How To Dress A Deer
How do you learn how to dress a deer? It's not a real hard task, but it is one that takes a bit of care and a few tools. You want the carcass to cool as soon as possible to help prevent the onset of spoilage, so it is important to start as soon as possible after the animal is downed.
Items needed to field dress a deer:
- Sharp knife
- Plastic bag
The process of field dressing a deer will go something like this:
- Tag the animal. The very first thing you want to do is to tag the animal in accordance with the instructions for your license. You do not want any legal mistakes at this point in case the DNR shows up while you are working.
- Remove genitals. Cut around the genitals and anus carefully, and pull them out slightly. Tie the anus off with a bit of cord. This will help prevent fecal matter spilling into and contaminating the carcass when you remove it.
- Open up the carcass. Use your knife and make a cut starting at the base of the belly all the way up to the ribcage. Take great care here not to puncture any internal organs. Use the tip of the knife and your fingers to separate the hide, skin and muscles as you work. Slow short strokes work better than long fast ones for the careful work needed here.
- Remove organs. Reach up into the cavity and remove the internal organs. You will have to cut connective tissues to help them out. Do not cut into the organs, however. Once you have room, reach up into the neck and sever the windpipe as far up as possible. Pull out the windpipe and lungs. If you do not plan on having the deer mounted, you can make your cut further to the base of the neck and then break the ribs with the hatchet to make this task easier. Continue removing the viscera until you reach the pelvis. Work slowly and cut connective tissues carefully so as not to puncture anything.
- Save heart and liver. The traditional successful hunter's supper is the heart and liver of the animal. Take the heart and liver and put it in the plastic bag you brought just for this purpose.
- Open up pelvis. Use the hatchet and break the pelvis to allow removal of the rest of the organs. Take great care here not to puncture any intestines or the bladder. You do not want this on the meat.
- Cool body as quickly as possible. Prop open the cavity with a stick, or use bagged ice to slip into the carcass and then tie it closed. Rapid cooling helps with meat quality later on.
- Dispose of viscera. Either bury the internal organs or leave it for scavengers. If you are leaving it, make sure it is not visible to passersby. We, as hunters, do not want our activity to cause others discomfort, and the sight and smell of rotting offal can be discomfiting to some.
- Transport carcass for processing. Take your deer to have it processed. If you need to drag the deer, make sure to drag it on the back so as not to get debris into the body cavity.
That is the process of field dressing a deer. Hopefully, you will get to use it this hunting season, good luck.