All About Deer

Some students at Youngsville Elementary Middle School got to test venison hearts, and taste them, too.

Ben Bauer’s seventh-grade science students explored the internal structures of a venison heart with wooden probes, after Bauer made an initial incision.

Four classes rotated through his classroom, then through math, language arts and social studies classrooms in the afternoon for cross-curriculum studies.

In teacher Bonnie Mayes’ math class, retired Pennsylvania Game Commission employee Les Sanford spoke about determining the age of deer, noting that the size of antlers is not indicative of age. In further math studies, students used measurements of the hearts to generate statistical data.

Mayes said, “The kids really relate, some of them are hunters.”

Stacey Robinault’s social studies students learned of the importance of deer to native Americans, and how they utilized every part of the deer for food, clothing, tools and shelter.

Greg Sanford of the U.S. Forest Service gave a presentation on “Whitetail Buffet” and how what deer eat affects the forest. He is the son of Les Sanford.

For the Language Arts, students will write a persuasive letter to convince a fictitious governmental agency to allow deer hunting to continue.

In a bit of a twist, Bauer spent three hours preparing 25 hearts, cubing and removing arteries and connective tissues, then cooking them in slow-cookers. After the meat was done, a variety of sauces were added to individual crockpots, including a teriyaki sauce, barbeque sauce, hot sauce and more for the students to sample.

Christina Fischer said she really liked the barbeque, but Riley Downey didn’t care for the teriyaki.

Dylan Burt, who hunts deer, spoke of the day’s activities, saying, “It’s really cool. We get to learn about deer, and what they eat. I had the Sweet Baby Ray’s barbeque.” He said he had never tried heart before, and thought it would be tough. “It wasn’t though, it was really good,” he said.

Cody Leofsky said, “Hunting’s all about patience. I got a buck, but I didn’t save the heart. I will next year.”

When asked what he learned, he said that his teacher showed them clots in the heart where the arteries were partially blocked.