Don't Let a Dead Deer Kill You

Brow Tines and Backstrap

Don't Let a Dead Deer Kill You

Posted 2021-12-08T06:51:00Z  by  Mike Hanback

Are you sure that buck is down for the count? Stay on the safe side with these basic rules from Hunter Ed

Always approach downed game with caution, and be sure it's dead before letting your guard down. Image by Russell Graves

One December day a few years back, a Virginia hunter name Rob shot a 10-pointer just before dark. He hiked back to his truck, put up his rifle, and called a buddy to help with the drag. When the boys went back in 30 minutes later, the buck was gone. They swept their flashlights around and saw the deer hunkering down in a nearby thicket, eyes glowing and still alive.

No rifle, what now? Rob and his friend drew their knives and sneaked into the brush. They jumped on the buck, wrestled it, and held it down while one guy stabbed its neck.

The buck went ballistic, pounding the hunters with hooves and tossing them aside like rags dolls before bolting. The crazed animal then turned back toward the hunters, who dove for cover. The wounded buck just missed them and vanished into the black night, never to be seen again.

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Our local paper caught wind of the bizarre incident and interviewed Rob, who said, Buck dang near killed us! There are more than a few good discussion items here for a hunter-ed course.

Definitely! To that end, here are some tips on Approaching Downed Game straight from the official Hunter Ed manual:

  • If the (deer) appears to be dead, wait a short distance away for a few minutes. Watch for any rise and fall of the chest cavity.
  • Notice whether the eyes are closed — the eyes of a dead animal are usually open. You can be certain that the animal is dead if the eye doesn't blink when touched with a stick.
  • If the (deer) is still alive, it should be finished with a quick shot to the base of the ear. If you wish to mount the head, place your shot in the heart-lung area. For bowhunters, the only option is placing an arrow in the heart-lung area.
  • Once the animal is dead, follow the state regulations for reporting or recording a kill. Some states require you to tag the animal immediately and indicate the date of the kill. Then begin field dressing.

Let me add a couple of things. First, never leave your gun or bow out of reach until you confirm a deer is stone dead. Always be ready for a finishing shot if necessary.

And by all means, no Rambo stuff. In the free-for-all with Rob's dead buck that I told you about, one of those guys could have stabbed his buddy or himself, severing an artery, slicing off a finger, putting out an eye … you get the not so pretty picture.

Learn more here.

(Don't Miss: Ghost Busters: What to Do When Your Buck Disappears)