Deer hunters have enjoyed mild weather and beautiful scenery this fall, but successful hunts also bring a responsibility to care for the landscape.
“Mission accomplished, your deer is dressed and ready for transportation, but there is still cleanup to take care of,” said Emmett Keyser, assistant director for the Game, Fish and Parks Division of Wildlife. “Now you have a large gut pile, and if you process the deer yourself, you’ll have legs, hide, bones and other leftovers to discard. How do you handle those remains?”
Keyser said the answer begins with respect for the land and landowners.
“Hunters hunting on private land should never assume they are okay to leave offal and other remains from big game in the field. Discuss it with the landowner before starting your hunt. He may be comfortable with scavengers cleaning up the gut pile, but then again he may ask that you leave no trace of your hunt behind,” Keyser said.
Never leave cleanings from a big game hunt where people can see them.
While it is permissible to field-dress deer on public hunting areas and leave cleanings, leaving deer carcasses near boat ramps, along roads or dumping them at public hunting areas is not only unethical but illegal.
“Legally, you cannot dump the carcass along the side of a roadway, near a boat ramp, in a creek or on public property,” Keyser said. “This is criminal littering, and you can be cited for it. Sometimes, people think it is okay to dump the carcass because it is an animal, but it is considered littering.”
Dumping deer carcasses in that manner also reflects poorly on hunters.
If you live in town and need to dispose of your deer carcass, you do have options.
Many communities allow disposal at landfills. Check with your local landfill to see if it is allowed, and if it is, how best to bag the remains for disposal.
Another option for hunters is to have big game processed through a wildlife processing facility.