Field Dressing the Whitetail Deer
First and foremost make sure the deer is dead. Serious injury can occur to the hunter if the deer is still alive. Field dress the deer immediately to drain the blood and cool the carcass. There is no need to cut the throat.
As you field dress your deer keep an eye out for parasites, growths, tumors, etc. which can indicate disease. Keep a watch out for the deer tick which can transmit Lyme Disease.
Wear rubber gloves and be careful not to cut yourself. Infected deer blood can contact with an open cut and transmit Lyme disease. Also, do not put the deer in your vehicle or near people or pets as the ticks that are not attached to the deer drop off as soon as the deer dies and look for a new host. Always check your body and clothing for ticks after a day afield.
Field dressing your deer
1. Run you finger along the breastbone until you can feel the end of it. Pinch the skin away from the body so you don't puncture the intestines. Make a shallow cut just long enough to insert the first two fingers of your other hand.
2. Form a V with your first two fingers and maintain upwards pressure. Guide the blade between your fingers with the cutting edge up. Cut through the abdominal wall back to the pelvic area.
3. Separate the external reproductive organs of a buck from the abdominal wall, do not cut them off completely. Remove the udder of a doe if still nursing. The milk spoils rapidly and could give the meat a bad flavor.
4. Straddle the animal facing the head. Unless you plan to mount the head, cut the skin from the base of the breastbone to the jaw, with the cutting edge of the knife up.
5. Cut through the center of the breastbone. If the animal is very large or very old , you may need to use a game saw or small axe.
6. Slice between the hams to free the buck's urethra, or if elect to split the pelvic bone on either a buck or a doe. make careful cuts around the urethra until it is freed to a point just above the anus. Be careful not to cut the urethra.
7. Cut around the anus, on a doe the cut should also include the reproductive opening. Free the rectum and the urethra by loosening the connective tissue with your knife.
8. Free the windpipe and the esophagus by cutting the connective tissue. Sever them from the jaw. Grasp firmly and pull down continuing the cut where necessary until they are freed to the point where the windpipe branches out to the lungs.
9. Hold the ribcage open with one hand. Cut the diaphragm from the rib opening down to the backbone. Stay as close to the rib cage as possible, do not puncture the stomach. Repeat the procedure on the other side.
10. Pull the rectum and the urethra underneath the pelvic bone and into the body cavity, unless you have split the pelvic bone. If so, this is unnecessary. Roll the animal on it's side until the entrails begin to spill out of the body cavity.
11. Grasp the windpipe and esophagus and pull down away from the body. If the organs do not pull freely away the diaphragm may still be attached. Scoop for both ends to the middle to finish rolling out the entrails. Detach the heart and liver.
12. Prop the body opening open with a stick. If the urinary tract or intestines have been severed, wash the meat with clean water or snow as soon as possible. Hang the carcass from a tree to speed cooling or drape it over a log with the body cavity down.
Remember, more people cut themselves with a dull knife than with a sharp knife.
A live deer will weigh about 30 % more than one that has been field-dressed.
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