How To Field Dress A Deer ?

What is field dressing? Field dressing is the process of removing an animal’s internal organs and gutting it. The purpose of this step in the butchering process is to clean blood, dirt, hair and other material from the skin so that it can be used without being contaminated by bacteria or insects.

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How to field dress a deer? Well, there are many ways to field dress a deer which depend on where it was killed, how much time you have available to do the task at hand, whether or not there is refrigeration available nearby.

Steps Involved In Field Dressing

There are many ways to field dress a deer which depend on where it was killed, how much time you have available to do the task at hand, whether or not there is refrigeration available nearby.

1: Make Sure The Animal Is Dead

One of the most important things to do when field dressing a deer is to make sure it’s dead. This may seem obvious, but some hunters might want to avoid shooting an animal if they’re injured and unable to move quickly or run away like the game should be able; this usually ends up being more trouble than its worth. 

The best way I know how to test for whether an animal is alive or not is called “the good knee method.” The idea behind this technique involves pressing on one knee while lifting the other leg off the ground (in any direction). If there are no signs of life from the creature at hand, then you can proceed with your goals.

how to field dress a deer

2: Gather Your Tools – Knives, Saws, And Other Cutting Implements

When you want to learn about, how to field dress a dear, you must acknowledge that field dressing a deer without appropriate tools can be an intimidating task. It requires the use of sharp knives for cutting through muscle tissue in order to remove the entrails from the abdominal cavity and expose bones so they can be sawed off at joints.

You will also need other cutting implements such as scissors and saws; gloves for your hands; protective clothing like jeans that you don’t mind getting dirty; garbage bags, buckets, washable rugs, and towels.

Wear work clothes so that you don’t get bothered getting dirty. Gloves are a good idea especially if the deer has been shot and will need to be handled before it is skinned.

3: Cut Around The Anus And Remove Any Faecal Matter From The Carcass

It is not recommended to eat meat that has been contaminated by faecal matter, therefore it should be removed as soon as possible. A deer’s most vulnerable area is its butt. Without proper care in this region, an animal can contract scabies or even fecal matter. It’s important to make sure you cut around the anus and remove any faecal matter from the carcass before proceeding with your butchering process. 

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4: Make An Incision In The Belly Of The Deer With One Long Cut From The Stomach To The Rectum

Make an incision going down lengthwise along the stomach from sternum or breastbone all the way to anus while cutting around pelvic bones (but don’t go too close). Extend cuts all the way up legs until they meet at the groin area, again avoiding cutting into the pelvis.

Remove genitals by pulling them away from the body before making a final cut across the stomach below the navel, which will be made later after organs.

how to field dress a deer


Be careful not to puncture any intestines or other organs on your way and be sure you are cutting all the way through until you reach the skin below.

5: Remove All Internal Organs Except For Heart, Lungs, And Liver

Start by opening the deer up and removing all of its internal organs except for the heart, lungs, and liver. This includes things like intestines (except sometimes the small ones in the ileum), stomachs, kidneys, udders, or teats if there are any on females- all of these have to go. If you do not intend to eat those parts then also remove them at this time; they can be thrown away or buried there.

The windpipe, esophagus, and stomach are pulled out of the deer’s body cavity by grabbing them with one hand and pulling them out.

If you can’t pull the windpipe, esophagus, or stomach out because it’s too close to a bone in the lower ribcage for example, then use your knife to make an incision between those organs so that you can reach them with both hands while also cutting through any connective tissue keeping them attached to one another.

The intestines are pulled out by placing two fingers into each side of its opening at about where it emerges from under the diaphragm muscle along either edge.

Then remove all of its internal organs from inside of the body by cutting them out with either a sharp hunting knife or Ivette (a long blade that curves backward). Throw everything away except heart, lungs, liver; put them in ice chests until butchering time comes around again.

6: Remove Head From The Body By Cutting At The Joint Between Neck And Shoulders 

Cut off the head with a sharp knife, and then cut through the neck joint between it. Cut up to but not into the bone on either side of the spine. Make sure you do this so that any remaining meat is removed from the carcass as well and won’t spoil when exposed to air for long periods.  Make sure your hands are clean before touching or cutting near faecal matter in order to avoid possible contamination.

The head of the deer is enriched with nutrients. You must avail to taste the brain of deer. For this purpose, head cleaning is a separate process.

7: Butchering Of The Body Parts And Start Cutting Them Up


Remove the lower jaw and cut off all of the meat. Use your knife to slice down around where the neck meets with the body, then lift up that whole section until you can feel it pop free from those tough connective tissues connecting it to the rest of the animal’s body.  (avoid cutting into any veins)

Chest Cavity:

Make a vertical incision in between both sides of these muscles, but make sure not to go too deep or you’ll puncture internal organs; this is just for creating an opening wide enough so you can get your hands inside. Then gently peel back the skin on either side as if peeling open a tin can lid and discard everything obstructing your access within the chest cavity.  (leave everything else intact)


Cut through the skin connecting both sides of these muscles, then peel back and discard any obstructions inside the hindquarter area. Make a vertical incision down to where they attach onto the body and cut loose as if you’re cutting around an apple core just before it’s entirely peeled away from its fleshy exterior. (avoid cutting into any major veins)

Front Legs:

With your knife facing up towards you, make a long horizontal slice across all muscle attachments on either side of front leg without getting close to bone or tendon; this will cleanly remove large chunks of meat while still leaving in place smaller pieces that should be thrown over a fire to cook thoroughly.

 After you’ve cut the front leg as directed above, make a small vertical incision along the bone. This will allow for easier removal of any obstructions that may have been left behind while still not cutting through muscle or tendons. 


Slice off skin and meat from tailbone-to-tailbone; discard head/paws here too if desired.

8: Rinse Off All Of These Body Parts In A Container With Cold Water To Remove Any Dirt Or Debris

Rinse off the head

Make sure you remove all hair around the neck, face, and ears. Rinse out any deer brains from inside of the skull cavity with water by holding your hand over one side of it and pouring water into it while tilting the entire head back to allow gravity to help rinse out anything stuck inside. This process will also clear up brain matter mixed with blood that may have exited via nasal passages when shooting or gutting a deer.

Rinse off the nose. 

The inside of a deer’s nostrils is full of mucus and dirt so make sure to get out as much as possible with water while also trying not to touch anything in that area too hard because it will produce a lot more scent than other areas on an animal, especially when you cut into them at butchering time.

This process can take up to 20 minutes if done correctly depending on how large the animal was and what part of its body has been shot. 


Unfortunately, freezing deer meat is not the only solution to kill parasites. You should be careful while field dressing and gutting the animal.

The parasite eggs are in the stomachs of the deer, and if they are not removed, the eggs will hatch during the freezing process. These hatched parasites can still cause illness when you eat deer meat.

Yes, you can wash, but it is recommended to do it right after field dressing and before you start processing the meat.  This will help you get rid of most bacteria because the cavity is still open a little bit.

The heat from your hands when cleaning the cervix can cause spoilage, especially in warm weather.  Bacteria are everywhere before you start ” processing meat” and can be transferred from your hands to the meat if not washed properly.

The problem lies in what happens after hours have gone by. When the deer starts cooling down, and bacteria start doing their thing, that’s when spoilage can become a factor. You’ve got about eight to 12 hours before those microbes get activated.

If you gut a deer immediately after shooting it, there is no need to worry about spoilage. That’s because the carcass won’t cool that quickly, and bacteria growth will be kept in check. It may stain your hands or clothes with blood, but any stains will come off quickly with soap and water. If you’re worried about getting blood on you, wear latex gloves.


With this step-by-step guide, you should be able to successfully field dress a deer.

The most important thing is that you keep the animal as cool as possible and don’t let it get hot out in the open with its guts hanging out, which can attract flies and other insects. You must avoid handling the cavity of an animal after gutting or removing organs because this can contaminate your hands with bacteria that may cause foodborne illness. If there are any questions, please leave them in the comments section below.

 Good luck and happy hunting!

Author Profile

Gabriel Tackett
Double major in Engineering and Geology at the University of Minnesota. Experienced shooter & hunter for over 15 years. Certified NRA officer for over 10 years working as a writer at .

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