How to Cut Up a Deer Properly

Before you can get started cooking your deer, it must be properly cut up. This will help you avoid unpleasant flavor and bacteria growth.

A good cutting technique is called boneing, which separates choice pieces from tough connective tissue, tendons and off-grained meat. Boning also removes excess fat and dirt, minimizing freezer space.

1. Remove the Head

Before you can start butchering a deer, you must first remove its head. This is an important step because it helps protect the animal from CWD infections.

To remove a deer’s head, you will need a sharp knife and saw. Then, you must twist the neck and cut through the connective tissue. This will separate the head from the rest of the body and will leave you with a clean, intact skull.

2. Remove the Shoulders

When butchering a deer, itxe2x80x99s important to remember that youxe2x80x99ll have to do some work in the shoulders. This part of the deer is bony, doesnxe2x80x99t have much meat on it and should be removed after skinning and trimming the front legs.

Using a saw, remove the rear shoulders one at a time. This is a bit more difficult than the front quarters, but with a little twisting and cutting they will come free.

3. Remove the Legs

Removing a deer’s legs is a skill every hunter should know. It’s also a great way to preserve a deer for field dressing.

Starting at one end of each leg, make a shallow cut along the length of each muscle group. Be careful not to cut too deeply or you may puncture the meat.

4. Remove the Elbows

Using a sharp knife, cut around the elbow joint at the base of the skull. This will remove the elbow ligaments, making it easier to skin.

Next, cut downward through the skin from the neck down towards the breast bone and into the stomach and pelvis. Be very careful not to cut through the abdominal tissue or muscles, as this will contaminate the meat.

5. Remove the Chest

The chest contains the heart, lungs, intestines and stomach. You’ll need to remove these to field dress your deer.

Start by cutting the diaphragm, a thin membrane that holds the heart and lungs. Next, cut away from both sides of the rib cage.

With the anus free, diaphragm severed and windpipe removed, the heart, lungs, intestines, stomach and bladder can be accessed easily.

6. Remove the Pelvis

Aside from the intestines, liver and lungs, the pelvis is the most important part of the body for field dressing. Getting all the innards out of a deer slows bacterial growth and helps cool the meat.

With the animal on its back, locate anal and vaginal openings. Using a sharp knife, puncture the skin around these.

7. Remove the Heart

If you’re field dressing your deer and want to keep the heart, you’ll need to remove it from the chest cavity.

Cut through the sternum/rib cage and open the chest cavity. With your field knife, reach up into the chest cavity and pull up the windpipe above the lungs and heart.

8. Remove the Esophagus

The esophagus is a tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. If you leave it in, it can taint your meat.

Cut this out with your free hand using extreme care to avoid puncturing the gut.

With the anus free, reach into the chest cavity and sever the esophagus by cutting away from both sides of the rib cage down to the neck.

9. Remove the Ribs

The rib cage is often overlooked, but it’s a fantastic place to get tasty venison. Remove the racks and you’re ready to start making stew or a roasted meat dish.

The ribs will have a thick membrane on them that protects the organs. It’s easy to remove, just slip a paring knife under it and then peel it off with your hands.

10. Remove the Thighs

The thigh is an important muscle group in the human body. It’s made up of bundles of muscle fibers that contain blood vessels and nerves.

The thigh is divided into three compartments, each containing muscles separated by tough connective tissue membranes. These compartments include anterior, posterior and medial thigh muscles.

Ken Onion

Ken Onion is an innovative knifemaker whose work has revolutionized the industry. Born in 1963, he hails from Kaneohe, Hawaii, and invented the SpeedSafe assisted opening mechanism for Kershaw Knives - earning him a position as Premier Knife Designer with them.

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