View Full Version : how to clean your kill

June 18, 1999, 08:34 PM
I am in a similar situation as boing and am thinking about going on a javelina or deer hunt here in Kali. Problem is after I shoot the bugger how do I clean it? Do you hang them by thier hinds and bleed them? Is it best to gut them there? I heard of some kinda stink glands in deer you have to remove.

I have a fair amount of experience with a knife, also with anatomy. But usually I am putting things back together.

Is there a good book on the subject? I prefer to do it myself and not take it to the butcher.

also, what happens when you shoot a moose/elk/bear/big [email protected]$ animal way out in the middle of nowhere. I take it you schlep it back to the car?

Thanks for the enlightenment ahead of time,


June 18, 1999, 11:02 PM

No real need to hang 'em but it can make the job easier and cleaner. Also no need to attempt to "bleed" them since they won't bleed if their heart ain't pumping.

Gut the animal as soon as practical so the carcass can air out and cool. If you are a medical professional you already know what a great job of cutting you can do with a relatively short, sharp, drop point blade. It would be almost impossible to describe the process in type but try to get the job done without nicking the gut. If you puncture the innards while gutting, wash out the carcass as soon as possible and cut away any exposed flesh which contacted the stomach fluids or excrement.

Some people tell you to remove the tarsal glands located near the inside of the hock joint of the rear legs. There is no need since it is not in contact with the meat. In fact, trying to remove it probably increases the chance of meat contamination since the same knife is used for both tasks.

As for big game shot in remote areas - you should always plan for success. A backpack with a good pack frame, plastic trash bags, cheesecloth and rope for hanging the part you can't carry out of reach in a tree. Usually the animal is quartered and packed out in pieces - several trips.

Did that help?


June 19, 1999, 12:42 AM
I agree with Mikey. Gut the animal right away and wash out the cavity with water, snow often is available here in season. If you do have a problem with the guts i've heard of guys using baking soda on the inside. If you are out in the middle of nowhere skin it out as soon as possible, quarter it and pack it out in plastic bags, preferably ones that are not coated with any kind of substance like garbage bags often are. skinning and quartering is easier on a freshly killed animal and when you do it right away less hair gets on the meat. Don't mess with the glands in the legs. If you do it right you will just leave behind a gutpile(some distance away from where you are skinning) and a bunch of bones. Leave everything but the hide and meat. Gutting an animal with its hindquarters downhill makes it easier to wash out the animal. when we don't have to hump it a long ways we usually heep a little hammer to smack a knife blade with for splitting the pelvis. Make sure to remove everything GI tract and lungs.

June 19, 1999, 10:26 AM
This is really helping alot, thanks guys! To hang them do you string them up by the hamstrings or is this where the tarsal gland is(where hamstring meets leg)? OK, got the gutting- GI tract, lungs, & heart; likewise got the skinning.

How do you quarter? I imagine by removing the torso from the pelvis, splitting the pelvis, and cutting torso in 1/2- lengthwise or accross the shoulders? Any use for the head(I will be meat eating not trophy)or neck? Also do you cut/amputate the legs at the knees to save on weight? Where is the best shot on deer and javelina?

Sorry for the 1001 questions.

Just so you know I had heard somewhere that it is best to bleed the animal for taste. I was thinking that when something dies the blood goes into the venous system and that by cutting the jugulars you could drain it(slowly) by hanging by the hindquarters. But, there I go thinking again, you would imagine I'd learn

Again, thanks for being patient with a newbee.


June 19, 1999, 01:58 PM
To quarter something like a deer take a knife and stick the blade along the pelvis and just sort of lift it away from the bone. When you want to take the ham off of a leg just run the knife through the meat along the bone so it opens up and the bone can be slipped out. The hams will some is run the knife around the ball joint of the hip. Try to save the rear haunches if you can. Also get the backstrap, the rows of meat paralleling the spine just like in a human. Don;t bother saving the ribs, deer ribs are not good at all and a big waste of time, but the yotes like them. When you take off the front hams run the knife in what could be described as similar to armpit and just work it around the joint until the ball comes out of the socket, take the ham away and remove the bones. You don't need to take a lot of time or care for this unless you are really anal. The neck of a deer can be saved for making soup if you wish. Usually i just save the four hams, the backstrap, neck and the tenderloins with lie underneath the backstrap inside the body cavity. If you are going to bone the animal in the field you shouldn't need to hang it up, if you do hang it, just tie a rope around the neck.

When you bone the animal(no jokes here) don't cut the spine in half or cut the pelvis away. Just try to separte the muscle away from the bones. When you skin the deer start at the neck and use a somewhat dull knife to just cut the membranes that hold the skin on. If you hang the animal you can start at the neck, make slits down the front of the neck and then almost just peel the hide off.
I usually have a duller knife for skinning and then one that is sharp for the boning. If you do it right all you should be taking with you is the hide, head for identification or whatnot and meat, you can leave all the legbones, spine and ribs behind for the coyotes. Maybe we can whittle down your questions a few at a time

Keith Rogan
June 19, 1999, 05:09 PM
This is going to sound bizarre and contrary to everything you've ever seen, but its the easiest, fastest and most efficient way to get your meat out of the field if you have to carry it on your back - it takes about twenty minutes to totally debone an animal with this method - I learned this from Alaska Natives.
Lie the animal belly down with his legs splayed out as much as possible to hold him in place.
Do NOT cut the belly of the animal! use your knife to cut the skin from the back of the neck to the tail bone - right down the spine.
Make side incisions as needed so you can peel the skin away exposing the back, neck and upper/outer hams.
Its hard to articulate, but starting at the neck, cut alongside the backbone all the way down and then sideways along the ribs to remove the backstraps in two long pieces - is that clear? Sort of like fileting a fish.
The two front shuolders will come off by simply cutting between the ribs and the bone then jointing them where they are attached to the lower leg.
The outer hams will show a white line that runs parallel to the thigh bone - this is where two major muscle groups run next to each other. cut through there down to the bone and then circle the bone until you can pull all the meat out in two or three large "chunks".
Thats about it. You've removed all the major portions without cutting into the central cavity - you now trim all the little pieces out, between the ribs, etc, and then into the body cavity if you want the liver.

This is extremely clean and your meat will be sweet and not drowned in blood or fluids from the body interior.
The only drawback is that you can't keep the hide. This is very fast and after doing two or three animals you can finish up in less than a half hour.

The Bears and Bear Maulings Page: members.xoom.com/keithrogan (http://members.xoom.com/keithrogan)

June 19, 1999, 06:50 PM
Durn it, Keith, you beat me to it! This is a good way to skin for a full body mount, btw. More hair on top to cover incision. I rarely gut an animal anymore, unless it's a deer and darn close to the boat so I can drag it out whole.

Boned out meat weighs about 40% of the animal's live weight. A typical whitetail/blacktail is one pack trip, boned. A caribou/small elk is two, a big moose is eight.
Your bullet through the lungs will bleed the animal as much as it can be bled, olazul. Broadside on meat animals, I shoot for just behind the front shoulder. This takes both lungs. On larger game, or when I'm really serious about getting the most deadly shot, through the center of the shoulder is best. Autopsy a deer or two and envision where the heart/lung area is from the outside, and figure your angle accordingly. The pipes over the heart are a better target than the heart muscle; they bleed better, and you get the lungs in the bargain.

The work starts when you pull the trigger!

June 19, 1999, 06:59 PM
Mikey, Headroom, Keith, Ipecac-

Thank you for the great advice. I think I've got a good mental picture how to do it now. With that said it'll probably look like the texas chainsaw massacre when I'm done Keith, what you describe totally makes sense but it sounds like you miss out on the tenderloins, are they worth gutting for?. Headroom, is there a certain brand of trash bag you reccommend? I take it Javelina are much the same except for saving the ribs.

We'll, now that the hard part is done I guess all that is left is finding and shooting the beastie


[This message has been edited by olazul (edited June 19, 1999).]

June 19, 1999, 08:09 PM

Whichever method you choose for butchering, most hoofed animals are built pretty much the same so what works on deer should work just as well on javelina. I'll have to try the gutless method - sounds great!

As for the "where to shoot them" question, I am a patient hunter. I refrain from taking "Texas heart shots" at the South end of Northbound game. The proper bullet through the lungs of most any animal will do the trick in 10 seconds or less. Broadside, through the ribs just behind the shoulder, is textbook perfect and worth the wait. If you find you just have to shoot at an angle then choose a shot path that will allow the bullet to penetrate both lungs WITHOUT penetrating the diaphram and entering the gut. Slightly quartering (toward or away) shots are fine if done this way. You have to imagine the entire bullet path from entry to exit. Head on or straight away shots are for experts who can place their shots well. I have taken a few this way and usually opt for a neck shot if possible. I took one "root of tail" shot at a slowly departing buck with good results but you have to be able to hit a spot about the size of a tennis ball. I was lucky and shouldn't have taken that shot - never did it again.


June 19, 1999, 10:03 PM
regular garbage bags will work but if you can get your hands on bags made for food or whatever that is better, we usually try to have like 10 gallon bags, clear plastic, i am not sure where they come from.

Art Eatman
June 19, 1999, 11:30 PM
Concur, generally, about target area on deer, unless they're under 150 yards and I have a rest; then it's a break-the-neck shot.

For javelina, anywhere in the head is best. There's not all that much meat, to begin with, and they don't really have a neck. I try for the eye...And a gut-shot javelina is not fun to be anywhere near.

On a javelina, there's a scent gland along the spine a few inches in front of the tail. I have always cut that off, first. (I don't cut the tarsal gland off deer.)

Javelina are tasty little critters. The hams do well as barbecue, with the tiny backstraps cooking quickly as "the cook's appetizers". Like all wild game, the secret is in not letting the meat dry out. Use no salt in the basting mix. Use tongs to turn the meat, not a fork. Turn and baste regularly, building up a crust to keep the moisture in.

Javelina hide is much tougher than a deer's, and is more firmly attached. The sooner the hide is off, the easier the skinning is. So, I prefer Keith's method for pigalina...

I've never stuck a deer; I've never had any taste problems, whether I gutted first and skinned the next day or did all the butchering immediately. The caveat here is the temperature, plus using a stick to hold the rib cavity open to cool the meat. But, again, the sooner skinned, the easier.

If, instead of Keith's method, you choose to field dress the deer by gutting, it's a minor bit tricky at the rear. You'll cut through the meat to the center of the pelvis bone, being careful with the urethra. Skin all the way around the anus. (Sharp knives are best!!!) Then, carefully cut through the center of the pelvis bone, and DON'T nick the urethra. Then, the sex organs and urethra make a handle to pull the main part of the guts out. No mess, little blood.

If you make a heart/lung shot, the big mess occurs when you cut the diaphragm. Whee! It's why I like neck shots. I split the rib cage and open up the throat. It's amazing how much greenery gets blown back up the throat, and you don't want it sitting in there if the deer is unbutchered...

The easy skinning method, back in camp: Hang the deer by the horns. Skin the neck, and just down over the shoulders. Take a rock, fold the hide over it, and tie a rope around this handle you've made. Attach other end to jeep. Drive away, slowly. At any "catch", do a bit of cutting. It's sorta like pulling off a rubber glove...

Have fun!

Well, actually, like my father said, after you shoot, the fun's over and the work starts. The ol' bastard wuz right...

Regards, Art

Keith Rogan
June 20, 1999, 11:32 AM
Yes, I did forget to mention the tenderloins. Just save them to last so you don't open the cavity until you've removed all the other meat.
This is a relatively bloodless way to get your meat from an animal. Its my observation that the "gamey" taste associated with wild meat is largely due to getting the meat drowned in blood and fluids from the cavity. The other thing that taints meat is the hair - its full of strong tasting oils and well..its dirty. When you take the skin off a warm animal it just peels right off.
Let the animal cool and the meat is fastened on with the now cold and congealed fat under the hide. You have to strain and cut and rip and you end up tainting the meat.
Finally - whatever method you use - as soon as you get your meat to a place to process it, do so. Don't let the meat lie overnight inside a plastic bag or box. The still-warm meat will have drained most of its blood into the plastic bag or container its in. Remove it from that and rinse it well. Hang it in a cloth bag that allows it to continue to drain.
Good venison is a function of field care rather than how much garlic you use!

The Bears and Bear Maulings Page: members.xoom.com/keithrogan (http://members.xoom.com/keithrogan)

June 20, 1999, 03:58 PM
Keith is right, get that meat out of those plastic bags asap. It must have air circulating around it as it hangs. I use pieces of parachute cord to hang meat from branches. Using this method, and keeping the flies off (game bags, pepper, screened shed) you can hang meat out of the sun for weeks in temps of low 50s on down. I hang my deer for as long as I have cold weather after the frost. Weeks sometimes. I think it helps with the flavor, just like aging beef.

Hair and blood, as Keith said, are your enemies in regards quality meat. Use a little patience and care, and you will enjoy the finest meat in the world. It tastes even better knowing that YOU got it yourself.

July 10, 1999, 09:12 PM
Depending on what and where you hunt you will also have to retain evidence of the animal's sex. What do you do if you shoot a big animal miles from the trailhead? I used to bone them out and start packing. Now I just hand hundred dollar bills to the wrangler...