Field Dressing and Care of Your Deer


          Many people don't like vension because it tastes "gamey." "Gamey" meat usually comes from poor handling of the carcass and letting the meat spoil. After you've shoot your deer, it's important to quickly and properly field dress it. Removing the animal's insides, draining the blood and keeping the carcass cool are keys to delicious meat.
          All your field dressing tools can fit in your pockets or a small pack. The only tool that is absolutely necessary is a sharp knife. One with a three to four inch blade is actually easier for most people to use than a big Bowie knife. If you use a folding knife, a locking blade is a good safety feature.
          Another tool that should be standard equip is a pair of rubber or plastic gloves. Poly gloves made just for field dressing are inexpensive and cover your sleeves to keep you clean and protect you from several parasites and diseases that deer can carry. Also bring some plastic bags to carry the heart and liver. Other optional equipment includes string to tie off the anus and paper towels. Some people carry a folding meat saw to quarter the deer in the field, a wheeled cart or plastic sled to carry the deer out.
          Once the deer is dead, the first thing to do is to turn it over onto its back. Cut completely around the anus to free it and the attached intestine. Pull this part out and inch or so and then tie it off tightly with string. This keeps the digestive waste in the intestine so it will not spill out and damage the meat.
          Pointing the knife blade toward the chest cavity, carefully insert your knife only deep enough to penetrate the skin just below the breast bone. Insert the first two fingers of your hand into the cheast cavity to push the intestines down and away from the knife blade, and slit the belly wall from chest to genitals. Roll the deer onto its side and reach into the body cavity to pull out the vent section you tied off initially.
          Next, find the diaphragm in the chest. This is the membrane separating the chest cavity from the intestinal area. Cut through the diaphragm close to the ribs, freeing the lungs and heart. Pull these out along with the liver, stomach and intestines, being careful not to rupture the intestines or urinary bladder. Save the the liver and heart in separate bags.
          Now turn the deer over onto its belly to drain out the blood. After that, roll the deer onto its side and reach into the cheast cavity with both hands to the junction of the neck and body. Grasp the windpipe and esphagus with one hand and use your othe hand to cut them free with your knife and pull them out.
          If you kill a buck, slit the skin containing the testicles and remove them, but do not remove the skin pouch (scrotum). If you plan to remove the deer's head for mounting, there must be proof of the animal's sex left on the carcass.
          Now your deer is field dressed. The next thing to do is prop open the belly walls with a stick and allow the air to circulate and cool the body cavity. If you're going home right away, be sure to transport the deer in a location that is away from heat sources such as the engine and tailpipe.
          In most cases it is best to skin the deer as soon as you reach home and immediately cut it up. Professional butcher services that skin, cut and package the meat are often well worth the relatively small cost.
          Some people traditionally hang their deer to age and tenderize, but too often this results in spoilage and waste of meat. Meat quickly spoils when air temperatures get above 40 degrees F. If it's warmer, don't hang it.           Many people who hang their deer prefer to hang it by the hind legs to drain the blood away from the more valuable cuts of meat, the way butchers hang beef. Be sure to cut the rib cage open to allow drainage of the carcass, but be careful to avoid cutting the chest and neck if you plan to have the head mounted.
          Bears should also be field dressed as soon as possible. The method described here for deer will also work for bears.
          If it is kept clean, dry and cold, game animals have delicious, low-fat meat that will please those who eat it and give a great sense of accomplishment to those who harvest and prepare it.

How To Measure Your Deer

Measure girth around deer just behind front legs

(Live Weight)

24 inch = 56 lbs.
25 inch = 67 lbs.
30 inch = 90 lbs.
32 inch = 103 lbs.
34 inch = 117 lbs.
35 inch = 125 lbs.
36 inch = 134 lbs.
38 inch = 156 lbs.
40 inch = 181 lbs.
42 inch = 211 lbs.
44 inch = 243 lbs.
46 inch = 289 lbs.
47 inch = 311 lbs.
48 inch = 339 lbs.