Every hunter loves the feeling of accomplishment after a successful hunt. Most of us don’t want to waste an ounce of meat after spending countless hours waiting for the deer to cross our path. Once the harvest is over, some folks will drop off their deer at the processor, but some will process on their own. Whatever you choose, proper carcass disposal is important, but often overlooked. Improper carcass disposal is not only unethical, but it’s illegal and considered littering. Before you head out into the field you should always consider your plan for after you bag your deer.

Let’s talk about what you shouldn’t do after processing your deer.

  1. Never dump a carcass on the side of the road.

First off, it’s illegal and a good way to get a citation from a conservation ranger. It can also lead to a dangerous outcome. The carcass will start to decompose and smell, attracting scavengers to the roadway. This can increase vehicle vs. wildlife collisions and become a safety concern. Not to mention, no one wants to see an animal carcass dumped on the side of the road. The sight and smell can be a nuisance and unpleasing.

  1. Never dump a carcass in water.

While dumping a carcass in a creek may seem like you’re using “nature’s dishwasher,” it’s a big no-no. Dumping can impact water quality for wildlife that use the stream as a water source or habitat.

By now I’m sure you’re wondering “what IS the best way to toss the leftovers from your harvest?” Field dressing your deer on the spot takes care of the biggest concerns for carcass disposal. (If you don’t own the property you’re hunting on, you should get landowner permission before field dressing.) Scavengers will take care of the remains and dispose of them within a few days.

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To get the most out of your deer, you’ve got options for parts that aren’t consumed. You can roast leftover bones in the oven to make dog treats or use them in a stew stock. For folks living in a suburban area, you can call your waste transportation provider. Many services consider carcass parts solid waste, and they can be bagged and thrown away. You can also contact your local landfill to see whether they accept carcass parts.

Hunting and processing can be fun and rewarding, but you should always keep the clean-up in mind. Please be sure to always dispose of your deer remains properly. Hunters were the first conservationists. We have a responsibility to keep the outdoors thriving and show our peers the ethics of our sport.