Venison Harvest with 4 Days Ice Box Use
This is a story about our trip hunting deer. The plan was to leave Wednesday morning and drive for about 7 1/2 hours to the destination. I plan to visit some Icey-Tek customers in Armidale, Tamworth and Glen Innes.
So I packed a 56 litre long box with 4 of our 3.5 kg geralde parks and two of our 2 kg gel packs and filled it up with my food and drink for the next four days.
I visited Hicks Mitre 10 in Glen Innes first, then went to Armidale Outdoors who stocks our products. Then on to Tamworth Fishing and Camping. I stayed at Tamworth that night and the plan was to get up at 4 a.m and head to a property a couple of hours south to chasing deer and pigs. Hoping that the fallow deer might be starting to rut as it was the very end of March. However it was still quite hot with daytime temperatures getting up to 30 degrees and night-time temperatures barely getting below 20 degrees. This was a great test for our ice box and the gel packs to see how long they would last as the gel packs are a fairly new product for us.
We got to the property early the next morning park the car and walked up to a top saddle where the deer usually feed out on to. The sun was just about to rise but the hill was covered in a thick fog. By the time the fog it lifted there were no deer out in the open when we looked around. We headed up the ridge up to a patch of Bracken fern, where some pigs often feed out onto. We saw a sow and a few young ones in amongst the Bracken Fern. I put a quick stalk in with the bow and arrow but I couldn't get a clean shot, as the pigs were barely higher than the Bracken fern and I couldn’t see their bodies. They spooked and ran off giving us the slip.
The day was getting on and it was starting to get warm, but we just wanted to walk along the ridge and down into the next Valley to see if there was any sign or animals still feeding out in the open. However there was no deer to be seen at all, in an area that usually holds quite a lot of them. The drought really has been hard on the animals. We decided to split up and search the next valley. I walk through the gully and the bush at the bottom and my buddy Aaron, would walk up high in the open to see if I flushed anything out. Sure enough a nice stag came running out of the bush from where I was and back to where I came from. It must have smelled or heard me. I was un-aware it was even there, but Aaron saw it, but couldn't get a good shot on it so it got away and ran off into the neighbours property. By then it was quite warm we've had enough and we were hungry so back to camp to meet the others who are arriving later that morning.
We headed out to the other side of the property in the afternoon to have a look at a small Creek that often holds a lot of animals, however, that afternoon, the wind wasn't the best swirling and pushing across us hunted here we saw a couple of deer off in distance but we didn't bother pursuing them as the wind was wrong so we thought we'd leave them for the next morning.
The following morning we were up early and back into the same area where we saw the deer the afternoon before. We are looking for Stags and couldn't see any , we could see quite a lot of deer up on the Hill tops off in the distance in a paddock that had been de-stocked, because of the drought. There was enough food in there for the deer and they seem quite undisturbed out on the end of a Ridge it was a couple of kilometres away from where we were and when you we wouldn't get there that morning so we just watched them and saw what they did.
I decided to walk back from where we were towards camp, just to get a look at the property and see if there's any action nearby. I saw quite a few feral goats which the property owner musters and sells to market, so these ones are off the cards for me. I got onto a cool face that was out of the sun, with the wind pushing up the face, keeping it cool. It seemed like there's been quite a lot of life there. I put up a really big boar, who was already bedded down for the morning. He jumped up and ran off never to be seen again. I also found some deer in the thick stuff which were not worth stalking, due to the shale ground and the steep terrain. I knew I wouldn't get anywhere near them so I just left these ones be. This had given me a bit of an idea where the animals were sitting as it was so hot that they were sitting on the cool faces where there was a nice Breeze even though the feed wasn't there. That seem to be where they are bedding down.
A bit before lunch time and we had a bit of a siesta about for the afternoon. We had seen across the valley a good look out where we could see the larger mob of deer we saw in the morning. So we set off after them. They were a fair way off and we just watched them looking for any mature Stags with them. It was mostly does and young ones and young Stags we couldn't see any big Stags with them.
As the afternoon rolled on there were some storm clouds rolling in, we could hear thunder and see the rain coming. This is not good for our hunting plans, but fantastic for the farmers who are in a heavy drought. They will be happy to see some rains come. We got back to camp just as the rain was starting, because we knew we wouldn't be able to move once it started, as the area is Blacksoil, whits get really boggy when wet.
We just managed to get the fire going and some coals going enough to chuck the camp oven on and heat up our food. Then the skies opened and bucketed down. We had enough of a fire going to keep the rain off and cook our dinner. We got stuck into a nice hot stew maybe Aaron's wife, it was just what we needed and then called it a night after a few rums.
Saturday morning we woke up and the rains are cleared, but the ground was still very boggy. We took a short walk up the hill to see if there are any deer. We could see some on the crest of a hill across the gully. We wanted to go up and just try and get some meat, it was going to be a wet and boggy drive up there. We gave it a go and slipped and slided up the hill, but we made it close enough to save about a 40 minute walk.
There was about 15 deer feeding out into the open on this Hill and we stalked up this gully with the wind in our face. All we have to do is cross the next rise, then the wind started sucking back the other way, towards the deer.
We never laid eyes on those deer, they must have just smelled us and ran away without a sign of where they went. We walked up to the Ridge to look back out where we've seen the big mob the previous afternoon. We thought we should just sit down and do some glassing. Suddenly we noticed about 200 m below, is a few deer feeding up through the bush. Some young Stags playing and pushing each other around. So we snuck along the ridge and we could see where they came to. There was a nice healthy looking doe, sitting about 100 m away down the hill I said I was keen to get some meat so and put the .300 crosshairs on her she dropped on the spot. We figure we were not going to see much else after the big bang. So we went down there and butchered the doe up.
We took all the available meat we could carry the wasn't damaged from the shot, then walked it back to the car. By then it was about 9 a.m. on Saturday morning, we drove back to camp and it was time to pack up and head for home.
I packed about 6 kg of venison into the Icey Tek, the gel ice packs had been in there since Wednesday morning and it was now Saturday morning everything was still nice and cold. The ice packs was still frozen. We packed up camp and I headed for home, it's about an eight-hour drive home I had a couple of stops to do on the way. I drove through the day and didn't get home until about 8 that night. I was pretty tired from driving and didn't feel like cleaning up so I just left the Icey Tek and the venison in the back of the ute to deal with the following morning.
I got up the next morning Sunday morning and checked the ice packs, everything was still nice and cold, the deer meat being cooled down overnight still sitting at about 4 degrees Celsius. That was after 4 days use plus placing 6 kg of venison, which had been cut off the animal, so the venison was probably at about 35 degrees when it went into the ice box and we managed to get it down to about 4 degrees. This is a great Testament for how the Icey Tek gel ice packs work.
As a rough guide I like to use about 2 kilograms of our gel packs per 20 litres of icebox capacity for 1 to 2 days. For 3 to 4 days you'll probably want about 4 kg of ice gel packs per 20 litre of ice box capacity so double what you would use for 1 to 2 days. For longer than 4 days trips you might want to add up to 50% of the capacity of the icebox for each 20 litres of icebox capacity you will probably want about 10 kilograms of our gel packs per 20 litres capacity for five and six day trips.
This varies depending on the outside air temperature whether the icebox is stored in the sun or in the shade. Do you put food in there that's already cold or you're putting food in there that's warm. All these factors affect how long ice will last. However on 4 to 5 day trips using it like this, mentioned above, I left the ice gel packs in there for another day and it was still cold, at about 4 degrees after another 24 hours after I took the meat out. That was with approximately just under 20 kg of ice packs in a 56 litre ice box so approximately 6 kg of gel packs per 20 l of ice box capacity for 5 days use.