How To Cut Up A Deer
If you want to hunt successfully, it is absolutely essential to know how to cut up a deer. It may not be the most fun part of a hunt, but is necessary to reap the tasty reward for your hard work in the woods. Knowing the right cuts, and how to make them on a deer, will help any hunter succeed in saving as much meat as possible. Use the following outline to know exactly what to do when you’re standing over your kill, knife in hand.
- Bring the right tools. In order to field dress your deer properly, you’ll need an extremely sharp hunting knife, some sanitizing wipes, and a small saw. Trying to cut up a deer with just a pocket knife is similar to bringing that pocket knife to a gun fight. Optional materials include a rope and Ziploc bag for the deer’s heart and liver.
- Get the deer in position. First, make absolutely sure the animal is dead before you approach it. A deer that is still alive may thrash, potentially causing injury to you or any hunting buddy nearby. When you’re sure, roll the deer on its back with its stomach and chest exposed. Then find a stick or use some rope to separate the deer’s legs, opening it up and making the cutting easier.
- Make your first cut. First, penetrate the skin and abdominal wall at the base of the deer’s sternum, cutting with the blade facing up all the way down to its genital area. Be sure to keep your knife’s blade facing upward and well controlled. If you don’t you risk piercing its internal organs and spoiling the meat. It helps to stick a finger along the other side of the knife and push down lightly on the organs as you cut.
- Remove the deer’s genitals. If it’s a male, pull on the testicles and penis and slice them off at the base. If it’s a female, cut around the udder in the same manner, and pull it out.
- Split the rib cage. This is the part of field dressing in which a small saw comes in handy. The sternum, which is the middle bone holding the ribs together, is usually pretty easy to split. Travel upward with your saw or knife through the sternum up to the base of the neck.
- Free the digestive organs and bowels. This step requires much care, as spilled urine or fecal matter will taint the deer’s meat. Make a deep circular cut around the anus if it’s a male, and around both the anus and vagina if it’s a female. Push its organs through the hole in the pelvis toward the abdominal cavity, being careful not to puncture the bladder.
- Remove the bladder and urinary tract. First, tie or pinch off the bladder with string, then cut above the string to keep any urine from spilling out. Place the removed bladder well away from the area you’re working in.
- Turn the deer over and spill out its internal organs. They won’t come out easily on their own, so cut any tissue connecting the organs to the deer’s body and pull gently. Work your way up from the abdominal cavity to the chest cavity, where the esophagus must be tied off and cut to remove it without spilling any stomach contents.
- Give the deer’s innards a final clean. After letting the body cavity drain on its side for a few minutes, turn the deer back over and scoop anything that remains out. Doing this will ensure that your meat doesn’t spoil while you carry it out of the woods. Once out, get it to a butcher or cooler as soon as possible. Successfully cutting up a deer is somewhat complicated and will take a bit of practice to perfect. But with the help of an experienced hunter, you’ll be cleaning deer like a pro in no time.