Game Care After the Shot, Part 4 by Bill Vaznis

Bill Vaznis, Editor of Bear Hunting Magazine

Bill Vaznis, Editor of Bear Hunting Magazine


A few more things:


You must cool the bird down as soon as possible or the skin will slip causing massive feather loss. Either make arrangements to put the bird in a local grocer’s freezer, or ice it down as soon as possible. Unless you are experienced, do not try to skin the turkey yourself. The damage you cause will more than likely be irreparable. And unless you are going to be out of town for an extended period of time, don’t gut the bird, either, especially if you will be at a taxidermist’s studio in a few hours—Rick Streeter.


Salt is used to draw moisture out of the hide so that it dries, the theory being that bacteria needs moisture to survive. Sometimes we see where a hunter salted the hide out to the head, but left the hide on the animal’s skull. Invariable the mount is ruined because the unsalted portion of the hide spoiled.

To salt a hide or cape properly, rub salt into the entire hide, paying close attention to the edges, and the eyes, lips, ears and mouth on the head. Roll up the hide and store it in a cool area. Wait 24 hours, and shake out the wet salt. Then re-salt the hide and hang it out of the sunlight in a cool dark area. Your goal is to get all the wetness out of the hide. You will get about a half-gallon of moisture from an average whitetail deer cape, and a full gallon from an average bull elk cape—Rick Streeter.


A game animal starts to decay as soon as you shoot it because they are leaner than domesticated cattle. The fat on a cow protects the meat allowing you to age beef, and like a fine wine the longer you age it the more flavorful it becomes. What little fat there is on a game animal however starts to rot immediately transmitting a bad taste to the meat. A deer for example is 95-99 percent lean, and the leaner the meat the faster it deteriorates. Thus you cannot hang a deer for any extended period of time in the hopes of tenderizing the venison—Larry Mandell.

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