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Hello my name is Martin and I will be telling you how to gut a deer.


A step-by-step guide to gutting a deer

Many hunters say that there is no meal like the one you kill with your very own hands. Feeding themselves and their families with quality venison burgers, steaks, and chops is something thousands of Western New York hunters set out to do every year. But, the work doesn’t end with a dead buck.

So you’ve just killed a deer and you’re asking, “What’s next?” The answer: You have to gut the deer. Field dressing, or gutting, is an essential part of creating quality table fare from your deer. It is very important to handle the deer immediately after making the kill. So, put down that shotgun, hang up that bow and arrow, or put your car in park, and let’s gut your deer together.

First and foremost, you must approach your downed buck with caution. Many deer will not be dead just yet, and a kick or bite can really hurt. Many cautious hunters will first bleed their deer out by sticking them just above the breastbone. Bleeding the deer out may also make the field dressing a little easier.

After making sure your deer is dead, the first thing you must do is attach your general hunting license deer harvest tag to the deer’s carcass. Do this quickly because a fine for an untagged deer can run up to about $500. If you hit a deer with your car, a police officer can provide you with the tag.

Once the deer is tagged, you are ready to begin the actual field dressing. Start by taking your jacket off—the work tends to get sweaty. Next, you’ll probably want to put on a pair of rubber gloves. If you’re allergic to latex, vinyl gloves also work. Either way, gloves are essential if you don’t want deer feces under your fingernails. Now it’s time to grab your field dressing kit. The kit should include a very sharp knife, a rope or nylon cord for dragging, a black garbage bag for the heart and liver, some towels to clean your hands, and a gallon of water for clean up (an empty milk jug works best).

Also, if this is your first time, you should have a designated place picked out to throw up. The area should be accessible just by turning your head, and should be free of items you don’t want to vomit on (like your coat, the deer, your dad, etc.). It is not uncommon to throw up while popping your deer gutting cherry. When you open a deer for the first time, the smell is something most people have rarely encountered before. A mix between watery diarrhea and dead fish describes it.

Start by rolling your deer over onto its back so that the butt-end is lower than shoulders. Next, without any dirty thoughts, spread the deer’s hind legs open as far as dexterously possible. Make a cut along the center line of the deer’s abdomen. The cut should go from the breastbone to the base of the tail. Your first cut should only be deep enough to go through the deer’s hide. When cutting, be careful. Even though you’ve just killed, your mind frame should be surgeon, not slasher film.

The second cut should follow the same wound, but be deep enough to slice though the deer’s stomach muscles. Be extremely careful not to cut through the stomach, intestines, or bowels. Very few people actually enjoy 20 pounds of bile, excrement, and filth splattering the open deer wound and themselves. The smell itself is enough to gag even the most seasoned butcher. If you thought opening the deer smelled bad, opening the deer’s colon would be almost unholy. Make this cut by holding the aforementioned organs away from the knife with one hand, and cutting with the other hand. The cut should pass through the sternum and go all the way up to the deer’s chin.

While cutting your way to the deer’s tail, you must be very careful around the deer’s back door. You might want to use a smaller knife to carefully cut around the deer’s anus. After cutting around the deer’s balloon knot, you want to be able to draw it into the body cavity, so it comes free with the rest of the deer’s bowels. While doing this, avoid cutting or puncturing the bladder.

When the cut is complete, the first thing you should do is handle any damaged areas of the deer. Damaged organs need to be removed immediately, and all blood and other juices must be also be cleaned out. These damaged parts will go bad very quickly, and must be removed to ensure the quality of your meat.

Next, extricate and roll out the deer’s stomach and intestines. You should save the liver in your black garbage bag. Then, cut around the edge of the deer’s diaphragm, and split the breastbone. After that, cut the windpipe and gullet ahead of the lungs. Now you should be able to pull the heart and lungs free from the chest cavity. Save the heart in your black garbage with the liver, and tie the bag tightly and securely.

You should also cut as much of the deer’s windpipe out as possible. The windpipe will sour quickly and ruin the meat if not removed. At the end, split the deer’s pelvic bone to help the cooling process.

Congratulations! You just gutted a deer! The cleanup of your deer is simple. First, drain the excess blood from the deer’s body cavity by hanging the deer head-side down for a couple of minutes. Prop the body cavity open with something to help the deer dry out and cool. Next, clean out the inside of the deer. Use a towel or rag to get the body cavity as clean as possible. A little water helps to clean the hard spots, but use the water sparingly because it all has to be wiped out in the end.

Your deer now needs to be skinned, cooled, aged, and butchered. Hey, nobody said this was going to be easy. But, don’t worry; the hard part is over and you are now well on your way to some great venison burgers. This hunter likes his with cheese on a sesame seed roll.




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