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Field dressing deer

After you have shot your game, approach it from the rear carefully, making sure it is dead. Validate your tag and attach it to the carcass immediately. Start field dressing it at once with a good, strong bladed knife. Be sure your knife is sharp, maintain a fine edge blade as you work.


If you plan on mounting your trophy see Trophy preparation before you cut its throat.

If you choose to do so, lay the animal with head downhill and cut it's throat to bleed it. This is not necessary, however, because it will bleed out satisfactorily in the normal process of field dressing.

The following procedure has withstood the test of time by experienced hunters. Many, however, like to vary one or more steps, so the hunter should feel free to innovate to suit the situation.

Be sure to check your local
fish & wildlife dept. for instructions concerning evidence of sex and antlers and follow their instructions. Use rocks to support the deer in a legs up position. Note the illustrations. If you plan on mounting your trophy see Trophy preparation

Starting between the hind legs, cut all the way down to the pelvic bone. Then turn your knife blade up, and using your other hand to hold the meat and skin away from the entrails, cut up through the breastbone (brisket), and on up the neck as far as possible. A strong, large-handled knife is needed to best make the cut through the breastbone.
Cut the windpipe in two as far up the neck as possible. Lay your knife down. Grasp the windpipe with both hands and pull hard, downward. The insides should come out all the way down to the midsection.

Now remove the rocks from under the animal and roll the carcass on it's side. Cut the thin layer of meat that is holding the entrails to the ribs, all the way down to the backbone. Then turn the deer over and do the same on the other side.
Lay your knife down again, and using both hands, get a firm grip on the entrails and pull down, hard. All the entrails will come out of the animal.

Lift the animal up by the hind legs and lay a large rock under the rump. This will spread the back legs open. Place your knife against the middle of the pelvis to locate the seam where the bones grow together, and press down hard. If you have a good, stout knife, it may help to twist the blade from side to side to work the blade through the seam. As a last resort, you may have to hit the back of your knife blade to cut through the bone. You can also use a hatchet or saw for larger deer. Then you can finish cleaning out the animal.

If a tree is handy and you have a rope, hang the carcass up by the head or antlers for about 20 minutes. This will allow the loose blood to drain out of the body cavity. If no tree is available, turn it upside down in a clean place and let it drain.

Take your animal back to camp. Take note that dragging it may get it quite dirty. Keep it clean. (You may opt to quarter or halve it for easier transporting. If you do so, remember to have the tag attached to the largest portion of the carcass.)

Once in camp you can begin skinning. Hang it by the head or hind legs for skinning. The skin comes off most easily while the deer is still warm, so it should be skinned within two hours. To remove the skin, cut down the inside of each leg to the middle of the animal, being careful to cut the skin only. If you hang the deer by the head, cut the skin all the way around the neck, as close to the head as possible. Grasp the skin with both hands at the back of the head and pull down hard. Usually the skin will come off down to the front legs. Use your knife to work the skin off the legs and where the skin sticks tightly to the meat. Then pull down on the skin and it will come free.

Hang it up by the hind legs for four or five hours to allow the tiny blood vessels to drain. Keep the carcass in the shade and as cool as possible, and make certain it is free of flies by wrapping it in a game bag or cheesecloth. It is very important that the carcass is allowed to cool throughout within ten to twelve hours. Once it has properly cooled overnight, warm days in the mountains should be no problem so long as the carcass is kept cool in the shade. Without quick and proper cooling, the meat will spoil.

Once you get home it is OK to cut up the meat or you can age it in a refrigerated cooler, or other cool place for a week or ten days before cutting it up. It is advisable to trim all fat from the meat, as wild game fat quickly turns rancid and will affect the meat's flavor. Wrap the cuts well before freezing. Wild game meat is also delicious if cooked and canned, or jerked. See
Venison recipes

If you must travel in warm weather, place the carcass in the vehicle early in the morning while it is yet cool and cover it with canvas and sleeping bags to insulate and keep out the heat. Be certain the meat does not get warm on the trip.

Remember - when properly cared for, wild game meat is a special treat for any table and is very nutritious because it is high in protein content.


 

 

 

 

ANOTHER ARTICLE ON FIELD DRESSING

GENERAL INFORMATION

Well-cared for deer make fine table fare for many people. It is important to properly handle deer immediately after the shot. How quickly the animal is field dressed and the meat property cooled determines the quality of the meat. However, far too many deer are wasted or make poor quality eating because hunters do not follow the simple, common sense rules of good meat handling after the kill. These directions will help put good meat on your table.

CHECK EQUIPMENT

Before the hunt, check to see that you have all the equipment needed for hunting and handling your animal after the kill. Important items include a sharp knife for dressing, a light rope or nylon cord for dragging, a cloth to clean your hands, and a plastic bag for the liver and heart.

AFTER THE KILL

Approach a downed animal with caution, and be sure it is dead. If your shot did not hit a vital region or if the animal is still struggling, kill it with a shot in the neck just under the ear.

FIELD DRESSING

gutAdmittedly, the field dressing chore is not the most enjoyable part of the hunt, but the extra time spent taking care of the meat will pay dividends at the table. Field dressing takes effort, so your heavy hunting coat should be removed and your sleeves rolled up so they wont be soiled. Disposable vinyl or latex gloves lessen the chances of passing infectious diseases and make hand cleaning easier.

Blood and digestive juices from organs possibly penetrated by the shot must be removed from the body cavity quickly, and the sooner the organs, which deteriorate rapidly, are removed, the faster the meat will cool. Field dressing also eliminates dragging unnecessary weight when moving the animal.

Before starting the field-dressing process, keep in mind that it is important to keep dirt and foreign objects away from the exposed body cavity. Removing the scent glands is not considered necessary, but is done with care by many hunters. Some archery hunters save the glands for use as scent while hunting. Removing the glands carelessly can taint the meat.

gifRoll the carcass over on its back with the rump lower than the shoulders and spread the hind legs. Make a cut along the centerline of belly from breastbone to base of tail. First cut through the hide, then through belly muscle. Avoid cutting into the paunch and intestines by holding them away from the knife with the free hand while guiding the knife with the other.

Unless the head will be mounted, the cut should pass through the sternum and extend up the neck to the chin to allow removal of as much of the windpipe as possible. The windpipe sours rapidly and is a leading cause of tainted meat.

gifWith a small sharp knife, cut around the anus and draw it into the body cavity, so lt comes free with the complete intestines. In doing this, avoid cutting or breaking the bladder. Loosen and roll out the stomach and intestines. Save liver. Split the pelvic or "aitch" bone to hasten cooling.

Cut around the edge of the diaphragm which separates the chest and stomach cavities, and split the breastbone. gifThen, reach forward to cut the windpipe and gullet ahead of the lungs. This should allow you to pull the lungs and heart from the chest cavity. Save heart. Drain excess blood from the body cavity by turning the body belly down or hanging animal head down. Prop the body cavity open with a stick to allow better air circulation and faster cooling.

A clean cloth may be useful to clean your hands. If you puncture the entrails with a bullet or your knife, wipe the body cavity as clean as possible or flush with water and dry with a cloth. Don't use water to wash out the body cavity unless the paunch or intestines are badly shot up.

Part of the satisfaction of the hunt comes with making a clean kill and in doing a neat job of field dressing your animal. Veteran hunters may have variations in the steps of field dressing. The important points are to remove the internal organs immediately after the kill without contaminating the body cavity with dirt, hair, or contents of the digestive tract and to drain all excess blood from the body cavity.

All parts damaged by gunshot should be trimmed away. If the weather is warm of if the animal is to be left in the field for a day or more, it may be skinned, except for the head, and washed clean of dirt and hair. It should be placed in a shroud sack or wrapped with porous cloth to cool (cheesecloth is ideal). The cloth covering should be porous enough to allow air circulation but firmly woven enough to give good protection from insects and dirt. Lacking porous cloth, hunters often coat the inside of the body cavity with black pepper to repel insects. Adequate cooling may take six hours or more, depending on weather conditions.

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