Steak Dinner

I passed on hunting deer this fall. I was fighting off a severe cold in my chest with a lot of coughing that persisted for weeks. Yesterday, I did get out to the bush briefly. A hunter had bagged a large white-tailed deer and needed help retrieving it. When I got the call via smartphone, I was given the location and headed out. The deer was killed in the afternoon but by the time the task of dragging it out was fully appreciated it was dark.

The deer was a beauty, probably 250 pounds and in the prime of life. The shot had been perfect, through a rib on the left side, the heart and breaking the opposite front leg. Still the deer had to be tracked down in the forest. It must have died in seconds with such injuries but still travelled ~100 yards or so.

Dragging it out through a foot of fresh powder was a killer. Fortunately, by the time I arrived, the deer was at the vehicle. Since my SUV was easier loading we raised the head and slid the deer in a bit. With one pulling and me lifting we got it halfway in and then with two pushing finished the task. We skinned the deer and quartered it in my garage.

Today, we began to cut the quarters. In the front quarters we made a pile of ribs, steak and stewing/soup bones. The hind quarters remain while we reorganize freezer-space. After all this work we were rewarded by a steak dinner cooked by the little woman. It was excellent even though she cooked it rare and spicey. It was the most tender steak I have ever eaten. The deer was very fat, probably grain-fed over the summer, and the steak was supremely easy to chew. I think one barely needed to chew but it would fall apart with only a rub of the tongue…

The only downside to the whole affair was that the deer was shot at extreme range and the bullet did not expand promptly. It turned sideways to pass through the heart and break the leg. 100 yards less range probably would have dropped the deer in its tracks. Still it was a quick, humane kill, just not as quick as such an accurate placement should have been. If the heart had been missed the deer might have suffered long. A lesson had been learned for next year. The ammunition used was .308 Winchester 180 grain round-nosed. It should only be used within 200 yards. The shot was close to 300 yards. A 150 grain pointed bullet is the ticket for the situation at hand. It is no problem to carry two weights/styles of bullets for long openings and dense bush.

Ballistics of 150 SP and 180 RN from .308 Winchester follow. A 150 SP will have a muzzle-velocity about 2800 ft/s and have a 10 inch high trajectory with a 350 yard zero. The 180 grain RN will have a muzzle velocity about 2600 ft/s and zero at about 250 yards in the same rifle. The 150 SP will have about 1000 ft-lb of energy at 350 yards and be quite lethal on deer while the 180 RN will be down to that energy at 250 yards.

It is good to see young people learning the hunting craft and being able to feed their families by hunting. It definitely is the right way to get red meat… Some of the red meat sold in stores in Winnipeg was killed in Alberta and shipped by truck. It is within days of expiring even in a refrigerator. Still, hunting is not for everyone. There just aren’t enough deer in Manitoba to feed all of us carnivores.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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6 Responses to Steak Dinner

  1. Nope. There are several types of firearms licences. The usual one for hunters, PAL, Possession and Acquisition Licence, permits an ordinary person to own rifles and shotguns with the usual characteristics, barrel more than x length, magazine capacity less than 11 (5 for semi-auto), break, bolt, semi-auto, muzzle-loader or centre-fire. Typically hunters use from .17 to .45 calibre but .22 to .30 are most common. Provinces add restrictions for type of bullet and firearm by season. Normally expanding bullets are required by big game hunters because they kill more quickly. This was an expanding bullet but it expanded less quickly than it should have, on initial impact. Still, going sideways, it cut a wide swath through the vitals. We found fragments of the bullet in the exit-wound. It did break up upon hitting the leg-bone. Design of bullets is a science but expansion requires some minimum velocity on impact. Typically light pointed bullets are effective to medium range, heavy pointed bullets to long range and round-nosed bullets for shorter ranges. The reason to use heavy round nosed bullets is they survive loading and unloading many times without damaging the tip, they tend to knock down a deer promptly, and they are deflected less by taking a bite out of a twig.

    In all my years of hunting, I have only had one deer survive a hit from a RN bullet and it was knocked down but managed to run off. I had hit muscle instead of vitals and I managed to kill the deer the next day. The reason I did not finish the deer off when it stood up was that my hands were too cold to reload and fire the rifle. I had been waiting hours in the cold. Most times a bullet like that at reasonable range will drop the deer where it stands and if it remains conscious it rapidly gives up the ghost. In a hunting situation one cannot always guarantee proper placement but with practice and good choice of target the odds are very good. A deer that runs off normally has only a few seconds of consciousness. A shot that hits only gut or muscle is another matter and the deer may run far and may even survive a grazing shot. Hunters should track wounded deer of course and a blood trail is easy in the snow. A wounded deer will normally lay down after a few minutes and a hunter can approach for a coup de grace. I have only had to do that twice in decades of hunting. One was a case of poor aim in low light and the other was a poor choice of shot at a deer running away. Both were learning experiences.

  2. dougman says:

    I thought your licensing was strict that you could not own anything over a .22LR?

  3. kozmcrae wrote, “I read somewhere that there are more deer now than there were in colonial times due to the fact that they are not a primary food source and their numbers are regulated.”

    The introduction of industrial agriculture in North America has extended the range of the white-tailed deer from the USA to the near North. I saw herds of on the roadside on one of my drive-in teaching positions hundreds of miles north of the nearest city and agriculture. In winter, with deep snow, deer have a hard time finding food so they starve. Having fields of grain and grass on which to forage helps them fatten up in summer to survive the winter. Agricultural grain has been a great help in them expanding their range. In the 1950s 75% of Canadians lived outside cities and much hunting was done for food. Now 80% live in cities and much trophy hunting is done. It is often cheaper and easier to huntshop at Safeway. A modern hunter “needs” a $500 rifle, a licence, a vehicle, fuel, food, hunter-orange clothing, a few days off work and a lawyer… Once invested, the money does pay but it takes multiple successful hunts. The deer taken probably amounted to 150 pounds of good meat when all done. At $3/pound that works but one does need to take several days of vacation or a couple of weekends and evenings to do the job. I think it is worthwhile.

    Hunting and vehicular collisions are major causes of death amongst deer right along with natural predators and starvation in winters of deep snow. Natural Resources here uses vehicular collisions as a measure of deer population and so regulates issuance of licences accordingly. This year they cut back on licences and we definitely will have more deer next year as a result. I have a deer who visits my yard with three fawns. I have a few pumpkins I don’t need and will leave them out for the deer.

  4. kozmcrae says:

    Robert Pogson wrote:

    “The hunter is an excellent shot.”

    That’s the caveat. I was thinking more along the lines if I was put in the position of supplying meat for the clan. They’d find my body next summer sometime far out in the woods. All out of ammunition.

    Yes, he must be good to make that shot. I read somewhere that there are more deer now than there were in colonial times due to the fact that they are not a primary food source and their numbers are regulated.

  5. On hunting, kozmcrae wrote, “Sounds pretty brutal too”

    Ever seen video of a predator killing a quadruped by eating it alive? A hunter with a firearm is much more swift. The central nervous systems thrive on a constant supply of blood-sugar and oxygen. A bullet-hole through the heart stops that in seconds. If you try holding your breath you will black out in a few minutes. Stop the circulation and you will black out in seconds (e.g. a heart-attack). The deer in question had so little blood-pressure that it could not be tracked by the blood-trail despite a through and through wound. Normally, there would be a constant dribble from the wound and a spray from the lungs with any lung-shot. The lungs were destroyed. The heart was torn open. The rib-cage was filled with blood not circulating. The only faster death would be a shot to the brain but that is a tiny target in a hunting situation and a grazing shot is much more likely. The chest-cavity is a much larger target. The hunter is an excellent shot. He could shoot a gopher in the head at 100 yards when he was a youngster. Now he is a young man in the prime of life and a much better shot. I have seen him shoot several one-hole groups at 100 yards. The bullet went where it should. It just was not the best bullet for the situation.

  6. kozmcrae says:

    That was very interesting. I had no idea there was so much physics involved with hunting. Sounds pretty brutal too. I’d rather just pick up my slabs of meat at the super market. I know I’m not connecting with the experience of how that meat comes to be on my plate but I’m willing to live with that. Though there are other connections I’m not willing to live without.

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