View Full Version : Deer Field Dressing Questions

November 15, 2001, 12:37 PM
I'm going on my first deer hunt next Monday and hope to harvest my first deer. I have not field dressed a deer, but would like to if the opportunity arises. Lacking any first-hand experience, I've read a number of threads and articles, but still have a few questions.

1) At what point is the bladder removed?

2) Is that done when removing the instestines and do you have to split the pelvis bone to get at it?

3) What do you use cut through the ribs? Will kitchen or pruning shears work?

4) Skinning. How easily will the skin pull away from the deer once you've made your cuts?

Molon Labe!
November 15, 2001, 03:41 PM
I have never skinned a deer, but, DON'T BREAK INTO THE BLADDER, it will spoil the meat I have heard. The urine will give the meat a ugly taste, sounds yummy don't it:barf:

November 15, 2001, 04:00 PM
1) At what point is the bladder removed?

After you remove the penis/testicles and tie off the anus and have slit the belly up to the sternum.

2) Is that done when removing the instestines

just before.

and do you have to split the pelvis bone to get at it?


3) What do you use cut through the ribs? Will kitchen or pruning shears work?

My knife will split the sternum, but kitchen shears would certainly work.

4) Skinning. How easily will the skin pull away from the deer once you've made your cuts?

Never skinned one. :D

Don Gwinn
November 15, 2001, 04:37 PM
To skin it you'll have to cut and pull continuously. The more fat it's carrying the easier this is, but you'll have a hard pull if you try to cut around the skin and peel it. It can be done, but it's not worth it not to cut as you go.

Your knife should go through the sternum easily, but it's easy to get dragged off center as you go. Everything else will be easier if you keep the blade moving straight up the center of the ribcage.

And DON'T BREAK THAT BLADDER! In my family we also remove the small, fatty-looking glands from the rear legs. They're located below the "knee" where there are two bones with skin stretched between them. Cut into that skin and you should find them. As grandpa says, nobody's ever proven to him that they do any harm, but why chance it with your one or two deer per year?

November 15, 2001, 08:13 PM
I think everything’s been covered well already, but let me add a couple cents worth of advice on skinning.

If you hang the critter by the tendon located just above the “knee” of the hind legs, you can make fast work of skinning. Assuming you’ve already removed the innards, just cut a straight line from the genital arear up towards the knee. Use a nice sharp knife and you’ll save yourself a TON of effort. You’ll have to pull on the hide and work the edge of the knife where the hide meets the meat. With a really sharp knife, the hide and meat will “leap” apart.

Once you get a cut from the genitals up to the knee, make a horizontal cut all the way around the knee and start working downwards. This will keep the hair and dirt and suchlike from touching and contaminating the meat. Make a similar cut all the way around the tail or just saw the tail off.

Work your way down to the forelegs and do the same with them (one cut up to the knee and around and strip the hide off ). Make another cut in the hide from the sternum, up the throat, as high as the jaw. Keep pulling and cutting until the whole deal is hanging “over” the head. Then cut around the neck and you’re done skinning.

Semper fi,
Bruegger out.

Mad Max
November 16, 2001, 12:14 AM
Seems like there are lots of ways to field dress a deer, and everyone has their own way, so here is my method--

1. I gut them in the field so the coyotes get a meal and I dont have to mess with disposing of the guts after I hang up the deer

2.If you have a saw or hatchet, you can split the pelvic bone in the middle and spread the hind legs to break it wide open(it's only cartilage in the very middle, but make sure not to puncture the gut), which will allow you to remove the colon and bladder without spilling "stuff" all over the deer or yourself-- just cut a circle around the a-hole and pull the colon up through the split pelvis (the deer is laying on its back), it should all come out in one piece

3. I hang them upside down with a gambrel or triangle, at the knee joint between the tendon and the bone. I wouldnt recommend touching the tarsal gland-(the brownish hair patch on the back of the knee joint)with your hands or knife- the deer uses this for scent marking and urinates on it to make it smell more, its FULL of bacteria

4. The previous post about skinning is right on

5.Its always nice to have a water hose handy if possible to wash out and cool the carcass (you can wash urine out of the body if you break the bladder, urine is completely sterile right when it comes out)

6. If your interested in making your own European mounts (skull and antlers) I can give you hints on that too, just ask

7. Good luck hunting!

November 16, 2001, 08:54 AM
Check out this web site for info:


Art Eatman
November 16, 2001, 06:15 PM
I usually start by opening the belly skin from around the diaphragm back to the anus. It takes a sharp knife, but I next skin out the anus, and split the meat down to the pelvis. (Thus far, little blood.) On a small buck, I work the knife blade through the pelvis and rip upwards, separating the bone. On larger deer, I usually tap the back of the knife blade with a rock so I can split the pelvis without cutting the urethra.

Once the pelvis is open, the sex organs, urethra and colon can be pulled/trimmed out without any mess.

Then I work the front end. If neck shot, there's no blood when I cut the diaphragm. Otherwise, it's "red-handed" time. Anyhow, with the diaphragm cut away, the sternum opened up and the windpipe cut, it's easy just to roll Bambi over and dump out everything all at once.

Note: If you cut the scent glands off the hind legs, clean the knife blade before going further--else, why bother with the glands, if you're just gonna use that blade to transfer "goop" to the meat?


November 17, 2001, 01:27 AM
Our skinning method sounds goofy as hell, but it's worked great for us for many years now. Hang field dressed deer from overhead beam w/ rope around neck just behind head. Continue your gutting belly cut all the way up to the throat, then cut all the way around the neck. Cut around each leg just above the joint, then slit up the inside of the leg till it meets the belly cut, again on each leg. Then peel down hide from the neck until you have 8-10 inches free. Place a golf ball or small rock in the fur side of the hide, push it up so it makes a bump, then tie a stout cord around the rock w/ a noose or slip knot. Tie the other end of the cord to the winch on your truck or four-wheeler and wind it in. Pulls the hide right off like peeling off a glove inside out. Takes less than a minute and gets the hide of cleaner than I can do with a knife, leaving little scraping if you tan your own.

November 17, 2001, 02:24 AM
I'll add something here about skinning. If you throw away the hide and don't care about putting cuts into the meat, use your knife to remove it.
Personally, I keep hides to make rawhide, or to braintan and smoke. The only hide that's really worth keeping for this is one that has been pulled, not knifed. Actually, I can pull a hide with my hands and VERY little knife work.
> From the ribs, pull the hide with one hand and push the tips of your fingers of your other hand inbetween the hide and ribs. You can use a balled up fist, edge of your hand or the finger tips and the hide will come off just fine for the majority of it. I don't like to have my meat accidently cut up with a knife from skinning. Now I'm sure there are folks who will tell you they don't mind or never miss a stroke with a knife. What little meat winds up on the hide is of little consequence to me. If it's too cold to work with my hands where I shot it, I usually drag it back to camp to hang and work on it where I can warm up by a fire if needed.

Art Eatman
November 17, 2001, 08:31 AM
Boogerawb, back in the days before four-wheelers, a jeep or a tractor worked quite well. :)

I always had a mild regret at not having somebody use a Cadillac for the pull; the photo would have been wondrous!

:D, Art

November 17, 2001, 10:42 PM
Try using a wyoming knife. I got mine from cabelas. It zips right through the hide and has a guard to prevent punctures. It is small and lightweight and cost less than $20.00.