Archery hunting season opens Saturday for deer, elk and antelope and local experts are expecting an above-average year.
The last few winters have been mild, overwinter survival has been high and that simply means a lot more deer, elks and antelope for the hunters to stalk this year.
Bowhunters have been scouting for game in recent weeks and local archery shops have been busy tuning up bows and putting together arrows.
The first Saturday of September always marks the opening of archery season and it’s often warm for the opener so most hunters should be prepared to take extra care of the game they take.
I talked to John Peterson, from H & H Meats in Missoula, and he offered these reminders on caring for your game when hunting in warm weather.
Use a cloth game bag, it will do a great job of keeping dirt, insects and truck bed crud off your meat.
Never use plastic, it draws heat and can cause rapid spoilage.
Spoilage mostly happens because of heat.
To combat this problem, skin the animal in the field (the price of the hide is peanuts compared to the meat of the animal). Submerge the meat in cold water (a creek, river or lake). If cold water is not available, you might want to pack along three to five blocks of ice. Put as much ice as you can into the cavity of the animal.
Carry two sharp knives in the field. Use the first to remove legs and entrails, and to cut the hide on the carcass from the brisket to the pelvis area. Also be sure to get the windpipe out – it traps heat in the neck.
Use the second knife to remove the hide. The knives don’t have to be huge. A 3-inch or 4-inch knife is plenty long enough for these chores.
John also suggested carrying a small saw, because there are three places that should be split, so air can circulate and cool the meat. The brisket at the bottom of the chest should be split along with the pelvic bone between the lower haunches. Then separate the ribcage from the front shoulder (not completely, just enough to get the heat out).
A way to keep flies and insects off is to sprinkle 2 1/2 to 3-course pepper on your game.
Over the years, Peterson has seen successful hunts turn bad because the hunting party didn’t take the necessary steps in preparation after the animal was down. Take his advice and chances are it won’t happen to you.
Fall wildlife conservation banquets are starting to gear up in western Montana. First on the calendar will be three Ducks Unlimited banquets. The Ninepipe Ducks Unlimited Chapter will hold its banquet Friday, Sept. 13. Call Sean Cross at (406) 676-2234. Missoula Ducks Unlimited will hold its banquet on Sept. 19. Call Tom Severson, 549-2265. And the Bitterroot Valley Ducks Unlimited Chapter banquet is Sept. 20. Call Klas Hightower, 273-2420.