should be field dressed as soon as possible to aid in removing body heat
and to prevent possible tainting of the meat from intestinal gasses
which can migrate into the meat. Try to put the deer in a place where
you will have plenty of room to work around it. Prop it up on its back
and brace it with a rock or log. Placement on a slight slope will
facilitate in draining blood from the cavities.
opening the abdomen near the breast bone. Cut through the hide along
the centerline of the belly from the front to the tail. Using two
fingers of the free hand to guide the blade, cut through the muscles of
the belly with the sharp edge of the knife cutting outwards. This will
help avoid cutting the intestines or paunch. If an accident occurs,
meat that is contaminated by intestinal contents or feces should be
trimmed away and discarded.
deeply AROUND the anus (called “ringing the bung”) and leave it attached
to the intestines. If possible, split the pelvic bones with a heavy
knife or hand axe.
chest cavity by cutting the ribs loose from the breastbone at their
cartilage attachment near the midline. Split the diaphragm which
separates the chest cavity from the abdomen.
Go as far as
possible in the neck area and sever the esophagus (gullet) and trachea
(windpipe) from their attachments. Now pull the entire contents of the
chest and abdominal cavities out onto the ground in one piece, if
possible, to avoid spilling ingesta, feces, or urine onto edible parts
of the carcass. It is now time to remove the heart and liver if it is
to be saved.
To aid in
getting a quick chill of the carcass, prop open the rib cage and abdomen
with sticks. This will allow more air circulation. Hang the carcass
for about an hour, if possible and time permits, to allow some cooling
time before transport. The carcass
is now ready to drag back to camp or to your vehicle. The deer should
be kept as clean and cool as possible during transport.
tie the carcass to the hood of your car and drive around for hours to
show off your prize to everyone. DO get the carcass to proper
refrigeration as soon as possible.
If you are
going to have a commercial processing plant process the deer for you,
you can take the carcass to them as soon as they can readily accept it.
If you are going to process it yourself, be prepared to hold the carcass
at temperatures below 40 degrees F., either by mechanical refrigeration
or ice, until you are ready to cut it up. If the carcass is held
outdoors until processed, temperatures of 50 to 60 degrees can cause
rapid deterioration and spoilage of the meat.
following if you are going to have a commercial processor process your
deer for you. In selecting a commercial processor, check to see if they
have a receiving cooler adequate to hang your deer. (If it is already
skinned, be sure it can be separated from unskinned carcasses.) Cooled
air circulation cannot get to carcasses that are stored in a pile on the
be a “reconditioning” area where the carcass can be skinned and any
visible contamination trimmed off the carcass. After trimming of all
the visible contamination, the carcass should be thoroughly washed in an
area equipped with clean running water and a floor drain. The washing
should be done in a manner that does not allow splash from the washing
operation to contact any other food products or processing equipment.
This information is taken from the Indiana State Department of Health
pamphlet on deer processing.