Field Dressing a Deer

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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.

In this day in age with chronic wasting disease and lyme disease, all hunters should wear gloves. In photo 1, the deer is laid on its back, hind legs spread, and a small incision is made around the genitals moving up towards the chest in a vertical line. Be careful not to puncture the body cavity at this point

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Slowly skin the deer back away from your mid-incision line 4 to 6 inches on either side. This will decrease your chances of getting hair inside the body cavity and on the meat.

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After you have made your incision up to the sternum, you may now start at the genitalia and carefully cut through the body cavity and move upward. A gut hook is a great way of opening the body cavity without cutting the intestines. If you do not have a gut hook, you can use one finger next to the knife to lift up skin giving you space between the knife blade and the intestines.

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You will find in older deer the sternum is difficult to cut through, and a larger knife will be helpful. For the most part, a deer can be skinned and de boned with a 4 inch fixed blade knife.

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In this day in age with chronic wasting disease and lyme disease, all hunters should wear gloves. In photo 1, the deer is laid on its back, hind legs spread, and a small incision is made around the genitals moving up towards the chest in a vertical line. Be careful not to puncture the body cavity at this point.

Slowly skin the deer back away from your mid-incision line 4 to 6 inches on either side. This will decrease your chances of getting hair inside the body cavity and on the meat.
After you have made your incision up to the sternum, you may now start at the genitalia and carefully cut through the body cavity and move upward. A gut hook is a great way of opening the body cavity without cutting the intestines. If you do not have a gut hook, you can use one finger next to the knife to lift up skin giving you space between the knife blade and the intestines.
You will find in older deer the sternum is difficult to cut through, and a larger knife will be helpful. For the most part, a deer can be skinned and de boned with a 4 inch fixed blade knife.
After opening the body cavity, one can reach inside and begin cutting away the lungs and heart away from the body cavity. All organs as in a human are attached by the peritoneum. In the picture to the right, the heart is being cut away and saved. The heart is very tender and edible when cooked. As in Native American tradition, eating the heart of the deer was to have high spiritual significance. All parts of this deer can be used and Survive Outdoors strongly discourages trophy hunting only.

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After the intestines and organs are removed, the deer should be taken back and thoroughly rinsed out. A saw is beneficial in cutting the pelvis bone to allow better cleaning access to the rectal and bladder area.

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Before processing, if the temperature is 45 degrees or less, it is beneficial to age the deer for a day or two leaving the skin on. This is done by hanging the deer upside down in a cool environment. Again, we need to stress the importance of irrigating the body cavity. A garden hose works well, as well as propping the body cavity open with a stick to allow airflow.

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