Ask The Biologist

No Guts, All Glory

No Guts, All Glory

By Bob Humphrey

Why it's okay to leave field-dressing remains in the woods.

QUESTION: I'm hoping you can settle an argument for me. When I shoot a deer, I always field-dress it where it lays. I was recently hunting out of state, and they asked me to bring out the whole deer because gut piles in the woods attract predators. What are your thoughts? –Rodney D.

ANSWER: I, too, was taken aback the first time I hunted out of state and my host asked us not to field-dress our deer but to let them haul it out whole. I couldn’t understand the logic of hauling an extra 30 pounds out of the woods.

It is certainly likely that a gut pile will attract scavengers and predators. The question then becomes whether and how much that will influence deer movement. My experience has been, not much. Sure, that increased activity might change things a little temporarily.

However, I have literally shot deer that were standing over a gut pile. And, most gut piles are gone within a day or two. It’s ultimately up to you, or your host if you’re on someone else’s ground, whether or not it’s worth the effort. It’s also worth noting that on managed grounds it’s common practice to weigh deer round and dressed as a source of data.

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