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Course Outline

Follow these steps to field dress larger game.

  1. Wear plastic or latex gloves. If the animal is a male and your state allows it, remove the sex organs with a sharp knife. Otherwise, leave the sex organs attached to the carcass. 
  2. Between the hind legs, make a short cut down to the pelvic bone. (See figure 1.) 
  3. Slit the skin up to the breastbone. Peel back the skin and fur. (See figure 2.)
  4. With the knife blade up, start at the pelvic cut and cut through the muscle layer. As you go, pull the muscle layer up and away from the stomach and intestines to make sure they aren't punctured.  (See figure 3.)
  5. Cut around the anus, and tie it off.  (See figure 4.)
  6. Cut the windpipe and esophagus at the upper neck. Grab the windpipe with both hands, and pull down hard. The entrails will pull free down to the midsection. (See figure 5.)
  7. Slice through the diaphragm on each side of the animal to free the intestines. (See figure 6.)
  8. With both hands, grab the entrails and pull down hard. All of the entrails should come out. 
  9. Cut through the seam in the pelvis where the bones grow together. (See figure 7.)
  10. Finish cleaning out the deer, and prop the carcass open to promote cooling.
  11. To drain any remaining blood out of the body cavity, hang the animal up for about 20 minutes or rest it on a slant.
  12. While the animal is draining, remove the skin.
Step 1 of field dressing a deer: If the deer is a buck, and the state does not require that sex organs remain naturally attached as evidence of sex, remove the sex organs with a sharp knife.
Figure 1
Step 2 of field dressing a deer: Make a shallow slit that runs all the way to the jawbone. With a doe, cut to one side of the udder. Peel back the skin and fur.
Figure 2
Step 3 of field dressing a deer: After making the slit, turn the knife blade upward and, starting at the pelvic cut, cut through the muscle layer along the same line.
Figure 3
Step 4 of field dressing a deer: Cut a hole around the anus, pull it to the inside and tie it off with a string to prevent spillage. Then quickly remove the windpipe, because it can taint the meat.
Figure 4
Step 5 of field dressing a deer: Cut the windpipe and esophagus in two as far up the neck as possible. Put aside the knife, grab the windpipe with both hands and pull down hard. The entrails will pull free down to the midsection.
Figure 5
Step 6 of field dressing a deer: Slice through the diaphragm—a thin layer of tissue that holds the entrails to the ribs—freeing the intestines.
Figure 6
Step 7 of field dressing a deer: Place your knife against the middle of the pelvis to locate the seam where the bones grow together, and press down firmly. For safety, it’s preferable to use a saw.
Figure 7
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