Ten steps to complete field dressing
To field dress a deer, you’ll need a sharp, sturdy knife. Wear a
pair of shoulder-length plastic field-dressing gloves to keep your
arms and clothes clean. Latex surgeon’s gloves worn over the
loose-fitting plastic gloves will help prevent punctures and give
you better control when working by feel inside the body cavity.
Step 1. Roll the deer on its back with the head uphill so it
will drain from the rear. Push the hind legs forward and carefully
cut around the anus. Pull the rectum out a few inches and tie it
Step 2. Make a two-inch incision just below the breastbone and
insert two fingers of your free hand into the cavity. Turn the
cutting edge of your knife blade up and place it between your two
fingers and use them to guide the knife from the breastbone to the
pelvic bone to open the abdominal cavity without cutting into the
stomach or intestines
Step 3. Cut around the genitals and remove them.
Step 4. Puncture the diaphragm and cut it away from the rib
cage. You may have to roll the deer first onto one side, then the
other, to cut all the way around.
Step 5. Reach up as far as you can into the chest cavity and
sever the esophagus and windpipe, then pull them loose, along with
the heart and lungs.
Step 6. Roll the deer on its side and dump out viscera and
blood. Carefully pull the rectum back through the pelvic opening.
All the viscera should now be in a pile outside the carcass.
Step 7. If the ground is clean or snow covered, roll the deer
onto its belly, lift it by the head and drag it a few feet to aid
in draining the body cavity of blood. Otherwise, lift the front
half of the deer and drain the blood out through the pelvic
Step 8. If any stomach, intestinal or bladder contents spilled
inside the body cavity, wash the area with blood and wipe
thoroughly with paper towels or dry grass.
Step 9. Prop the deer with its head uphill or over a log or
brushpile, or hoist it head-first into a tree, and let the blood
drain out. Prop the body cavity open with a stick to facilitate
Step 10. Unless the heart or liver are shot up, put these organs
in a heavy-duty locking plastic bag and cool them quickly to
preserve their flavor and freshness.
The 60-minute video “Field to Feast – Venison” features a deer
hunt, complete field dressing and butchering segments and several
tasty recipes. To order, send $19.95, plus $3.50 shipping and
handling, to Outdoor Videos, P.O. Box 433, Grafton, WI 53004.
Wisconsin residents add state and county sales tax.