Ask The Biologist

The Ears Have It

The Ears Have It

By Bob Humphrey

Strange presence of blood makes hunter leery of eating his harvest.

QUESTION: I killed a buck that has dried blood in his ears. I noticed it about 5 minutes after I walked up to him. I know for sure it was not caused by my bullet. Is this buck fit for consumption?

ANSWER: I’m guessing by now you’ve figured out the answer to your question, at least the part about whether it’s safe to eat. If you guessed wrong, you might not still be around to read this, and it’s very hard to say without pictures. But I’ll offer some possible causes for the sake of our readers who are still with us.

It would be helpful to know where you shot the deer. My first best guess, assuming you shot it in the lungs, is that it was simply exhaling blood as it ran and some splattered on the ears. You might expect it to still be wet, but if it was being exhaled it could have dried before you reached the deer.

A second possibility is the blood was from another source. Perhaps this buck was recently involved in a fight with another buck that was injured severely enough to spatter blood on your buck.

A third scenario is your buck could have gotten a little over eager in pursuing a doe, given her a tine in the rear and gotten a spritz of blood for his troubles. Those are a few possibilities, but there are countless more.

I can’t think of any disease that would exhibit noticeable blood in the ears.

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