View Full Version : Once I kill it, what do I do with it?

March 18, 2001, 10:21 PM
I want to go deer hunting for the first time.

I am all ready to go but realized....what do I do with it once I kill it?
How do I field dress a deer?
I would like to do all of the meat carving myself if possible, to save money. Mainly all I want is the meat. I may take the head to someone to mount it since it will be my first. Will they do all the work for me, even the meat cutting? How much would it cost to have someone dress it for me (by "dressing it" I mean to gut it and get the meat off)? And then how much to mount the head?

What are my options to do with it in the field? Can I cut it up and just carry the meat out and the head and bury the rest?
Or, if I carry out the whole thing what do I do with it? Take it home? Cut it up in my bath tub?

I feel pretty dumb, I am at such a loss realizing that I am all ready to go take a deer and eat it but I have no idea what to do with it once I kill it.

March 18, 2001, 10:54 PM

Art Eatman
March 18, 2001, 11:20 PM
There's a thread or two, here; try the "Search" for "field dressing" or some such variant.

Generally, you remove the innards at the kill-site and leave them for the coyotes and other critters. You can ask around for places that will then process the carcass for you. (Flat fee, or a "by the pound" deal.) There are options; you can tell them how you want it done (all steaks, or roasts and steaks, or sausage). I don't have a clue whether they'll do the sort of proper skinning of the neck area that a taxidermist prefers.

I suggest checking the Yellow Pages for "Taxidermist". I'm guessing at some $200 or so, for just a head mount. An option would be to cut off the front of the skull where the horns are set, and mounting onto a plaque--I use a regular carpenter's hand saw. WalMart sells them, $10-$15 range. Then you could get a trophy-store to engrave a small brass plate with the date, etc.

It's a beginning,


Hot Core
March 19, 2001, 09:29 AM
Hey CC, I commend you for thinking ahead a bit and it shows confidence that you do intend to get one. Good for you on both counts.

This is the time to start asking the questions rather than when the Game is on the ground. You will find it is best to get the Game gutted and skinned "as quickly as possible" after the shot. (Same with anything that gets killed for our consumption, chickens, cows, fish, etc.) We try our best to get the Deer out of the field, back to the skinning shed and cleaned in less than 45min after the shot. Then it is ready to cut up or take to the Processor.

I prefer good old Freezer Paper to wrap the meat. Of course, you would want this ahead of time.

In thinking about your question, will you be able to hunt with someone, or a Hunt Club, who has killed Deer before?

Do you have a pick-up? Just getting the Deer loaded can be a trick if you are unprepared. Certainly not trying to discourage you at all. But I'd sure recommend hunting with a buddy if at all possible.

Do you have access to plenty of water, lights, gut-buckets and a comfortable height table to put the cleaned meat on? I've cleaned Deer laying on a tailgate, but it is a bit low for me to work comfortably.

If you hunt with a Club, you will probably have access to all the above plus a gambrel and winch to elevate the Deer for cleaning.

A good, sharp "small" knife(2"-4" blade) that is either a SECURE Lock-Back or straight-blade knife is needed. And some kind of a "fine-toothed" saw is nice to cut through the inside of the pelvic bone, neck, ribs, leg bones, etc. De-bone ALL the meat with the one exception being the Ribs. Just saw them in half and then off the Back Bone, roll them up and wrap(so they will fit in a crock pot).

Remove ALL "Deer Fat". If you want to make burger, add 10% Beef Fat by weight, but do not use the Deer Fat. Also, if your Deer has been getting ready for winter and storing up lots of fat, you will find separate "globules" of the fat between the individual groups of ham muscles. Not "marbled" like Beef, but separate, removable globs of it as you cut the individual muscle groups off the bone.

You might want to locate a LARGE ice chest to transport the meat in once it has been cleaned. If you need to carry it a long distance, just ice it down well. Imagine one big enough to hold someone about 150 pounds with the lid closed. You can use two smaller ones, and if you are going to process it yourself, that will work fine.

Check your local library for books dealing with this (as well as "Searching" this Board) and there are some VCR Tapes available on the subject as well.

Keeping the meat clean and cool can be a bit of a trick, but being prepared (as you are doing) will insure that the meat is just excellent.

Good hunting and clean 1-shot kills, Hot Core

March 20, 2001, 09:33 AM
Just a quick thought on freezing deer or any other meat for that matter. We always cut the backstraps and tenderloins off and fry that. Then we usually keep the hams to cook as a roast. The rest of it almost always goes for sausage. The backstraps and tenderloins never even go near the freezer before they are consumed :D and the roasts aren't in there long, before they are stuffed plumb full of seasoning and pot roasted. We have had problems in the past though with the sausage. Some years I may have two to three hundred pounds of it and it takes about a year to use it all. Towards the end it is getting freezer burnt. I have tried every wrap known to mankind with little luck. A couple of years ago I bought a vacuum sealer from WalMart for about a hundred bucks or so. You put your sausage in the bag and put the bag in that machine and it sucks all the air out and seals it( awright guys I am talking about DEER sausage here!!:D). The day I got that gadget is the day we said goodbye to freezer burn. I have had some sausage in the freezer for over 1 1/2 years and it is still as good as the day it went in there. It works wonders on regular beef ground beef too.

March 21, 2001, 02:35 PM
I had a similar question when I started hunting. I was with experienced hunters though and strongly suggest you have someone with you that knows what to do. I did get a video as was suggested. "Deer Processing From Field to Table" (I'm pretty sure that was the title) by Larry Metz. Boring but informative.

Field dress (gut) in the field. You don't have to worry about disposal. Various critters will do that. It isn't a race either. Take your time or watch/help someone else do it. There is actually more pulling than cutting and don't take along a 12" Bowie knife either. A 4" blade is about the max. That's even pretty big.

Do the butchering in a clean well organized area and take your time.

Also, be sure to check your regulations if you will be transporting game. In Michigan if you transport processed big game from your hunting location you must have the head of the animal along with the kill tag.

Paul B.
March 21, 2001, 02:40 PM
There was a thread called "After the kill" a while back on TFL. You might try a search and see if you can find it.
Paul B.

March 21, 2001, 10:50 PM
I'm no expert but I'll add the following:

The butchers around here really appreciate a clean carcass when you bring it for cutting. That means no skin anywhere, no trace of guts whatsoever on the inside. No head, no feet. Tendons on back legs intact for hanging.

My dad tought me how to field dress a deer, and when I brought my first one to the butcher last year, they raved about how clean it was. The butcher had all the employees stop what they were doing and come look at it, he liked it so much. They were just beside themselves.

(ok, so I embelish a little bit - but they did like it.)

No credit to me, just the guy who tought me.

Of course the two or three I've been involved in dressing and skinning have had the benefit of access to lots of cold running water soon after the kill. I think that's the key to a clean carcass.