How To Clean Deer

Do you want to know how to clean a deer?? It is not a real hard task, but it is messy, and takes some care and a few tools to perform well. The key to good venison is for the carcass to cool as quickly as possible, therefore it is important to start as soon as possible. You will want to clear the area you are working in so that you can move around the carcass freely, and work carefully.

Items needed to clean a deer:

  • Latex gloves, optional
  • Sharp knife
  • Hatchet
  • Plastic bag
  • Rope Cord
  • Water
  • Paper towels

The process to clean a deer will go as follows:

  1. Put license tag on the deer.  It is important to put the tag on the carcass as soon as possible. Now is not the time to forget it and have a misunderstanding with the DNR or local authorities.
  2. Remove genitals from body if allowed.  If the law allows it, core carefully around the anus and genitals. It is important to be very careful, use only the very tip of the blade and work slowly. Pull them out and tie them off with a bit of cord to prevent leakage, pull them out a ways and leave them to be completely removed later. You do not want to get the contents on the meat.
  3. Open the carcass.  Taking care, use the tip of the knife and carefully open the carcass with a cut from the belly all the way up to the ribcage. If you do not plan on mounting the deer you can extend this cut up to the base of the throat and break the ribcage with the hatchet. Make slow careful cuts, and use your fingertips to pull the meat and hide apart while you cut. Do not cut too deep and puncture internal organs, small shallow cuts are better than one long deep one.
  4. Remove organs. Use your knife and cut the connective tissue holding organs to the body. Reach in and pull them slowly out working them free with the knife as you go. Work slowly and do not puncture anything. When you have room reach up into the neck and cut the windpipe free of the carcass. Pull it, and the lungs free and out of the carcass. Rolling the animal on its side can help with this task. Work your way down to the pelvis and then break it with the hatchet and remove the anus, genitals, and bladder. Use great caution here as the contents can quickly cause meat spoilage if spilled.
  5.  Wipe out carcass.  Wipe the excess blood from inside the carcass. You can use paper towels or grass, but do not wash it down with water, as it may introduce organisms into the carcass, or remove a layer which "skins" over and produces a protective film over the meat.
  6. Save heart and liver. Place the heart and liver into the plastic bag you brought for this purpose. Later you can eat the traditional successful hunters meal of the heart and liver.
  7. Cool carcass.  Prop the cavity open with a stick, or use bagged ice to cool the body quickly.
  8. Dispose of viscera.  Bury or hide the viscera so that it is out of sight to any passerby. The hunter does not wish to offend non-hunters with the sight and smell of rotting viscera.
  9. Clean up.   Use paper towels and water to wash up your hands and arms, they will get messy, it is part of the process.
  10. Transport deer. Take the deer to have it processed as soon as possible. If you must drag the deer, drag it on its side or back so as not to introduce dirt and debris into the carcass.

That is how you clean a deer. It is a messy process, but takes longer to read about than it actually does to perform. Use caution, work slowly, and carefully, and you will enjoy some fine venison dinners in the future. Congratulations on your deer hunt!

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