How to field

How to field

Field dressing a deer may seem like a monumental task to the novice, but it is not as difficult as it seems. There are a few key points and equipment needs that must be kept in mind, but if you follow the steps outlined below, you will succeed and will experience the enjoyment of some prime venison for your table.

Equipment is basic and not very expensive. You will need a sharp knife. A fixed blade is preferable, but a good heavy folder will work. A small bone saw to cut the pelvis is helpful, and a gut hook is handy but not necessary. You will need a short piece of string to tie the anal opening closed. Rubber gloves make the job cleaner, and are safer to avoid any contact with the animal‘s blood.

When preparing to field dress the deer, turn it onto its back. Make a circular cut through the skin around the anus and tie a string around the gut or anus to be sure that fecal matter will not get into the body cavity. Use your knife to open the body cavity above and near the pelvis. If you have a gut hook, you can insert it and pull toward the chest cavity until you reach the ribs. Spread the back legs and cut into the tissue in line with the spine. You will cut until your blade reaches the pelvis.

Keeping the legs spread, use a small folding saw or a flexible chain saw and cut through the pelvis bone. This will allow the legs to spread further and open up the canal that houses the intestine that attaches to the anus.

Pull the anus and intestines from this canal and begin to pull the intestines from the body. It may be necessary to cut some connective tissue occasionally to free the intestines and internal organs. Be careful not to cut through any of the intestines, stomach, spleen or other organs. That would allow contamination to enter the cavity and affect the quality of the meat.

If you plan to save any of the organs such as the liver or heart, have some plastic or cloth to lay them on to avoid contamination.

Cut away the diaphragm, this is not usable. It is easy to remove.

If your knife becomes dull, be sure to have a stone to sharpen it occasionally. It will speed up the process.

Reach up into the chest cavity and remove as much of the windpipe and gullet as possible. This will keep the meat free of contamination. You can use the saw to open the chest cavity at the sternum. This will allow you to remove the windpipe and gullet with more ease. The only problem this presents is if you plan to have a full neck mount. This would require caping of the neck area before opening the sternum.

Once the basic field dressing is completed, use paper towels or cloth to swab any blood from the cavity. If you can hang the deer, it will drain. Prop the chest cavity open to speed cooling. Place the entire carcass in a mesh fabric bag to keep insects from getting to the meat. Flies will try to lay eggs on the meat and it is vital to protect it.

If the weather is warm, get the deer to a cooler as soon as possible. If it is not possible, you should consider have a huge cooler with crushed ice available. You can skin and quarter the deer or bone it out and pack it in crushed ice to preserve it.

You must first be sure that this is legal in your hunting area.

This sounds complicated to the novice, but the best advice is to hunt with an experience companion and watch him field dress a deer. It is not nearly as difficult as it sounds.

The difficult part is getting the deer on the ground in the first place.


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