big headed deer

Submitted by ja ja on 12/18/05 at 9:18 PM. ( )

I had a customer bring in a deer that has its head swollen up almost twice its size. The swelling is so bad the eyes on this deer are squinted and also seeping blood. Has anyone ever saw this and will the cape be ok? I think maybe they had the deer hanging head down overnight, it was shot Sat. 17th.

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Blood and Bodily Fluids

This response submitted by John on 12/18/05 at 9:31 PM. ( )

It will be fine, just a little bloody when you skin it. I think they are easier to skin and prep swollen but a little messy.

hanging deer

This response submitted by Aaron on 12/18/05 at 9:33 PM. ( )

the deer in question must have sometheing wrong with it. Ive hunted deer for many years hanging all of them up side down to cure the meat, never having any of them swelling up. What is the temp. where the deer is hanging?

low 40s

This response submitted by ja ja on 12/18/05 at 9:54 PM. ( )

i live in central ky. the temp the last couple of has been in the low 40s. Thanks for the responses

We just covered this last week

This response submitted by George on 12/18/05 at 9:58 PM. ( )

And it's certainly NOT from hanging. There's no migration of body fluids through anything. The deer's dead and the arteries, capillaries, and veins don't move squat. The deer had been fighting, either with another deer, or with the front end of a Buick or something. In humans, it's called subdural hematoma. If you skin it, you'll find a viscuous blob of fluid that's formed that would have assisted in the healing of the bruises had the deer lived. They take a terrible beating during rut when similar aged/antlered animals live in close proximity.

Cape will be okay.

This response submitted by duckfeathers on 12/18/05 at 11:57 PM. ( )

Get some of these in every year. Capes have always worked out okay.


This response submitted by michael on 12/19/05 at 12:11 AM. ( )

GORGE you are wrong this time. ask the guy if he washed out the deer hangimg from the back legs i bet he says yep. this is what is called a head full of water. I know Gerge wants ever one to think he is a doctor not.

wrong michael

This response submitted by Aaron on 12/19/05 at 12:23 AM. ( )

unless he power washed the head and neck to inject the water in the deer was injured somehow


This response submitted by Bionicrooster on 12/19/05 at 2:36 AM. ( )

He probably had ice in the chest cavity while it was hanging and the ice melted causing the water to drain into the head area.

<><> GEORGE <><>

This response submitted by EARL on 12/19/05 at 5:35 AM. ( ANTLERSANDWINGS@COMCAST.NET )

GEORGE IS THAT REALLY YOU MAKING THAT STATEMENT ? I just got one Fri.night..It was fine,the guy had 3 bags of ice in it and wrapped tight in a tarp..I was lazy ,hung it by the back legs till Sat. morning.When I went to skin it,it was blown up like a tick..It's head was filled with water and some of the neck.It had an 18 inch neck Fri. night and now a 21 inch neck.Not only was it dead when I hung it,it was up high enough that I'm sure nothing fought with it...Earl

michael, EARL

This response submitted by George on 12/19/05 at 8:54 AM. ( )

You guys need to stay out of the woods. I can't change the laws of biology and physics and neither will your ranting and ravings. Skin is affixed to the meat of a deer so that it has to be peeled off forceably. And YOU think that melting ice will force its way inside that area. The deer is DEAD. Post mortem, post lividity flesh does not effect any bodily fluid movement. If you let the deer hang with the chest cavity filled with ice, wouldn't you THINK that it would drain down through the severed trachea (which is certainly held open by its own structure) and out on to the ground instead of osmosing into the flesh under the skin. I can't believe some of you actually believe what you're saying here. Unless of course, you've installed a valve stem and have pumped the hide up.

Just from my experiance....

This response submitted by Michelle W on 12/19/05 at 9:35 AM. ( )

For the last 2 years (excluding this season)I worked at a deer processor helping them in the mornings skin and gut deer. I have done a ton of deer that have come out of plantation coolers. They were gutted and hung in the Plantation coolers for a week with the skin still on the carcas. The majority of these deer are does. Also the majority of them have swollen faces and I beleive it is from hanging up side down. If I had pictures I would show you.

swollen head

This response submitted by bob henry on 12/19/05 at 9:39 AM. ( robert_a._henry at )

that deer was hung up by the back legs and was probley with ice inside it, bucks should be hung up by their antlers

This gets dumber and dumber

This response submitted by George on 12/19/05 at 2:17 PM. ( )

No deer that's intended for personal consumption should ever be hung unskinned PERIOD. How many butcher shops have you been in with unskinned COWS hanging? (Guess they have big heads too.) The practice stated in Europe where game was routinely "aged" this way. It was only eaten when a leg could be twisted free by hand. Now there's a piece of venison I want to put on my plate. It's been carried over here by stupid hunters who think it makes great conversations around meat poles. If the ambient temperature is above 40 degrees, the meat starts to decay. If the skin is still on, the skin also acts as an insulator creating a bacteria rich environment atop the meat under the skin.

ALL BIG GAME should be hung by the hindquarter like steers so that the cells in the meat don't toughen with the stretched out posture.

From the crap I read here, I'm amazed some of you haven't died already from food poisoning or worse.

i don't leave the skin on mine

This response submitted by MichelleW on 12/19/05 at 2:30 PM. ( )

I don't leave the skin on my deer. I usually hang them skinned and gutted for a week or I quarter them up and put them in a cooler for 3 days with the drain open and repeatedly change or add ice daily sometimes 2 times a day.

When I lived in Oregon my dad use to hang the deer in the garage skinned and gutted by the head and wrap it up in a sheet for a week. It was just an everyday thing durring winter to go out and cut off a shoulder, ham, or backstrap for dinner...


This response submitted by EARL on 12/19/05 at 4:19 PM. ( ANT/TAX )

I let my deer hang for weeks.Between the back legs are always nice and green..The "GREEN-STUFF" we called it is was always scraped and saved for adding to a marinade..In's tricky with all the maggots but they help break the meat down quicker and they are also added to the mushrooms and onions.My early season deer are the tenderest eating out of all.Want to come to dinner sometime George ?

Water In Head

This response submitted by R .Lambertson on 12/19/05 at 5:34 PM. ( )

I see it all the time here in ny state,weather you beleave or not ,when people hang there deer upsidedown and stick a gardenhose in it to wash it out ,somehow the water gets under the skin and swells up the head,face,lips and nose.When you skin it you will find a bloody, water,jelly,nasty,slimy mess. And you will hope you dont get another like it.

Post mortem break downs

This response submitted by Glen Conley on 12/19/05 at 6:32 PM. ( )

forgive me for being a lazy slob and not typing this all out. Remember, humans are mammals too, ya know.

Heeeere's yer link!

Here's another link that I posted about this time last year.

I have to leave now, have your papers ready for a pop quiz when I get back.

Fluid build up...

This response submitted by Travis on 12/19/05 at 9:05 PM. ( )

seen it several`s definately not caused from bruising or fighting...mishandled in the field yes...I`m sure bruising could cause small areas to form like George says but not the entire neck and face to fill up clear to the tip of the all the cases I have seen the deer was shot forward of the shoulder crease or in the neck..I`ve seen alot of deer hemorage between the skin and the meat---especially archery kills..shoulder shots where the blood cannot flow out of the body can sometimes have blood under the skin all the way up the buddy shot one 3 or 4 weeks ago and it was filled with blood--had it hung all night it would have been a "jelly head"..guarrantee ya..interesting thread

Glen, old buddy, you know I'm a dumb country boy

This response submitted by George on 12/19/05 at 9:35 PM. ( )

But maybe you ought to buy yourself an inner tube. LMAO.

I read both articles, the first one twice, and maybe I'm just slow but I found no correlation between what's being said here and them.

In the first, if you get past the proper English and different word usages, I did see where this might be possible with fatty tissues during the putrification process. As it relates to post mortem lividity, however, those findings are based on the body being basically intact with the blood still in the blood vessels. A deer obviously has bled out in order to expire and the entrails are eviscerated during the field dressing I would hope. This finding says that such adipocere was only visible around the 5 day mark since lividity.

In your article, I quickly recognized the phenomenon of hypodermis bubbles. I'm assuming that this is similar to adipoce There's little fat along the neck and facial areas to break down like this, however. I often see this on hams and even the backstrap area. I've seen these symptoms around an immediate wound site on the deer and just ASSUMED, that the impact of the shot had actually displaced water in the surrounding cells to form these "blisters".

What I did gather from both, however, is that when meat gets to this stage, putrification is well on its way. Another great reason to skin your deer out immediately before "aging" it.


This response submitted by Steve on 12/19/05 at 10:35 PM. ( )

Youre definitely wrong this time. Ive had deer come in unswollen, washed them out, hung them up and the next day they are swollen. Never seen any of them fight in the cooler.

big headed deer

This response submitted by ja ja on 12/19/05 at 10:50 PM. ( )

I talked to the guy tonight that brought in the (big headed deer)He said he did hang it up by the back feet overnight and he did put a water hose in the chest cavity and let it fill up!

OK, Maybe so, HOWEVER

This response submitted by George on 12/20/05 at 12:13 AM. ( )

Since I'd never be so dumb as to do the things you guys do with deer carcasses anyway, I don't guess I'll find out. I eat my venison and I make damned sure it's butchered correctly and QUICKLY. It hangs SKINNED in a cooler.

The HOWEVER, however, was that I'd like to have some scientific proof, reasoning, theory as to why and even HOW this would happen.


This response submitted by michael on 12/20/05 at 12:54 AM. ( )



George,george, We rerely disagree

This response submitted by Tenbears on 12/20/05 at 2:58 AM. ( )

But this time I must. I have seen this occurrence more than once. The scientific reasoning Is Gravity. Yes, Water in the chest cavity will drain out through the wind pipe. But only in as much as the wind pipe is severed at the lowest point in the chest. any other water will pool in the cavity. since cells are mostly water it is easy for fluid to pass through and between them this pooling water builds in and around the cell walls. and becomes locked in by natural pectin in the tissue and its lining. lest we remember that swelling in living beings is caused by a lack of circulation. not an increase in it. when blood flow is restricted, the blood can not efficiently remove excess fluids from tissue and return it to the liver, and kidneys for processing. when the blood ceases to flow only fluid that is capable of seeping from orifices can escape. thus the swollen cells between skin and muscle become saturated. to the point they can hold no more. additional water simply pools around them.


This response submitted by EARL on 12/20/05 at 10:30 AM. ( ANTLERSANDWINGS@COMCAST.NET )

Better than thirty times in 20 years of taxidermy that I have seen the swollen head thing.Only once was it due to injury.It's face was swollen big time "water head looking" the face was a solid mass like skinning a boar in places.Super thick,your knife went it's own way..When all said done and it was returned from the tannery,it was perfect..I mounted it ,no problem,only problem was the customer he wanted it swollen looking,don't know who he spoke to but I talked him out of that request the day he brought it in...Earl


This response submitted by Ron Lambertson on 12/20/05 at 11:09 AM. ( )

George, your an a@@hole,and i will tell you to your face when i see you again .which will be soon.


This response submitted by Glen Conley on 12/20/05 at 11:50 AM. ( )

I've been wondering how long it was going to take you before you couldn't hold your fingers back any longer and take part in some of the discussions of this nature.

Uncle George and I are going to go shopping, wanna tag along? Apparently I'm in the market for an inner tube, and he for some of those fancy new thong under pants.

Not knowing what is expected from the standpoint of scientific evidence, which we are all living and seeing every day, I'll touch on some high lights.

Here is a loaded quote from the link I posted:
"Many physico-chemical changes begin to take place in the body immediately or shortly after death and progress in a fairly orderly fashion until the body disintegrates. Each change has its own time factor or rate."

Now, here again is the quote that accompanies the first photo in my article:
"5:45 p.m. approximate time of death. Photo taken at 10:16 p.m."
You're only looking at about 4 1/2 hours after death before the "blistering" starts showing.

Give me all your inner tubes.

In the English language, "You" is understood. (Keep your inner tubes, I was using that for illustration)

In writings of a scientific nature, it is usually figured that "understanding", or "knowing" is a given when data is presented.

Carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen should be the "you understoods" in these examples, those are the basic building blocks of life forms, the same building blocks are left in that mount hanging on the wall, just not especially in the same sequence of structure as they were originally.

Carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide and water are frequently produced by-products of chemical reactions. In the bubbling hypodermis, you can see the results of a gas being trapped, but you probably wouldn't even notice the water produced, until it drains down into a head, and then you ask, "where did all that water come from?".

As far as a route to get there, that skin collagen thing I have been drilling into you until I'm blue is one route. (Wonder where I got the "blue" idea? LMAO) Again, that lies under the actual cellular layer of the skin and over the muscle body. Fluids pass freely in this part of the system when the animal is alive.

The viscosity of the fluids in the collagen layer "can" become thinner as a result of a number of reactions. What I would have to regard as a first would be the production of D-isomer lactic acid. The lactic acid production was already started in the live animal (same lactic acid as the catch and release guys talk about) just from energy expenditure, or converting sugar to energy, with the lactic acid being the by-product of the glucose. In the first article link I gave, glycogen was what was written about as opposed to glucose, with glycogen being the "animal sugar" we know as glucose. The name of the "plant sugar" might ring a bell also. We call it dextrin. It too can form chains, branched or linear.

Regardless, sugar will carry the formula C6 H12 O6, when it is converted to it's acid form it now will carry the formula C3 H6 O3. You can see the molecule is now half it's original size, and can be quite active at this state. This activity sets up another host of domino effect reactions, which are all set on decomposing other structures to their simplest, most stable forms.

Gee, I haven't even started to scratch the surface. I read once that there may be well over six hundred chemical reactions going on in A SINGLE CELL at any one time. How many would be going on in just the parts and pieces we've been writing about so far in this thread?

While we're out shopping for your thongs, can't we just buy you some books while we're out?


This response submitted by SKINNER-2 on 12/20/05 at 7:09 PM. ( )

That was an interesting post. Whos next?

Thanx Glen

This response submitted by George on 12/20/05 at 8:03 PM. ( )

And it goes back to my putrification question. STILL, I'm looking for some correlation between hanging the animal upside down and the water/ice placed in the chest cavity area being the cause factor. Got any ideas?

BTW, I have an innertube packed and ready to ship to you as a Christmas present. LOL

OH, and before I forget it. Ron Lambertson, I'm flattered I'm sure. I'm sure you're familiar with that part of the anatomy as your head seems to have been up one for a long time.

Thanx Tenbears

This response submitted by George on 12/20/05 at 10:45 PM. ( )

My *ero Ron got me sidetracked and I didn't read your explanation. That does make sense. I will stand corrected, but as it said, non-participating. LOL

I wish you had thanked Tenbears

This response submitted by Glen on 12/20/05 at 11:33 PM. ( )

before I did this labor of love thing and typed an addition to the thread out on WordPad. I take it you're not going to let Ron go shopping with us?

At any rate, here's my addition, and it still doesn't cover affects of temperature or on going breakdowns.

"And it goes back to my putrification question. STILL, I'm looking for some correlation between hanging the animal upside down and the water/ice placed in the chest cavity area being the cause factor. Got any ideas?"

First off, Tenbears has already laid out the basic ground work on this one, pointing out water and gravity.

Every membrane involved in that animal's structure is permeable.

How big is "A" water molecule?

How many water molecules are in a drop? I bet cyclone could whip out his calculator and give you the number. If he does, don't let him get away with any on this ten to the twenty-third power stuff. Make him write it all out with ALL the zeros.

There's no law that says water has to pass through a membrane all at once.

Next thing you're going to have to do is look at the hydrophobic, water fearing, proteins as opposed to the hydrophilic, water loving, proteins.

Hydrophobics are hydrogen saturated, so that's a thing of like charge repulsion. On the other hand, the hydrophilics are going to pick that water right up. Ron's description of "jelly,nasty,slimy mess" describes the effects of water and hydrophilic proteins quite well. We've all seen it. You've probably seen it more than once on the sheathes that surround individual muscle groups when they have came into contact with water. The water can be passed "along" these structures. Protein A gets it first, protein B takes it from A, C takes it from B, A gets more, B just takes it again, C takes it from B again because D has now taken it from in the Jell-O capital of the world, you already know as to how much water proteins can take up.

Now if you were to take a look at the front end of a deer, the same part shoulder mounts are made of, and start following out the points of origins and points of insertions of all the muscle groups, they are pretty much going to all be pointing to the head, with even some of them attaching. That's some pretty direct routes for fluid transfers.

George is right on some of his statement

This response submitted by Travis on 12/21/05 at 5:36 PM. ( )

I`m refering to the part where he stated that bruising/injury will cause the water build up the trapping world we call it jelly heads. Alot of coyotes will fight a snare for several hours causing severe damage under the skin...the results are the same as what we are describing as big headed...a sloppy mess to skin and flesh no whats wrong with me I`m sticking up for do agree with him about skinning the deer ASAP..if it`s below freezing I`ll let it hang maybe one to two days before i process it...backstraps come off the first day and usually go straight to the skillet...:)

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