Table of Contents

Backyard Deer Hunting

Converting deer to dinner for

pennies per pound




Wm. Hovey Smith


Table of contents





Chapter 1.  Setting up your hunts

           Finding an area                   

                  Getting permission to hunt        

                 Local regulations and licenses   

                 Hunter safety instruction


Chapter 2.  Getting the gear                 


                 Hunting boots                    

                Butt comfort                      


                 A crossbow hunt                  

                Conventional bows                 


                 Muzzleloading rifles              


                  Recommended loads               

                  Sighting in and shooting        


                  Hunting with muzzleloaders      

                   A muzzleloader hunt      

                Cartridge Rifles               


                  A cartridge gun hunt            


                 Shotgun cleaning                

                  A shotgun hunt                  

                Used guns   

                  A second gun                     




                 Hunting knives                   

                Deer stands                       

                 Built-up stands                  

                 Ladder stands                     

                 Climbing stands                   

                 Metal tripods and towers          



Chapter 3. Scouting for deer                  

                Your, a friend’s or family lands  

                 What to look for                

                Recognizing deer sign



                 Deer rubs                       


                Placing deer stands



                 Travel paths

                 Prevailing winds

                Ground blind or tree stand?

                 Ground blinds

                 Tree stands

                Preparing for

                opening day                                           


                 For longer hunts


                Walking out the door


Chapter 4. Deer hunting                        

                Stay put, kill deer

                 Labs as deer decoys

                The responsible hunter

                 Can you physically do the hunt?


                 Ten commandments of firearms safety

                 Added precautions for muzzleloaders

                 Archery safety

                  Added precautions for crossbows

                 Safety with knives, spears  and axes                        

                Interacting with partners             

                 Buddy hunts                      

                Relations with your host           

                Respecting the land and the game   

                How much time?                      

                When should I go?                   


Chapter 5.  Humanely killing big game      

               Game anatomy                        

               Making that first shot count

               Learning to use new hunting tools        

               Size of the sure-kill area


Chapter 6.  Finding and extracting your deer     

          After the shot

           Double-duty retrieve

           At the shot site

           Where is it?

          Using dogs

           Labs as deer retrievers

                Deer drags

                 Drag sheets

                 Homemade deer carriers

                 Deer sleds

                 Processing in place

                 Packing it out


Chapter 7.  Skinning and cleaning

                Skinning tools

                 Deer skinning

                 Mechanical aids

                Tanning deer hides

                Cleaning deer

                 Getting started

                 Simple tools can work



                  Clippers and shears

                The yuk factor



Chapter 8.  Larger and smaller game

                Really big game

                 A packer’s share

                 Some dos

                 Some don’ts

                Small game




                Large fowl


Chapter 9.  The road-kill café

                Salvageable deer


                  Sorting and packaging

                  Deer for your pets


Chapter 10.  Long-term meat storage

                 Basic butchering

                  About hogs and bears




                 Salt and sugar-cured meat


Chapter 11.  Cooking

                 Basic implements

                  Small electric appliances  

                  Where do I get this stuff?

                 Basic foodstuffs for the kitchen

                 Outdoor cooking

                  Sheet iron cookery

                 Deer Recipes

                  Basic deer burger recipes

                   Pan-fried deer burgers

                   Grilled deer burgers

                   Deer puffball meatloaf

                   Deer potato skillet

                   Sausage making

                    Southern sausage seasonings

                    Italian sausage seasonings

                    Bratworst mix


                    Sausage loaf

                    Sausage potatoes

                    Sausage sweet potato soufflé

                    Eggplant deer sausage savory

                    Dill deer potato salad

                   Spaghetti sauce

                    Cooking pasta

                   Deer chili

                   Weather day beans

                  Cut meat recipes

                   Gaucho deer

                    Shish ka-bob

                   Deer roast and pot roast

                    Deer roast

                    Pot roast

                   Cubed and country-fried steak

                    Cubed deer steak

                    Country fried deer steak

                   Deer stew

                   An adaptive Indian curry

                  Other critters

                   Squirrel stew

                   Steamed rabbit and onions

                   Road Warrior pheasant

                   Road Warrior duck

                    Duck rice

                   Cooking large fowl

                    Giblet gravy

                    Turkey dressing

                     Egg bread


                     Southern cornbread dressing

                   Poached pecan panfish


                   Sweet corn roasted on coals

                   Roasted yams or sweet potatoes

                   Hunter’s ratatouille

                   Garlic-ginger-olive potatoes

                   Socko succotash

                   Bean soup

                   Enhanced pork and beans


                   Homemade apple sauce

                   Fruit or berry bread

                   Poached pears

                   Fruit bread

                  Homemade pumpkin pie

                   Pumkin pie spice mix

                  Putting on the Ritz

                   Mississippi white sauce


Supplier’s Addresses


Author’s books and publications     




Backyard Deer Hunting

Converting deer to dinner for

pennies per pound


Wm. Hovey Smith




      This book is about providing information on how to find, kill and ultimately eat deer and other game animals that live near your home. North America. The information is also applicable to wild hogs, bears and other big-game species.

Low costs minimalist or homemade equipment is recommend for backyard deer hunting.

Low costs minimalist or homemade equipment is recommend for backyard deer hunting.

My objective is to explain how to put meat on your family’s table as inexpensively as possible. I used deer in the book’s title because whitetails are the most frequently seen big-game animals in

      Although outdoor writing may appear to be a glamorous profession; it is more often an obsession, rather than a vocation. Writers are paid little, late, have their work as often rejected as accepted and may spend hundreds of hours producing materials that never see print. I have often fed my family on deer and other game shot a few hundred yards from my house. I have drawn on my experiences in feeding a family when my income was sharply reduced. You can do the same. This book is designed to take someone who has never hunted through every step required to kill, clean, process and cook big game.

      I have done everything that is described in this book. I have salvaged thrown-away hunting clothes from a Dumpster, drug road-killed deer off the roadside and safely consumed them. I have used nearly every knife, gun and crossbow that I have described. Where expedient items can be used or adapted, I have recommended them. Although in some categories it is impossible, most of the products that I have recommended are American made. I have concentrated on the least-expensive really workable items of their types that are available.

      This book is not about looking good, owning fancy gear, impressing anyone or putting trophy heads on the wall. This book is about killing deer, wild hogs, bears and other meats-on-the-hoof and eating them. Although born in Georgia, I have spent significant parts of my life in Arizona, Alaska and Minnesota and have commonly hunted elsewhere. These experiences have been used to provide much of the information in this book.  

      I have always felt that my books should consider topics that were not beaten to death by other authors. My two previous outdoor books, Practical Bowfishing (Stoeger, 2004) and Crossbow Hunting (Stackpole, 2006), have been noted for their complete treatment of the subject and the inclusion of information on game processing and cooking. Backyard Deer Hunting follows the same format.

      You, the reader, will be frequently addressed in this book, and I will offer my best guidance on a given subject expressed in simple language. Does this mean that I know everything about everything? No. However, I have hunted all of my life, lived in many parts of the country and mostly eaten things that I shot. I almost never buy meat, but live off the deer, hogs, wildfowl and small game that I hunt. I have published 13 books and thousands of newspaper and magazine articles. I have accumulated in some 67 years a great deal of knowledge that I am more than willing to share in as straight-forward a manner as possible.

      Some photos in this book show big-game animals being killed and butchered. If you are going to kill and clean animals, you need to be prepared for the results. I will attempt get you ready to do these necessary tasks. I have seldom met people that I could not teach something to or learn something from. You should adopt the same attitude in using information from this book.

      You can also learn from other hunters’ experiences to add to your store of practical knowledge. Grandpa or even Great Grandma may also have useful information about wild game from a time when much of the meat on the family’s table was killed by the same hands that served it. It is proper that this should be so. It does honor to the animal that gave its life and to the hunter who killed the animal to provide food for his family. This is a practical demonstration of the eternal cycle of life, death and renewal that is much more realistic than the plastic-wrapped packages of meat at the butcher counter.

      Women can hunt too. Although hunting is often considered a “guy” thing, women can be as good hunter-providers as men. The typical stereotype is that men hunt and women cook, which is bullshit. I know, and have known, many women who were excellent shots and hunters and many men who were marvelous big-game cooks. In a family, it is most true that the person who kills something is the one who is also going to have to clean and cook it. When it can cost more than $150 to get a deer processed and you can do the same job with $15 worth of materials, it makes since to do as much of this as possible. Particularly, if you are out of work and have more time than money.

      Teaching yourself to hunt is a productive activity that brings financial and psychological benefits. Although every hunt may not produce game, you are going to do it better next time, and hunting gets you out of the house. Financial hardship brings stress on families, and it is good to periodically step away from the noise of everyday life, enjoy nature and accept any gifts that might be offered.

      There is no reason why your spouse and kids cannot participate. It often helps to have another pair of hands when processing meat or cooking. This provides the spirit that “we are all in this together.” Think about the life that your grandparents had. Everybody in the family did something to keep the family going. There was work about the house, in the garden, in the yard, with the livestock, in the kitchen and keeping the family in clean clothes. This was more about doing the job that needs to be done and not about “my job” or “your job.” I have lived alone most of my life, and with the death of my wife five years ago am alone again. Whatever gets done at my house, I do. If I can live by myself and maintain a reasonable lifestyle, that means that a family with more pairs of hands can, at the least, do equally well.     

      Some very practical reasons for consuming wild-game meat are: 1. It taste good. 2. It is free of antibiotics and other things that may be injected in commercially-prepared meats. 3. Wild game meat is naturally a low-fat product. 4. You know exactly how your meat has been treated and what went into it.           

5. Removing excess game animals keeps the wildlife population healthy. 6. Animals taken from near-urban areas reduce deer-car collisions. 7. Hunting provides a psychological getaway while also providing outdoor exercise to relieve stress. 8. When done close to home, hunting provides low-cost, high-protein meals for better family nutrition.

      The need for this book was recognized by many publishers once I presented the concept, but none felt that they could publish it rapidly enough to be available on by mid-summer of 2009. Fortunately, Author House, a print-on-demand publisher, provided a means to produce this book in time for it to reach the hands of those who needed it.

      Thanks also go to fellow Georgia outdoor writer, author and friend, Jeff Samsel who edited the book. Samsel’s contribution was valuable because he is a fisherman who seldom hunts and could view this material as a perspective user, rather than as an expert advisor.



Wm. Hovey Smith


Sandersville, GA

February, 2009



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