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Basic field dressing techniques help cool game by removing entrails, which lowers body heat by allowing air into the body cavity. As a rule, it’s best to field dress immediately.

Field dressing a game animal isn’t a complicated process, but it’s a technique that’s best learned by observing someone with experience. The basic procedure involves cutting open the animal from the sternum to the anus, cutting the connective tissue that anchors the internal organs inside the body cavity next, and then removing the organs.

Field dressing a deer

When you are field dressing game, remember these guidelines.

  • When working inside the animal, be aware that a broadhead (yours or someone else’s) may still be inside the animal.
  • When cooling the body, use available shade. Hang deer, if possible. For larger animals like deer, elk, and moose, you should prop the carcass open with a clean stick to allow air to circulate.
  • In warm weather, it’s helpful to place squirrels and doves in a cooler after dressing, as long as they remain dry.
  • Dispose of entrails carefully. Don’t leave them lying by the side of a road or near a residence where they can be dragged home by a dog.
  • Keep meat clean by covering it with cheesecloth. This also protects it from flies, which lay eggs in exposed flesh. Rubbing meat with black pepper also will repel insects. If you have to drag the game to camp, try to keep dirt and debris out of the chest cavity.
  • Because moisture damages meat, don’t use excessive amounts of water to wash the cavity. Allow it to dry.
  • If you plan to process the animal yourself, skin the animal as soon as possible to allow the carcass to cool.