Monday, January 30th, 2023
Monday, January 30th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Proper disposal of deer remains is a rule of good hunter ethics

We like this. It comes from the South Carolina DNR, but the
message is universal as we head into this fall’s big game hunting

Disposal of deer remains may not be the highlight of a hunting
trip, but South Carolina’s Deer Project leader says it’s an
important aspect of hunting, particularly in maintaining the
hunter’s image.

“Hunters should realize that improperly disposing of deer remains
presents a negative public image,” said Charles Ruth, Deer/Turkey
Project supervisor for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources
(DNR). “It also provides a legitimate point of criticism that can
be used by people who oppose hunting.”

Ruth said hunters should also remember not to display harvested
game where it might offend non-hunting members of the public. When
transporting a deer in the back of a truck or on top of a vehicle,
hunters should wrap a tarp or other covering material around the
animal. This is a simple, considerate step that may prevent a
non-hunter from becoming an anti-hunter, he said.

The DNR occasionally gets calls from people who find deer remains
on their property, alongside roads or on the ground at dumpster
sites, and the “callers are usually pretty disgusted,” according to

“Proper preparation of harvested deer from the forest to the table
is an important part of hunting,” Ruth said. Heads, hides and
entrails should be buried at least 2 to 3 feet deep so dogs or
other animals won’t dig up the remains and drag them around.
Alternatively, hunters can take the remains to their local landfill
provided the landfill accepts animal carcasses.

Sportsmen hunting on Wildlife Management Areas often field dress
their deer, Ruth said, but the entrails should be disposed of
properly, not just left on the ground. Never, under any
circumstances, should remains be thrown into streams or other
bodies of water.

“Properly disposed deer remains will soon be taken care of by
decomposition and insects,” Ruth said, “because nature wastes no
nutrients. It’s part of nature’s recycling program.”

For information on constructing a simple composter to recycle deer
remains, hunt clubs that harvest large numbers of deer can contact
their local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) field
office or Conservation District office. Composting deer remains
solves the dilemma hunters face in properly disposing of deer
carcasses, and it also yields a valuable byproduct that can be used
to fertilize next year’s food plots.

Hunters should also keep in mind that people who discard deer
remains on private or public property can be cited for littering,
according to Ruth.

“Behavior by hunters like improper disposal of deer remains
promotes the kind of negative image that anti-hunters use in their
attempts to ban hunting,” Ruth said. “Landowners who find a mess on
their property may also have second thoughts about allowing access
to hunters next season.”

Ruth said hunters must blacklist those people who display unethical
behavior such as the improper disposal of deer remains. Violators
should be reported to the DNR’s Operation Game Thief by calling
1-800-922-5431. The 24-hour, toll-free number is printed on the
back of hunting and fishing licenses.

Sportsmen reporting violators through Operation Game Thief do not
have to identify themselves, and rewards are offered for
information leading to arrests.


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