View Full Version : Dead deer questions...

Snow Man
December 13, 2000, 12:16 AM
This was my first year hunting deer. Actually first time hunting anything. I've learned a lot these last few weeks of rifle season. Made lots of mistakes too. Which brings me to my deer question. Sunday morning I shot a doe. Followed the trail then lost the trail due to some of those mistakes I made. Re examined the events of the day while trying to sleep and ended up finding the deer finally Monday afternoon. After a coyote(s) had their fill of half the rib cage and part of the gut cavity. Temp has been below 20 degrees since the deer "passed on."

So, found it, finished the gutting, hauled it home, hung it outside in the cold. The problem. It stinks like the stomach contents. Coyotes tore stomach open (but not bladder end of the show). Stinks even after a water hose washdown. Darn.

Q1) Surely that stink doesn't permeate very deeply into the remaining meat, right? Some will have to be thrown out I'm sure. Anyone like to speculate how much? Any? All? Sniff it as I slice er up and decide that way?

Q2) A friend has concerns about the "bleeding" of the deer that didn't take place. Something about if the blood isn't allowed to "drain" out of the meat by hanging it after death then it somehow helps to ruin or partly ruin the meat. Thoughts on this matter? Anything to worry about at all? The smell problem override the blood "problem?"

Any thoughts from you other hunters that I know are out there? I've learned there's more to hunting than just lining up the scope crosshairs on the deer and pullin the trigger! Learn me smore!

December 13, 2000, 12:55 AM
When cleaning a deer always be sure not to let the urine of crap-ola get on the meat, it will taint it if not washed off IMIDIATLY. Also it's good to gut the animal before it is allowed to cool, or heat up, depending on conditions. the entrails should be removed ASAP. Most of the meat should be fine, as long as you seperate the "good meat" from the "bad meat." I think the only meat that I wouldn't bother to mess with would be the ribs. The front and back quarters shouln't have been effected, right? same goes for the out-side backstrap. The inside backstrap may be tainted, or foul smelling, and that usually makes it none to appetizeing, you can give some of it a try though, to see how it is.
Congrats on your first deer, and successfull first hunt. I don't think too much is lost, hope it works out.

Jack Straw
December 13, 2000, 10:03 AM
Without seeing the deer, I would agree with BadMed that the neck, quarters, and backstraps should be fine. Especially given the cold temperature that she was out in.

As for "bleeding" a deer...I've never done it. This seems to be a practice among many old-timers which has been passed down. I don't know anyone who still does this. I guess it doesn't hurt to do it, but I don't see how it helps either. Usually this was accomplished by cutting major blood vessels (primarily the throat) and allowing the blood to drain from the vessel. Personally, I don't eat the blood vessels anyway and I don't see how that drains the smaller veins and capillaries in the muscle tissue (which I do eat). I guess you could wring out the meat like a wet dish rag...okay, I'm just being a bit facetious.

Anyway...Congrats on getting your first! I'm sure you will enjoy her several more times. Personally, I like fried cube-steaks with gravy and mashed potatoes.


December 13, 2000, 10:17 AM
Anyone consider that the scavengers may have carried diseases?

I would not risk eating the meat.

December 13, 2000, 10:37 AM
I can't imagine that coyotes would carry any diseases worse than a deer. the big thing with coyotes is the mange.
Try taking some baking soda and making a paste with water. Then spread it all over inside the body cavity and let it sit for a while. I guess there is no way to determine how bad the meat is if you don't try it.
Once you've quartered the deer, put the meat in a cooler full of cold water and add some more baking soda and let it soak a couple hours. then rinse and maybe soak again in clean water before you finish butchering

December 13, 2000, 01:00 PM
Rabies is a Blood-born pathogen, meaning it gets spread around through the blood, but can also be spread through salive, such as a rabid bite. HOWEVER, rabies is a microscopic organism that doesn't run very fast. I guess where I'm going with this is that the deer was dead when the coyotes fed on it, thus, it's blood was no longer flowing throughout it's body, therefor, wherever the dogs bit, if they had rabies, is where it would stay, since it has no way of trasporting itself around the animal on their itty-bitty- micro-organism cilia(legs on cells:)) I don't think he planned on eating any of the meat the dogs had ravaged anyway, but just as a precaution, I would trim those areas away and discard them. Also, I dunno the specifications for rabies, but that deer was cold for over a day, and I think rabies need a live host, I don't think they can just go dormant like some diseases. Anyways, I really dont think it's anything to worry about.

December 13, 2000, 01:53 PM
I would not eat that meat! I harvest from 2 to 4 deer a year. I am very careful not to gut shoot and am also careful not to puncture any of the entrails when field dressing. You can get Ecoli from eating meat that has not been properly handled. There is no need to let venison hang for long periods. Process and freeze ASAP.
Venison is a very durable meat but you should still take no chances.
Jim Hall

December 13, 2000, 02:29 PM
I would not eat the meat, especially after the coyotes had their fill. There could be pathogens that were passed from the coyotes to the carcass of the deer. I know it is a pain to kill something and not be able to make use of it, but live and learn. In this inncodent I would strongly reccomend NOT eating the meat.

December 13, 2000, 04:13 PM
If you had any idea hom much E Coli and cow -CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED- was in hamgubrger you buy at the grocery store, you wouldn't eat that either.
If you gut shoot a deer it does not immediately mean the meat is bad, the meat in the body cavity probably is no good but the quarters should be good still.

December 13, 2000, 09:36 PM
Snow Man, I would recommend against eating any of that deer unless you really know what you are doing with a butcher knife. Just handling the carcass could transmit pathogens to previously uncontaminated meat.

(That terrible smell, by the way, is not from the coyotes or fecal matter, but is from the digestive juices and the effects they have had on the meat! Man!, once you've smelled that smell, you'll never forget it.)

Also, the coyotes surely ripped into the doe's gut, releasing e. coli and other bacteria into and onto the carcass. Dining wise, you don't want to go there, believe me.

As to the mention of rabies, well, you never know. Rabies is a virus that can be transmitted through the carrier's saliva. That's how it is transmitted when a rabid animal bites another animal -- through the saliva. And, many viruses can easily survive for long periods of time in temps in the 20's and much colder.

If I were you, I'd just chalk the loss of that doe up to experience.

Regards, jbgood

Art Eatman
December 13, 2000, 09:53 PM
I've never understood how anything can enter into a body part of a dead animal, when there is no blood circulation. What would carry some germ?

When meat is cooked to above 160 degrees F, E. Coli is no longer a problem. That's why the news articles about having your hamburgers cooked to well-done.

As far as this particular doe, I would suggest cutting out a backstrap and seeing if it smells okay. Your nose is a pretty good "sorter" of good vs. bad.

And when in doubt, don't.

What the heck...Better luck next hunt!


Snow Man
December 14, 2000, 07:49 AM
Thanks for all the info and opinions from you all. Checked on my deer last night and now it's frozen solid (hanging outside at a friends house), and frozen it doesn't stink. The stink had to be stomach juices and content and it won't be a forgotten smell.

Thinks what I'm going to do is only take/use/keep the meat peices that stayed "sealed up" by skin after the coyote feast. Coulda been Bobcat, lots of those prints were seen elsewhere in the area. Print in the snow near by coulda been either (I think). And I'll use the nose and the trimming knife lots and toss anything that doesn't seem right.

Next time I won't make the mistakes I made this time. There will be a new/different list of mistakes! Learn from them and move on though, eh?

Thanks again all!

December 14, 2000, 01:22 PM
I would tend to agree with Art. It is correct that thorough cooking of the meat will kill E-coli. As far as pathogens entering the dead body, only those responsible for decomposition should be a factor. As to Rabies, it is a virus which invades the nervous system and is generally spread through salivary contact. Contact with infected tissues could also cause spread and aerosol transmission in theory is possible. Fortunately, the virus is relatively unstable and temperature extremes,most disenfectants and drying or freezing should inactivate it so it shouldn't be of major concern unless you contacted fresh,warm coyote spit. Even then, the likelyhood of the coyote being infected is small. Follow your nose and cook it well.

December 15, 2000, 03:25 PM
I'm an infectious disease epidemiologist and microbiologist, so maybe I can help. The way I help is not by going off the top of my head but by reading the published texts.

From "Red Book: Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases. American Academy of Pediatrics."

"In the United States, skunks, raccoons, and bats are more likely to be infected than other animals, but foxes, coyotes, cattle, dogs, and cats occasionally are infected. Bites of rodents or lagomorphs (rabbits) rarely require specific antirabies prophylaxis. <yadda, yadda>.

It goes on to say that contact with the saliva of a rabid animal through bites or scratches is the most likely way of becoming infected, however, saliva contact with your mucousa (inner mouth and eye area for example) will work just as well.

I can't find any info on the stability of the Rhabdovirus family in heat or cold, but I wouldn't suspect much dead virus from a midwest freeze, but I could be wrong. ;(

Exposure to E.coli (Escherichia coli) was mentioned. When I first started out as a microbiologist 20 years ago, nobody much cared about E. coli beyond generic urinary tract infections. A good dose of ampicillin took care of it, then.

Now we have the media harping (hyping)on "flesh-eating bacteria" (Group A Streptococcus pyogenes) and the evil E. coli. All of us have gobs of E. coli in our guts. That's where we get vitamin K. But there is one strain of E. coli that has popped up, that is 0157:H7. This little guy produces a toxin like Shigella species (Salmonella's nasty brother) that causes hemolytic uremic syndrome which is a sequela of enteric infection. I once had a Shigella sonnei infection. A had ballistic diarrhea for two weeks (but it got me out of a speeding ticket while on my Yamaha once).

Anyway, the question is, how would the deer (or coyote) get this strain. The reservoir for 0157:H7 is cattle (and now, person to person.) Maybe a contaminated stream near a cattle farm, I suppose. Not a biggy, and not much of a problem unless you do the ground venison routine as well, I hazard to guess.



December 15, 2000, 08:53 PM
Thanks for the info, Rick. My concerns with this particular issue are: 1) There is no way of knowing if the "critters" who dined on the doe carried rabies or other infectious diseases. 2) There is no way of knowing what parts of the doe, including her hair/hide, might be harboring infected saliva or other body fluids. 3) Cross-contamination of formerly un-contaminated parts of the carcass is likely to occur during transportation/handling. 4) If pathogens are present in or on the carcass, cold temps might not have any effect whatsoever on their viability.

It's the "know way of knowing" part that bothers me! I've worked in healthcare long enough to know that "what you don't know" can indeed hurt you!

I would still advise against eating any part of that deer.


December 15, 2000, 11:31 PM
Oh, eating it?

I have no professional opinion on the matter. ;)


December 20, 2000, 03:02 PM
Feed it to your dogs if you have got any. I probably wouldn't touch it.

December 21, 2000, 01:45 AM
First I would not eat the meat. I also would not feed it to your dogs if you have any. Dispose of it at the nearest field you have access too, after you have told the local gamewarden what you want to do, where you want to do it and why.
When you field dress a deer or any other large animal try this.
Go and buy youself a couple of sets of shoe laces before you go hunting and stick them in your coat pocket, the size that fits your hunting boots would be a good size. After the animal is down and dead and hopefully not gut shot. Cut around the rectum very carefully, pull out and tie off with one of the shoe laces, go to the throat and open the throat and locate the gullet, tie the other shoe lace around the gullet and then cut the gullet on the side closest to the nose. If you have shot a male animal cut the penis loose and tie it off with a third lace as you do not want to have urine all over your meat. A female animal, when you cut the rectum cut vaginal area with its uninary track and tie it off with the third lacing.

Gut the animal, cut the bottom muscle of the lung area loose(around the rib cage perimeter) remove the lungs and gullet at the same time. (you already cut it loose so it should pull out without too much problem). You can now pick up the internal organs and set them to one side. After wiping out the interior of the carcass with snow or some paper towels if you are in dry country. You can now sort thru the internal organs you wish to save and eat shove them into the 1 gal plastic bags that were in your hip pocket, shove into the snow to cool and leave the rest for the local critters to have a free meal.

When you tie off the rectum, uninary track and the gullet you have "sealed" all of the various "juices" that can get on the ediables you are trying protect for later use.
You also "seal of the various biles and what have you that are connected to the stomach. I am speaking of the gall bladder fluids, kidney and bladder ect.

You also want to cut out the two musk glands on the hind legs, being careful not to get this all over you or the meat. If you can, while the carcass is still warm, slip the hide from the carcass and you will save yourself a lot of hard work later.
Most of this came out a the German Hunters Handbook that a German hunter has to memorize before he can get a hunting license.