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Field Dressing Deer

How to Field-Dress a Deer

1. Run your finger along the breastbone until you can feel the end of it. Pinch the skin away from the body so you don't puncture the intestines, and then make a shallow cut just long enough to insert the first two fingers of your left hand.

2. Form a "V" with your first two fingers, maintaining upward pressure. Guide the blade between your fingers with the cutting edge up. This way, you won't cut into the intestines. Cut through the abdominal wall back to the pelvic area.

3. Separate the external reproductive organs of a buck from the addominal wall, but do not cut them off completely. Remove the udder of a doe if she was still nursing. The milk sours rapidly, and could give the meat an unpleasant flavor.

4. Straddle the animal, facing its head. Unless you plan to mount the head, cut the skin from the base of the breastbone to the jaw, with the cutting edge of the knife up. If you plan to mount the head, skip this step and the next step.

5. Brace your elbows against your legs, with your left hand supporting your right. Cut through the center of the breastbone, using your knees to provide leverage. If the animal is old or very large, you may need to use a game saw or small axe.

6. Slice between the hams to free a buck's urethra, or if you elect to split the pelvic bone on either a buck or doe. Make careful cuts around the urethra until it is freed to a point just above the anus. Be careful not to sever the urethra.

7. Cut around the anus. On a doe, the cut should also include the reproductive openting above the anus. Free the rectum and urethra by loosening the connective tissue with your knife. Tie off the rectum and urethra with kitchen string.

8. Free the windpipe and esophagus by cutting the connective tissue; sever them at the jaw. Grasp them firmly and pull down, continuing to cut where necessary, until they're freed to the point where the windpipe branches out into the lungs.

9. Hold the rib cage open on one side with your left hand. Cut the diaphragm from the rib opening down to the backbone. Stay as close to the rib cage as possible. Do not punture the stomach. Repeat on the other side so the cuts meet over the backbone.

10. Pull the tied off rectum and urethra underneath the pelvic bone and into the body cavity, unless you have split the pelvic bone. If so, this is unnecessary. Roll the animal on its side so the entrails begin to spill out of the body cavity.

11. Grasp the windpipe and esophagus, pull down and away from the body. If the organs do not pull freely away, the diaphragm may still be attached. Scoop from both ends toward the middle to finish rolling out the entrails. Detach the heart and liver next.

12. Prop the body cavity open with a stick after sponging the cavity clean. If the urinary tract or intestines have been severed, wash the meat with snow or clean water. Hang the carcass from a tree to speed cooling, or drape it over brush or logs with the body cavity down.