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Do you want to know how to butcher a deer?

One of the best ways of mastering this skill is practicing it. Slaughtering and processing your meat can be a fulfilling task as well as be a great source of survival food. If you’re new to it or it’s been a while, however, it may seem like a difficult task.

Let’s go through it!

Can you take a Deer to a Butcher?

You can, but you can save a lot of money when you butcher a deer on your own. If you’re skeptical about this idea, join us as we learn the best way to butcher a deer.

How much does it cost to take a deer to a butcher?

If you want to save yourself some time and effort, a butcher will charge between $75 to $120 depending on who’s processing your meat.

Field Dressing your deer

Before the butchering process, you’ll need to field dress your harvested deer within a short time. Proper field dressing includes removing all the innards to prevent your meat from becoming gamy. This will allow your deer to begin the cooling process.

Remove the inner loins

Inner loins are the tenderest pieces of meat you’ll get from your deer. It’s approximately 12 inches lengthwise and runs through your deer’s backbone to end at the hips. Remove the loins as soon as possible to prevent drying from being exposed to air.

To understand this process if you’re new to it, here’s a step by step tutorial on how to field dress a deer.

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How long does deer butchering take?

This is one of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to properly butchering a deer at home. If you’ve got time to hunt for wild animals you’ll find time to learn how to cut up deer meat or steaks with the venison cuts you want. Remember, the first time you butcher deer will be tedious and time-consuming.

This is because you’ll be learning the skill and how to go about it. Learning how to cut a deer, skin it, remove all connective tissue from its joint or the silver skin from its backstraps can be a difficult task. Determining the right portions and what parts are ideal for stew or grilling can also be challenging.

Will this take a long time?

If it’s your first time, the DIY deer butcher process will be long, especially, when you’re doing it as a novice. Still, you should not only enjoy it, but also use it as a chance to learn where different cuts (like stew meat) are located, and understand the different muscle groups.

Remember, the learning process won’t be an overnight affair. However, with regular practice, you’ll soon get how to remove little meat pieces from the front legs and rib cage with ease. You’ll also have an easy time cleaning the meat.

What’s the fastest way to butcher a deer?

The fastest way to process a deer is by the following…

You can complete this task in four steps. First, field dress or gut your deer. This should be the first step. It should be completed within the shortest time possible. The next step will be skinning your deer. Skinning steps involve making incisions around the knee joint of each leg.

You may also need to cut along the inner part of your deer’s legs. If you’ve hung your deer by its head, it could be ideal to make your cut around its shoulders or along the neck. This will depend on the amount of neck meat you need to save. Skinning process is a way of separating your deer’s hide from its muscles using the edge of a sharp knife.

The next step involves quartering. To execute this step successfully you’ll need to know where the joints are located. This way, you can easily remove your deer’s legs by cutting off the muscle and isolating its joints using your knife blade.

While this step is easy, you’ll need to know how to butcher a deer to execute it with ease. The final step involves trimming off your cuts depending on what you want to prepare.

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Make the process easier with good equipment

You won’t need the expensive deer butchering kit that professional butchers use.

While they make the task easier, you don’t need sophisticated equipment to butcher a deer at home. All you need is a good quality filet knife, skinning knife, a cutting board, and clean working space.

A plastic table would be ideal because you can use it over and over again. What’s more, it’s lightweight, cheap, and easy to clean. Choose an adjustable table that you can easily raise to ensure you work comfortably to save your back.

A sharp knife is essential for fast and effortless execution of the task. Purchase a good knife and a sharpener to make your deer butchering process smooth. Remember, your deer meat hardly gets tougher. It’s your knife that gets blunt and needs to be sharpened regularly.

Don’t make your job daunting with substandard equipment. You may want to watch how to butcher a deer at home videos before to get a glimpse of what to expect.

How long can you take before butchering your deer?

A deer can hang for between five to seven days. However, you’ll need to remove the tenderloins immediately. You can remove the back straps within 24 hours. Remember, once meat ages a hard membrane will form around it which you should remove during the processing stage.

How to butcher a deer step by step

Is knowing how to butcher deer meat at home important? Yes. By doing it yourself, you’ll find that the venison will be sweeter than a professionally butchered one. Begin by collecting the tools you’ll need to execute this process.

Hang the Deer

With a sharp knife and a cooler ready, find a way to hang your deer for aging, and cooling. This will prevent blood from flowing into the best cuts and spoiling your meat.

You can hang your deer on a gambrel or even customize what you have in your home to suit your needs. Make a hole on one side of your deer in between its tendon and shin and below the knee.

Repeat this on the other side. This will help you create a hook area where you can easily drive the gambrel through to clasp your deer in place. Raise your deer high up to ensure it doesn’t drag on the ground. This will make your task much easier.

How long should you hang a deer before butchering it?

This really depends on the temperature, but usually you’ll want to let it hang between 5-7 days.

Remove the hooves

Determine the joint at your deer’s front knee and make an incision. Maneuver your knife around a joint ensuring that your blade’s flat part carefully cuts through the ligaments. Move your knife through the elbow joint as deeply as you can. Firmly spin the joint and slice your deer’s hooves off.

How to skin a deer

Begin working from the deer’s top down to its head. Cut the inner thigh skin from your deer’s crotch to its shin area. If you already know how to butcher a deer leg, proceed to cut all around your deer’s leg and exercise caution to avoid slicing the Achilles tendon.

With skin free from your animal’s leg, separate it from the meat. Work from the animal’s rear, approaching its head.

Once you’re done skinning your deer’s legs and are at its tail, cut in between the vertebrae. This will allow you to continue skinning through the back. When you’re done skinning the deer’s torso, you’ll need to skin its front legs.

Do this by making an incision from your deer’s inner leg near its shin until you get to the previously removed skin. Continue skinning until you get to the base of your animal’s head. Once there, use a bone saw to remove the head. You can also use a reciprocating saw or a hacksaw.

Skinning a deer really takes its own step by step tutorial. You can learn the process in depth in our deer field dressing guide, here.

Skinning Video Tutorial

Work on the shoulders

You need to butcher the shoulders and separate them from your deer’s torso. Ensure your knife’s blade is parallel to the rib cage and drive it through your deer’s shoulder joint. If you have difficulties establishing where to cut, drag away your deer’s front leg from its torso and direct your knife strokes towards the hinge area.

Remove the backstraps

You may want to trim off any excess fat that has accumulated around the backstraps before you can proceed to remove them. Once all fat is removed from the deer meat, determine the knobby bumpy part of your animal’s hip bone. Cut below this bone and proceed to the backbone on both sides. Now, drive your knife through the backbone.

The cut should go through your animal’s neck. You can then go back to the previous cuts you made. Begin peeling and loosening the backstraps using your knife.

Be careful to ensure you don’t leave any deer meat along the backbone. With the backstraps down through your animal’s shoulders, proceed to cut them off.

Work on the Neck Meat

Your deer’s neck will have lots of meat which will be great for grinding or stew meat. From the backstrap incision, pull and remove meat off your animal’s neck bone, working from top towards your deer’s windpipe.

Clean the front half

Depending on your preferences, you can now begin carving out any deer meat remaining on your deer’s front half. Remove any meat along the rib cage and brisket and save it for grinding.

Remove the backbone

Once you’re done working on the front half of your deer, proceed to saw off its backbone. You’ll now remain with the hindquarters.

Slice off the sirloin

Begin from your animal’s neck and work towards the hindquarter. Ensure your knife is parallel with the deer’s leg bone until you get to its hip. Turn your knife to 90 degrees and complete the cut.

Remove the remaining hindquarter

Now you’re getting into the final stages of your butchering process. Your animal’s hindquarters should remain attached to the pelvic bone during this stage. Beginning behind your deer’s leg and below its Achilles tendon, cut through the bone.

Work your cut around the knee and proceed to cut until you’ve freed all meat from your animal’s leg bones and pelvic bone. After this, you’ll have a huge chunk of roast meat made of roughly three muscle groups.

These are bottom round, rump roast, and the eye of round. If you wish to, you can separate these muscle groups with basic knife work or by hand.

Finish deboning the hindquarters

Now you can redeem any remaining meat which you can use for grinding and stewing.

Debone the front shoulders

Remove meat from the front shoulders. Remember, the shoulder bone has a distinct T-shape that appears to be upside down. After cleaning it out, you can retrieve any remaining meat for grinding.

Finish trimming your cuts

Scrap off any shiny skin, excess fat, or tendon material from the mean

Deboning Video Tutorial

Allow the meat to rest

Place all your meat inside a cooler, pour ice on top, and allow it to rest for between 7 to 10 days or depending on your preferences. Remember, you’ll need lots of ice. Further, you’ll need to be on the lookout to ensure your meat doesn’t exceed 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

The purpose of this procedure is to drain out blood from your meat. To help with this, you’ll need to open your cooler’s stopper and try to place it on a raised place to make sure the blood easily flows out. Once most of the blood has drained off your meat, you can now start processing it.

Throw away the skin and guts

Dispose of unnecessary parts safely to avoid attracting predators. You can either bury the innards or hind areas inside a hole or use them as animal feed for your livestock. For instance, you can feed deer guts to your chicken while your pigs eat the bones. You can also share some deer parts with your dogs as a special treat .

Depending on where you live, you can dispose of deer innards through garbage facilities. You can also leave them in the open field where wild animals can feast on. However, you’ll need to confirm whether it’s legal in your region. Whatever you do, avoid disposing of your deer carcass on the roadside because it’s irresponsible.

Process your meat

Processing meat can be a difficult task. If you have problems executing it you can always pay a professional to complete it for you. Still, you can save some coins by doing it on your own. Preserve the backstraps and slice them into steak. This is an easier way of processing your meat.

All you’ll need is to cut and put them in a vacuum freezer bag and seal it well. You can also utilize any scrap meat to prepare deer burger or breakfast sausage. Remember, you can use your deer meat in the same way you use beef.  

Package the meat

To execute this process you’ll need butcher paper, plastic wrap, marker, and masking tape. These will come in handy to help you package your meat appropriately and date it in preparation for freezer storage. You can purchase these supplies from any wholesale shopping center or online stores. Your meat can last long with proper packaging.

What is the best cut of venison?

The best venison cuts depends on what you want to prepare. For instance, back legs and saddle are ideal for roasting. For succulence and flavor, you want to cook these cuts on the bone.


This deer butchering tutorial, should help you know how to butcher a deer at home.

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