Field Dressing – So You Want to Field Dress a Deer

Dressing a deer in the countryside is kind of a job. You have to have a very strong constitution for this. After all, it’s all blood and liver. But you’ve decided to be a deer hunter, so you have to be able to do it and do it well. Of course I don’t want to waste the fish spoiling the meat. Prepare yourself. This is an experience you will never forget.

You will need a handful of tools for the field preparation procedure. At a minimum, you should have the following:

– very sharp knife that is comfortable in the hand

– disposable latex or vinyl gloves

– small saw to cut the bone

– short light rope about 10 feet long

– very clean cloth (many are better)

– sealable bag for heart and liver (if you want to save them)

Now you’re ready. Okay. You went to get a deer. It’s time to get involved.

There are two very important rules to always keep in mind. One: do not rush. You are working with a very sharp knife. Two: don’t take your eyes off work when your hands move. Cutting your hands will slow you down because they are the ones who do the job. If you get a cut, seal it well to protect yourself from deer blood. You don’t know what it might bring.

The first thing is to prepare your workspace. Move the deer to a visible position, especially visible to other hunters in the area. Place a bright orange cloth (or something noticeable) high on a tree branch. Place your tools from the carcass at a safe and accessible distance, preferably in the order in which you will use them. Remove heavy coats and wrist units. Tie everything that can block your view or fall into your workspace.

Be in the right frame of mind. Do not handle a very sharp knife if you are tired, upset or distracted. Even if you are too cold or have numb fingers. Above all, don’t use a blunt knife. It will overload you, frustrate you and make you angry. This promotes accidental injury or loose cuts that could ruin the meat. Safety must first of all.

The straight cut. Place the carcass with your back on the ground, your head facing up and higher than the rest of the body. With gloves, your first cut will be an incision just below the sternum (sternum) with the edge of the knife facing up. Insert the index and middle fingers, facing up and through the cut. Form a “V” and push the skin upwards. Place the knife facing upwards between your fingers. This will help prevent cutting of internal organs resulting in contamination of the meat. Following the direction of the hair, continue your incision, with a knife between your fingers, up to the penis of a deer or the breast of a doe.

First stage of removal. Make a 2-inch deep incision around the rectum, cutting in a circular motion as you move around it. If faecal material is present, tie the rectum. Pull it into the body cavity so that it is now attached only to the intestine.

– For a dollar, remove the testicles. Get to the body cavity and remove the

penis at its base.

– For a doe, cut all around the breast and remove it.

Second stage of removal. Although it is not necessary, it is recommended to divide the sternum and pelvic bone in half with a saw. It will facilitate the cooling of the carcass and will make the removal of internal organs much easier. Locate the bladder as a pear-shaped pouch in the lower abdomen. Pinch or tie it and cut it free, taking particular care not to lose any urine that may be present (use your cloth). Place the bladder at a safe distance from the workspace. If necessary, use the extra clothes to clean any leaks from internal organs before and after their removal. Keep an eye out for dirt or debris that may have entered the body cavity and remove it.

Roll the carcass to one side. Most internal organs will come loose at this point. Cut away all connective tissue that holds organs and intestines in place. If necessary, roll the carcass on the opposite side and cut the still adherent fabric. Roll it back. Make sure the body has drained all fluids before proceeding.

Remove the diaphragm to gain access to the thoracic cavity. This is a strong membranous muscle that separates the chest cavity, with heart and lungs, from the abdominal cavity. Get as far as possible to remove the trachea as much as possible. Now remove the remaining organs, heart, lungs and liver. Use the sealable bag to save your heart and liver if you wish. And you’re done.

Please properly dispose of all organs that have been removed, including all parts of the body. Use the rope to drag the deer off the field. This is most commonly done by the feet and not by the head.

Here it is. A quick and straightforward procedure to properly dress a deer. Be careful out there. Watch out. And good luck!

July 2008

by Len Q.

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