How To Butcher An Elk

Most elk hunters don't realize exactly how big a task they face until the kill has been made and they are faced with the task of figuring out how to butcher an elk. However, by following these steps, the job can be made easier.


  • 1 sharp knife
  • 1 sharpening stone (to resharpen knife during process)
  • 1 bone saw
  • Rope
  1. Roll the elk onto its back and stabilize it into place by using rocks or rope to tie it into place.
  2. The process to butcher an elk involves removing the internal organs. Begin by lifting a fold of skin and making a cut along the center line, running from the anus to the throat. Some prefer to make a cut through the skin, then return and make a second cut through the meat, while others prefer to make a single cut. Either way, be careful not to cut into the contents of the stomach, intestines or bladder.
  3. Using a saw, preferably a bone saw made just for this purpose, cut through the pelvic bone and sternum, being careful not to cut the stomach, intestines or bladder.
  4. Cut through the windpipe as close to the head as possible, then gently remove it from the body. It will be necessary to cut through the tissue attaching it as you pull it out.
  5. When the windpipe is completely free of the tissue connecting it to the carcass, remove all the entrails and organs from the body. Save and store any parts, such as the liver, heart or kidneys that are to be used for food. The task of butchering the elk is now halfway complete.
  6. Cut a circle around each leg at the knee. Cut a slit up to the sternum on the front legs and from the anus to the knee on the rear legs.
  7. At this point the lower legs can be removed by cutting through the tendons and ligaments, although some people prefer to leave these in place until the end, particularly if they have used these as tie spots to hold the elk in place.
  8. The skin should peel away from the body, although the knife may occasionally be used to free any tough spots. If the skin slips from the hands as it is peeled, a rock can be placed into a piece of the skin and tied into a "bundle," forming an easier to grasp handhold. 
  9. After the skinning is completed, remove the head by cutting through the neck, first with the knife and then with the bone saw.
  10. Cut the elk in half lengthwise by cutting through the spine lengthwise. Butchering an elk at this point should resemble the steps necessary in butchering a cow. The carcasses are very similar.
  11. Cut each side in half, leaving quarters. The final step is to remove the meat by cutting into major muscle groups, then cutting these groups into roasts or steak. Any miscellaneous sections of meat can be used for sausage, stew meat or hamburger.
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