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Apparently this county has a two buck limit, so I’ve shot my last buck for the year. For Texas, at least.

Tyler and I awoke this morning well rested and well fed and headed out into a part of Tyler’s property that we had yet to investigate. We set up under a low tree with a clear shot to a couple piles of corn that he had set out yesterday afternoon and settled in to wait. Unbeknownst to me I was sitting dangerously close to a cactus, a fact which became painfully apparent about five minutes later when I shifted my weight around a bit. Despite the discomfort we sat and waited and were pretty quickly rewarded with some activity nearby.

The first visitor we had was a small doe to our 9 o’ clock position who seemed interested in the food and was coming towards it. There was a low fence in between the deer and the corn, so we just sat there waiting for it to decide to jump the fence. I guess we must have made too much noise because it perked up its ears and went all “deer in the headlights” mode and we had a five minute staring contest which I’m pretty sure the deer won. It eventually decided to trot away and find somewhere else to nibble.

Visitor #2 was another small doe, but this time it was approaching on our side of the fence and from our 12 o’ clock position. Tyler advised me to wait instead of trying to make a shot on the deer, and I’m very glad I did because not three minutes later these two big white tail bucks came waltzing in out of the woods and started eating. Thanks to some pretty heavy shrubbery in front of us I really could only see part of one of the bucks — the head. I took a little flak yesterday for my apparent “headshots only” policy with wildlife but I figured that the target was close enough that I could risk a shot. So I took aim with the Weatherby Vanguard Carbine, squeezed the trigger, and watched as a beautiful buck dropped straight to the ground in front of us.

After we waited for the deer to breathe its last Tyler popped it into the back of the truck and carted it over to a small stand of trees so we could take the above picture, and then we started in on the process of gutting the kill. Tyler did the cutting on the last deer, but this time I whipped out my H&K knife and started in on it with Tyler guiding me. I do admit that I had to grab a pair of gloves from the truck before I started, though. Something about “scene safe, BSI…”

Gutting a deer, to me, was fascinating. The closest I’ve been to seeing the insides of a human was my 1890s copy of Gray’s Anatomy which helped me through basic physiology for EMT, and a deer seems to be put together very similar to a human. At least all the same major bits are there and in generally the right places. As we were cutting it up I kept seeing familiar landmarks, pointing them out, and having Tyler call me a nerd. Extra special kudos to Tyler, by the way, for handling a sawsall like a friggin’ surgeon and expertly extricating a full bladder from the animal without spilling a single drop.

That was the third trip we made to the processing facility in two days. The guys there are starting to recognize me. We stopped at Whataburger on the way home for breakfast. I’m pretty sure that was the most Texas morning I’ve ever had…

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  1. Nick:

    There is a nice spot of public lands in NW Fauquir County if you want to give it a go Christmas week. It won’t be like flat and open like Texas but that makes it more sporting and depending on where you set up a lot less likely to hit by stray rounds.

    • CF Phelps down by Summerduck. Fauquier is one of the counties in VA with hunting through March, though I don’t know how long centerfire runs.

  2. People need to quit bitchin’ about taking headshots. obviously Nick is an excellent shot, so there is no reason to ruin a chunk of meat.

      • Bite your tongue sir! Baked stuffed heart is very tasty!

        1 venison heart
        1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
        1 egg, lightly beaten
        1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
        1/4 cup melted butter
        1/2 cup finely chopped onion
        1 or 2 good sized garlic cloves, crushed

        Notes: You can use a beef heart if you didn’t get a deer.
        You can substitute cooked wild or regular rice (or a mixture) for some or all of the breadcrumbs.
        I mean fresh parsley; seriously, don’t use the dry stuff it doesn’t have enough flavor.
        If you like a mellower onion flavor you can *briefly* sauté it in a little butter.
        Likewise with the garlic.
        For the garlic don’t use smaller cloves unless you want a stronger garlic flavor. I know it’s counter-intuitive but with garlic the bigger the clove, the milder the flavor.

        1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Have a small lidded roaster ready.
        2. Clean the heart of excess fat and veins.
        3. In a bowl, mix the breadcrumbs (or rice or whatever), egg, parsley, butter, onion and garlic. Add salt to taste. Add a little stock or more melted butter if it’s too dry.
        4. Lay the heart open and place the stuffing in the center.
        5. Wrap the heart around the stuffing and tie it up.
        6. Place heart in roaster with a little beef stock or wine for moisture. You can also throw a couple of thick cut bacon strips across it.
        7. Bake covered for 1 to 1 1/2 hour (to about 155° F), basting if necessary.
        8. Remove roaster lid and broil the heart for the last 10 minutes or so, making sure that the venison reaches 160° F
        9. Cut into crosswise slices to serve.

        Venison is strongly flavored so you want a robust wine to go with it, a hearty Cab, Red Zin or Shiraz. If you’re using this recipe for beef heart go with a milder Merlot or Pinot Noir.

    • Eh,.. people just bitch because head shots can get a little gory. I say the faster the kill the better. If I’m confident on the head shot, I’d take it.

      Congrats on your Deer!

  3. I hear ya on the gloves thing Nick. Anytime I see blood I subconsciously start reaching for latex the product of PPE being hammered into my head so much by my ass’t chief.

    Nice shooting.

  4. Guys:
    PhD in Virology here. Wear gloves, and avoid wiping any of your mucosa (eyes, nose, mouth, etc.) Lots of viruses can cross from animals to humans (we call them zoonoses), and you don’t need a mosquito to do it. And not to rain on anyone’s parade, but deer can have a brain wasting disease that’s eerily similar to Mad Cow. I’ve given up venison and other wild meats just to be on the safe side, but we’re all for individual freedom when you know the risks.
    Oh, and Congrats, Nick–and kudos to Tyler for hosting this.

  5. Good shooting Nick. Keep going for the head shot. Heart is tasty sliced and grilled with a bit of salt and pepper.

    I’ll continue eating venison as my main protein source. I’ve found no studies that say CWD prions can infect humans and have found studies indicating they are not transmissible. Fillet them out and stay away from the brain and spinal cord to avoid possible ingestion. Even at the height of the Mad Cow scare it was considered safe to consume whole muscle cuts.

  6. Way to go Nick, great shooting and I’m sure you’ll have great eating also. Welcome to the world of hunting!

  7. Wow…in Vermont most hunters don’t get a deer at all. Even ones that spend most of the season in the woods.

  8. I grew up in Texas, but I’ve never hunted deer there (though I went along when I was younger), only birds. My stepdad describes South Texas as the deer supermarket, truly a Nirvana for meat hunters. Congrats, looks like good times. I respect the head shot, though I go for the heart/lung/shoulder sort of shot, because I’m not an MOA kind of guy, at least not in the field.

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