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Author Topic: Carrying and field dressing small game?  (Read 2176 times)

Offline tamure

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Carrying and field dressing small game?
« on: February 06, 2005, 12:10:00 AM »
Well, I think I finally got them darned bunnies figured out. I've taken three of 'em so far. If I wasn't such a bad shot, it'd probably be more.    :rolleyes:  

When you're out shooting bunnies or quail or squirrels or other small game, how do you carry your take? Do you field dress 'em right away, or do you wait till you get home to clean them? Do you use a game bag? What sort of bag is it? How do you keep them cool / cold? Should you throw them in a cooler if you're still going to be out for another 2-4 hours? What if it's already freezing temp, or near freezing?

I like to roam several miles from my car during the day, so I'd like to avoid having to return to the car if possible. Any suggestions?
Directions: Hike, camp, hunt, fish, wash, rinse, repeat.

Offline Traxx

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Re: Carrying and field dressing small game?
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2005, 01:50:00 AM »
Ky,
I have always just waited till i was done huntin and do it before i head home.I sure wish i was at the shop the other day to shoot that bow,but had to do an emergency shoe job.Congrats on the bunnie bustin.What heads did you settle on?
Target archery is seeing how far away you can get and still hit the bull's eye. Bowhunting is seeing how close you can get and never miss your mark.

Offline Mike Brown

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Re: Carrying and field dressing small game?
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2005, 02:01:00 AM »
I carry zip lock bags.  I put them in the bag before and or after cleaning to keep from getting my day pack bloody.

Offline Dogsoldier

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Re: Carrying and field dressing small game?
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2005, 03:06:00 AM »
well if I'm on an all day hunting trip I might put a 5 gallon jug of water in the truck and a cooler full of ice...clean whatever I kill and throw them in the cooler....but if its just for a couple hours I just do it when I get home

Offline WoodChips

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Re: Carrying and field dressing small game?
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2005, 03:29:00 AM »
Hey Ky,
Good shootin on the bunnies!!
I usually clean them when I'm finished hunting. I just carry bunnies and squirrels tied with a piece of leather lace hooked to my belt.
Brandon Byers

Offline NEW GUY

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Re: Carrying and field dressing small game?
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2005, 06:33:00 AM »
If I'm gonna have a bag. I would either take a backpack and use a plastic bag inside it, or use a game vest.  Squirrels and rabbits get a little heavy for a waist belt type bag.

Most of the time it works pretty good to just tie them to your quiver with a piece of leather string hangnin off of it.  Also, on rabbits if you are gonna be comin back through the area your huntin, just hang em in a  tree and pick them up on your way back by.  Pretty common.  Also, if your not huntin dogs, you can pop the innards out of rabbits as you go.  It's really simple, helps to cool them out, easier to clean, much lighter to carry.

You don't have to worry much about cleanin them until after you get back to the truck or home, unless it is really warm.
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Offline John Nail

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Re: Carrying and field dressing small game?
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2005, 06:46:00 AM »
I attached some leather shoe laces to my side quiver for carrying small game. Squirrels I usually wait until the end of day, but rabbits(darned rare here-too many coyotes) I pull the head off and gut them. Takes no time, and allows them to cool. Skin them when I get home.
 
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Offline mike hall

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Re: Carrying and field dressing small game?
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2005, 10:50:00 AM »
Carry zip locks - gut em and skin em while they're warm....... much easier and less mess at the house.

Offline tamure

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Re: Carrying and field dressing small game?
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2005, 11:43:00 AM »
Thanks for the input guys!
John, that's a nice quiver! Nice bow too, and couple of tree rats. Is that quiver open at the top?

I think I will have to make some sort of plastic lined game bag, or carry a bunch of zip locks and a backpack. The first one I killed, I skinned and cleaned immediately. I haven't field dressed anything in a while, so it took me some time, but it turned out pretty good. My main concern is just keeping things clean out in the field. There was a ton of snow, so I just flopped him down in the snow, and went to work. That seemed to work alright, but the snow is melting off... Put the skin in a plastic garbage bag, and the meat in another. Stuffed the meat with snow. I didn't have a backpack or anything to put them in. I just don't want to run into anyone else when I'm carrying around two bloody garbage sacks.    :rolleyes:  

How do you "just pop the innards out?" I guess most of my "field dressing" experience involves the whole deal: skin, cut open from anus to throat, clean all the guts out, cut into pieces if necessary, put into bag and pack out.

2traxx, I was surprised you didn't come by the shop, but, darn those emergency shoe repairs... hah! if you weren't a ferrier, that would sound awfully strange.    :D  

Anyway, I basically went back to blunts / nutters because I don't have any practical way to carry broadheads, at least not with my new Raven. I ordered a bow quiver, but it doesn't fit on the Raven, though it fits on the Savannah. So I have to either get a different one, or I need to make a Frankenquiver like Littlefeather's.

The first rabbit I shot with a nutter at about 5 yards. I was aiming for his head, and I thought I hit him in the head by his reaction. However, turns out I hit him behind the front leg, in the "kill zone." At five yards, it had a pretty similar effect to hitting him in the head.

The other two I shot with the big rubber blunts, both in the noggin, at just over 10 yards. All very quick kills.

Also, the area I hunt is practically all rock, so if/when I miss, I'm virtually guaranteed to hit a rock. The rubber blunts on a woodie have proven to be surprisingly durable, and if the end gets deformed on a nutter, I can just trim it back slightly, put the nut back on and go again. As much as I miss, I'd go through a six pack of broadheads a day.    "[dntthnk]"
Directions: Hike, camp, hunt, fish, wash, rinse, repeat.

Offline MSwickard

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Re: Carrying and field dressing small game?
« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2005, 11:54:00 AM »
With bunnies the easiest way to field dress them is to hold the rabbit under it front legs with the rabbit facing you.  Start squeezing the body working your way down. As you continue pressing downward the innards will pop out.

Best way to clean them. Cool them down and no hair in the body cavity.

Cheers

Mike

Offline tamure

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Re: Carrying and field dressing small game?
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2005, 11:59:00 AM »
Mike, can you expand a little? Do you mean cut the head off first, and I assume you need to cut around his pooper, then sort of squeeze the innards out the neck? Or do you mean the innards come out the other end?
   :help:
Directions: Hike, camp, hunt, fish, wash, rinse, repeat.

Offline newell38

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Re: Carrying and field dressing small game?
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2005, 12:01:00 PM »
yup mswickard is right squeeze em real tight and the inards pop right out the terd cutter....makes em nice and lite to carry....thats the easiest way to dress em....
"The worst thing I can be is the same as everybody else. I hate that.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger
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Offline newell38

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Re: Carrying and field dressing small game?
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2005, 12:03:00 PM »
nah tamure....no cutting necessary....just right after u shoot em...grab em and squeeze em...EVERYTHING usually comes out the rear....real quick and easy....
"The worst thing I can be is the same as everybody else. I hate that.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger
Endless loop strings, heavy bows, and wood and only wood arrows...my kind of archery!

Offline tamure

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Re: Carrying and field dressing small game?
« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2005, 12:12:00 PM »
Wow, I'll have to try that, thanks for the tips guys. If I can get that down, it would be a whole lot easier!
Directions: Hike, camp, hunt, fish, wash, rinse, repeat.

Offline adkmountainken

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Re: Carrying and field dressing small game?
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2005, 12:27:00 PM »
you might want to try wearing a turkey hunting vest while smakk game hunting for a varity of reasons.
1) most have padded fold down seats, very comfortable when waiting those critters out.
2) all most all of them have lined, rear game pockets. i have carried many a bloody critter in there and then just wash out when you get home.
3)ton of pockets for anything you need.
4) can get them in all most any camo ya want.
5) easy on and easy off, everything stays in one piece of clothing.
6) some have zippers on and off sleaves as you can use them like a jacket.
7) i have a spare old one that i'll give ya for free if ya want it. it is xl but i think you can cinch it up tight or just wear it over all your other clothes.
  as for skinning have you ever tried the step on the wings and pull method for small birds like grouse? step on both wings close to the body. pullback towards you and legs, torso and breast will pop right out. do this when the bird is still warm.
  Ken
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Offline Rooselk

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Re: Carrying and field dressing small game?
« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2005, 12:57:00 PM »
Tamure, Here's some sound advice concerning rabbits that I found at another forum. Though it is specifically written for gun hunters it can also be applied to bowhunters as well:

1.) ALWAYS! Wear surgical gloves. Tularemia is a microscopic critter. You might not SEE the blood, but ever seen slow-motion photography of an orange being peeled. See the tiny droplets that come out of it? That's what blood does when you skin an animal. Tiny droplets of blood are flying out when you skin, even if you don't see them. If the animal has tularemia, that tiny droplet can get on your hands and enter through a small cut on your hands. It's just safe practice. Also keeps your hands clean.

2.) ANOTHER ALWAYS. Always clean your knife with rubbing alcohol after you skin one. Harmful bacteria and food-borne illnesses come predominantly from unclean food preparation. If you skin a critter and just wipe the knife off, when you replace the knife into the sheath, you're shoving into the sheath a bunch of bacteria that just LOVES dark places to multiply in. After hunting, I pour a bit of alcohol into the sheath and rinse it out and then run the knife through the dishwasher where heat will also sterilize it. But between rabbits, always clean with rubbing alcohol. Same goes for the axe you take the head and feet off with. And anything you use in the process.


3.) HASSAN CHOP! After you skin up to the head and ends of the feet, get your hatchet and get the head whacked off pronto. That's where 90% to 100% of ticks live on rabbits. I skin up to the head and ends of the feet, cut off head and ends of feet, then gut.

4.) BAG 'EM. Use a ziplok EZ-Zip bag. Yeah, they cost more. But guess what? They're a helluva lot easier to use because they have that little tab to zip them closed. Use a big enough bag. Try and find gallon sized for jackrabbits and bigger cottontails. They're easier to use with those gloves on, too. BUT before you bag them after dressing them out, wash them off real nice and proper with water. Get that hair and crap off before you bag them up. Never throw unbagged meat into a cooler. You're asking for problems later that usally herald themselves by vomiting and diarreha. The blood will linger in there and the bacteria, as I mentioned earlier, just loves dark places to multiply in. Always clean the cooler out with dishsoap and water when you get home even bagging the meat.

5.) TAG 'EM. When you get them home, wash them again under running water to get off any hair you missed in the field. This is also the time to search for any shotgun pellets or bullet fragments that escaped your notice while dressing them. These projectiles will carry some hair with them into the meat, so as you remove the projectile, the hair will come out also. A knife will usually work to pry them out. If you don't do this and you put this meat in a microwave, those projectiles will tell you right where they are in a hurry. And for trauma (anywhere a projectile hits, blood will mass under the skin), use a serrated knife to lightly score the meat and squeeze the blood out. This will make for a tastier rabbit. Then put them into fresh bags and date them. I usually like to leave them in the freezer a few days before eating them. Not quite "aging" the meat, but that's what I do.

6.) JACKS OR BETTER TO OPEN. Jackrabbits are not true rabbits, but hares. Difference? Well, rabbits are born with eyes closed. Hares are born with eyes open. Rabbit is a "white" meat like chicken. Hare is a "red" meat like beef. This is where people go wrong with jackrabbit. You can fry it up and it's like a big chicken fried steak if you bread it. But beef recipes are better for jackrabbit. And here is the sedret to great jackrabbit. After you thaw that hoppin' venison out of the freezer, soak that joker in water with a cup of good vinegar for about an hour. That'll tenderize that jack up slicker than if you pounded on it an hour with the butt of a Peacemaker. Then cook it up. Use whatever vinegar you're partial to. I've found that the front legs of jacks are really neat to make like hot wings. We call them "prairie wings". The heart and liver are great. Don't discard those. On a jackrabbit, they're big and a bag of those, boy, you can make a meal out of. The hearts you can slice thin and fry up in some garlic and butter and serve over pasta. Or slice them, bread them and fry them up for Desert Oysters. The livers, well, you fry it nice and proper in garlic, bacon, mushrooms and onion, you ain't never had liver and onions til you've had that. If you eat a jackrabbit heart, you will always be an excellent rabbit/jackrabbit hunter. Ain't no superstition to it, it's just common sense. Jackrabbit meat goes great in any southwest recipe with chilis and doings like that. And it really goes well in stir-fry, Southeast Asian style with lots of Nam Pla or Nuoc Mam fish sauce and a dollop of Tuong Ot Toi Viet-Nam chili-garlic sauce on the meat while you're frying it and lots of Tuong Ot Toi Viet-Nam chili-garlic sauce served at the table to put in it to taste. You can get Tuong Ot Toi Viet-Nam from Huy Fong Foods which you can see at  www.huyfong.com  . Sambal Olek is the same thing, except without garlic. The Nam Pla fish sauce you SHOULD be able to find in the Asian section of your supermarket. Yes, it REEKS. But that's the secret to the rich flavors you find in Thai cuisine.

7.) TULAREMIA, SHMOOLERMIA. As long as you are cautious until you inspect the liver, you have nothing to worry about. Tularemia is vastly overblown. There is just as much risk, actually probably significantly MORE risk of salmonella from chicken and e. coli from hamburgered beef than tularemia from harvested rabbits. Just skin safe, wash, and keep your tools clean and you will have a nice meal. Yes, it's a lot more work than some people do. But that's the secret to tasty rabbits. The reason many folks don't like wild game is because the meat was poorly handled or badly dressed (guts cut through, feces all over the meat and then poorly washed, etc., etc.) That brings us to:

7.) PUT 'EM ON ICE! The FIRST thing you do after shooting a rabbit. Go right back and skin and gut and get the meat on ice. Don't drag that rabbit around all day. Take care of the meat you've got first. Then get another. Skin, gut, dress, wash, bag and ON ICE. Meat sours fast if not gutted nice and proper fast. If a shotgun pellet punctured an intestine, the fecal matter won't ooze out immediately. If you skin and gut right after you shoot the rabbit, it will never be a problem. If you can't do that, I'd say don't go more than an hour before dressing it out. But the optimal thing is as fast as possible.

You do these things, you can feed cottontail or jackrabbit to anyone and they'd never guess it's wild game. Like I said, the reason folks hate game meat is because they had badly taken care of meat. Or it had hair all over it. Or it sat in the bed of a truck for half a day before dressing. Follow "Ace's Rules" and you'll work a bit more getting the meat properized, but it'll be worth it.

- by Aces N Eights, leverguns forum
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Offline bob@helleknife.com

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Re: Carrying and field dressing small game?
« Reply #16 on: February 06, 2005, 04:00:00 PM »
Howsabout those fleas and ticks?  

As the critter cools off they will abandon ship and head straight for the next warm blooded animal they can find...YOU!

I clean them on the spot and soon as possible.  

I have heard of guys spraying a little bug killer into a zip lock and tossing the rabbit in and sealing it up.  Don't know if it would effect the taste of the meat?

Bob
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Offline Hawken1911

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Re: Carrying and field dressing small game?
« Reply #17 on: February 06, 2005, 04:18:00 PM »
A couple of you have recommended game vests, but I have read many times that it isn't a good idea to have the game resting next to your 98.6 degree body.  The goal is to cool them down.

I made a bundle of tauntline hitches (like little nooses)out of shoelaces with a big carry loop.  I just slide the back foot of the squirrel/rabbit through one of the loops, tighten it up, and carry the game that way, or attach it to my daypack.
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Offline NEW GUY

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Re: Carrying and field dressing small game?
« Reply #18 on: February 06, 2005, 05:24:00 PM »
When you try the innard poppin thing, just work them from top to bottom as the others have stated.  Then if they are a little stubbern you can place the bunny on your knee for a little extra leverage.  Almost all of the innards will come out, with just a little left usually in the upper cavity.  I would twist the head off after you gut, just to keep the blood a little more at bay.  The guts actually sometimes pop out of the base of the stomach, no biggee you did it right if so.

Havin the head popped off will make skinnin a little more stream lined as well.  You really don't have to worry about skinnin until you get back to your vehicle.  You can hunt a long time without any worry about spoiling.
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Offline Bowdonkey

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Re: Carrying and field dressing small game?
« Reply #19 on: February 06, 2005, 07:13:00 PM »
I clean all game right away. Carry some wet wipes in a zip lock to clean your hands and knife while in the field. Does anyone besides myself remove the glands? Donk.

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