How to Clean a Deer

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DrHenley

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As promised, I took pictures last weekend of cleaning a doe. A buck is a little more complicated but most of the process is the same.

We start by making cuts ahead of the Achilles tendons and inserting the hooks of a gambrel, and hoisting the deer with a block an tackle.

Then make cuts around the lower legs, being careful not to nick the Achilles tendons (they will unravel if you nick them, ask me how I know:rolleyes:)
1.JPG


Now we are going to cut the skin down the inside of the legs, folding the flaps of skin back away from the meat to keep from contaminating the meat with hair and dirt.
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When the two cuts meet, fold that flap back towards the tail.
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In the front, separate the mammary glands and surrounding fat from the abdominal wall and pull them down with the skin.
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Pull the skin down in back far enough to skin around the tail and and rectum.
8.JPG

Now cut the tail at the base from beneath. Try to break the tail bone by twisting it, and if it won't break, use a saw, being careful not to cut any farther than the vertebrae.
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Tie off the rectum. I normally use a twist tie, but we were out, so I used some thin cord tied very tightly with a square knot.
10.JPG


Then cut about a couple of inches behind where you tied it off and let the tail and rectum fall down with the skin. Now you just start pulling the skin down, working your way around, using a knife when it gets too hard to pull. The fresher and younger the deer is, the easier it is to skin. A freshly killed young doe hardly even needs any knife work. An old buck that has cooled down will require a lot of knife work.
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Continued in next post...
 
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DrHenley

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When you reach the shoulders, skinning gets a lot more difficult. It helps to split the skin at the back of the neck.
13.JPG
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Skin it down until you reach a little below the elbows.
Now we need to cut the abdominal walls down the flanks to expose the abdominal cavity.
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If the deer is not gut shot, the abdominal cavity should be pretty clean with just a slight unpleasant odor. A gut shot deer on the other hand will be a stinky mess inside, and the next part will be quite gross...
Place a hand between the guts and the abdominal wall, pulling out on the abdominal wall to separate it from the guts. Then split the abdominal wall with the knife blade cutting out away from the guts.
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When you reach the sternum, you will need to split it. When I was a young whipper snapper I could cut through it with a knife, but now that I'm getting old I have to use a saw.
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Once you have split the sternum all the way down, it's time to start pulling out the innards. Ideally the entire inner organ system will come out in one piece, from the rectum to the esophagus.

Start by separating the gut from the back wall of the abdominal cavity.
18.JPG

Now gently start pulling on it, cutting the connective tissue around the outsides until it pulls through. See the cord tying off the rectum? No poop popping out all over the place when it pulls through!
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Now we just start pulling out the guts. Once they get started, gravity will do most of the work. When you get down to the heart and lungs you will have to start pulling a little harder.
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When they are mostly out, reach down inside the chest cavity and cut the esophagus and windpipe and the remaining innards will plop right out. It helps to have a large gut bucket catching everything...
Almost there...continued in the next post...
 

DrHenley

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Now we need to cut the muscles at the back of the neck and then saw through the vertebrae, then cut through the rest of the neck with a knife.
21.JPG

Now cut through the muscles below the elbow and saw through the bone.
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The skin, and head and front legs all drop off together...we're done with skinning and cleaning!
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NOTE: No hose involved because there was no need. It's best if you can keep things clean without having to hose down the deer. Water breeds bacteria. Fecal matter, hair, and organ fluids taint the meat and have to be washed off. If the deer is gut shot you have no choice because fecal matter is swarming with bacteria and you have to wash it all off.

You will want to hang the deer. This accomplished four things:
1 - The surface dries, so bacteria won't grow on the surface
2 - The meat cools from evaporation
3 - Blood drains out
4 - The meat gets tender as it hangs.

If there is ANY CHANCE that flies might get to it, you'll want to put a game bag on the carcass.
24.JPG

If the weather is warm hang it for at least few hours. The evaporation will keep the meat cooler than the air temperature. In cool weather you can hang it overnight, and in cold weather you can hang it for a couple of days.
 
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WILD MAN

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Excellent post, I've cleaned a quite a few deer before but never thought to tie off the rectum like that, I guess we learn something new every day, thanks.
 

Trapper

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I can tell your from the south. Up north we gut the deer in the field and leave the pile lay where the deer is recovered. It cools the body faster. Most people here will hang a deer until after season and they all get butchered at one time. In a warmer climate I understand why you do it that way though. We were deer hunting with some friends a few years ago that were from oklahoma. They had never seen a deer gutted in the field or hung in a tree for a week before they would get butchered. They thought we were all nuts in WI.
 
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DrHenley

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It just depends on how fast we can get it to the skinning rack. If it is going to take some time, then we sometimes field dress it first to let it cool like you say. I carry a block and tackle with me hunting, just in case.

The weather rarely stays cold enough to hang them for more than 2 or 3 days in a row. We've talked about building a walk-in cooler so we can hang them longer.
 
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Technically here in Pennsylvania, no one brings the guts home.
Hanging it in the tree most times in rifle season will get you a rotten deer.
The average temperature the last 10 years has been about 45* on opening day.
Hanging it in a smoke house or garage with the doors closed during the day and a window open at night usually works.

Since no one gives more then a couple of dollars for the cape, we just start at the hocks -(I don't believe that a deer has an Achilles tendon) and we work our way towards the head.
Splitting the cape from the front shoulders to the center of the rib cage.
Split the cape down the middle of the neck and then cut around the head and the head will fall right off without the use of a saw.

My grandpa taught me to skin them to their nose, is a funny sight to see a deer hide with the ears still attached.
 

mustang592

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here in southeastern ohio we gut them in the field no matter how short/far we take them

i have never gutted a deer but i have helped my dad skin them
i love skinning deer
 

Silent Bob

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Thanks, great post, enjoyed it very much. Was a nice refresher and I picked us some things that I never learned.

Regards,
 

Snowflake

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Now we need to cut the muscles at the back of the neck and then saw through the vertebrae, then cut through the rest of the neck with a knife.
View attachment 2096
Now cut through the muscles below the elbow and saw through the bone.
View attachment 2097
The skin, and head and front legs all drop off together...we're done with skinning and cleaning!
View attachment 2098
NOTE: No hose involved because there was no need. It's best if you can keep things clean without having to hose down the deer. Water breeds bacteria. Fecal matter, hair, and organ fluids taint the meat and have to be washed off. If the deer is gut shot you have no choice because fecal matter is swarming with bacteria and you have to wash it all off.

You will want to hang the deer. This accomplished four things:
1 - The surface dries, so bacteria won't grow on the surface
2 - The meat cools from evaporation
3 - Blood drains out
4 - The meat gets tender as it hangs.

If there is ANY CHANCE that flies might get to it, you'll want to put a game bag on the carcass.
View attachment 2099
If the weather is warm hang it for at least few hours. The evaporation will keep the meat cooler than the air temperature. In cool weather you can hang it overnight, and in cold weather you can hang it for a couple of days.
Very clean work nicely done. I didn't know about tying the rectum(I guess that come's from year of experience) and game bag's...It's going on my list. Thx for a fantastic post.
 

Uncle Albert

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Dr. Henley, liked your post. Very educational. I come from Northern Calif. and we hung 'em to get 'em ripe for about 2 days. If you spread 'em wide so that there was no chance of moisture you got the flavor. Best way to cook a low fat mostly dry piece of meat like that, is to soak your cuts first in all your favorite seasonings. I will take a piece of venison and marinate it in olive oil, worcheshire sauce, red wine, garlic and all the seasonings that I like for at least 12 hours. Then cook it slow in the oven at 350 for 45 minutes before I throw it on the barbie for 15 min and splash it with Sweet Baby BBQ Sauce. It will melt in your mouth. There's nothin' that comes close to wild game.
 

DrHenley

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I've tried all sorts of different marinades for venison, olive oil, Italian dressing, Worcherstershire sauce, Dale's, you name it. The best thing I've found is "Hoover Sauce".

It's a long story, but the short version is it was invented by a guy named Hoover Lee who is a Chinese grocer in a small Mississippi Delta town called Louise. (Chinese groceries are a common fixture in small Delta towns).

Longer version here:

http://blogs.clarionledger.com/dech...egg-grilling-bbq-hoover-sauce/?nclick_check=1
 
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Danil54grl

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Dr. Henley, liked your post. Very educational. I come from Northern Calif. and we hung 'em to get 'em ripe for about 2 days. If you spread 'em wide so that there was no chance of moisture you got the flavor. Best way to cook a low fat mostly dry piece of meat like that, is to soak your cuts first in all your favorite seasonings. I will take a piece of venison and marinate it in olive oil, worcheshire sauce, red wine, garlic and all the seasonings that I like for at least 12 hours. Then cook it slow in the oven at 350 for 45 minutes before I throw it on the barbie for 15 min and splash it with Sweet Baby BBQ Sauce. It will melt in your mouth. There's nothin' that comes close to wild game.
I LOVE Sweet Baby Rays! For a store bought BBQ sauce, that has got to be the best I've tasted so far. I will have to try marinating the meat using red wine.
 

Danil54grl

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I've tried all sorts of different marinades for venison, olive oil, Italian dressing, Worcherstershire sauce, Dale's, you name it. The best thing I've found is "Hoover Sauce".

It's a long story, but the short version is it was invented by a guy named Hoover Lee who is a Chinese grocer in a small Mississippi Delta town called Louise. (Chinese groceries are a common fixture in small Delta towns).

Longer version here:

http://blogs.clarionledger.com/dech...egg-grilling-bbq-hoover-sauce/?nclick_check=1
I will also look for Hoover Sauce. I want to say that I have seen it at the stores, but will check next time I go.
 

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