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jaybe's picture
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Location: S.E. Michigan
Joined: 10/19/2010
Posts: 825
Do You Leave Your Gut Pile in the Woods?

I'm asking this question of hunters who mainly hunt east of the Mississippi River, although others are certainly welcome to respond as well. In Michigan, I have never heard of a hunter who doesn't leave the gut pile in the woods, but I have heard from hunters in other states who feel that it is tantamount to "littering" to do so.

If you reply, please tell us your state and what your thoughts are on this subject. Thumbs up


WishIWasHunting's picture
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Location: Brighton, CO
Joined: 01/31/2011
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I am not in your target demographic as I do my big game hunting in Colorado, but I thought I would reply anyway. 

If I can pull right up to the animal and load it in a vehicle, I do not leave the gut pile in the field.  If I am going to have to do some serious work to retrieve my game, I am definitely leaving the gut pile in the field.  However, I think it is a matter of courtesy to move it away from hiking trails and try to conceal it (not necessarily bury it, but at least not leave it in the open).  Also, I try not to leave schrapnel from the bullet in easily accessible scraps. 

JSmitty's picture
Location: Eunice, NM
Joined: 09/23/2008
Posts: 314
This is one that never

This is one that never crossed my mind. I have allways left the gut pile where the animal went down, never had one go down kin the road but have watched gut piles over the years and betwine the bears, coyotes, and crows I never seen a pile last over a day so by my way of thinking I recycled it, right., Yes

WishIWasHunting's picture
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Location: Brighton, CO
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I always like to think that I

I always like to think that I am feeding the local scavengers and predators with the gut pile.  However, I have been surprised to find some of the gut piles I put out specifically for predators last much longer than I would have anticipated, especially in years with thriving local coyote populations.  It seemed to me that my human scent seemed to "contaminate" the gut pile, putting it lower on the predator/scavenger preferred dining menu.  So long as there is abundant local prey (primarily mice, rabbits, and prairie dogs), anything that has been touched by humans seems to go untouched for a while anyway. 

Ca_Vermonster's picture
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Location: San Diego, CA
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Ditto that.  It's the circle

Ditto that.  It's the circle of life.

Many, many animals will benefit from what I leave int he woods.

As said earlier in the post, I would not leave it near a hiking trail if I can help it, but there is nothing wrong with leaving it there in general.

GooseHunter Jr's picture
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Location: Colorado
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I have never shot any animal

I have never shot any animal that was close enough to any road to get them out without gutting it first.  I have wonder wondered what the private land ranches do that run alot of hunter thru their land.  I am sure most of them do not gut in the field as it may spook some animals.  A part from that what do you do with the guts when you take them from the field undressed?

arrowflipper's picture
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Interesting question

I find this to be an interesting question.  I guess it's definitely a "regional" issue.  I hunt in Washington and it would be almost unheard of to remove the gut pile.  It is considered a way to feed the local predator population.  We talk about how nothing ever goes to waste.  I enjoy going back by where I harvested my deer over the next couple of days to see how quickly it disappears.  It doesn't take very long for the local coyote and bird population to pick a guy pile clean.  We look at it as a service to other wild animals.

My son lives in Maryland and does things a bit differently.  He goes out with a wheelbarrow and brings his deer in whole if he can.  He cleans them in his garage and catches the gut pile back into the wheelbarrow.  He then wheels it out a long ways into the woods and dumps it where it won't be seen by hikers or walkers.  He did tell me that they don't last too long there either.  The local fox population as well as birds have a feast.

I think it's an ethical thing to make sure your gut pile is not in a place where it is offensive to others, especially non hunters.  I am proud of being a hunter and do not hesitate to tell people, but I don't think it does our sport any good to flaunt the gut pile in front of non hunters or especially, those who don't mind our hunting but don't hunt themselves.  Why risk turning another person into an "anti-hunter".

Critter's picture
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Location: Western Colorado
Joined: 03/26/2009
Posts: 4273
It all depends on where you

It all depends on where you live and where you shoot your animal at.  Out west you are most likely to kill your animal in some quite hilly terrine and don't want' to bring anymore out than you have to.  Back east where you are hunting in flatlands or rolling hills you have the luxury of bringing the animal out whole.  Now if I kill a deer in a cultivated field I will bring it out to a location other than the field to clean it but in over 40 years of hunting I have only buried one gut pile and that was from another hunter that cleaned his deer right in front of our camp.  If I would of found him I would of buried him.  I also agree that if you go back to where you cleaned your animal in a couple of days the only thing that is left there to indicate that there was a animal cleaned there is perhaps a little bit of blood stained dirt.  Other than that the critters have cleaned it up quite nicely. 

Rem2arms's picture
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Being of an Indian backround

Being of an Indian backround I believe that if you get a little then leave a little. In other words, yes, I leave my gut pile uncovered  not for just preditors but also for birds, mice and other small creatures who benifit from the remains. I was supprised one year from a gut pile I left on closing day of a black powder doe kill only to come across a bear dining on it the next morning at day break which was opening day of regular rifle in New York. Not a big bear so I had no intentions of shooting it. I watched him for close to 45 minutes until he wandered off and out of sight. He would eat, then puke then eat more and do the same again and left nothing of the remains for other animals. Yes, giving back to nature I believe is only right. Thumbs up

hunter25's picture
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Location: Colorado western slope
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Leaving the gut pile behind

Leaving the gut pile behind was something I never thought about before this year. We have always left them just out of sight from normal trails. There is no way all that extra weight is coming out with us as far as we sometimes have had to drag deer on the public land out west. Now on private land or a small piece of property I might consider something different if more hunting would be taking place. At least a short distance from the stand somewhere. When we hunted Texas this past December they would not even consider leaving it behind. All guts and carcass remains were buried or dumped in a special area they had set up just for this.


groovy mike's picture
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Joined: 03/19/2009
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Just like many of the other posters I leave the pile where the deer falls - unless it is somewhere in view of a public road etc. I'll move the deer somewhere appropriate to leav ethe gut pile before field dressing.  I know the gut pile wont last long, I alwyas go back later to look for signs of bera and coyotes - hoping to find one there .

That has only worked once to date, but I still think it's a good theory.

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