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Location: Vermont
Joined: 11/03/2005
Posts: 1
Field Dressing

Im a young hunter that has been hunting for only two years and need some Good steps, tips or a walkthrough to field dress whitettail deer. My dad(POPS) was againest hunting but i prompted him so he is all worried about when i get a deer.

Please Help!!!! Brick Wall,)

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Location: Idaho
Joined: 06/01/2004
Posts: 1068
Field Dressing

You can snoop around elsewhere on this site and get a lot of good info - most of it basically derives from the notion that you first of all `gut' the animal, maybe bleed it out first, and so on. Then take it to the butcher, or skin it and butcher it yourself, or skin it and then take it to the butcher, whatever. Your state game department might even have tips on their website.

We take a different approach. Once we down an animal, we take some pics, etc., then get it to a place we can work with it. We orient it with it's backbone uphill, if you're on a hill ... then, cut the deer's skin along the backbone. You'll want to puncture the skin, and then work with skin from the underneath. If your blade is against the fur it will dull fast. Anyway, we then peel the skin down the side ... if the deer has been dead only minutes, you hardly need a knife ... but the longer dead you'll have to pull with one hand and assist the separation with your knife. Take a sharpener and keep your knife sharp. It gets more difficult peeling down the legs - that's where a friend helps. (One person pulls - the other works with the knife.) Peel down past `meat' and then stop. As you get areas `opened up' - cut away the muscle groups and put them in clean bags (plastic or game bags). Keep your knife clean, hands, sleeves clean, meat clean. Take all the meat from one side. Don't mess with destroyed / damaged meat. Stay away from stomach fluids, gew, etc., if it has oozed out of a bullet hole or a screw-up with your knife. Go clear up the neck and get neck meat - will make good for ground deer. If you know where the tenderloins are - go after them - but last - in case you mess up. (Study a deer's anatomy from a book or from this website first.)

Turn the deer over, and repeat.

End product = meatless deer. All the meat is in your bags.

You need to know the proof of sex, etc. rules for your state - they may require you have proof of sex of some kind attached to some of the meat. Generally we leave some portion of the genitals attached to a portion of the rump meat, and put in a separate bag.

Depending on the deer you may have 60 - 80 lb of pure meat, maybe more with bigger deer.

Take the ribs/rib meat if important or required. You might bring a saw in that case - but one's not necessary otherwise (unless you want to saw out the antlers and leave the rest of the head).

So, again, you have a meatless deer on the ground - and all the meat in your bag(s). If you're alone - you can probably carry out a whole deer (deer's meat) in one pack.

In the wilds of Idaho the abundant predators take over after we leave and `clean up'.

If you are hunting on private land, you may want to come back later and dispose of the rest of the animal.

Results = you'll have premium meat if you keep it clean, and cool. Since we have essentially pre-butchered the deer - we go ahead and finish butchering it ourselves. (I don't trust anyone else with our meat.)

With some practice you can have a meatless deer within an hour after your trigger pull. But it will take a lot longer at first - and can be exhausting.

If all this is too complicated sounding - then walk up to your shot deer, pull out your knife, cut open it's stomach, pull out all of its intestines, stomach, lungs, heart, along with all the gew, acids, fluids, and yuck (especially if gut shot), it's vomit (depending on how it died), and blood. Then carry or drag it to your vehicle, and drive it to the local butcher. They will charge more if they have to skin it for you. They may also give you a disgusting look if it's filthy and smells like ... And don't be suprised if people complain about that `gamey' taste.

I have an article on our method sitting around somewhere - but couldn't find the electric copy to put in here.

Go for it !!!

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Location: Idaho
Joined: 06/01/2004
Posts: 1068
Field Dressing

... found some pics ... mine, copyrighted.

http://www.serioushunter.com/adventures/un-dressing-deer-pics.htm

The backstrap is the `column' of meat on both sides of the ridge of the backbone - considered by many to be the best part of the animal ...

You will find that the meat (muscle) is in `groups'. Take the meat out by groups. Often the groups have kind of protective films (semi clear-white membrane) - that if you can keep intact - keep your meat clean and `together'. The groups also separate from each other fairly easily.

If you work `with' the anatomy, you will be surprised how little you actually use your knife.

When you are doing the final butchering, the film can come off, along with any dirt and germs that may have come along for the ride.

Try not to cut across muscle groups. You open the meat up to more contamination, and you will have some awkward problems in final butchering/cut/wrapping.

Done right you never even get into the internal organs (unless you want to extract the heart, liver) ... though you do get close on your way to the tenderloins.

In hot weather if you work fast - you will also be effectively cooling your animal as you take the skin off, and then the muscle from the frame. Exposing the muscle groups will expose enough moisture to give you evaporative cooling.

jrf ...

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Location: Idaho
Joined: 06/01/2004
Posts: 1068
Field Dressing

One final thing ... especially if you are alone ... BE CAREFUL. You will be working with, supposedly, a sharp knife. If you get tired, don't do something stupid, and end up cutting yourself. Take a break, take your time. Do it in stages, if necessary.

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Location: VERMONT
Joined: 07/07/2005
Posts: 57
Field Dressing

I found this site for you, it has instruction, and diagrams.
http://www.huntingpa.com
go to field dressing. I know that you will have to report your animal in before butchering. If you are able to enjoy this youth season, which is this weekend you also need an adult with you, just advise so the Wardens don't have a field day with you.

Another suggestion is to go to Google, Images, ask for Field Dressing Deer.
Like said before be careful if you are at that stage of the hunt, the hardest part is already done, and that was to harvest your animal. I would also add, and it should be the very first step, MAKE SURE THE ANIMAL IS DEAD, alot of hunters have lost animal, and have been hurt by a dead deer, I usually take the rifle barrel and touch the eye, if there is no reaction it is dead.

Good Luck out there Be Safe.

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Location: Idaho
Joined: 06/01/2004
Posts: 1068
Field Dressing

Something else to think about is maybe you have a friend or relative - who might have no interest in hunting - but might be very interested in the post-kill activities. The nice thing about the cooler weather is that you have more time before you have to `get started'.

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Location: MO
Joined: 10/29/2005
Posts: 22
Field Dressing

So, Serious Hunter, can you tell me an easy way to get the 'film' off the meat? I tried to help hubby to process a deer, and spent HOURS on half of one leg alone! Any tips you can share? Would be greatly appreciated. A butcher is out of the question, there are no deer processors near us.

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Location: Idaho
Joined: 06/01/2004
Posts: 1068
Field Dressing

Hmmm ... your question is interesting. It's never posed a problem. I wish I could see what you're struggling with. Some of it almost dissolves and rubs off if / when you are washing the meat ... and will also peel / flake off if / when it dries out. If there's a lot of this film or membrane, you would be able to kind of just pull - peel it off, maybe with some help from a knife. A dry towel or paper towel wiped on the meat will also remove film and dirt, etc. if the meat is wet. The last layer(s) I don't try and remove unless it's dirtly or damaged - and then you're probably stuck with removing meat along with. I guess I only worry about removing the `film' if it's excessive or dirty. Left on it kind of keeps groups of meat - especially roasts, intact. Hmmm. Hours on one leg alone is too long. I will think on these things. Maybe I can talk my daughter into going out and filling her second tag - and I can be more conscious of your question in the actual process - but it essentially hasn't been an issue. Let me know if this helps of if I am mis-understanding your situation / question. Some of the lower leg meat areas have so much tendon-like stuff through the meat that I just put it in the `to-be-ground' bowl - but I don't think this is your dilemma.

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Location: MO
Joined: 10/29/2005
Posts: 22
Field Dressing

Yes, and No.

It is that last layer of film before the meat. I have been told that you want to take it off or the meat will taste gamey, and that its not good to eat that. I'd really love to grind some for burger, chili, etc. but....I don't know what is best to put in with it for the fatty part, or if I can find locally what I need to use. We live in a very rural area. Closest town is like 1,000 people at peak, and there's no processors or meat markets within about 3 hours of us. I really want to help hubby out and be able to help him to process the meat. I don't want him to feel it's too much of a chore, and like you, I don't trust my meat to have someone else do it. (A friend of his gave us some deer last year since we didn't have any hunting time what with house hunting. And OMG was it every NASTY tasting!!!! YUCK!!) We had to throw it all out!! And I hated that!

I never fixed 'wild' meat before hubby and I married 3 1/2 years ago, and now I bow hunt, have my own Ruger, etc. and love to eat good venison. Just don't know how to process it to freeze.

I've also been told I need to soak out the blood before preparing the meal. Can I soak it out BEFORE I freeze it to save time at meal prep time? Do I soak out the meat for the burger too? Or will I have gamey tasting meat?

Sorry to ask so much, but you seem to know MUCH more than I do. Thank you so much for your time!!

I now have my own gut knife and will be gutting my first deer when I get it. I'm excited. My FIL said he wants my hubby to get a cam corder and tape it. LOL Not that he doesn't think I'll do it, but so he and my MIL can watch it. I think he wants her to see it so she will do it also, as he has to do hers and process them also. LOL

Thanks again!

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Location: Idaho
Joined: 06/01/2004
Posts: 1068
Field Dressing

If there's a `last' layer - unless it's thick and tough - I leave it on. But in my mind this last layer is generally pretty thin. As for gamey taste - as I hinted above - the gamey taste is a function of germs, gew, etc., not the meat.

Blood ... hmmmm ... I don't soak my meat to get the blood out - because there's no blood to get out. Generally a gunshot or arrow wound will `bleed' the animal out before you even get to it. If there's any question, you could cut the animal's throat - just to make sure. If there is any blood left in the animal - it comes out as we go thru arteries while taking the meat off the animal. But in the process I describe - you're lifting the meat off the animal - and the blood is thus draining by gravity off the animal and onto the ground or whatever.

There may be some blood on the meat - but it should wash off or come off with the `film'.

If your meat has blood in it - that's different. Argh - you're probably near bullet inpact and you have bloodshot meat - I don't even mess with it. I sacrifice a few pounds of meat in the field so that the remaining 57 pounds is premium.

One year my dad and I got bucks a few days apart, and I soaked the meat - and ended up ruining a lot of it. Bummer.

We wash our meat as we need to as we go along - and that's about it.

As for ground deer ... around here they suggest mixing it with beef fat (available at local grocery store). We mixed it about 1 part beef fat to 4 or 5 or more parts deer. I hope it tastes good - because from three deer we have about 30 or 40 pounds of the stuff in the freezer. This time we ground up anything that didn't go into steaks, roasts, or tender stir fry. We ground everything - neck meat, brisket, scraps, etc.

I'm not sure you have to mix it with anything - but it would be super lean.

I generally discard all the deer's fat - but I am beginning to ask myself why? ... especially if I am throwing the deer fat away and adding beef fat.

The reason I pose the fat question is that we have found that properly cared for - all of our deer meat tastes the same - good - without a gamey taste. And we shoot a variety - from mule deer in desert terrain to whitetail deer in alfalfa. I used to think the fat carried the gamey taste - but I'm wondering instead if it just tastes more gamey because it had more germs since it's on the outside and gets the most contaminated in the ... process. Dunno.

I will say one thing - however ... we generally get deer before rut. I cannot prove or disprove the rut affecting deer taste. If the source of the taste during rut is from glands or urine - then again - work carefully and keep the meat clean, off the ground, out of touch with the fir / hide, etc. Wash your hands from time to time or use [several pairs, perhaps, of] latex gloves. It used to be that medical doctors killed patients with dirty hands and procedures. Hunters kill good meat with dirty hands and procedures.

Gutting kinfe ... what's that? We do not gut our deer (see first post) - and thus we do not get `guts' on the meat (or our knives, or our hands, or our clothes)- and so our deer don't taste like what they have been eating.

Let me know how it goes ... JRF

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Location: MO
Joined: 10/29/2005
Posts: 22
Field Dressing

I have read somewhere that bucks taken during rut have a different 'taste', I wondered if that were correct. They would definately have more testosterone, etc. running through at that time.

As for the blood, what I was taking about is not near any impact area. Just the blood that is naturally in the meat. Like....when you go to the store and buy say hamburger, if you set it in the fridge at an angle, soon you will have a pool of blood that leaks out. The meat when blood is present is red-ish (of course) but like when you take the blood out, you end up with meat that looks like....pork I'd say. Not pure white, but not red any longer. Like people who eat rare steaks, cut them open and they bleed. That kind of blood.

We went over to Bass Pro yesterday, and I found a book on field dressing/processing. I figured I have a lot to learn, and a book was MUCH cheaper than a video. So I will read more on it. It seems from what I'm reading there are many different ways to take care of your animal once you kill it. Hubby was raised by his Father and G-father who were hunters and taught him to field dress it (gut it) then bring it in, hang it to drain, cape it and process it. I've seen deer hanging in trees or garages where other hunters do the same, and thought that was the only way it is done. Hmmmm Lots to think about! Thanks for your help. You've been very informative.

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