I first want to dispel the myth that field dressing a deer is a dirty job and that it is hard to do. Nothing can be more from the truth. You do not need to be covered in blood and guts. You donít need to have surgical gloves, by the way I tried them one time and they are slippery and cold! Never again! You will get some blood on your hands, but that should be the extent of it. No big deal.

The main reason for field dressing is to allow the meat to cool .By removing the internals you greatly help this process. Secondly it makes the animal 1/3 lighter to handle. Thatís important. If field dressing is delayed cooling is slowed and the animal will begin to bloat. This makes the job difficult, as the stomach will want to jump out as soon as you open the animal up. Thus quickly dressing the animal is important.

Another point I would like to make is about equipment.These big BOWIE type knives and SURVIVAL knives are not field dressing knives.A good knife for this task will have a small blade, and will hold an edge well.You should not have to resharpen it while dressing a deer.A small blade is easy to control and a long blade is just plain cumbersome.When I dresed the deer in these photos I used the ANZA knife that I did the review on. It is small, has good steel that didn't need to be resharpened and was comeforatable to work with.

The saws that I prefer to use are small and will fit in my pack They have 10" or shorter blades with hollow ground teeth and are inexpensive.The Stanley short cut utility saw can be found in most hardware stores for under $10.00.The other saw I use is a folding saw that comes with a sheath. again they are not expensive and will last for years. I always gut my animals where they fall. The only handling at this point is to turn them so they are head uphill if that is a consideration. As for large animals like a moose, they are gutted where they are. They are to hard to turn.

Starting with your animal on its back, you may have a helper to hold it there by the legs or you can tie a leg back to a tree. In a field you can straddle it and hold it on its back with your leg.

As I donít have head mounts done I always cut the throat near the jaw, from here I cut along the windpipe to the breastbone, then cut on top of the breastbone to the paunch area. Here is where you must be careful. Open the paunch up with a very small cut, not going into the stomach. This cut needs to only be long enough to insert the tips of 2 fingers in. Use these fingers to lift up and hold the skin and belly meat away from the internals. Now you can place the ď TIPĒ of your knife between the fingers and slice all the way to the anus. Be careful to slice around a full udder or the male anatomy. This cut can be done in one motion from the breastbone to the anus. Slice the meat straight down between the legs , on top of the pelvis to the bone. Here is where a small saw is handy but a good knife will do if a saw isnít available. Break the pelvis by sawing thru it , be careful not to go deep and snag the intestines etc. If you do donít worry, keep going. After this is done you can push down/apart on both hind legs to open the pelvis. If you are doing this with a knife you will have to place the point on the pelvis and with your other hand punch the point into the bone. Do this all along the pelvis untill you can break it open..

Now go to the breastbone and again get that saw out, cut the bone all the way to the throat, stopping at the wishbone. This cut can be done from the other direction also. If you are doing this with a knife make sure you are in the center where its just cartilage. And be careful not to stab yourself. With your knife loosen the windpipe all the way to the chest cavity. Open the chest by pushing apart on the front legs and reach in and grab the windpipe. Pull stiffly back towards the stomach area. The lungs/heart and liver are all loose now. Take your knife and cut the diaphragm from the top to as far down as you can see it. Now grab the diaphragm as low as possible and pull back towards the anus, everything will come out at this point. Pull all the internals between the back legs. Now you may have to push the legs apart again here to let the end of the intestine slip out thru the cut you made in the pelvis. Anything left in this part of the intestine is the typical hard deer pellets, if you break it , they wonít hurt, but you wonít break it anyway . Cut the intestine off at the anus and youíre almost done. Roll your deer over on its stomach and let any remaining blood drain out, while you look for some grass, water snow etc to wipe your hands off.

Now is a good time to get the heart and liver from the pile. They are both favorites of mine. Look around, wipe off your knife and saw, collect all your belongings and get ready to haul your game home.

I took these pictures while dressing this buck alone. The total time it took me was 10 minutes. This is a fast and clean method of field dressing a deer. It works equally well on moose and other larger animals and there is no waste. The pictures of my hands are before I wiped them off; they are there to demonstrate how little mess this method makes.

I will show you sa sequence of photos here from when I dressed another deer.These show the steps from start to finish.I hope that a picture is realy worth a thousand words.The method is the same as above.
Smile for the camera.
 cut throat at base neck,open skin  from throat to anus with knife
cut down to breast bone and pelvis
saw breast bone

saw breastbone and saw thru pelvis
roll paunch out of the way and cut diaphram
cut other side of diaphram
grab windpipe
pull pipe and lungs to back
grab diaphram and pull towards back,and between legs
slide intestine thru cut in pelvis
pull to outside and cut off anus
retrieve heart/liver
grab front legs
lift deer to drain blood
Skin out one side then the other,keep deer on skin to keep clean.
Disjoint legs at knes with knife.
You are done!!!


Copyright © 2002 PETER WARD