Hearts In Their Mouths

Hearts In Their Mouths
One of the prizes of patience and persistence. (Courtesy Brandon Nelson)

Hunters make pact to take bite of heart at Deer Camp

Eating the heart out of a freshly killed animal was tradition among some Native Americans. By doing so, Indians believed they could receive all the qualities of the animal – bravery, strength and agility.

Northern California natives Brandon Nelson and Logan Estrada knew the history behind the tradition, and made a blood brother-like pact at their Deer Camp in eastern Oregon. If they killed a mule deer on their week-long hunt, they’d take a bite out of its heart.


Click the image to see the photo gallery
Hearts In Their Mouths


The childhood friends, now in their early 20s, trekked an estimated 30 miles throughout the week, scouting deer and elk in a 25,000-acre area. Elk season had not opened yet, but both Nelson and Estrada wished it had.


“There was a plague of elk there,” Nelson said. “We honestly think that there were more of them than deer.”


A persistent pursuit and patience proved pivotal for the stalk hunters. Each morning, they’d map out their trail and make sure the wind was in their favor. They saw plenty of deer daily, but each held out for a better trophy.


“On the last day, we started hiking up a hill that we previously couldn’t see because of the glaring sun,” Nelson said. “I got the urge to glass, and I saw antlers. I couldn’t see anything but antlers. We got closer, about 100 yards away, but the deer wasn’t spooked.

“Logan aimed his .300 Winchester short magnum, and BAM! One shot and dead. Another one popped up and BAM! I killed that one, which was about 200 pounds.”

That’s when Nelson and Estrada paid homage to history. They knew a bite from the deer’s hearts wouldn’t necessarily impart the animal’s qualities to them, as Indians who perhaps hunted on the same plot of land might have.


Nelson and Estrada both cut out the heart, held it up to sky and took a bite of meaty, dripping tradition.

After they took both deer back to Deer Camp, they processed the meat and vacuumed packed it. Nelson’s group of six killed one deer each, and Nelson walked away with 65 pounds of meat.

And a bit of deer heart aftertaste.


For a video recap, click here.

Go to 2013 Deer Camp

Recommended for You

Our picks for stuffable protection against any weather.

Field Tested: Lightweight Raingear

David Draper - May 30, 2019

Our picks for stuffable protection against any weather.

When all else fails, here's what these pros tie on. Bass

MLF Pros: What's Your Go-To Lure?

G&F Online Staff - May 20, 2019

When all else fails, here's what these pros tie on.

Now that you know you might screw it up the next time a big fish bites, let's fix it. Fishing How-To

Why You'll Lose Your Next Big Bass

Larry Larsen

Now that you know you might screw it up the next time a big fish bites, let's fix it.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

New Spinning Reel for Finesse Fishermen

New Spinning Reel for Finesse Fishermen

As Pure Fishing's Andrew Upshaw explains, reel making giant Abu Garcia has done it again at ICAST 2019 with a new spinning reel geared towards finesse fishermen.

13 Fishing Pathfinder Weedless Walking Bait

13 Fishing Pathfinder Weedless Walking Bait

Fresh off catching the biggest bass in ICAST Cup history, 13 Fishing pro Jessie Mizell shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead the new Big Squirm soft plastic worm and the company's unique Pathfinder topwater walking bait that is totally weedless in design.

13 Fishing Inception SZ

13 Fishing Inception SZ

Florida angling pro Jessie Mizell knows that the saltwater found in Sunshine State coastal fisheries can wreak havoc on even the best fishing gear. But with 13 Fishing's new feature laden Inception SZ saltwater baitcasting reel, tackling inshore and light tackle saltwater game fish just got a whole lot easier!

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Who needs live bait when the big 'gills are so eager to strike these lures? Other Freshwater

5 Great Lures For Bluegills

Stephen D. Carpenteri - March 10, 2011

Who needs live bait when the big 'gills are so eager to strike these lures?

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some strategies. Catfish

Understanding Catfish Spawning

Keith Sutton - June 06, 2006

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some...

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish. Records

Upon Further Review: 70-Year-Old Catfish Record Voided

G&F Online Staff - May 22, 2019

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish.

See More Stories

More Whitetail

Master the hang-and-hunt strategy to unravel the deer rut. Whitetail

Field Skills: Go Mobile to Tag Rutting Bucks

Tony Peterson - November 22, 2019

Master the hang-and-hunt strategy to unravel the deer rut.

Water attracts and directs whitetail movement, a key factor in mid-fall deer hunts. Whitetail

Pre-Rut Strategies: Bucks By the Water

Mark Kayser

Water attracts and directs whitetail movement, a key factor in mid-fall deer hunts.

Hunters have a love-hate relationship with deer decoys. Here's how to get the most out of your next setup. Whitetail

Whitetails: How to Deke a Bruiser

Bob Robb - November 25, 2019

Hunters have a love-hate relationship with deer decoys. Here's how to get the most out of your...

See More Whitetail

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.