Monday, January 10, 2011

The Harvest, Part 1

Today in the News:  Today's post (and all posts for the next few days) will be graphic.  It will show an animal being shot and killed.  If you don't like meat or the harvesting of animals, I advise you to read no further.  This animal was raised for the meat and is now feeding close to ten families.  The animal was raised in a caged pasture and was harvested from the same pasture.  Harvesting this animal was strictly for meat, not for sport. 

Consider yourself notified.  Rude comments will not be tolerated and will be deleted.

Now that all of the formalities are taken care of, let's get to the interesting part.

The Harvest, Part 1

When I picked my friend Eeyore up from the airport after Thanksgiving, he informed me that his and several other families would be harvesting  a buffalo at the beginning of 2011.  I asked if I could attend and thankfully, he agreed. 

We've all seen the abbreviated process in films and on television, but I have to tell you that it does not capture the real experience.  In my life I have or have helped to field dress everything from grouse to moose.  The buffalo was an entirely different experience.  Most of my practice came from white tail deer, either by my bullet or others and from road kill.  You will rarely find an animal beside the road rotting in northern Maine - especially during these tough economic times.

We arrived at 9:30am on Saturday morning.  As the families that were buying the meat arrived, we observed the animals in the pen.  I forget just how large a buffalo is until I stand beside one.  There were several in the pen and the chosen bull was a few years old.  He was the largest of the group.

Pardon the sun glare.  It wasn't working to my favor.

The group discussed the kill.  The owner was full of great stories about riding buffalo in his younger days.  He said that he had one of the cows for 22 years.  She now has arthritis - but when she was young, they used to ride her.  To the left is Eeyore.  He was the designated shooter.

A sharp reminder.

Eeyore readied the weapon of choice, a 300 Winchester Magnum. He debated between it and his .50 caliber black powder rifle.  Being the analytical guy that he is, he had studied the velocity of both calibers.  While I don't know how large the difference is between the 300 Win. Mag. and the .50 caliber, my vote was for the 300.  The shell dwarfs almost every caliber that I know of.  I know a proper .50 caliber shell dwarfs the 300, but this was a musket ball, of which I've seen splatter against metal targets.....and buffalo hide is thick.

Update:  Eeyore sent me an email with his thoughts on the subject.  To warn you I am math illiterate.  I get stumped counting my fingers and toes.  Eeyore is a CPA and all around bright guy.  He knows a little about a lot and a lot about quite a few things.  Here is what he wrote:

Note that the bison cow you are talking about used to live inside Ron’s house until it was a year old!  It is one of the family, which explains why it never became dinner.

The winmag fires a round that has about ½ the mass of the black powder, but it’s velocity is over 2,500 feet per second.

The black powder round is much bigger, but is much, much slower at about 750 FPS. 

Considering the formula for kinetic energy is mass times velocity squared the velocity trumped the mass and that is why we went with the WinMag.  The damage done to the heart is evidence of the shockwave that supersonic round carries.

Understood. Kinda.  Really, I'm not that bright.  What I do understand is knockdown power vs. velocity, which Eeyore just explained.  The 300 win. mag. has great velocity.  The .50 has great mass.  It's like trying to drive a car through a cement wall.  Do you want a Pinto with a corvette engine or a corvette with a pinto engine?

Eeyore lined up for the kill and waited for the bull to separate from the group.  Within a short period of time, the bull did just that.

When the first shot was administered, the buffalo's legs bucked.  He let out a grunt and continued standing.  I could tell that he was badly injured, but he was making the best of it, standing and moving around.

Eeyore observed the situation.  The bull continued standing, but was obviously wounded.  The cows in the pen hardly reacted to the shot, which none of us expected.

I quickly circled around the pen and got on higher ground for a different view.  What we didn't know at the time was that Eeyore had under estimated the shot.  This was an honest mistake that anyone would have made.  You have to remember that this was his first time shooting a buffalo.  What we later learned was that the shot destroyed the sternum and several ribs.  The shot was a little low.  When John figured this out - which didn't take long, he administered a second shot.  The following pictures are very graphic.

I zoomed in with the camera and I could see that he was bleeding.  The shag on his leg was soaking up the most of the blood.  There were several small puddles on the ground.

As I was zoomed in, Eeyore took the second shot.  He had obviously corrected the low shot and nailed a vital organ.  The bull buckled for good and began to drop.

When he rolled onto his back I was pretty sure it was a hit to the lungs.  He wheezed and hacked for a short time and then came to rest.

Overall, from the first shot to the last breath was about 4 minutes.  Speaking with Eeyore later, he talked about miscalculating the first shot.  The shag on the back of the front leg threw him off on where the heart was.  Now that he knows, I'm sure it will be a kill shot every time. 

Stay tuned for part 2.......field dressing. 

Pax Domini Sit Semper Vobiscum,

Mike, Oscar, Hotel.....out.


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  2. "If you don't like meat" I don't like that you didn't share any of the meet with me :(

    Thanks for sharing the photos and your experience. Some people don't like hunting and think we should all eat fruit and veggies, but I like to think that fruit and veggies have just as much spirit as animals so it doesn't matter; eating meat always was and always was a part of life. Due to regions, we have some cultures that eat very little meat and other cultures that eat almost nothing but meet, it all depends on what mother nature herself put in each region. (corrected for a spelling error)

  3. Wait unitl Thursday......when I post my mother in law cooking up the tongue! ;)