic ob gloves (like the vet uses to check cows for pregnancy) with a pair of latex gloves over top of them. It cuts down the mess and you don’t freeze you hands when field dressing your deer. Deer season isn’t over yet, get back out there and good luck.

  20. Diane says:

    Suzanne you amaze me! Its so wonderful you are learning to hunt. The photo of the dead deer is beautiful.

  21. OregonJoy says:

    I grew up in a family where girl cousins, aunts, my mom, and I all hunted along with the guys. I killed my first deer at age 10…a spike black tail deer. We don’t hunt deer with shotguns in Oregon, though. In our family, if you shoot the animal, catch the fish, dig for clams, etc you do the dressing out/cleaning yourself, but in a case of a big elk, someone will help. When growing up, I learned to hunt, field dress, hang up the deer, skin it, and cut it up. Worthwhile survival lessons. Venison is delicious, and there is nothing like fried backstrap steaks, homemade biscuits and gravy.

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