The pleasure of bringing down a magnanimous deer is immense, but then comes the part that many hunters feel is the heaviest! An adult deer means almost 50 pounds of meat to last you many days, but unfortunately, this meat is still covered in skin and attached to the bone! Hunters need to field dress a deer before they can enjoy their hunting bounty!
Field dress means removing the internal organs to restore the meat. As long as the internal organs are intact, the carcass remains warm, and this gradually deteriorates the meat as bacterial buildup continues inside the body. A quick removal of the organs and blood mean that the meat is usable.
Many hunters are clueless about field dressing, so here is a quick and exciting way to learn. Read on, and you will understand what to do!
Prepare yourself mentally
While the tools needed for field dressing are a sharp knife and maybe some gloves-the spirit needed for cutting an animal and then removing its parts is a big challenge for your gut and your mind! And yes, an apron or covers will also be a good idea.
Get the broadhead
As you prepare to field dress, ensure that the arrow broadhead is removed. When hunters bring down a deer, the broadhead remains in the deer’s body, and in some cases, you cannot even locate it.
In such cases, remember to look for it as you skin the deer so that you do not get unnecessary cuts or do not end up carving the broadhead out later!
Next comes the coring
As strange as field dressing might seem to some, this step is the worst for me! You have to pierce your knife into the deerskin around the anus to the core.
The deer is lying on its side as you cut the skin around the anus and gradually deepen the cut to slice out all the attached membranes that keep the colon in place.
One has to remain mindful that as they do this, the colon does not rupture. If you cut through the colon, the intestinal juices can taint the meat.
Changing the position of the deer
Now, you will have to position the deer in a way that as its upper body stays slightly elevated, the ribcage remains steady as you pull the legs.
You may need a partner to do this, or you can keep the deer in place with the help of rocks.
The idea is to keep the hind legs apart as you open up the body to remove organs. You may tie the legs to trees or rocks on opposite sides, or you can hold them firmly.
The first cut
As the deer lies in front of you with the belly facing up and legs opened wide, locate the ‘V’ where the skin meets from both the legs.
This spot is below the milk sac or above the testicles, depending on your prey being a doe or buck! As you hold the skin, make a shallow cut and slit through the skin. In the case of a buck, you can remove the genitalia at this point.
Open it up!
The next step is to continue opening the slit upwards, using the gut hook. You can open up the deer from the pelvic bone to the breastbone.
Keep the knife in place so that the organs do not get punctured. This mistake can ruin the animal and bring all your hunting glory to the ground!
Some hunters want the meat but also want to preserve the animal by a taxidermist. If you do, then stop the knife at the breastbone, but if not, you can slit it up till the neck.
Diaphragm and windpipe cut
The diaphragm has to be cut loose from the skin to separate the stomach and intestines from the chest. You can cut open the chest cavity to remove the lungs and windpipe by cutting the diaphragm. You have to cut the diaphragm to the spine to separate the organs.
You can cut the windpipe by locating it above the lungs and slitting across it to release the tautness. The heart, lungs, and liver can be stored for consumption. Hunters can put these organs in a bag to keep them free from dust, insects, and other things.
The organs or entrails of the deer are now inside the body cavity, free to be removed. With the anus, windpipe, and diaphragm cut loose, the entrails can be removed like a pile within a bag! The heart, lungs, and liver are removed if you want to consume them-so, you are left with the gut, intestines, and kidneys to be removed.
You can pull out the innards in one go, and you can dispose of them quickly or leave them around if the state laws allow! However, we recommend clean and easy disposal, so burying the refuse is an excellent way to leave a clean spot.
Cleaning out the blood
The last part of the field dress is cleaning the deer’s body from blood. For this, you turn the deer upside down so that the slit faces the ground.
Once the blood is drained, the boning and skinning can be quickly done! You must ensure that you keep the carcass cool once the field dress is complete so that the meat remains fresh.
Field dress may sound like an undesirable and challenging step of hunting to many hunters. However, once you learn the technique, you can easily do it and ensure that the best meat cuts and storing the hide can be easy to follow.
We have explained the process in simple steps to help you achieve a new level of enjoying your hunt!