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Venison haul is smaller than you think

My husband has started deer hunting this year, and along with the new rifle and scope that he bought, he informs me that we need to buy a new freezer for the venison that he will be providing. I'm wondering just how much meat are we talking about here?

— Beth, Grants Pass

We at Since You Asked Central aren't so well-versed in venison yields of southwest Oregon's black-tailed deer, so we posed your question to home-grown and deer-hunting biologist Mark Vargas, who has quite a bit of experience in bringing home local fauna.

Vargas says most blacktail bucks yield about 32 to 33 pounds of unboned meat. That's less than a standard Eastern whitetail buck or mule deer, both of which are by and large bigger deer than blacktails.

There is a formula available online that is used to guess the weight of a whitetail based on field-dressed weight. It's a bit generous when applied to blacktails, Vargas says, but it shows that 33 pounds is about what you should expect. The formula is available at http://www.butcher-packer.com/index.php?main_page="document_general_info"&products_id="331"

So that amount of venison isn't necessarily new-freezer worthy, Beth. To put it in perspective, two big Rogue River fall chinook will yield more dinner fare than one blacktail.

"I know I have heard from folks that take their deer to professional butchers and only get back a grocery sack full of meat and blame the butcher for stealing or losing their meat," says Vargas, the Rogue District wildlife biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife." When I tell them my story, they calm down a little bit.

"So I say, cut the butcher some slack and enjoy your venison," Vargas says.

— Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. To see a collection of columns, go to mailtribune.com/youasked. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.