Outdoors: Proper disposal of deer carcass important part of hunting

By Lee McClellan/Ky. Afield Published:

Thousands of Kentucky hunters hit the woods on Nov. 10, the opening day of modern gun deer season.

“It is a great way to get free range, organic natural meat,” said Tina Brunjes, big game coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “You can also feed your family with healthy meat.”

After storing your hunting clothes in a bag with leaves and fresh earth to remove your smell, getting up in the pre-dawn to be in the woods before first light and selecting a good setup spot, you take a nice, fat doe.

You’ve accomplished the mission and field dressed the deer. Now, though, you have a large gut pile to dispose. If you process the deer yourself, you’ll have legs, hide, bones and other leftovers to discard.

Where do you put these remains? This question is one of the overlooked challenges of successful deer hunting.

“Ideally, you would leave the guts in the field or bury them onsite with landowner permission,” Brunjes explained. “The guts will be gone in a day or two. All of your scavengers, crows, vultures, raccoons and even red-tailed hawks will consume them.

“Ask the landowner if you can dispose of the leg bones, fur, hide and other leftovers from processing. Don’t leave them where people can see or smell them.”

Leaving deer carcasses near a boat ramp, along the side of the road or dumping them off a bridge and into a stream is not only ethically wrong, it is illegal.

“Legally, you cannot dump the carcass along the side of a roadway, near a boat ramp, in a creek or on a wildlife management area,” said Maj. Shane Carrier, assistant director of law enforcement for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife.

“This is criminal littering and you can be cited for it. Sometimes, people think it is okay to dump the carcass because it is an animal, but it is considered littering.”

Dumping deer carcasses in this manner also reflects poorly on hunters.

Suburban options

If you live in a suburban area and need to dispose of your deer carcass, you do have options.

“Contact your local municipality and see if you can bag it and dispose of it through the garbage,” Brunjes said. “Many allow you to do this. Check with your local landfill and see if you can dispose of it there.”

You can also pay a deer processor to do this for you, but you will still need to dispose of the guts.

“Hunters must remember they must telecheck their deer before processing,” Carrier said. “People think filling out their harvest log is enough, but they must telecheck their deer before removing the head or hide or dropping it off at the processor.”

Hunters who want to learn how to process their own deer may order “Kentucky Afield” television’s excellent deer processing video. This video shows step-by-step the easy way to field dress, skin and debone your deer and make the proper cuts for delicious roasts and steaks. You may purchase one by visiting Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s website at fw.ky.gov and click on the “Kentucky Afield Store” logo.

Brunjes also reminds deer hunters to show consideration to the landowner who was kind enough to allow you to hunt.

“Be respectful of their neighboring landowner,” she said. “You don’t have a right to retrieve a deer from someone else’s property without permission, something to keep in mind if you hunt close to the property boundary. Don’t discharge your weapon near someone’s home, outbuildings or near livestock. Always leave gates as you found them, open or closed.”

Modern gun deer season continues through Nov. 19 in Zones 3 and 4 and through Nov. 25 in Zones 1 and 2.

For more information on deer hunting regulations, pick up a copy of the current Kentucky Hunting and Trapping Guide available wherever hunting licenses are sold. You may request a free copy by calling 1-800-858-1549 or view a printable version on the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website at fw.ky.gov.

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