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By Brynnan Whaley

Wondering for more uses for your deer? Waste is never welcome.

After the kill, we tend to take our meat and trophy antlers and leave the rest of our deer to waste. Whether you are out in the elements and need to put a deer to its full use or you are experimenting at home, here are 14 ways to utilize your deer’s most unused parts.

From Sinew…

The sinew is probably the most useful part on a deer. It’s like duct tape. You can use it for pretty much anything. Shredding the tendons of a deer you will find there are thicker sinews and thinner ones.

1. Tools: When sinew is wet, it is malleable and can be wrapped around an arrowhead and adhered to an arrow shaft. When it dries it becomes hard, making a very strong weapon.

2. A bow string: Thicker tendons can be put to use to make a strong string for a bow. Find yourself a great piece of wood, notch out the top and bottom and you’ve got yourself a homemade bow.

3. Sewing: Using thinner sinew found on muscles, you can sew buckskin together for moccasins, or even suture a wound using a small bone from the leg of your deer as a needle.

4. Jewelry: Braid sinew together and you can make an amazing arrowhead necklace for your lady-friend.


From “trash” antlers…

If you’ve killed a three-point freak, the chances are you sawed off his antlers and they are lying in the corner of your garage just inviting maggots into your home. Instead of letting them go to waste, try these small trophy uses.

5. Buttons: With a bone saw, carefully cut the antler at the base, about 1/4-inch thickness to form a perfectly strong button. Punch out a couple of holes and you can use your sinew to mount these buttons to your favorite coat.

6. Decoration: Go to any crafty website and find that antlers are all the rage, and expensive. Make your own decoration! Boil your old antlers in water, clean off any flesh and bleach the skull, and you have your own European mount. Spray paint them gold and hang necklaces off them. Mount a single antler by your window and you have a curtain tie back. The uses for antlers are endless.

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7. Small tools: Small antlers make perfect tools for grinding grains or notching/sharpening an arrowhead. Do this with the tip of the antler and with a soft surface underneath for give, such as deer hide.

8. Knife handle: Take your sturdiest looking “trash” antler and put it to great use by sliding in a blade to make a beautiful and useful knife.The leg bone of your deer will make another beautiful weapon once cleaned and boiled.

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From the innards…

Instead of leaving your deer’s heap of insides in the field, if these parts have not been damaged by your shot, sift through them and take what can be eaten later or put to use.

9. Bladder: Should you find yourself in the wild with no vat to carry water in, and you just happen to kill a deer with your newly made bow and arrow, carefully clean the deer’s bladder out and boom, nature’s thermos. String it up with sinew for easier carry.

10. Intestines: The long tract of thin sinew from intestines can be used in mostly the same way that the tendons can. Since the intestines are considerably thinner, try using them for more pliant tasks, like packing sausage, or for storage in general.

From hide/fat…

While a nice rug for the living room is always a go-to, try putting your deer hide to a different use this year.

11. Braintan: If you keep the brain from your deer, you can actually use it to tan the hide of a deer, making it into an extra soft jacket. This is where you can sew on your antler buttons with your sinew thread.

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12. Hide glue: Clean, boil, dry, and cut up parts of the hide, then cover it with water over a low heat and simmer for several hours. Let excess water vapor off and what you should be left with is a glue stock. Store in small portions and allow to gel, where now you can cut into smaller strips for use whenever. To reactivate the glue, reheat, or if you are away from a heat source, warm it up in your mouth and apply to where adhesive is needed.

13. Tallow: Look between the hide of the deer and meat to find fat, cube it up and simmer it to remove any meat attached. Once the fat is rendered, tallow forms. You can use it as a lubricant for metals, conditioner for leathers, or perhaps even a candle.

From the head…

Perhaps the most fun part of the deer head comes its eyeballs.

14. Bouncy-eye-ball: Cut off any and all meat connections to your deer’s eyeball thoroughly. Once the eyeball is completely cleaned, you have the best bouncy ball of all time. This one is for the kids.

There are many more uses for your kill. Experiment! See what happens when your roast this part or boil that, or leave that part out to dry.

The possibilities are endless. Good luck!


It takes a certain amount of commitment to go fishing at night. If you have a job, the idea of spending a long cold night on the water, only to be up again to go to work the next morning, sounds pretty intimidating. For me, you’d better have some really good dope and have the mission dialed in to make that commitment.

Last week, my buddy John and I went for a late afternoon dock hop. We were able to get live anchovies from the returning half-day boat and were enjoying excellent fishing. As good as it was, once we couldn’t see the bait to put it on our hooks, it was easy to call it a trip despite the good fishing.

If you want to keep the good times rolling, there are things you can do to make night fishing easier (and safer). In this post from Kayak Angler, some pros share their favorite night moves.

joedaly_ghostbustinA lot of tactics for night are the same as during the day. Look for drop offs, ledges, points, oyster bars/various structures, as well as creeks that dump into flats. Anywhere trout can easily hold near flowing water is good.  Paying attention to tides is obviously very important too. Outgoing tide at the mouth of a creek will dump baitfish right into a predator’s ambush zone.

When the water is higher, don’t be afraid to cast way up near the shoreline/marshline. I like throwing walk-the-dog type topwater lures that make a lot of noise. At night, trout and reds are less skittish about blowing up something on the surface. If that doesn’t work, I may work a subsurface lure like a Rapala Subwalk. If that doesn’t entice a strike, I move on to various MirrOlure type crankbaits and jigheads/soft plastics. Also, trolling around an area to locate fish then switching to casting is a good idea. My preference is a 7′ medium or medium heavy action rod with either spinning or baitcasting reels.

Obviously, one of if not the most important accessory while night fishing is a headlamp. I like having one that has a dim setting and a high setting.  Some people like having a dim red light as well.  When you’re trying to be sneaky and not spook fish with inadvertent highbeaming, the lower setting is a good idea. Also, using the dim light helps your eyes adjust from your cockpit to your surroundings.

Photo credits: Kayak Angler (top); Joe Daly (above)


With this iHunt device and Ruger app, you'll always be ready with a call.

With this iHunt device and Ruger app, you’ll always be ready with a call.

You’re tucked into your tree stand just as day breaks and suddenly you spot movement.

No, it’s not the trophy buck you seek, but a skanky coyote sneaking through the timber just out of range. If only you could make a soft mouse sound or subdued rabbit squeal, the predator would head right for you.

Fortunately, to coin a phrase, there’s an app for that. iHunt offers a speaker that connects wirelessly to your smartphone.  Here’s the scoop from Predator Xtreme as they report from the SHOT show.

Extreme Dimensions’ iHunt wireless Bluetooth speaker and the iHunt by Ruger App allow you to use your smartphone as the controller for more than 600 sounds from 46 species. Once you sync the iHunt speaker with your phone you can download the iHunt app for free. The app breaks calls down to specific species. So if you want to call coyotes, you simply tap the coyote selection and scroll through dozens of sounds — including coyote vocalization and prey-distress sounds.  MORE


Poachers really upset me. For one thing, when these poaching stories circulate around the general public they paint even good, law abiding anglers in a bad light. Secondly, poachers are stealing my fun… not only in the short term, but possibly long term with the impact they have to a local fishery. Just being out and about, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with a few game wardens and I applaud them for the work they do.

A story recently came to light about the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. They recently conducted an undercover operation that has implicated 31 people. It may be the biggest poaching bust in 20 years. Read the details of their Operation Squarehook in this article from WCCO/CBS Minnesota.

square_walleyeThe Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is sharing new details into “Operation Squarehook.” That is the codename of the undercover operation that netted at least 31 people in what is being described as the largest fishing bust in some 20 years.

Those charged are accused of engaging in the illegal commercialization of Minnesota game fish. Ten members of the Red Lake and Leech Lake bands are charged in Federal Court with selling legally netted walleye. That is a violation of tribal code and the U.S. Lacey Act, which strictly prohibits commercial sale of fish and game.

The two-year investigation discovered that “tens of thousands of walleye” were being netted from Lake Winnibigoshish, Leech, Cass and Red Lakes. The tribal netting itself started as a legal take but violated the law once those fish were put up for sale.

Photos: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (top); Minnesota StarTribune (above)


Some duck hunting ice-crawler named Clint makes our day.

Just talk one of your friends into walking on thin ice, and then kick back and start the video camera.

What happens next is one of the funniest videos ever.

Meet Clint, the ultimate ice-crawler. Somebody call this poor guy a helicopter.

Give this duck hunting dude some credit for almost making it and even more so for doing a little laughing himself.
At least it wasn’t too deep when he falls through the thin ice.

Here’s to you, Clint, for giving us a good chuckle.


I often argue that recreational anglers are the best stewards of the fishery resource. We have the most to lose from overfishing. Commercial fishing operations can range further or switch to another fishery to profit from.

Local recreational anglers typically don’t have those options, so they take better care of the resource (or at least they should). Because it is a for-profit venture, I don’t think commercial fishing pros always choose what is best for the long-term health of the fishery. There are also side consequences from commercial fishing you don’t hear about as much.

One of these consequences is “ghost fishing.” Ghost fishing is when lost or abandoned commercial fishing equipment is left in the water and continues to catch fish. Learn more about the efforts to curtail ghost fishing in this article from The Nature Conservancy.

ghost-potLong after commercial fishers have pulled into dock, their lost and abandoned gear continues fishing – threatening marine wildlife and habitats around the world.

Some call it “ghost fishing.”

recent NOAA study found that abandoned and lost fishing gear has “persistent and pervasive” impacts on U.S. waters. It also found that these impacts are largely reversible.

A good case study is the recovery of derelict crab pots on the Washington coast, a comprehensive effort involving Tribal and non-tribal commercial fishers, scientists, agencies and organizations like The Nature Conservancy.

The bottom line: collaborating on crab pot removal benefits both fish and fishers.

The Dungeness crab is one of the most important fisheries in Washington, with an average of 14 million pounds of the crustaceans harvested annually. The crabs are captured in wire traps, called crab pots. About 90,000 to 100,000 of these pots are set in Washington waters annually. Crab pots are not inexpensive; each one costs about $225. Still, heavy winds and other harsh conditions mean that about 10 percent of the pots are lost each year.

Photos: The Nature Conservancy (top); Sea Grant (above)