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Once you properly tag the animal, you need to field dress and cool the meat immediately. This involves removing the entrails and internal organs. Opening the body cavity also allows the meat to cool and helps prevent spoilage. The meat must be kept cool, dry, and clean; heat, dirt and moisture can cause meat to spoil or taste bad.

If you have never field dressed an animal before, it might be a little intimidating the first time. The best way to learn is to have an experienced hunter show you how. There will be blood, and sometimes the body content doesn’t smell very good. Remember, this is all a part of hunting.

Be careful when field dressing. It is easy to get cut with a knife or a sharp bone end.

Downed game

Field Dressing Precautions

Heat is a real problem since bacteria grow rapidly in a carcass. Animals need to be cooled off as quickly as possible and kept cool. This can be difficult in warm weather. Don’t cram your birds or small animals together in a hot game pouch or throw them in a pile. Leave them out where the air can circulate and cool them. Don’t leave them in a car trunk when it’s warm outside. Take them home right away, and put them some place cool. Also, don’t leave large animals lying on the snow. Snow tends to insulate, rather than cool, the carcass. The meat cools more quickly if the animal is skinned right away, hung up off the ground out of direct sunlight, and covered with a game bag or cloth. Keep the animal as clean as possible. Dirt can also ruin the meat of game animals.