You’re On Your Own

How to Skin and Clean a Deer

 The original (and complete) article this excerpt was taken from “Skinning and Cleaning a Deer” was written by Bryan Hendricks and can found at the Missouri Conservationist Online website.


“Cleaning” refers to removing the internal organs from the deer’s body cavity.

· You should do this immediately upon killing a deer.
· Venting the body cavity and removing the organs and blood allows the carcass to cool quickly.
· This slows the decomposition process, which begins the moment a deer’s respiratory and circulatory functions cease.
· A deer’s body is amazingly well insulated and can retain heat for a long time.
· The sooner you clean a deer, the better the meat will taste.
· Removing the viscera significantly reduces the weight of the carcass, making it easier to drag, heft or carry.


Your first step in field dressing, if you’ve killed a buck, is to remove its genitals.

Cut them free to where they emerge from the pelvis.

Cut a circle around the anus and partly free both connecting tubes from the pelvis.


Next, insert your knife point under the hide only and make one long, single incision up the belly continuing the incision all the way to the hollow, fleshy junction of the neck and chest cavity.

Do not plunge the knife through the skin. Otherwise, you’ll likely pierce the intestine and spill its contents into body cavity, which could contaminate the meat!!

Instead, apply only enough pressure, with short, repetitive strokes, to crease the skin, fat and abdominal muscle tissue.

As the tissue separates, use your fingers to enlarge the opening. This exposes most of the organs of the lower abdomen.

Sever the diaphragm to complete the opening.


At this point, use a camp axe and a small sledge hammer (or a quality survival knife and a brick sized stone) to separate the rib cage and pelvis.

Wedge the lower edge of the axe into the sternum, then pound the back of the hatchet with the sledge hammer. (The force of the blows will drive the edge of the hatchet through the ribs easily.)

Pull the ribs apart to enlarge the opening in the chest cavity, but be careful not to cut yourself on the sharp rib edges. You now have easy access to the lungs and heart.

You can use the same axe edge and sledge to break open the pelvis bone.

Be extremely careful not to pierce the intestine or bladder because the contents of either will taint the meat and make an unpleasant mess.

Wedge the hatchet into the opening you’ve created and rock it and twist it from side to side to open the pelvis, making it easy to remove the lower intestine and bladder.


Make an incision in the neck, just behind the jawbone, and open the neck all the way down to the opening in the chest cavity.

Then, sever the windpipe as close to the jawbone as possible.

Lower your hands into the chest cavity and remove the heart and lungs.

Draping them over the outside of the carcass will keep them out of the way and make it easier to work.

Next, sever the connective tissues that hold the stomach, intestines, kidneys, liver, bladder and other organs to the diaphragm, and then pull the entire mass of organs back toward the pelvic opening.

Continue severing connective tissue and rolling back the viscera until you reach the pelvis. Carefully sever the tissue around the anus until it’s free. Then, guide it through pelvic opening until the entire viscera is free of the carcass.

With these organs now out of the carcass, guide the lower intestine through the pelvic opening you created and carefully separate the anal opening and sphincter muscle from the carcass.

You should be able to pull the rest of the intestine from the body without spilling any of the contents.

If you plan to eat the liver, heart or kidneys, separate them now and place them in separate, sealable plastic bags.

You can ensure the best flavor by putting them in a cold ice chest.

Next, take two bags of ice from an ice chest and lodge them inside the carcass. Then, close the carcass around the ice by tying it with rope or twine. This cools the carcass swiftly.


If you’re going to process your deer yourself, you’ll want to give it a good rinsing.

Start by hanging the deer from a tree by the neck.

Use clean water to wash out the carcass of blood, bone splinters, dirt and any other impurities as well as you can.


Use a hacksaw to sever the deer’s legs at the knees.

Then, use your knife to make incisions on the front side of each leg to the abdomen.

Peel the hide away from the legs and use your knife to begin separating the hide from the carcass.

Once you get a good opening, use one hand to continue peeling away the hide while your other hand continues to slice through the connective tissue between the hide and the carcass.

Once you’ve removed a sufficient portion of the hide, gravity will help with the rest.

Once you remove the hide, you’re ready to process the meat.



October 12, 2007 Posted by | "How To" - Survival Skills, Food | , , , , , | 2 Comments