One more thing:
Field dressing a deer is a lot more taxing and disgusting than most people make out, but when you have one on the ground it will look impossible. It's not. It's actually no big deal, especially if you've butchered animals before. There will be blood and gore, especially if you're as clumsy as me and you make as big a mess as I do. Remember that there are no beauty prizes in field dressing. As long as:
- All internal organs from the windpipe to the anus are out of the deer, and
- The scent pads on the legs are removed, and
- You avoid putting feces or urine on the meat, and
- The body is opened up to cool air so the meat can cool,
You did it right. You might be covered in blood and you might have had to do everything three times and then wipe the stupid thing out with leaves or even dunk it in a creek . . . . but the meat will be preserved as long as you get it out of the field and cooled down, and that's all that matters.
One more thing--if the deer looks like it was ill, or has an infected wound, best to let it go. You'll have to check your state laws about whether you can go on to tag a different deer after shooting one that's unsuitable for health reasons--in Illinois, you shot it, so you tag it, even if you're not going to use the meat.