After the Shot
Featured Guests: Gordon Whittington, Christian Berg, Brian Tucker
This week on The Revolution with Jim and Trav it’s all about what comes “After the Shot”: field dressing, DIY processing and more! Joining us will be Gordon Whittington, editor in chief of North American Whitetail magazine, plus Christian Berg, Editor of Petersen’s Bowhunting magazine, Kevin Kolman with Weber and Brian Tucker of Hi MTN Seasonings. Jim and Trav’s “After the Shot” broadcast is presented by Outdoor Channel, Sportsman Channel, World Fishing Network and MyOutdoorTV.
They are America’s most hunted big game animal. Millions of hunters set out each and every season with the goal of bringing one home. Whitetails! It’s not just about the typical and non-typical racks, it’s also about the backstraps. Deer hunting is an ever changing and evolving sport - new ideas and theories about hunting tactics and management strategies make their way into the outdoor space all the time. Gordon Whittington is the Editor in chief of North American Whitetail magazine and for the last 35 years they have been at the forefront of informing readers about this changing landscape. Gordon joins us this week as we talk about everything that comes after the shot.
Depending on the state regulations where you hunt, Gordon says that your first priority after taking the shot should be properly tagging your animal. Hunters need to be very familiar with game laws, so they don’t inadvertently violate those rules like transporting your animal before tagging or not leaving proof of sex attached. After tagging your deer, it’s time to field dress. He’ll highlight the advantages and disadvantages of hanging your deer either by the neck or by the back legs and explain which position makes field dressing simpler. In order to field dress your animal, you need a knife, a practical one. Gordon says the trendy knives that are 12+ inches long are unnecessary. “We’re not taking on a rhino here. We’re basically looking at a relatively small thin-skinned animal with not that much hair on it, even in the winter. So, we don’t need a long blade to start with. I have never seen a situation where you needed more than just a standard size folding pocket knife that was sharp.” Gordon will talk practical field dressing knives, the rise in popularity of disposable blades knives, and how regardless of the blade you choose why you should have a knife you are familiar with that has a good grip. Gordon notes that when field dressing, there are times when you can’t see what you are doing, but rather operate by feel. In these cases, it’s important to have a good grip, good control of your knife and to make only safe and logical cuts. The number one goal of field dressing is to get everything out of the body cavity without puncturing the internals and spilling the putrid contents all over your meat, contaminating it. Having the right tools and a whole lot of patience is essential.
The warm temperatures during the early season present challenges for hunters as hot weather can have a negative impact on the meat if the animal isn’t recovered in a timely fashion. So, how long do we have as hunters to recover, field dress and chill our animals before risking spoilage? Gordon says in truth, you probably have a little longer than you think you do. There is no hard and fast requirement that hunters have to recover their animal within 15 minutes and get it to a cooler within an hour. While those circumstances are certainly ideal, you have some time. Food safety is crucial so when the animal is recovered the burden is on the hunter to work as quickly as possible to get it cooling. Gordon notes that meat itself isn’t full of bacteria, that bacteria comes from contamination, outside in. For this reason, it’s important to take care not to contaminate your meat, to handle it as little as possible, to be as sterile as possible and to use clean hands and equipment.
Once your meat is out of the field and in the freezer it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Gordon says that venison can be used almost as a direct substitute for beef. While some people will lament that it is too lean, and you can’t cook it the way you cook beef, Gordon says personal preference reigns here. While he likes his venison cooked like his beef, rare, he understands that not everyone feels the same way. That is why when cooking for a crowd, using recipes or preparations that can be cooked to different levels of doneness to satisfy different tastes is important. The most classic preparation of venison is to batter and fry it. However, Gordon says he would much rather put something like the tenderloin wrapped in bacon on the grill and cook it with a lot of real wood smoke. This is the kind of preparation that you can cook to an individual’s desired level of doneness to please everyone.
Field to table, Gordon Whittington, Editor in chief of North American Whitetail covers it all! Be sure to check out the October issue of North American Whitetail available now in both print and digital formats. Also, be sure to watch North American Whitetail TV seen Wednesdays at 8 pm ET on Sportsman Channel.
“You’ve got an encounter with an animal and you get really excited and you kind of go into that zone, or that daze. The next thing you know, the shot has taken place, the animal has vacated the area and you’re standing there thinking, what just happened.” - Christian Berg
Who else has been there? If you are a hunter, it has happened at least once. In all of the excitement that comes with an animal walking into shooting range and then taking that shot, it can be easy to blank out in those moments leaving you grasping to remember all of the details and where your arrow hit. Seasoned hunters know that the follow thru of a shot is crucial, watching and waiting to see the impact and reaction of the animal. Christian Berg is the Editor of Petersen’s Bowhunting and he joins The Revolution this week to talk recovery and reading the signals of an animal that has been hit. Christian tells Jim and Trav that watching intently directly following the shot can tell you a lot about how quickly your animal will expire. If your shot produces a substantial amount of blood immediately coming from the animal, Christian says, that’s a good indicator of a lethal shot. With a heart or a double lung shot the animal tends to run, sprint, right away. This is especially true with a heart shot Christian says. They will generally run until they fall over in their tracks which is usually 80 to 120 yards. Tracking a deer in this scenario is ideal because these situations usually produce great blood trails and the animal tends to run in a straight-line making recovery quick and simple. Many people look to the tail as an indicator of the placement and effectiveness of their shot, but Christian says it’s crucial to watch body language. If a deer is hit in the liver or guts, they often times run for a short distance before stopping to assess the situation. At this point Christian says that if they have been hit they may flick their tail a bit up and down as they hunch up and walk away. Behavior such as this is often a good indicator that the hunter hit the deer a little further back than they intended to, and they might want to give the animal a little time to expire before setting out to recover and possibly bumping them. The burden of recovery is on the hunter and that’s what makes it so crucial to observe everything you can from your blind, watching for the impact and reading the body language of the animal directly after the shot. Knowing where you hit the animal, which direction they fled and being able to find sign greatly increases your chances of recovery.
Be sure to listen in as Christian Berg, Editor of Petersen’s Bowhunting joins us this week to talk recovery and reading signals. Make sure to check out www.BowhuntingMag.com where you’ll find tons of helpful articles, plus you can sign up for a subscription, too!
The Revolution with Jim & Trav - 9/20/2018