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I enjoy doing fun things outdoors. Family adventures, hunting, fishing, hiking, photography, 4 wheeling, etc. Get out there and enjoy ... NOTE: PLEASE CLICK ON MY PHOTOS IN THE BLOG POST SO THEY WILL BECOME LARGER.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Hemal Nodes - Deer

My friend Gary and his wife Beth went to visit their kids in Alabama.  Beth took a hunter safety course so she could go deer hunting.  On her bucket list was go hunting and shoot a deer.

She went hunting with her son-in-law and took her first deer, a doe. Congratulations Beth …

Once field dressed they called me about the deer insides asking about dark nodule like things running along the spine in the fat.  Through the years I haven’t posted pictures of deer being gut or pictures from the butcher to keep my blog family friendly.

However, they sent me a picture that I did want to post to show you what they saw in case you ever see this.

In my years of hunting I have never seen dark nodules before.  I sent the picture to my hunting buddies (we hunt NH, MA, and VT) and none of them have seen this either.  Gary said their son-in-law had taken 2 deer from the same area the previous year with no sign of this.

Gary described most of them as the size of engorged ticks and seemed to be filled with blood.  They also appeared to be only in the fat and not the meat.

The internet can be a good thing but can also be a wild goose chase.  Was it CWD … Not to keep bringing it up but Anthony, who shot at and missed an 8 point buck this year, came up with hemal nodes as a possibility along with some other search results.  Gary also asked if the meat would be edible?

I reached out to NH Fish & Game and sent them the picture asking if they could tell us what we were looking at.  A quick pause here:  NH Fish & Game protects, conserves, and manages more than 500 species of wildlife, including 63 mammals, 18 reptiles, 22 amphibians, 313 birds, and 122 kinds of fish as well as thousands of invertebrates.  In the past they have been very good at responding with good information.  Kudos to NH Fish and Game.  I would encourage you to call your States Fish & Game Department if you have critter or wildlife questions like this also.

The Deer Project Leader from NH Fish & Game responded with the following:  "You were on the right track.  These do appear to be hemal nodes.  They’re normal structures found in ruminants like deer, are intermediate between spleen and normal lymph node tissue, and don’t indicate disease. I also sent the picture to the veterinary pathologist at UNH (University of New Hampshire) and she agreed that they are hemal nodes.  She is not a food safety expert, but thought the tissue appears normal and should be safe to eat if handled appropriately.  I hope this information was helpful."

More internet searching confirmed hemal nodes do not taint the meat.  I was wondering if it is genetic or demographic?  From searching it appears hemal nodes are genetic.  It says hemal nodes are normal anatomical structures and are important filtering organs for animals’ circulatory systems, and they are typically trimmed out with excess fat during processing.  They are normal lymphoid organs in an animal’s body.  Hemal nodes are usually ovoid (being larger than a pea), maroon or black in color, and may be either solid or fluid-filled. They resemble a very small spleen or blood clot, and are also called accessory spleens.  

I'm not sure why some deer appear to have them and others don't.  I am going to connect up with my local deer butcher and ask if he has seen hemal nodes in our area and will let you know what he says.  

In any case I wanted to show you this picture in case you ever see hemal nodes in your deer.