Backyard deer hunting

Inexpensive food from the outdoors

Archive for October 2009

Best Production American Made Revolver and Bolt Action Rifle

with one comment

 

Four shots fired at 50 yards from the S&W .460 revolver. I would have no trouble hunting with this fine revolver.

Four shots fired at 50 yards from the S&W .460 revolver. I would have no trouble hunting with this fine revolver.

  Although I almost never hunt with cartridge guns, I still enjoy shooting them at writers’ conferences and trade events. Two guns that recently struck me as being the “best of their class” were the Smith & Wesson .460 revolver and the South Carolina made Winchester Model 70.

  The .460 has a lot of muzzle blasts and recoil. I shoot a few shots a year with it and its larger relative, the .500 S&W. This is quite enough for my old joints. Even for younger people shooting these big guns with full-powered loads should be done with moderation. I will never own one, but would readily take one on a hunt if invited. For my own use I would prefer these cartridges shot from a 14-inch barrel fitted to an Encore Thompson Center Arms single-shot pistol.

The new South Carolina made pre-64 Model 70 Winchester.

The new South Carolina made pre-64 Model 70 Winchester.

 This new rendition of the pre-64 Model 70 Winchester is a light-weight version fitted with a floating barrel and nicely stocked in American walnut. It is a delight to carry, and in .270 Winchester, it is an excellent shooting gun. When the  barrel was shot so much that it became too hot to touch, the gun lost its accuracy – as is typical of featherweight barrels.

 For myself, I would prefer this gun with a heavier barrel. I will  never own one, as I don’t hunt with cartridge guns anymore unless they are the only available option. (In some European countries hunting with muzzleloading guns, bows and crossbows  is illegal.)  

   I think a lot of American shooters will be delighted with this revitalized version of the Model 70.  Many never really appreciated the Model 70 until we very nearly lost it forever.

Written by hoveysmith

October 22, 2009 at 8:29 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Reusing Hunting Arrows and Points

with one comment

  Today’s carbon shafts and mechanical points may commonly be

Although some of these points are too far gone, some may be rebuilt and reused.

Although some of these points are too far gone, some may be rebuilt and reused.

cleaned and successfully reused, in comparison with aluminum shafts which could be slightly bent when passing through a deer or or wooden shafts which often broke.  

Grim Reaper point after cutting through 200 lb. hog.

Grim Reaper point after cutting through 200 lb. hog.

 

 

 

Resharpening the limbs on a Grim Reaper point.

Resharpening the limbs on a Grim Reaper point.

 I frequently use vise grips to hold the cutting limbs on these heads when I resharpen them, and these grips and some spare parts always go in my “away from home” hunting kit. With points and shafts sometimes costing tens of dollars, it is a considerable savings to salvage and re-use what you can. 

 
Click on the iBooks image to order Book

   It is possible to take a good thing too far. These points are

Replaceing the damaged components in the bottom of the picture enables this point and arrow to be returned to service.

Replaceing the damaged components in the bottom of the picture enables this point and arrow to be returned to service.

carefully balanced. If a component is nicked or bent replace it. Always take care that the stem of the point remains true and that the cutting edges open easily. Be frugal, but not foolish in an attempt to save every possible penny.
Click on the iBooks image to order Book

Written by hoveysmith

October 21, 2009 at 4:47 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

How to Shoot a Deer

with one comment

E-mail Backyard deer cover 

Click on the iBooks image to order Book

The picture of this deer is from the cover of my book, Backyard Deer Hunting: Converting deer to dinner for pennies per pound. This deer is standing broadside and looking straight at the photographer who was able to raise her camera and take the photo.

 Really wild deer are not commonly as foolish as this backyard visitor. The optimum place to place an arrow or bullet is behind the crease of the front leg mid-way down the body. This will take out both lungs. Should it go a little low, it will take out the heart or the blood vessels above it.  If a little high it will hit the spine.

 From a tree stand with a rifle, spine shots are good. These will down the deer in its tracks. Often a quick follow-up shot will be needed. If it is squirming on the ground shoot it again. Near spine hits can down a deer, only to have it recover, get up and run.

 Moving deer are always a problem. If you aim at the shoulder on a walking deer the hit with an arrow will likely be in the middle of the body. With a faster bullet this is not quite so much of a problem, but it is a factor if the deer is beyond about 50 yards. If the deer is at a steady walk at 200 yards with a rifle aim about four inches into the shoulder.  If the deer should stop, that will still be a good hit, if it continues its pace the bullet will take out both lungs.

 When lever action guns using soft lead bullets were being used, two problems arose.  Many of these guns, like the 1873 Winchester, were under powered and not particularly accurate. Unless the spine or bone was hit these bullets would often not expand, but punch straight through the animal. The advice was often to, “Shoot for the biggest part of the animal and keep shooting until the critter is down.  Reload and keep shooting until it is dead.”

 Modern expanding bullets kill very effectively. A better approach is to wait until the animal offers a good shot. Place that single shot where it needs to be to take out both lungs. Aim carefully, watch your breath control and trigger pull and steadily increase pressure on the trigger until the rifle fires. Exactly the same approach is needed for crossbows and muzzleloaders – none of this bang, bang stuff with the hope that something will connect. If the shot is that chancy, wait for another deer.

 I know that is hard. Be patient, more deer will come. Even if they do not, there will be another day when you can place that vital shot or arrow in exactly the right spot.  Watch every deer being cleaned that you can. This will teach you more about deer anatomy and projectile performance than anything else.

 There is much satisfaction in overcoming “deer fever” and doing precision shooting, despite your instincts to just blast away. If deer did not get your heart pumping and have you a bit excited, you might as well shoot hogs in a feed lot. Good game shooting is as much of a contest between you and you as between you and the deer.

Click on the iBooks image to order Book

Written by hoveysmith

October 20, 2009 at 8:45 am

Posted in Uncategorized

“Dear Heart, here is a soup you can eat.”

leave a comment »

Dear Heart Soup. A low-fat soup made from a deer's heart.

Dear Heart Soup. A low-fat soup made from a deer's heart.

  I met Thresa, my wife to be, at work. At the time she was mostly subsisting on Ritz crackers and Coke. As it later turned out she had a seriously infected gall bladder and her body could process very little animal fat. I fed her some deer heart soup which she could eat without discomfort. We were married about a year later, and she was the love of my life.  About a decade later I lost her to Pancreatic cancer, which may have been brought on by her long-term gall bladder problem aggravated by an auto accident.

With a heart like this I wooed my wife.

With a heart like this I wooed my wife.

  To make “Dear Heart Soup” you wash and boil a fresh deer heart. Then slice and dice it discarding the heavy veins and fat at the top. Let the water chill and skim any floating fat off the top. Return the meat to the pot and boil until tender. Add two cans of cut corn, one of stewed tomatoes, a quarter cup of rice, tablespoon of crushed garlic,  a half teaspoon of salt, quarter teaspoon of black pepper and a quarter-cup of rice. Cook, adding water as necessary to form a moderately thick soup. If can be tolerated, add a tablespoon of butter substitute or olive oil. Finish  by adding additional salt and pepper to taste.

 Serve with no-salt-added crackers or dry toasted whole-wheat bread.

Written by hoveysmith

October 18, 2009 at 1:27 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Skinning and Processing Your First Deer, Hog or Bear

leave a comment »

 

This small deer is hung on hooks to facilitate skinning.

This small deer is hung on hooks to facilitate skinning.

The thought of skinning and processing your first big game animal is intimidating. It always helps to have a buddy assist you, but if it is a deer, hog or bear you can work it up by yourself. In the archive section of this blog are videos that go through the process, and a step-by-step approach is given  in my book, Backyard Deer Hunting: Converting deer to dinner for pennies per pound.

If you don't have wrapping paper handy, use plastic grocery bags.

If you don't have wrapping paper handy, use plastic grocery bags.

 

Things to keep in mind are: A. It is helpful to take the hide off while the animal is still warm with body heat. B. There is no need to “age” deer or any other game. C. Remove all of the meat from the bones taking out muscle masses, rather than trying to trim nice steaks at this stage. D. Freeze the package meat as quickly as possible in portion sizes that are suitable for a single cooking for your family. E. Small irregular hunks of meat or meat with tendons (such as the lower legs) go into deer burger and sausage. F. Organs, such as the heart and liver are washed wrapped in plastic and paper before freezing. G. Always wear rubber gloves while cleaning hogs or bears, and it is good practice to do this when cleaning any game.  H. Freeze the game as quickly as possible.

 If I shoot a deer in the afternoon, I skin it that day and cut it up. This is kept on ice in a large chest until the next morning. The next day is spent cutting and packaging meat. The following morning I grind the small chunks into burger and make sausage. I add no fat to my burger or sausage. I usually also render the bear fat at this stage. I could, but do not, render the hog fat to lard. The final cutting of the meat into steaks and tenderizing (pounding with a meat mallet) is done when the meat is semi-frozen just before cooking.

 The larger pieces that have been frozen with bones such as the neck roast and ribs are cooked first to get these bulky items out of the freezer as quickly as possible.

 Forget about aging or soaking meat and taking time to trim nice steaks. Clean it, wash it and freeze it as quickly as can be managed. It will turn out just fine. Any meat that cannot be processed at the time should be covered and refrigerated between processing steps.

 

 

  

Written by hoveysmith

October 18, 2009 at 10:20 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Finding and Retrieving Deer and other Game

leave a comment »

The author with dogs and deer on sled pulled by lawn mower.

The author with dogs and deer on sled pulled by lawn mower.

  Most hunters have the fear of shooting a piece of game and then not finding it. For those who hunt in snow,  tracking is fairly easy. For the rest of us when obvious blood is not seen, the animal did not show any signs of being hit and we cannot find cut hair or a blood-coated shaft, there are lingering doubts. Did I hit the animal or did I not?

Demeter keeping a close eye on the hog she found.

Demeter keeping a close eye on the hog she found.

 Regardless of whether you think you did nor not, go look and look hard. I have shot many game animals and made fatal hits, but the critter showed no visible indications of being struck.  High lung shots or mid-body shots on deer are notorious for giving this result.

 For me deer recovery is a three-letter word. DOG. In the terrible thick areas where deer often go to die, my “hound dogs,” actually mixed-breed Labs, have found much game for me – some of which I would not have found. A few of their recovery stories are in my book, Backyard Deer Hunting: Converting deer to dinner for pennies per pound.

 I often use a plastic sled to drag my critters out of the woods and

Foreground is Paul Presley with $35 deer barrow, commercial carrier from Cabela's in background.

Foreground is Paul Presley with $35 deer barrow, commercial carrier from Cabela's in background.

sometimes employ my lawn mower to pull it. I also made a $35 “deer barrow” from a salvaged piece of aluminum ladder and wheels from a cast-off bike. One time I even field dressed the deer in the woods, put it in a cooler and used my safety harness and strap to pull it out of a deep gully to the road.  

 When I was in Alaska, I often cut up the animal into sections small enough that I could haul on a pack frame. I never worked with horses. I do know from others that horses that  have been trained can carry meat, but don’t count on just any horse accepting a load of meat. They have to get use to that strange-smelling stuff that you are wanting to put on their backs. They may pull a carcass, but not carry it.

 One implement that every hunter should carry is a simple drag rope made of nylon with two non-slip loops tied in it. Even if you don’t use it to drag the deer, it will be useful to tie the animal to the sled

Written by hoveysmith

October 17, 2009 at 8:57 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Hunting Spears. Types, Safety and Utility

with 4 comments

 

Two of the author's spears thrown into deer carcass. Both penetrated the animal.

Two of the author's spears thrown into deer carcass. Both penetrated the animal.

  Spears are no more than knives with longer handles. Although now infrequently used for hunting, they are still employed for both surface (frogs, ice fishing and gigging) and underwater fishing. In general they kill faster than arrows because of the larger cutting surface, deeper penetration and the weight of the shaft twisting the point in the animal.

The Condor, Sportsman's Guide and Cold Steel spears. Only the Cold Steel speer is commonly available.

The Condor, Sportsman's Guide and Cold Steel spears. Only the Cold Steel speer is commonly available.

  Only a couple of states that I know of, Hawaii and Alabama, have specific seasons for spearing big game animals, some permit any hunting tool to be used for taking wild hogs while others do not permit spear hunting in their regulations, making the practice illegal.

  Two general categories of spears are used. One is a hand-thrown spear  which depending on the speed of the projectile to add penetrative power and the other is a drop spear which relies on the weight of the spear to drive it deep into the animal. A third, the atlatl, gains velocity and penetration by the use of a stick that is used to provide increased leverage when the spear is thrown.

  For most of us the range of a hand-thrown spear is about eight

Morris drop spear shown suspended over corn.

Morris drop spear shown suspended over corn.

 yards. As with any instrument, it is necessary to practice with it to obtain reasonable accuracy and to increase arm strength. A weakly thrown spear will bounce off the hides of  large animals like buffalo. Spears used on heavy animals like bison are  best thrust home relying on the weight of the hunter and the momentum of a horse to drive a lance point through fur and hide as was done by the American Indians.  

  In modern times Eugene Morris stands alone as having taken hundreds of game animals with spears including African lion and Cape buffalo as well as deer, bison, hogs (up to four with a single throw with both arms) and alligators. Morris uses both his drop spear and hand-thrown spears such as those made by Cold Steel.  He has a book, Hunting with Spears, a museum in Elberta, Alabama, and a website www.huntingwithspears.com.

Point and water pipe sections of Morris spear. The point has four 14-inch cutting surfaces and two barbs.

Point and water pipe sections of Morris spear. The point has four 14-inch cutting surfaces and two barbs.

  For those who are interested in the spear as a hunting tool, the keys are to use a heavy spear with a wide cutting blade, be close to your game, practice, practice, practice and hit the animal in the right place. As a hunting tool, the spear is among the quickest killing instruments because if its ability to penetrate deeply into the animal and cause large amounts of tissue disruption.

 Walking or hunting with spears has the danger of someone or something inadvertently being stabbed with the blade. These blades should be razor sharp and should be sheathed until they are in the stand or immediately before they are thrown. Many spears do not come with sheaths, but a simple sheath may be made by using fishing line and sewing a wide nylon strap to fit the blade.

 For a complete treatment of spears, refer to my article on spears in the March, 2008, issue of Knife World.  Back issues may be ordered from www.knifeworld.com.

Written by hoveysmith

October 14, 2009 at 10:23 pm

Posted in Uncategorized