Things I learned Shooting Crop Damage Deer by Dave King

Discussion in 'Technical Articles - Discussion' started by Len Backus, Aug 8, 2007.

  1. Len Backus

    Len Backus Administrator Staff Member

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    This is a thread for discussion of the article, Things I Learned Shooting Crop Damage Deer, by Dave King. Here you can ask questions or make comments about the article.

    The author will have this thread automatically notify him of posts so that he can join the discussion.
     
  2. Dave King

    Dave King Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for sticking this up Len as I recently recalled a few items I missed while I jotted that article.


    Just a few days ago I was on my way to check out a field and saw a fawn (small and still wearing spots) racing across the road and through the fields, this won't seem unusual to most folks but it did cause me to chuckle a little... I have learned a few things about fawns and deer in general but what struck me funny about this instance was that it had just started raining (large drops) after a protracted dry spell. The little fawn racing around caused me to recall the first time I encountered fawns at the beginning of a hard rain (first rain post-drought). I was standing on the edge of a shin-high corn field looking across into the woodline when the first few rain drops began to fall... all was well for a bit but about 30 seconds into the shower two fawns popped to their feet not 20 yards from me. They were obviously startled, racing about in circles and hopping corn rows, and at first I couldn't figure what was up to cause this response. One of the pair soon spotted me and in a rabid dash headed straight for me (suicide run I thought), this is when I noticed the little critter was juking and ducking as each large drop hit it... The startled little things were scared to death by whatever invisible evil was touching them and they were doing their best to outrun it in their first ever experience with rain drops.

    Another item I should mention while thinking of corn fields is what I call 'deer fishing'. I often setup on a sidehill, a little raise or in a stand that overlooks corn and casually look for the tell-tale shaking of the corn stalks as the deer rip the ears from the stalk. A fella can cover a large field with this technique and if need be quarter a path to the deer for the kill.

    Young deer aren't very conservative in their corn eating antics. I once watched a little button buck eat soft corn off the ear. Having never seen deer pick and eat corn I just assumed they'd eat it like we humans do... wrong!! This little buck would first grab an ear by the silk end and vigorously pull down to rip it from the stalk, shuck intact. Once the ear was on the ground the buck placed a hoof on the ear and ripped the shuck back to expose a strip of corn kernels... it then took a few bites of the exposed corn and abandon the ear. It didn't pull off another strip of shuck to eat more corn working its way around till the ear was empty as I thought it would do...it just abandon the ear after a few bites... It did however step forward and pull another ear from the next stalk re-enacting the entire few bites off an ear and then get another fresh ear.... I watched in amazement for a while and then terminated the session/lesson. Many deer eat pumpkins and squash in about the same manner, kick a hole in a pumpkin... take a few bites... step to another pumpkin... kick a hole... a few bites... bang!

    They are interesting critters to watch.
     

  3. Len Backus

    Len Backus Administrator Staff Member

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    Dave

    I thought at first you were going to tell us the little guys were running for pure joy! And, yes, they are fun to watch. Maybe not so fun for a farmer to watch when they take only one bite out of an ear of corn (at say $4 per bushel) and then move on to the next one.
     
  4. Dave King

    Dave King Well-Known Member

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    ...and pumpkins aren't giveaway items either (I personally don't care much for squash).

    As a bonus I may mention my thoughts and observations on why deer sometimes bellow when shot... if you're nice.
     
  5. Buffalobob

    Buffalobob Writers Guild

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    There is a doe that lives next to the road and near the jogging trail in Rock Creek Park and she is very docile and tame. As a consequence, her fawns are very tame and I very nearly got to pet one yesterday but at the last minute the little guy decided he really didn't need to be petted (probably didn't like all the sweat and smell).

    That was very interesting about deer licking wounds to stop the bleeding. I had never understood why I would trail a deer that was bleeding heavily and it would stop and stand still for a few minutes and quit bleeding and I would then have to follow hoof prints for about 10-20 yards before it would start bleeding again. I had just assumed the hair allowed the blood to clot easily (which it probably does also).
     
  6. Dave King

    Dave King Well-Known Member

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    BB

    It took me a good many years to figure out what was going on with those blood trails that went dry at a stopping point... large puddle of blood then nothing. I just never occurred to me that the deer would lick their wound(s) clean while they were stopped but once I observed it it was one of those "I've been pretty stupid haven't I" moments.

    I've witnessed deer licking the wounds of other deer, usually this is a doe to her offspring for my experience. On one ocassion a doe and one of her yearlings licked a down (dead) deer completely clean of all blood. The doe would stop the licking process and do the (odd for a doe I thought) flehming response thing.


    Bellowing deer, another one of those epiphanies for me.. I once picked up a newborn fawn I found in a freshly tilled field (I guess it got tired and stopped). Then gently cradled the little guy to my chest holding his 4 feet up with one hand while using the other hand to keep him from falling. I had a good hold on him and for a short while let his legs (feet/hooves) dangle free, he pretty quickly went into the bellow mode..... I cradled his feet again and he calmed down.... let the feet dangle and bellow... there's a pattern developing here I thought to myself.... I tried this type thing with other fawns I'd found and it was a pretty universal response.
    It appears to me that if a deer feels that it can use it's feet to exercise some control (as in flee if it wants) it's fairly happy but as soon as deer become immobilized either via zero foot feedback or physical restraint/capture they begin to bellow in a 'help me' or 'let me go you big brute' effort/message. I have spined a few deer with rifle and bow only to have then drop on the spot quite paralyzed and begin bellowing... 'I've fallen and I can't run away!'
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2007
  7. mikey_weaver

    mikey_weaver Member

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    you said something about face shot and i had a freind who shot a deer in the face from 20 yds with a 30-30 and they thought it was dead. when they went back to get it the deer attacked them cause they thought it was dead all it did was knock it out.
     
  8. speedbump

    speedbump Well-Known Member

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    Dave, good article on the crop damage shooting. We do a fair bit of that here too. I agree, it's much more akin to prairie dog shooting than normal deer hunting - with much bigger targets.

    One trick we use when gutting is to employ short handled 'lopping shears' that folks use to chop off small limbs and rose canes. We do the skin split and gut membrane, then do a quick belly hide peel to keep hair from entering the chest cavity. Once the guts are exposed, we'll slice down the seam of the hams to the pelvis, then use the lopping shears to hook into the bone and chop through each side adjacent to the rectum. Two or three strokes each side will do. The pelvis will then pop wide open and the lower bowel can be flipped out with the rest of the gut pile without having to do the poop-shuck-and-tie-off method.

    Typically, I won't split the sternum to access to esophagus, but it can be done with the shears rapidly if needed. Usually, we can reach up inside the ribs past the lungs, grab the esophagus, and use the rib cage to leverage forearms and pop-n-peel it right out. A small knife can be employed on the esophagus if desired. BTW, surgical gloves with long cuffs really help keep things tidy. Also, a buddy has a walk-in cooler 5 minutes from the primary areas we shoot over ... a BIG help in July. This year the state biologist approved April shoots. 18 of the first 20 had twin fetuses, the other two had triplets. Essentially, 62 deer taken out with 20 shots.
     
  9. Dave King

    Dave King Well-Known Member

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    speedbump

    Thanks for the info on the 'lopping shears'.

    Crop damage is different and as you probably know there are folks that get really pissed at crop damage shooters... I used to mention shooting gravid does but from the responses I got from a few folks I decided it was not something to mention casually, a few get get right upset with shooting 'buck factories' in production mode.

    One place I shot for a while had an irate informed nearby resident. He'd spike the farmer's access road with roofing nails to hole the tires if the various shooters. Pretty ingenius fella, he'd take roofing nails and hot glue them to a small squares of sheet metal so they'd stand upright and have a good solid backer so as not to sink into the dirt as the tire rode onto it, he'd re-spike and cover them with leaves after each day the road was used... I don't believe his mother ever married!!
     
  10. speedbump

    speedbump Well-Known Member

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    I agree completely about taking the 'point doe' right off the bat. It helps to shoot one of the more distant deer too, and your point about a double lung shot is on the mark as well. They usually stroll just out of sight into a treeline and collapse. My normal rifle of choice is a wildcat a couple of others and I put together from a 6.8SPC necked down to .264 (better variety of bullets) with shoulders blown out & forward. It'll run a 6.5mm Nosler 120gr BT at @2,700-2,800fps with a very mild muzzle blast and recoil similar to a .223 shooting 80s.

    Many folks here are just aggravated at 'outfitters' for letting the doe situation get out of hand. Most control huge tracts of land now that traditionally had hunters practicing good management techniques for generations. Now, the outfitters refuse access to anyone not paying, and rely on cull shoots to rid themselves of excess does in the off season without spooking the big bucks. My buddy and I process and donate +90% of the meat to needy folks. I'm in the beginning stages of an arrangement with a local food pantry in a different area to provide venison there as well.

    Sounds like the jerk-next-door considered crop damage shooters as interlopers to his little paradise ... albeit one probably paid for by someone else. Around here, (traditional coal mine country) they'd make them by bending two big nails at right angles, cutting off & sharpening the ends, then welding them together to make a "caltrop." Some even paint them gray/ white splotch to blend in with gravel. Just toss 'em out and they land spike up. Cheap to produce, expensive results.
     
  11. Dave King

    Dave King Well-Known Member

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    Caltrop, sounds like you're military or ex-military, I opted to leave the term out of my first reply. I had considered making a few with stainless tubing and seeding the neighbor's area but thought I might cause too much damage to folks should they happen upon them.

    [​IMG]

    Have you by chance witnessed deer cleaning up a dead deer? I had a doe and sibling clean up a dead yearling that I had shot. The doe was off limits as was the piebald sib but I was told to take the 'normal' yearling. The doe and piebald walked to the down deer and licked it clean, there was a bit of the flehmen response from the doe a few times, odd characteristics and I've only seen it the one time. The dead sib was fairly slimy but completely clean of blood on the top side.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2007
  12. speedbump

    speedbump Well-Known Member

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    I noticed your observations on deer cleaning others in the article, but I haven't seen that activity myself. I have seen seen wounded deer self-cleaning though. Curious. I wonder if it's specific to mothers &/or siblings, or any deer in distress.

    I saw an oddity at a distance a couple weeks ago while bow hunting. There's a BIG point doe acting 'bully' around others. It would run off other does & fawns, & generally act like a rutting buck. My partner saw the same activity, and we wondered whether it was an antlerless adult buck, or an old sterile doe. 200+ pounds, whatever it was. Any thoughts on that one ?
     
  13. Dave King

    Dave King Well-Known Member

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    I've seen does fight (hoof spar) but nothing to indicate it was other than play. I have vague recollections of a doe chasing and head butting another deer but these are fuzzy.

    I have seen old gray long-nose does travel with bachelor groups of older (large antlers) and apparently wiser bucks, nocturnal types. Maybe these type does become/adopt some fairly aggressive behavior once the bachelor herds break-up.
     
  14. Len Backus

    Len Backus Administrator Staff Member

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    Several years ago I shot a doe at 500 yards and it dropped on the spot. A buck that had been standing 10 feet away from it at the shot. Walked up to the body and started licking it. This went on for several minutes.