Killing and Dressing Venison
Killing And Dressing
To have a rewarding and enjoyable experience on your deer hunt, it is necessary to plan ahead before going into the woods. Wear appropriate clothing, 500 continuous square inches of hunter orange, and have a compass, map, and matches if in unfamiliar surroundings.
Field dressing and getting the deer home are important parts of the hunt and require some preparation. Gear should include a sharp hunting knife, 15 feet of 1/4-inch rope or nylon cord, clean cloth or paper towels, and a couple of plastic bags.
As a sportsman, it is your responsibility to be sure of your target and shoot only when you have a good clear shot. A well-placed shot in the heart, lungs, or neck region won't mutilate the choice cuts and will help prevent losing a wounded animal.
After the shot, approach the animal quietly and cautiously. Do not attempt to follow a shot deer immediately. Wait 30 minutes or so for it to lie down, and you are most likely to find it. It is not necessary to slit the throat or bleed the deer.
Wash out if water is available, particularly if intestines or stomach have been shot or punctured.
Some hunters prefer to cut the pelvic bone and breast bone when opening the animal. You can dothis with a knife if you are experienced or you can use an axe or pruning shears to separate them. There is less danger of cutting the anus or the bladder if the pelvic bone is separated, and it is easier to remove the liver and heart if the breast bone is separated.
Back at camp, hang your deer either by the antlers or by inserting a gambrel stick at the hocks. Pick a cool hanging place because heat causes rapid spoilage. Prop the body cavity open with a clean stick to insure air circulation.
When skinning your deer, hang it by the back feet. Ring the legs at the knee and slit down rear of the legs. Peel the skin off the carcass wrong side out. Use a knife as little as possible. Pull the skin with one hand using the other to separate the skin and carcass. If the deer is to be mounted, do not make any cuts on the skin past the front legs. Continue peeling down to the base of the skull where the head should be cut off. After cutting, roll up the skin and put in a garbage bag and tie up around the antlers and freeze as soon as possible. If you do not have freezer space, take the head and hide to your taxidermist immediately.
If necessary, hides can be salted. This should be done only if the hide cannot be frozen or taken to a taxidermist soon after skinning. Salting slows the activity of the bacteria that can ruin the hide, but with the head intact and flesh still on the hide, it is best to freeze.
Martin W. Brunson
Department of Wildlife and Fisheries