Believe it or not, one of the most important aspects of how your deer will taste is how it’s handled after the kill! After your deer is down, nature starts to go to work immediately on the meat. You’ll need to move quickly and field dress you kill to combat any spoiling.
At first, field dressing can be an intimidating process. However, with practice it can be done efficiently and quickly. You’ll need to make sure that you have a sharp knife, sharpener, and plastic gloves available during this process.
You’ll want to make check that the deer is indeed dead, and then tag the deer properly according to the guidelines of Texas Parks and Wildlife.
Here are the steps to field dress a deer:
Start with the end
You’ll need to access the rectal tract, which will require splitting the pelvis in two. This will take a good buck knife to break through the bone. Another option is to cut approximately three inches around the anus. It’s important to avoid any punctures of the bladder during this process.
If you’re field dressing a buck, you’ll need to remove the genitals, and likewise will need to remove the mammary glands on a doe.
Always cut away from your body during this process!
Pierce the hide and abdominal wall
You’ll want to be sure to avoid cutting past the sternum during this step of the field dressing. Any higher, and you may ruin your trophy mount! The taxidermist will need as much to work with as possible on your kill.
Work your knife down to the previous pelvis cut that you made, while not going too deep and rupturing the rumen chamber.
An alternate strategy (shown in the video above) is to continue to cut up towards the sternum after your initial cut on the pelvis.
Remove the guts
Trim through the diaphragm (located by the rumen) to reach the esophagus. You’ll need to sever the esophagus and pull it towards your initial pelvis cut.
In theory, all of the innards should pull out easily. However, you’ll most likely need to cut some connective tissue to help the process.
Hang the deer
Now, it’s time to drain the blood. Find a branch that’s tall enough to hang the deer by the neck and allow at least 10-15 minutes for draining.
Take that time to bag and dispose of the intestines to avoid attracting predators to the kill site. In later posts, we will detail the quartering, skinning, and transportation process!