Deer season is almost over. There are a few days left for bow hunters and muzzleloaders. Also if you have a crossbow you're allowed to hunt deer till the end of the month. Squirrel season will go out December 31, North of US 40, but you may hunt until the last day in January below US 40. Why? I don't know; some joker just made a rule like that for no reason. I know it doesn't make any sense but that's the way some game laws are in Indiana.
I used to publish what I called "The Dumb Law of The Day", but no one ever did anything about them. In the state of West Virginia, squirrel season comes in around the middle of October. Here in Indiana it comes in the middle of August. Does someone really think I'm going to go hunting in the middle of August? It's hot; the mosquitoes are thick as fleas (this is a dumb expression) and meat will spoil very quickly unless you carry a cooler full of ice into the woods with you.
Want some more DLOTD's? Watch this column; I'll try to put one or two in every issue. Have a statewide hunting/fishing regulation that you want published as 'The Dumb Law of the Day'? Send it to me. I won't publish your name if you don't want me to.
I recently had the opportunity to attend a Bow Hunters' Deer Camp in Ritchie County, West Virginia, about 300 miles SE of Fort Wayne. I say attend because I really didn't participate; I only observed and took a lot of notes and pictures. I'm not a bow hunter, yet. I think it's too much work. I like gun hunting because I can load, shoot, and put my firearm away, after cleaning it of course. To be a proficient bow hunter you have to shoot an average of 5 arrows a day to keep your muscles toned up, so I was told. I guess I'm just lazy.
Bow hunting season "comes in", in October and I had a week off so I thought I'd go see what a bow hunters' deer camp was all about and if it was any different from a gun hunters' deer camp. I was the guest of the West Virginia Bow Hunters Association or Club; I'm not sure which. It was started back around 1974 by my older brother Roy Joe, his three sons B.J., Joe, & Jack, his brother-in-law Bill, his nephew Freddie, his nephew's son Billie, and longtime family friend and recently married member, Brian Smith. Brian complained a lot about back trouble from a recent motorcycle accident. OK Brian, whatever you say.
In order to help 'pay my way' and to give a reason for my visit, I helped cook a few of the meals using my trusty Dutch ovens and I took a lot of pictures. I was introduced to bow hunting techniques (ambushing from tree stands), bow hunting equipment (the latest models of compound bows), and how to use camouflage, deer scent, and buck lure effectively. These good ol' boys know what they're talking about; Billie killed an 8-point (Eastern count - four on each side) and I watched as he dressed it out. Billie is a professional butcher for Wal-Mart so I watched carefully and took mental notes as to how he did it.
I learned to butcher my own deer way back when but I can always us some good tips. I used to take my deer to a meat locker in New Haven to have them processed but after arguing with them the last time and having to walk away with only 25 pounds of meat (no steaks - they said I shot up both hind legs), I decided that I wouldn't let them cheat me any more. Incidentally, I shot the deer in the left front shoulder through the heart. That's the reason I started processing my own meat. The locker has since gone out of business.
If you want to start butchering your own meat to be sure you get all the meat you have coming, go to the library and check out some books on butchering. Here's is one tip I learned – bone out all the meat. You can completely butcher a deer with only a sharp knife by cutting at the joints. You may need a hatchet to break the ribs to fit the large Ziploc bags. Also I never use a saw. I do save a few leg bones to boil down for soup and later saw them up to make Boy Scout neckerchief slides.
By the way, I want to thank Virginia Amick for the frozen venison. As soon as I get the holidays over with, I'll tell you in my Kampfire Kookin' column how I prepared it. Remember to take your kids hunting or fishing or just spend some time with them in our great outdoors; it will be the best time you ever spent. See ya in the woods and on the water.