2 DIY Projects that Came Back to Cut Me

Sportsmen tend to love Do-It-Yourself (DIY) projects. Whether it’s doing a hunt on your own, or building your own hunting gear and gadgets, we all seem to love DIY projects. These projects bring a sense of pride and satisfaction we can’t get anywhere else. I personally hate to pay someone to do something that I can figure out and do myself, so these DIY projects are a regular challenge for me. But these projects can still come at a price. There are often times that I find myself wishing I had just paid someone to do it. Such was the case for two projects in particular that came back to cut me.

Butchering Backstraps…and Fingers

I still cringe when I think back on the time I was slicing backstraps and I cut off more than I planned. When I first started deer hunting I would pay to have my deer processed by my friends at Yoder Brothers Processing in west Tennessee. That worked fine for a deer or two a year, but as I began to kill more and more deer, I realized the processing bill would add up to more than I wanted to pay each year. I quickly bought my own grinder and began to process my own deer from home.


Cutting the wrong chunk of meat.

I never had any issues with my DIY home processing ventures over the years until one careless day when I got in a hurry and sliced a chunk of my thumb off while cutting steaks. I was slicing through backstraps when my last hunk of meat rolled over and my filet knife came down on the wrong meat. It happened so quick I wasn’t sure how much I got. Without looking, I quickly grabbed my thumb and buried it in a towel.

When the first towel filled up with blood I pulled it back to replace it with another one. I took a look at the damage and was relieved to see that, despite cutting a chunk of meat off the tip of my thumb, no significant damage had been done. Despite being too tender to touch for the next few weeks, it healed pretty quick. The way the human body heals itself is a remarkable thing. Looking at my thumb today, you’d never know it happened.

Euro Mount Gone Wrong

European mounts have gained in popularity over the years, and more and more hunters continue to lean towards this option versus paying the price for a shoulder mount. And the cool part is, you can actually do the job yourself. Yes, it’s messy and somewhat tedious, but there’s a great sense of pride and satisfaction knowing you preserved your own trophy. The key is to do it right away.

I made the mistake of leaving a small buck I killed sitting out back in the yard to rot. The bugs, birds, and maggots did a fair job of getting the cleaning chores started for me on this particular skull, but as you can imagine, the rotting skull produced an un-godly stank that would send my wife and kids running into the house. So when I finally got around to doing my part of cleaning the skull for a European mount, I was kicking myself for letting it get so nasty.

To make matters worse, in rushing to get through with the task, I poked the palm of my hand with my knife. I honestly didn’t think it cut me much, and I really don’t even remember it bleeding. It merely poked through my latex glove, causing it to split open, and broke the skin on the center of my palm. In hindsight, I should have stopped right there, gone inside and cleaned my hand up really good. Instead, I continued my work on the rotting skull before throwing it into the pot to boil. The skull turned out great, but 24 hours later, while sitting in the treestand, I noticed my hand was really tight, red, and swollen. It actually hurt to make a fist. I told my wife later that night that I might have to go to the doc in the morning if it kept getting worse.

In the middle of the night I woke up in a sweat. My hand was throbbing and I now had red streaks starting to run up my arm. It was then that I realized that little spike buck had gotten the last laugh. I made plans to go to the doctor first thing in the morning.


In less than 24 hours, the bacteria and funk from a rotting deer skull was doing a number on my hand. This photo was taken a few days after I started the first round of antibiotics.

I went through a week’s worth of antibiotics for the infection in my hand. It seemed to clear things up nicely, but a few days after my last pill, the pressure in my hand began to build again. The infection seemed to be flaring back up. I went back to the doc and got a shot in the butt and a second round of antibiotics. Three weeks into the deal and I was finally on the mend.

Moral of the story?

Slow down, take your time, and enjoy the process. And don’t forget, the process is much more enjoyable when you’re not working on a rotting deer skull – or filleting your own finger.

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