Getting a wild animal is the easy part of hunting. However, learning how to field dress a deer can feel like a difficult task. If you’ve ever been stuck in an emergency, you understand that survival food one of the crucial things you need in your emergency kit.
In this case, having venison cuts can help you keep hunger at bay.
Table of Contents
- 1 WHAT’S FIELD DRESSING?
- 2 DO YOU HAVE TO FIELD DRESS A DEER?
- 3 THINGS YOU’LL NEED BEFORE YOU CAN FIELD DRESS A DEER
- 4 WHAT ITEMS DO YOU NEED TO FIELD DRESS A DEER?
- 5 FIND YOUR BROADHEAD OR BULLET
- 6 DISSECT A CORING RING AROUND THE ANUS
- 7 POSITION THE ANIMAL
- 8 MAKE AN INCISION
- 9 HOW TO CUT UP THE MIDLINE
- 10 SLICE OFF THE DIAPHRAGM
- 11 SLICE OFF THE WINDPIPE
- 12 CLEAR THE INTERNAL ORGANS
- 13 DRAIN OFF THE BLOOD
- 14 SHOULD YOU RINSE OFF THE DEER’S CAVITY?
- 15 FAQ
- 16 DO YOU HAVE TO FIELD DRESS A DEER?
- 17 HOW LONG CAN A DEER LAY BEFORE SPOILING?
- 18 CAN YOU FIELD DRESS A DEER ON PUBLIC LAND?
- 19 WHAT SHOULD YOU KNOW ABOUT FIELDING A DEER?
- 20 FINALLY
WHAT’S FIELD DRESSING?
Field dressing is a term used to describe the process of extracting internal organs from hunted game. However, it’s not the same as butchering a deer.
If you want to learn How to Butcher a Deer (Cut Up Meat Step By Step), just click this link.
DO YOU HAVE TO FIELD DRESS A DEER?
This is a critical preservation step for meat hunted from wild animals and should be done immediately where possible.
This not only helps with swift heat loss, but it also prevents bacteria from developing along the carcass’s surface. Field dressing deer plays a huge role in maintaining general meat quality while allowing for its transfer from the hunting area. It also helps to know how to skin a deer.
More helpful reading:
- How to Clean a Fish (Cleaning & Gutting Trout + Other Species)
- How to Skin a Squirrel in 5 Steps + Clean & Cook the Meat (Field Dress Guide)
THINGS YOU’LL NEED BEFORE YOU CAN FIELD DRESS A DEER
You’ll need to attach the right hunting permit or license tag to your animal
- Understand best practices when it comes to making cuts. For instance, always move the blade away from your body.
- Check whether a sharp piece of bullet metal, your broadhead, or a broken bone is lodged in the body.
Here’s a guide to help you know how to field dress deer.
WHAT ITEMS DO YOU NEED TO FIELD DRESS A DEER?
You’ll need a few items including a sharp knife, latex gloves, hand sanitizer, game bags and trash bags, a kitchen twine, and a gut hook.
You can get this equipment from a local hunting or archery shop. Before you can start skinning a deer, be sure to remove any jewelry.
FIND YOUR BROADHEAD OR BULLET
If you haven’t been able to find your broadhead or bullet, chances are that it could be stuck inside the deer. Field dress your deer with caution until you find it. Here’s how to gut a deer after shooting.
DISSECT A CORING RING AROUND THE ANUS
Check on deer anus pictures before executing this step. They’ll help you understand the right area to dissect. Place the deer on its back or side, stoop behind it and make a coring ring incision. Make sure you’re cutting a few inches through the anus’ hide or skin.
Drive your knife blade deep into the pelvic canal. Repeat the coring incisions to cut joined membranes and release any remaining inches of colon, using caution while cutting to avoid rupturing the colon.
POSITION THE ANIMAL
Prop the deer with its head raised and stomach up. Pull the hind legs apart and ask your hunting partner to hold them in place. What if you’re hunting alone (or the animal is quite large)? Place a heavy piece of wood or strong rock under the deer’s rib cage to secure it in place. You can also tie the hind legs to a tree.
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MAKE AN INCISION
Check behind the hind legs. Locate where the skin forms a “V” and latch on to it. This can be above the buck’s (male deer) testicle. If your deer is female, find it below the milk sac. Make a shallow cut approximately 1 inch through the skin. If your animal is male, slash and remove the genitalia.
HOW TO CUT UP THE MIDLINE
With your incision as a starting point, use a gut hook to cut the stomach / belly (body cavity) open. Assuming you don’t have one, place your index and middle fingers inside the incision hole to help pull away the hide and organs. This will also help in guiding your knife blade.
Maintain your knife in an upward position to avoid rupturing organs like the intestines. Cut through to the rib cage, breastbone, or sternum. Don’t cut further if you plan to take it to a taxidermist (someone who preserves an animal’s body through stuffing or mounting over architecture for display purposes.) If not, slice it through to the chest cavity.
Make sure your blade faces the head and continue slicing up to its neck. You’ll need to apply enough strength to execute this task. Once you’ve mastered it, you’ll see that it’s not difficult.
SLICE OFF THE DIAPHRAGM
The diaphragm is a thin membrane that acts as an abdomen (stomach, etc.) and chest separator. You’ll need to slice it off to access organs in the chest cavity. Cut this membrane from the cavity’s walls and proceed to its spine for separation.
SLICE OFF THE WINDPIPE
Using your free hand, reach and latch on the windpipe. It’s located above the heart and lungs. Grab and pull it towards you. Using your other hand, find the windpipe and use your knife to cut it off and remove internal organs. If you plan to keep the liver and heart, cut them off and store them in a Ziploc bag.
CLEAR THE INTERNAL ORGANS
At this point, you’ve successfully removed the anus, and diaphragm. Remove remaining entrails by pulling the windpipe. If it doesn’t come away easily, consider cutting any connecting tissue with a knife. The colon should come off with other innards easily. Often, you can leave the gut pile where you dress a deer. However, you’ll need to first understand and abide by public lands’ decency and state regulations.
DRAIN OFF THE BLOOD
Turn over your carcass with the legs spread apart. The body cavity should be open and leaning against the ground to drain any accumulated blood. Exercise caution to prevent sticks, dirt, and leaves from getting into contact with your meat. Your meat is now ready for transportation back home or to camp.
On arriving at your destination, hang your animal from its neck or antlers to drain any remaining blood. Check air temperature in the storage area to keep it fresh for longer. Studies indicate that you should store or chill meat at temperatures below 40 degrees. This will prevent the growth of bacteria. Consider cooling it off with ice until you’re ready to cook the meat.
SHOULD YOU RINSE OFF THE DEER’S CAVITY?
While some hunters prefer rinsing the body cavity off, it’s not necessary. However, you may want to clean it if you notice contamination from dirt, hair, paunch, or feces. It’s important to know how to clean a deer. Use clean water and avoid rinsing it in a stream or pond. After cleaning use a stick to open up the body cavity for proper air circulation and cooling.
DO YOU HAVE TO FIELD DRESS A DEER?
Field dressing and gutting can be a daunting process, but it’s easier once you gone over the process step by step.
HOW LONG CAN A DEER LAY BEFORE SPOILING?
With proper handling and drying, your meat should remain fresh for five to seven days. Allow it to hang for up to 24 hours to drain blood, facilitate muscle relaxation, and allow the meat to cool down.
CAN YOU FIELD DRESS A DEER ON PUBLIC LAND?
If you have to do it on public land, you’ll need to clearly understand the regulations within your location. You can be prosecuted for doing so against the rules.
WHAT SHOULD YOU KNOW ABOUT FIELDING A DEER?
Before you can begin, make sure its dead. Remember, the fact that an animal is down doesn’t mean its dead and a wounded deer can still harm you. Take some time and watch it from a distance.
If there’s no movement after some minutes, approach it from behind its head, albeit with caution. Put your bow or firearm aside when you’re sure the animal is dead. Monitor the eyes and if they don’t blink know its dead. Proceed to field dress the animal immediately and hang it head up. You can opt to lay it on a slope with the head elevated. Watch out for pungent juices emanating from the paunch.
These can stain your meat and you should remove the paunch immediately. Wipe out the juices with leaves or clean them with water. Some studies indicate the carcass shouldn’t be washed with water. Doing so can encourage bacterial growth. If you should use water, be sure to thoroughly pat your animal dry and hang it to dry.
Once you’ve completed the field dressing and want to process it by yourself, do so by filleting out tenderloins, back straps, and neck meat before removing quarters. If you don’t know how to go about it, consider taking it to an expert deer processor. Whether you’re a novice or expert hunter, being consistent in hunting helps you refine your skills.
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