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groovy mike's picture
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Joined: 03/19/2009
Posts: 2544
heads or tails butchering?

When you hang you deer for butchering, do you hang it head up or head down? I've done it both ways and seen it done both ways by others.  Each method has advantages as gravity assists.  I think I prefer head down.  How about you?

Ca_Vermonster's picture
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Location: San Diego, CA
Joined: 07/27/2007
Posts: 5813
We have always done heads

We have always done heads down, but not really cause it's easier to butcher, but just easier to hang.

The deer have those nice little areas near the knee that you can cut a slit in, and slide a hook, board, whatever you use, and get the legs spread apart and hoisted up into the air.

At least that's what we always did.  Then, I guess for skinning purposes, it's easy to start between the back legs, and cape the animal down to the head that way.


Tndeerhunter's picture
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Location: Tennessee
Joined: 04/13/2009
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hang-um high

I've always favored the head up method, though I cannot say why, besides perhaps I don't enjoy seeing the blood seeping out the nose and mouth especially on a deer to be mounted. On my trip to Indiana this year though, they held a firm head down tradition. It worked out fine, especially since the day got a bit warm and I stuffed a bag of ice in the exposed chest cavity to help in the cooling process. That worked great! I normally have my deer "done" rather than butchering them myself.

I'd also have to say that I've always thought deer just simply look better hanging by the rack too. But all butchers I've watched want them head down to facilitate skinning.

Critter's picture
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Location: Western Colorado
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We've done all of our animals

We've done all of our animals head down and hanging by their hocks weather they were deer, elk or what ever.  This way when you split the carcass in half you just start at the hinds and saw your way to the neck.  If you ever watch a butcher shop do it they always do it heads down. 

As far as having a head that you want mounted that should be the second thing that you cut off after you have finished cleaning the animal.  That way you don't have to worry about something happening to the cape to where you are going to have to buy yourself a new one. 

buffybr's picture
Location: Montana, USA
Joined: 11/15/2007
Posts: 358
I also hang them both ways. 

I also hang them both ways.  In the field, unless it's big like an elk, I hang them head up.  Just tie around the base of the antlers and pull it up.  I've hung a few elk head up, but most of them I had to cut into pieces to get out of the woods.

I find them easier to skin when the head is down, so even if an animal is hanging head down at home, I'll switch it to skin it.

This year I had to cut my elk in half to drag it out of the woods.  When I hung it at home, the front half hung head up, and the back half hung feet up.

And I agree again with Critter.  If you're going to have an animal mounted, you want to get the cape off right away or the skin can spoil and the hair will slip.  The cape should be completely skinned, fleshed, and salted or the whole thing quickly frozen as soon as possible.

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