CWD Changing The Way We Process And Eat Venison

Starting out the new year with this guest blog from our friend Luke Strommen, who lives and hunts with his wife, Tara, and daughters out on the Milk River in northeastern Montana. Luke is one of the most ethical and responsible deer hunters I know:  

It was a tough year to get out and hunt with our girls because they were so busy with school stuff and extracurricular activities, etc. I’m sure you parents can relate.

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My oldest daughter, Summer, got to go the second to last day of the 2018 season. We hit the rattling sheds and made a ruckus with some leaves and low branches. After two close encounters on rack bucks, when an ethical shot wouldn’t present, I talked Summer into taking hike to warm up before letting her call it quits.

It doesn’t look cold in these photos, but high humidity and low temps got Summer’s fingers and toes pretty cold when we were sitting on the ground in the tall grass.  Summer’s tough, though, and loves to hunt, so we hiked a few hundred yards downriver.

We came up off the riverbank and saw this buck was coming straight at us from 50 yards, with no idea we were there! We quickly belly crawled to a small ash tree that Summer tried to use to steady her .308, but the buck was on a mission and not wasting any time. When she got the rifle up he was at 30 yards!  He saw us and stepped sideways for a quick moment, but continued on his way while giving us a sideways glance. He didn’t care about us…he was seeking and seeking hard as the final phase of the rut was on.

Summer was ready when I was able to get the buck to stop and look at us…at 23 steps!  She raised her .308 and made a great off-hand shot (I use a 2.5-10X scope on that rifle, and it was set at 2.5X). The buck staggered 30 yards before he fell over and she got to see it go down. It was really exciting, because she thought she had missed him!

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After recovering the buck, I started a small fire to warm us up. That wasn’t a small task because with the melting snow, the past days of sleet, and the foggy morning, everything was wet.  Summer knew we always kept a fire kit with us in our survival pack. We whittled some dead limbs to the drier core, built a tepee of them and the trimmings, tucked some of our dryer lint up inside the tepee and lit it with a waterproof match. A little pampering and feeding and Summer had the fire going well. She pulled off her socks, and I gave her a new pair from our pack (100% wool, old surplus army issue) to put on her damp, cold feet, and she was warm again by the time we cleaned her buck. (BTW, we have built fires before while out hiking and shed hunting, and I think it’s a great skill for all kids to learn…a necessity in my book, really.)

It was the best buck we had seen all year, and it just happened to be drawn by in Summer’s rabbit foot. This was the first year that she could choose whether or not to shoot or pass on a buck. I let my girls be picky only after their first two bucks; for the first two bucks they shoot, I make them take the first buck that gives them an ethical shot opportunity.

We took Summer’s buck to a CWD check station, where the fellas there removed glands from the throat, a piece of tissue, and a tooth from her buck. They gave us a card with a number and told us to check back in 2 to 3 weeks for the results, as they were sending the samples to Colorado State University for testing.  Authorities had found 2 mule deer in Valley County with Chronic Wasting Disease, so I was concerned.  The counties on both sides of us were positive for CWD deer also. I want to teach my girls the “new” way to take care of your harvest and how to be safe cleaning and processing it.

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After checking the results online, Summer’s buck was good to go on our plates. This was one of the rare years where we didn’t BBQ up a back strap or loin the same day we killed the deer. Since I intend to have every deer we shoot tested for CWD before we eat it, that is now a thing of the past for us…sadly enough. CWD has me concerned about consuming our game meat, and I am not taking any chances with my girls,  at least until science shows us there is positively no threat that CWD infected deer can pass the disease or any illness on to humans that consume it.  

As for now, we are thawing out some back strap from Summer’s deer for dinner.

Here’s a helpful link about CWD and the precautions you can take.—Thanks, your friend Luke.


Ohio: Hunter Shoots Big Bucks Locked Together!

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Lee Fackler shot a 17-point buck on 11-11-18 in Putnam County, Ohio. It had a recently expired 10-point entangled with it. The Ohio DNR wrote Lee a permit for him to keep the expired buck also. He is having them mounted together.

Incredible, obviously once in a lifetime. Can’t wait to see that mount, thanks for sharing!

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Indiana: Hunter’s First Rifle Buck Is Special For A Couple of Reasons

IN dean 2019Guest blog from longtime blogger and friend, Dean Weimer:

I arrived at my blind just before 4 o’clock and had to be careful as a small doe group was already feeding in the bean stubble field about 200 yards away. I snuck in and set my decoy up (sans the head) inside to use as a gun rest. I was watching the entire area, and a few minutes later I noticed a dark-colored deer all by itself.

When I got my binoculars up I immediately noticed the chocolate-stained antlers of a buck I hadn’t seen before. He took a few more steps and turned broadside. One good look and I was immediately in “shoot mode.” I started using a Remington .270 (that my brother gave me as a wedding gift back in ’13) during the 2017 Indiana Firearms season. I knew that, although it was a rather long shot, that I could get it done.

I steadied the gun on the back of the decoy, took a deep breath, and fired at the buck. He went down. A few moments later he got up and started to run off, but stopped momentarily. I decided to fire another round as insurance.

This is the first buck that I’ve killed since falling from a tree stand in 2015, and it’s the first one I taken with a rifle. I couldn’t be happier with him.

Epilogue: I had hunted hard up to this point in the season, with a couple of close calls during archery earlier in Nov. I actually had a 9-pointer that I was hunting within range the night before, but a pesky doe caught me moving and snorted the alarm, so every deer in that alfalfa field hauled out of it, leaving me somewhat heartbroken. I almost didn’t hunt on Monday evening, but when I got out of school there was a skiff of snow on the ground and it was too perfect to pass up. I’m glad I went and shot the buck at 4:15, nearly a full hour before sunset.

This buck isn’t from the immediate area, as evidenced I believe by his dark rack. This buck came from somewhere with more pines/cedars. Couple this with the fact that neither I, nor my buddy, have ever seen this buck, I feel like he was a “cruiser,” checking the many doe family units on my buddy’s property for a last doe to breed.—Thanks, Dean

80 Tree Stand Hunts For a Giant Ohio Buck

ohio chris 1Ohio bowhunter Chris Cook sent this to me on Instagram:

 2 years, 80 trees stand sits, over 350 hours, more emotions, hard work and preparation than I can begin to explain. “Sideshow” finally made the mistake that I had been eagerly waiting on for so long. I can’t explain this feeling, and wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’ve watched this deer over the past 3 years, finally decided last year he was a shooter and hunted him hard for 2 years!

Way to go Chris, great job!