Tips For Field Dressing
No one enjoys it, but it has to be done. The timely removal of your game’s innards is often necessary to ensure untainted meat, and it also helps by reducing the weight you’ll have to drag back to your truck or camp.
Time Required: 10 minutes
If you’re in an area that uses tags, tag your deer immediately. The tag must remain with the deer at all times, or you risk confiscation of your deer among other nasty effects.
- Carefully cut a circle around the anus so it’s free and can be removed from within. Some folks tie it off with string to prevent its contents from tainting the meat.
- if it’s a buck, remove and discard the testicles and cut the penis free so that it can be removed by the same route as the anus.
- Beginning close to pelvis, open the stomach cavity to the ribcage. After starting the cut, use the first two fingers of your other hand to help guide your knife… you must only cut through skin and a thin layer of meat, and miss the entrails.
- Cut through the ribs and skin, following the breastbone, on up to the neck. This is no problem with a sharp knife, but don’t twist the blade while it’s between bones; a brittle knife blade could easily break if twisted.
- Continue cutting on up to the base of the skull.
- Sever the windpipe and esophagus at the base of the skull.
- Cut the diaphragm loose. This is the sheet of muscle that separates the stomach area from the chest cavity.
- Allow the animal to roll on its side, and “help” the organs to come out. You’ll have to pull a little, but they should be mostly free.
- Be extremely careful in removing the bladder! You must reach up into the pelvis and pinch it shut while you cut it free with the other hand. If any urine is spilled on the meat, remove it immediately with water from a thermos or a clean cloth.
- Clean any debris from the cavity. Any stomach contents or other substances should be removed as quickly as possible.
- Separate the heart and liver if you or someone you know likes to eat them. Cloth bags are recommended for keeping these clean and allowing them to cool.
- Start toting your animal back towards civilization after a break to catch your breath.
- If you plan to have your deer mounted, don’t cut it above the ribcage. You’ll have to reach up through the ribcage to cut the esophagus and windpipe. Leave the caping (the skinning of the head & neck) to a professional.
- When opening the stomach cavity, slip two fingers of your opposite hand underneath the sheet of muscle you’re cutting through, and pull it away from the entrails. Try to use only an inch or so of your knife blade.
- If you will be skinning and quartering your deer within a couple of hours of the kill, you might be ahead not to field-dress it. That way, you won’t have sticks, leaves, and other debris to clean off. It also helps keep the flies off on warm days.
- Before you start, examine the deer for signs of old wounds. Your broadhead, a sharp piece of bullet metal, or an old broadhead (though unlikely) may be present, and could cut you if you’re not careful. Take your time; what’s the rush?
What You Need
- Sharp knife
- Some time
- Strong stomach
Field Dressing is Key
Improper field dressing and failure to keep the animal clean and cool are the biggest problems we see as processors.
Once a deer is on the ground, it’s crucial to field dress it as soon as possible. Most hunters can do a passable job of extracting most of the viscera, but many leave the chore incomplete. You have to split the pelvis and get everything out. Also make sure you do not break the bladder and get the contents inside the deer.
If the deer is headed for a commercial processor, QUARTERING THE DEER IS BEST AND SAVES YOU MONEY. We prefer as many deer as we do that they be quartered, for several reasons. The start of deer season the past few years in Georgia and Alabama, hunters have been in shorts do to the hot weather. It is crucial to get your deer skinned and quartered ASAP; Bacteria will grow at an alarming rate risking your kill to food poisoning. The temperature of 40 degrees or below is recommended to avoid this. We will sell the flaked style ice to any hunter it will last up to 4-5 days in an ice chest. Be careful when skinning to not leave a lot of hair on the animal and that’s not good. A processor can usually skin much cleaner than a hunter simply because we have much more experience. But protect your kill and your wallet. Put your quartered deer in a plastic bag to keep from getting water logged.
If the temperature is warm as it seems to be most opening weekends and many other weekends here in Georgia and Alabama, we recommend skinning the animal and keeping it cold. It needs to either be hanging in a commercial cooler or quartered and placed on ice.
If the deer was gut shot or otherwise hit in an area that produced a lot of tissue damage, it’s best to trim away any damaged flesh. We reserve the right to refuse any improperly handled deer.
When the successful hunter is heading home during warm weather, keeping the animal cold is very important. The best tip is to cover the ice chest with blanket or keep in shaded area of vehicle, for the trip home. The deer should stay cold this way, and protect the meat from bacteria which gives most hunters plenty of time to get home.
Remember, for the best tasting venison, proper handling from deer camp to us is the first and most important step!!!