Roger D. Hodge

How to Field-Dress a Deer

A Series of Essential Advice, This Month from Editor Roger D. Hodge

The first and most difficult step in field-dressing a deer is the kill. Go out and procure yourself a lease, or access to a lease, or buy a ranch or a farm or an old field grown up with scrubby trees and a nearly impassable understory, or find some public land that permits hunting. Invest in a good rifle, commit gun-safety procedures to habit, and learn to shoot accurately. Acquire a gun safe. Do not neglect to consult your state’s hunting laws—the rules are inflexible and the penalties harsh. Game wardens possess wide discretion and broad powers, so beware. Leave the whiskey at home. Decide whether you wish to sit for untold hours in a small, cramped, elevated box, known as a blind, staring at a corn feeder, or use some other, more sporting method. (Somehow, shooting an animal that you’ve been feeding for six months feels like cheating, or killing a pet, but maybe that’s just me.) Some hunters, like Ted Nugent, sit in trees clutching compound bows. Others stalk through the brush like Natty Bumppo. Personally, I prefer hunting from a warm pickup, with a thermos full of coffee or hot chocolate at my side, because that’s how we always did it on my family’s ranch in Texas.

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Roger D. Hodge is the national editor of the Intercept. He is the former editor of the Oxford American and Harper’s magazine, and author of The Mendacity of Hope. He is writing a book about life in west Texas.

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