Back in 2003, Li’l Angus was only 4. I’d already taken my buck for the year, but Angus wanted to go deer hunting with his Dad, so I took him out Sunday afternoon and let him sit with me in the blind. Right about sundown, a huge herd of deer surrounded our little hut, and Angus was shaking with excitement. He wanted me to shoot the buck, but my buck tags were all used up for the year. He settled on a doe, and for him, I shot it. That is when the trouble started.
First off, I generally don’t hunt on Sunday afternoon. Usually it’s much better to take off, ride home, and have a load of laundry in before I go to bed. Everybody needs to be somewhere on Monday morning– work, school, whatever. It just makes sense to head back early. Honestly, I didn’t think the kid and I would see anything.
I called KYHillChick. She came out with the truck and helped me schlep the
doe back to the house. I did all my cleaning on the front porch in those days.
There were electric lights and lots of other amenities. It made sense to do it
that way. I also had to call and see who would take my deer. I knew my
regular processor was closed on Sunday. I called a couple of other places. The
guy in Brooksville said he’d take it, but I needed to be there by seven. It was
already after six.
Without thinking, I asked KYHillChick to hold the shop light, while I went to work. I remember at one point realizing that I was wasting time going from the knife to the saw and back. The saw was cutting just fine, so I just finished cleaning out the carcass with the saw. It was a bit messy, but I didn’t mind. I just had to work fast. When the doe was thoroughly cleaned out, I threw it in the back of the truck and sped off for Brooksville with Angus in tow, not giving the situation another thought. I did ask KYHillchick to sweep the blood off the concrete porch; if she got on it right away, it’d require less scrubbing when I got back.
When I got back, I could hear the wailing from the house. At first it sounded like a wild animal in a trap. Then I realized it was my wife, consort, and best Girlfriend, KYHillChick. It seems she had not taken to the sight of the deer being eviscerated, and I’d compounded the problem by asking her help cleaning up. She didn’t fault me. She just realized somewhere into splashing water on the front porch that deer evisceration just wasn’t her cup of tea and had gone into the house to lose her mind. I was extremely apologetic, but poor ‘HillChick was quite inconsolable. Finally I got things back on a good track by promising her she would not have to put up with flying deer innards ever again. She had seen them come back with holes in them. She had just gone about her work elsewhere in the house, and just not given much thought, and by the time we were done the porch was pretty well cleaned off.
It took until the next Fall for me to figure out what to do. The front porch was no longer going to be a good spot. That was for sure. I decided to build a free-standing meat pole out in back of one of the sheds. There was electricity. There was easy access with the truck. There was the fact that we could let the flesh fly and never bother the HillChick, in or out, back or front. She could even go sit in her favorite thoughtful spot while we were dismembering cervids and dream of puppies playing in the sunshine. The meatpole or “die fleishstange” (German) was made from old scrap wood I found in the barn. It was not much to look at, but it did the job. It worked so well, and became such a beloved fixture at the farm, we even gave it its own webpage:
That was 2004. This was 2010. In the intervening 6 years, a lot has changed. Time had not treated the fleishstange very well. We get a lot of wind at the farm, and the short legs had made it somewhat easy to tip. Hurricane Ike had sent it flying and several other bad wind storms had snapped various bits and pieces, that I had mended or replaced. Bits had rotted. Over the week after Deer Season 2009, a big wind had really done a number on it. When I went to salvage it again this Spring, I realized a good number of pieces had been shattered. It was time for a new meatpole.
This time, I decided to invest in good treated wood– 4X4 and 2X4. The 3″ deck screws had been plenty strong. I started sawing and screwing and in a short time a couple weeks ago, I had a working meatpole again. There was one problem, that was the height. I’d cut the legs at the wrong angle and left the crossbar only 7 feet off the ground. It took some figurin’ and some work with a framing square to re-cut the legs for a better angle. The final height was eight and half feet, which makes it easy for me to reach up to attach the block and tackle, but still high enough to get the deer’s legs off the ground. I think when you see the pictures, it will all be pretty self-evident.
It has already taken a 188 lb buck– Angus’ first blood of the year. He’s 12 now, and bagged a nice one over the weekend. I plan on doubling up the cross braces, sinking a few more screws here and there and then pulling out the chain saw to cut off any pieces that are still hanging long. Yeah, that’s kind of an ugly way to do it, but this is a meatpole after all! It’s there to do a job. If you’re interested in making one, look carefully at the arrangement where the legs meet the main beam. By fashioning it that way, you’ve got like a major set of wooden pliers. Once you get the first side slipped into place, you can pull the legs apart from each other and do a nice job of locking the main beam in place. Screwing the long crossbar into place keeps the jaws of the pliers locked on the beam good and tight. After repeating it on the other side, you have a pretty stable situation before you put in any bracing.
KYHillChick? She gladly came out and helped. She even took the pics.
You may wonder why I go to all the trouble to haul my deer back to the house before gutting them. I’ve heard it’s a Southern thing. I happened to learn how to clean out a deer from a guy from Alabama, so I guess I picked it up and ran with it. I also clean them head up. I’ve got a situation where about 80% of my deer fall down dead where you can drive a truck right up to them and load them on. If I shoot a deer, I usually call back to the house, KYHillchick drives out in a few minutes– about time enough to fill out the tag and pack up the gear. We schlep it on the back and we’re off. Most of the time the deer is at the processor in an hour and a half. At the pole, that head-up method helps to speed things up. Once I have opened up the abdomen, everything just falls right out into the gut bucket. Gravity helps pull everything out; all I have to do is a little cutting and pulling. I’ve been told Southerners do this, because it gets them emptied out faster and they have less worry about spoiled meat.
© 2001, 2010 William E Allendorf , All Rights Reserved Powered by myexissatan