Monday, November 14, 2016

Meat, Meat, and More Meat

For my family and friends the ultimate goal is the meat.  This is what the thought pattern always is in the back of my mind while stomping around in the mountains, woods, or valleys somewhere in north America.  The hunt, of course, is how this goal is accomplished and is always extremely enjoyable whether I harvest something or not.

This year my plan was to hunt Elk with Bob Barlow owner of Barlow Outfitters in Wyoming.  The plan fell through when I did not receive a tag on the drawing that takes place every year.  I just did not have enough points to make the area I wanted to hunt.  There is another type of license that is more expensive, and with the point system I will have to purchase the general tag.  I always have a back up plan should this happen.

In the meantime, some research was done on different types of deer to hunt in North America either on a free chase basis or a hunting preserve.  Two of this type of animal came to the fore front of the research and they are Fallow Deer and Axis Deer.  How do they taste is the question?  Before investing money on one of these hunts, I need to know as I have mouths to feed, and people will be waiting for their ration of game.  Plus, my wife and I need to fill the larder for the winter with fresh healthy low cholesterol high protein game.

I was once told by a guide that Fallow Deer was one of the finest meats he had ever eaten. With that in mind it was time to check this statement out with a study on the Internet.

There are a lot of really good and entertaining articles on hunting and dining on both species.  On Fallow deer the general consensus is to hunt them when they are in the velvet and before the rut.  After the rut has started they will get a little gamey.  Overall the animal is very well recommended.  I did not find any states that had a Fallow Deer season.  Several people rated the meat in line with the Axis deer.  That tells me Axis is maybe a better tasting animal.

The fallow deer  is a mammal belonging to the family Cervidae. This common species is native to western Eurasia.  It was introduced into Britain and Ireland by the Normans in the 11th century for hunting in the royal forests.  This exotic has now been introduced into 93 Texas counties, primarily in the Edwards Plateau region. In addition there are private game ranches throughout the country that have available exotics for hunting and a person has a lot of choices for this type of hunt.

The male fallow deer is known as a buck, the female is a doe, and the young a fawn. Adult bucks are 140–160 cm (55–63 in) long with a 85–95 cm (33–37 in) shoulder height, and typically 60–100 kg (130–220 lb) in weight; does are 130–150 cm (51–59 in) long with a 75–85 cm (30–33 in) shoulder height, and 30–50 kg (66–110 lb) in weight. The largest bucks may measure 190 cm (75 in) long and weigh 150 kg (330 lb). Fawns are born in spring at about 30 cm (12 in) and weigh around 4.5 kg (9.9 lb). The life span is around 12–16 years.

Only bucks have antlers which are broad and shovel-shaped (palmate) from three years. In the first two years the antler is a single spike. They are grazing animals; their preferred habitat is mixed woodland and open grassland. During the rut bucks will spread out and females move between them, at this time of year fallow deer are relatively ungrouped compared to the rest of the year when they try to stay together in groups of up to 150.

Agile and fast in case of danger, fallow deer can run up to a maximum speed of 30 mph (48 km/h) over short distances (being naturally less muscular than other cervids such as roe deer, they are not as fast). Fallow deer can also make jumps up to 1.75 metres high and up to 5 metres in length.

Axis Deer are prevalent in Texas and the best way to hunt them is on an Exotic Game Farm.  Again the consensus is to hunt them in the velvet.  Females come into estrous several times each year, usually only lasting about 3 weeks per cycle.  Gestation lasts from 210-238 days and females usually have 1 young at a time.  Approximately 80% of Texas fawns are born from January to mid-April.  Females can be reproductive from age 2 to 15. I also read an article that recommended to hunt them in late August and early September to get the best tasting meat.

Introduced in 1932, axis are by far the most numerous exotic in Texas, with a population estimated at around 40,000, of which some 6,000 are free-ranging.  Axis venison is widely considered one of the most tasty of all wild game venison.  It is extremely lean and lacks much of the irony,"gamey" taste that is often associated with most venison.  The mild meat contains less than 1% fat on average.

The axis deer also goes by the name chital.  It is a moderately sized deer. Males reach nearly 90 centimetres (35 in) and females 70 centimetres (28 in) at the shoulder; the head-and-body length is around 1.7 metres (5.6 ft). While males weigh 30–75 kilograms (66–165 lb), the lighter females weigh 25–45 kilograms (55–99 lb). Exceptionally large males can weigh up to 98 to 110 kg (216 to 243 lb). The tail, 20 centimetres (7.9 in) long, is marked by a dark stripe that stretches along its length. The species has distinct color differences between males and females.  The males are larger than females, and antlers are present only on males.

 Grazers as well as browsers, the chital mainly feed on grasses throughout the year. They prefer young shoots, in the absence of  tall and coarse grasses which can be nibbled off at the tips. Browse forms a major portion of the diet only in the winter months-October to January-when the grasses, tall or dried up, are not palatable.

Recipes are abundant for each of these deer and are too numerous to list here.  This is a matter of taste and if you want to hunt these animals. As for me, I am going back to High Adventure Ranch and harvest a young elk.

Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck. Hank



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