Basic Deer hunting tips and advice for survival

This is a guest post and entry in our non-fiction writing contest  by Paul B

So you decided to try hunting and being the prepper type you went all in for the big package. You have got the shotgun and will be a part of the orange army that heads out the first week of December to try to get a deer.

Well, that is all well and good, but there are some things you need to do if you want to be successful. Deer follow fairly set patterns and until a lot of people start pushing them around they will follow those patterns day in and day out. We are most concerned with the pattern they will show during the early winter months.

At this point most fawns are all brown and are old enough to survive should the mother be taken. Some guys are fond of year old deer as they feel they will give the best meal. I usually try for a 3-4 year old deer. The does will yield about 60 pounds of usable meet. Bucks in this age will dress out at the 160 to 240 range depending on where they are shot.

Since we mentioned the shot, where is the best place to shoot a deer? Usually a double lung shot will kill the deer very quickly and you will not need to track a deer shot in the lungs very far. The best place to shoot a deer is cover by a nine-inch pie plate placed with the bottom of the plate on the breast bone (very bottom of the deer) and behind the front leg. This is the optimum place to hit your deer. There are many places that are fatal, and you will find them if you hunt more than once, but this is considered the best place to hit your deer.

While we are on the shooting part, you need to practice with whatever weapon you are going to use till you can consistently place a shot within a nine-inch circle at whatever range you plan on shooting your deer. 80 yards is a good starting point.

Ok, let’s get back to how we can find a deer. Deer are what are considered corpuscular creatures. They are most active in the low light found in the morning and evenings. They will also be very active if the sky is overcast as that makes a lower light situation. In the evening they will go from a timbered location to open fields.

In the morning they come in from the fields to the timber. They will transit from the timber and to the timber in the same locations. These are most commonly found where two timber lines coming into a V. They are also around places where a creek will come in or out of the timber.

Deer are consummate sneaky creatures. Sometimes you can be looking at a patch of weeds and see nothing till an ear twitches, then the deer will snap into focus. It is like they appear fully formed from the ground.

Anyway you have found a good trail and you have set up by a tree before sunup. As the sun comes up some deer come into range and you shoot one. Now what are you going to do with it. That is the goal of this exercise, getting some meet for the freezer. Depending on what you do in the next little bit will help with this goal.

Go to your kill and prop it up on its back. Since they are very narrow it can be difficult to keep them on their back, but it will be key to success. Usually it is best to start at the anus. Your first cut will be to cut into the deer around the anus. You need to get it free from the surrounding skin so you can pull it back into the deer when needed.

After you have cut the anus you need to back an incision in the soft spot that is where the breast bone stops. I usually make this cut with the blade up and it needs to be about one half-inch long. I usually point the knife towards the head as well. The stomach is in the area and you want to be very careful and not knick it or the bowel.

I use a Gerber Wyoming gut hook to open the abdominal cavity from the incision on the breast bone all the way down to your cut in the anus. Be sure to cut through the muscles as you make this cut. At this point the guts should want to spill out. That is OK and should be expected.

We have a few more things to do before we can clear the cavity. I use a Gerber bone saw for the next steps, but any saw can be made to work. Short ones work best. You want to split the rib cage which we will do with the saw. It will go through skin and muscle as well.

Cut the rib cage from the bottom of the breast bone up to the neck using the saw. Then we will go down to the pelvis area and cut the pubic bone. You will see the intestine going into the leg area from the abdomen. This is the line we want to make the cut on.

Once we have split the pelvis you can pull the intestine from the anus back into the cavity. Be sure you do not squeeze any feces out at this step as that can contaminate the meat. Continue the pull of the intestines and get them outside the animal on one side or another. Now we can go back into the neck area and cut the wind pipe and the diaphragm

The windpipe is a corrugated looking tube that will go from the lungs into the neck. You need to cut it and be sure noting leaks out of this tube. Then toward the bottom of the rib cage you will find the diaphragm. Cut it loose on both sides. You can then grab the lungs and pull up and out to get all of the intestines out of the body cavity. It is a hard pull and you can use a knife, but the pull works best for me.

If we have done everything right, you will have a clean and gutted kill. The rest of the work will be done at a butcher shop or at your home. With this knowledge you can any 4 legged animal you find in North America. Steps are the same, just scale will change. I will address the steps in skinning and butchering in the next article.

This is an entry in our non-fiction writing contest where you could win:

First Prize) Winner will receive a Nomad – 1 Person Standard Survival Package courtesy of Shepherd Survival Supply, a One Month Food Pack courtesy of Augason Farms, a $150 gift certificate for Remington Ammo courtesy of and a EcoZoom’s Versa Stove courtesy of EcoZoom stoves. A total prize value of over $875.

Second Prize) Winner will receive two (2) Rothco Sure Paks With Heater courtesy of Camping Survival, a Wise Food Vegetable bucket courtesy of LPC Survival and a Wonder Junior hand grain mill courtesy of Kitchen Kneads. A total prize value of over $509.

Third Prize) Winner will receive 3 – 27 Variety of Non Hybrid, Heirloom Non GMO Survival Seeds, 2 – Fruit Pack of Non Hybrid, Heirloom Non GMO Survival Seeds and 2- First Aid Kit with Sutures in a Waterproof Resealable Bag courtesy of Be Prepared Now. A total prize value of over $215.

Contest ends on March 30 2012.

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. SurvivorDan says:

    Good basic tips on where to ambush a deer. And I like your description of a proper gutting, especially as this is not a venue where one can use a diagram.
    I encourage beginners to go after rabbits as they are more plentiful and easier to bag, gut and butcher and hence positive reinforcement for the new hunter. Any deer hunter ending a hunt with an unused tag knows how frustrating the wily deer can be.
    Still the quantity of meat on a bunny is pitiful compared to that from big game like a deer or elk. More than worth the effort if your hunt is successful. Good subject.

    • What good is a deer if it rots before you can eat it all?

      • robert in mid michigan says:

        should never happen, if you are hunting big game you have to prepare for it. rite now we can cut up and freeze, can what have you if everything is down then you smoke, dehydrate and can. wasting game is wrong. with proper planning game should not go to waste.

  2. Dean in Michigan says:

    Paul, you’re getting me excited about deer season already.

    I got tired of using a saw to get through the pelvic bone, as it can be a pain sometimes. I started carrying a small hammer in my butt pack. I place a sharp knife(not my skinning blade) on the pelvic bone and lightly tap the back of the blade. It chisels right through the bone, usually a nice clean cut, nice and easy.

  3. Finn Mahone says:

    Deer can be a very good scource of good healty meat. But before you go on out and join the orange army, anyone who wishes to hunt must take a hunter safety course for the type of weapon you choose to hunt with, ie shotgun, rifle or archery and pass before you will be allowed to even buy a licence. Now after a major SHTF incident you do what you need to do.

    Paul the author mentioned that 80 yards is a good distance to start practicing your shooting with a shotgun. I disagree. If your shotgun barrel is made to shoot buck shot then I would suggest going to the range and pattern your gun at diffrent distances starting at 10 yards out to 35 yards to see how much shot you can get into the vital zone of a deer sized target. The choke type at the end of the smooth barrel will make a diffrence in determining how tight your gun patterns.

    If you buy a shotgun with a rifled barrel for shooting slugs, again go to the range with several diffrent manufactures ammo to see which ammo your gun shoots best. I’d adjust my sights or scope to hit 2 inches high at 50 yards. That way at 100 yards you shoud be dead on.

    Shotguns are not long range weapons Depending on your gauge, choke with a smooth bore barrel your effective fange could be 30- 50 yards, although there are some guns that are effective to further distances.

    Your slug gun is usually good to about 125 yards.

    Now say you pass the hunter safety course and you buy your licence and have your shotgun patterned or the sights adjusted correctly if you think you can hit the woods and be sucessful your in for a surprise. You need to scout the areas you plan to hunt (MAKE SURE YOU HAVE WRITTEN PERMISSION FROM THE LAND OWNER IF YOU ARE PLANNING TO HUNT PRIVATE PROPERTY) so you learn the travel routes the deer use as wel as there food scources and bedding areas. Having an experiance deer hunter help you learn some things about deer hunting is a big help.

    So now you have killed your deer now you have to tag and field dress your deer. There are many how to books and videos on the subject. One tip in regard to a knife is that it don’t have to be a BIG knife but whatever you choose it’s best to make sure that it’s as sharp as possible to make the job easier.

    So now your deer is tagged and field dressed. Does your state requier you to bring the deer to a check station? Befoe you hit the woods make sure you know the laws so you don’t get into hot water from a CO.

    After checking in your deer are you going to butcher it yourself of will you be taking it to a pro butcher? If going to a pro make sure you know their business hours.

    • MtWoman (N Central Texas) says:

      Finn…where do you live? What country, or what state in the US, that: “But before you go on out and join the orange army, anyone who wishes to hunt must take a hunter safety course for the type of weapon you choose to hunt with, ie shotgun, rifle or archery and pass before you will be allowed to even buy a licence.”?

      • Tinfoil Hat says:


        I had considered a similar response earlier this afternoon, but passed based on my opinion that, no matter how thorough, how useful or well presented, SOMEBODY is going to feel it is their calling to try and troubleshoot it, criticize it, or make an asinine statement (there are several such examples in Finns’ comment) to make themselves look and/or feel better. To say “good article” and move on, or add a useful addendum if they actually have something worth saying that would enhance the article is out of the question. The Internet is no different than regular conversing in some respects. Som folks just LOVE to hear the sound of their own voice (or, in this case, text). Best to ignore them….

        • Finn Mahone says:

          I was not trying to criticize Pauls article. I am just letting anyone know what the laws are in regard to getting a hunting licence and also what the limitations of shotguns are. I feel it is improtant to know exactly what the game laws are before heading out to the woods to hunt anything to prevent any negative experiances with a Conservation Officer (CO). Thats part of being perpaired right?

          What diffrence does it make of what state I live in? I live in a state where one is only allowed to hunt deer with shotguns, black powder and archery equipment. If I choose to visit another state to hunt I would be required to prove that I have taken a hunter safety cource and passed it before I could buy an out of state licence.

          I have been a member of this blog for a long time now. I have seen others add advice to people’s articles to try to help spread some knowledge and experiance with the other members of the Wolf Pack without being attacked for it. The information I added was meant to be useful. As for the “LOVE to hear the sound of their own voice (or, in this case, text).” Although I have been here for quite a while I have only posted comments 3 times. So much for that theory.

          • MtWoman (N Central Texas) says:

            Oh dear. I think what I asked has been misunderstood!! I truly just wanted to know where you live Finn ’cause I’ve never heard of that requirement. Please do not think otherwise, as that’s all I really wanted to know. Geez…sometimes the ‘net is SO limited!!!

            • charlie (NC) says:

              MtWoman, I understood you and knew why you asked. My guess is Finn lives in the North East.
              Here in NC the only folks that have to take a hunter safety course are folks who have never had a license before and had never had a license at the time the hunter safety course requirement went into effect years ago. I never took our hunter safety course as I’ve been toting a gun since I was about 10 in 1960 or so when all you had to do to hunt was buy a license and beg, borrow or steal a gun. I am pretty sure there is no requirement in our law that you exhibit skill in shooting any particular weapon. The course is just the basics of hunter safety and safe gun handling but no requirement to prove you can shoot the weapon.
              That is only required here for a concealed carry handgun permit and even then you just have to qualify with a handgun and not a particular type of handgun. There is not even a proficiency requirement for shooting a handgun just for a concealed carry permit.

              It’s easy to mis-understand what folks mean when they type messages online because you don’t personally know the writer, or his writing style or ability and you can’t see his face to tell if he is mad, happy or joking.

          • Conservation officers could get thier own section to leave comnets for. I always felt if I am not breaking any laws I should have no trouble.
            One December i went to my stand early as usual predawn but had a full moon to navigate by and needed no flashlight. I saw no deer buthad to climb down from my stand to do my morning constitution. Wearing a harness and layers of clothing under my ornage vest made for a layer by layer undressing and pile of discarded clothing. Off in the distance I noticed an orange hat aproaching and hurridly finished my duty and buried it. It was a CO. I aproached him with licence and deer tags in hand. he informed me I was on private land and asked where is your vest? he was watching me do my duty and knew what I was doing and why I took the orange vest off. I showd him my written permission from the owner he said How do I know you didnt write this up this morning? the faded yellow legal pad sheet of paper was 8 years old and had been folded and unfolded many times . He said ok you have permission but you crossed that wall to get here you dont have permission from that man. He took my gun whistled for his partner to come in, who was watching me from another angle and escorted me to my truck, they had blocked me in front and back. at the woods edge I turned to show them its not posted but there were signs, 2 of them at the woods edge the owner put up 2 days prior. I had hunted this spot for 8 years and never saw them and didnt use a falshlight that day because of the full moon.
            In court the lady judge with a hair across something and a bone to pick with men in general asked the right questions. Did you take off your vest? well…. yes I did it was next to me while I was …. she didnt want further explinations. Did you cross the stone wall to the spot you had permission to hunt? yes I did 300$ in fines and court fee’s and a record. I was allowed to get my shotgun back weeks later .The lady Co returning the rifle asked, is this a legal firearm, we took it all apart and found no serial numbers to check. it was a JC higgins catalougue gun from before they required such numbers and I was in a state that didnt record numbers anyway. I popped the trigger lock on and asked if I could go now. She said you can”t walk down the city streeets with a firearm and they kept my ammo. about 10$ worth of deer slugs. I was instructed to wait out front in my truck, double park and some one would be out when they had time.
            I once gaurded “special weapons ” for my country but now was looked at by the boys and girls in green as a suspect.
            Even if you think your doing it right and legal, if they come to you they want to be compensated for thier time

            • JET,
              I’ve been a hunter for almost 50 years and have taught hunter education for more than 20, and over the last few years I’ve seen a disheartening trend. Wildlife Officers used to be outdoorsmen who liked hunting and fishing with the best of us. In the last few years I’ve encountered, more than a few who are not avid outdoorsmen and seem to be more police officer than game officer. Some infractions, especially those involving poaching or major safety violations should be punished, but where there used to be empathy, I’m seeing more zero tolerance.
              In your case of answering nature call, did you unload the gun as well as peel off your layers of clothing? If so, then I would argue that you were not hunting, which is defined as the pursuit of game. If you left it loaded, then the zero tolerance folks probably were technically correct, but unfortunately that new breed of officer who seems to be devoid of empathy. Good luck next time out.

  4. JP in MT says:

    Paul B:
    Great primer for eastern and midwest hunting. Here in Montana things are a bit farther away, so a rifle is a must. The rest still applies. I like your description of how to range your weapon. Because we are using rifles, I tell people to use 6″ pie plates, and increase your range until you start missing the plate. I also have them use different positions, standing, sitting, kneeling, and prone. And I have them get away from the bench. I can put 308 rounds into a 2″ diamond at 250 yards from the bench with ANY of my rifles, not so much if I’m standing. Then add the hill, with the 25 degree angle, I just walked 300 yards up to get the shot. And these are the things you need to know out here. I’m a little out of shape, so standing shots at over 200 yards are out, I need to be sitting or prone, w/a rest.

    I look forward to part 2.

    • charlie (NC) says:

      Rifles are pretty much standard here in the Southeast too.
      Some clubs or land owners limit hunting to shotguns because of nearby houses, etc. but the majority of folks here in coastal NC hunt with rifles. Children and girls shoot .223’s most eveyone else shoots .270, .243, .308, .30-30, .30-06, 7mm, etc.

  5. I would suggest that when you have the anus cut free to pull it out a bit & tie a string around it to keep spilling any intestinal contents. This is how we do any butchering, deer or steer.

    • Same here. I don’t split the pelvis or ribs either, just cut the diaphram, reach inside the chest cavity and cut the esophagus as high up as I can, then pull the tied off anus/large intestine through the pelvis into the body cavity (being careful not to spill the bladder contents), and roll it on it’s side and everything pretty much falls out. I don’t worry about the heart and lungs until it’s hanging. Ask ten deer hunters and get a dozen different answers on the best way I guess.

  6. cosmolined says:

    Paul B:
    I’m a Wyoming Native and have gutted lots of critters over the past 45 years. I think you left out bleeding them. I always cut their throats to prevent the blood from coagulating in the meat. Then I rotate them so the neck is downhill until they bleed out. If it’s a small critter like a deer or an antelope, I then rotate it back so the head is uphill. That allows the intestines to descend into the abdominal cavity. Now a person can put a knife into what would be the solar-plexus on a human, split the ribcage and loosen the esophagus, lungs, and retrieve the heart and liver. Sliding my fingers on my left hand under the skin on the abdominal cavity, I cut with my right hand slightly in front of my left until I hit the pelvis. I split the pelvis with my knife and if necessary a rock when it’s an elk. Then cut the lower intestine loose so I can pull everything from the head out through the butt. Another thing is if it’s a buck, there are scent glands on the hind legs above the knee on the back of the leg. You can identify these because the hair sticks out. Cut these off too. Most folks have never shot a deer let alone processed one. Thanks for the submission. Cos

    • cosmolined,
      Good point on the scent glands. I carry an extra knife just to remove them, and then dispose of them at least 10-20 feet from where I’m working. Potent stuff in those things.

  7. recoveringidiot says:

    Good basic information and well written.
    I carry a plastic bag with gloves, hand sanitizer, paper towels and some bread ties. The ties are for the poop-chute after its cut loose, the others are self explanatory.
    Where I hunt we have a bunch of permanent stands and usually the deciding factors are whats planted near the stand and the prevailing wind for that day.
    My one personal rule(other than safety rules) is if I can’t be sure the shot will kill the animal quick I don’t take it. I guess if its been a while after the SHTF I might be hungry and relax a bit but until that day I figure I can at least dispatch the animal quick. Plus I’m lazy and hate looking for a deer that could have been dropped within a few feet of where it was hit. I made some crappy shots when I was young but learned my lesson quick and just let them go unless it was a sure thing. I like to ask the young boys how far they think the shot was (successful or not) and then actually step it off. That usually opens their eyes a bit on basic shooting/ballistics and the need to have range stakes/marks or some device to help them if the ranges are past 100-150 yds with a rifle, plus in my experience when the light is falling most folks lose some depth perception because you don’t have the detail of the surrounding trees/foliage/range markers to help gauge the distance.
    Life has kept me from hunting the last few years, I hope to change that before I get old and too feeble to do it at all.

  8. cosmolined says:

    One thing I learned in Arty to estimate distance is split the distance to the object you are trying to estimate by half, again as needed until you hit the range you are SURE of. I am sure at 100 yards. A Marine friend of mine wondered how far a building was from his office, I did the split, split, and came up with 400 yards. When I came back with my laser range finder it was 406 yards, LOL. (He still thinks I’m better than I am.)
    My father taught me if in doubt, anchor the game with a shoulder shot. I have used it more than heart/lung shots and have never lost any big game I’ve shot. HTH. Cos

    • recoveringidiot says:

      Cos, I never tried the split and split again method, all my range time was spent on KD ranges. I did learn what size circle matched the width of the front sight on a M1A, and later the average deer fit between the stadia wires in the scope I was using. A good gross estimate is better than nothing? When I started taking the young folks hunting I found it easier to explain the range stakes to a boy/girl that would likely only shoot a box of bullets their whole life.

  9. Hello Paul B-
    Thank you for a good article on field dressing. I grew up in a rural area, and though my immediate family did not hunt, most of my friends and their families did. I was fortunate to be allowed to ‘tag along’ on many of their family trips, and you will all laugh at this one… I can count the number of animals that I’ve brought to the table on one hand – two rabbits and one unlucky turkey (we weren’t going for turkey that day… just crossed my path on a regular deer run at dusk. About 8 feet in front of me. Couldn’t miss.). I was always in good company who knew how to field dress an animal, so I’ve never done it. In fact, I don’t remember what we did with the turkey at all… but the rabbits both got the field dressing treatment. With the very detailed description you’ve given us, I’m tempted to try if I get the chance this fall…
    This one, along with whatever else you decide to post about the subject will most definitely get printed out and kept in my binder.
    Thank you!

  10. Excellent overview of deer hunting and gutting. Thanks!

    Kentucky Fish and Wildlife has an excellent DVD on how to field dress and then butcher a deer. Most of it is also on youtube. I used it to introduce my daughter to the less glamorous aspect of hunting so that her first time gutting a deer wouldn’t be a surprise.

    Add me to the crowd that carries plastic bags, gloves, and tieoffs. Gives you a place to put heart, liver, or whatever you want to keep from the body cavity, keeps intestinal track gunk from getting on the carcass, and gives you a barrier between your hands and whatever you have to clean out of the carcass.

    • DaddyBear,
      You stated, “I used it to introduce my daughter to the less glamorous aspect of hunting so that her first time gutting a deer wouldn’t be a surprise”. Did it work? I’ve found that the first time with real blood and guts always seems to be a surprise, LOL.

      • She was still a little grossed out but wasn’t surprised. She wanted to see how everything looked in real life, so she got close enough to see how it was done.

  11. Thank You! You have me wondering if I could do this at all. I don’t mean the ‘will’ to do it, I mean the true skills. Got to find a pig farmer out in the county that will take the time to let me ‘stand in’ and learn a few things up close and sloppy. Again, Thanks for the motivation.

  12. I can only speak of experience, having a freezer and not depending on smoking for preservation. I have made jerky by rubbing black pepper and brown sugar on thin fat free strips.
    When gutting i look for the content of the stomach after removing it from the cavity and find out what they are eating. Find the food find the deer. Another gem in the chest cavity is the bladder, dont cut it by acident. BUt remove the whole thing from the cavity and save the content. Scenting your boots or a scrape or rub with deer uring is a good trick.
    My boots for the woods stay in a bag and are never even worn in the truck, a deers nose is close to a dogs ability to sniff us out. My clothed get washed with no detergent and aired outside to dry.
    I stand hunt in high tree stands. getting as far off the gound as I can, safly and always wera a harness with a short tehter. You dont want to go far and be jolted at that sudden stop after falling a long distance.
    Whie in a tree stand near a scouted deer run, Let your ears work for you too. Listen to birds and squirrels, ever been chattered by a squirrel? ever had a blue jay sqauck at you? They can tell you something , hopefully a deer, or someone is aproaching a member of the orange army. I make a small whistling noise if a hunter does not see me and wave my orange hat to get his attention. My state had a tragedy of a dad shooting his son, they had no orange on and were tresspassing. Dad took a “hear shot” i heared somethig and shot at it. The judge figured he had a punishment coming for the rest of his life and no jail time I think. So i want others to know where I ma if they dont see me. Then I leave.
    My first bow shot deer was small, she was tender and tasty. A big 4×4 buck i once took with black powder had a gut full of corn. Someoen fed him or was gathering from fields. the meat had no gamey smell and made my mouth water, smelled like beef, like the finest fresh steak.
    I have scouted in the summer and fall to find rubs and scrapes. I mark them on my GPS as way points or points of interst. On winter day i was stalking three deer slowly thru the snow, they had bedded down i saw them from My stand. as i aproached a familiar tree my GPS alarm went off, spooking them. I laughed at my mistake and made sure the alarm and the phone are off.
    The corn full deer was harvested in the rut. He was 120 feet ,nice braodside shot. He charged the shound of the shot and died below My stand looking up as his last heart beat pumped one last rope of red. I looked into his eyes as they clouded and lost life. It was different than the other deer taken at distances and made a few steps away. This was personal. Its good to actually see what you are doing and so out of repect for the quarry you seek , not waste any of it.
    antlers are nice to hang on a wall, but there are no recipies for antler stew.
    thanx for the entry, I enjoyd it!

  13. Although I do not know all of the laws for deer hunting in all of the states, one thing that is a requirement here in Ohio and most of the states that I am aware of is to tag the deer before you do anything. Deer have an annoying habit of making their last act in life a dive off of a hill or into a briar patch. Although this can sometimes make tagging it a hassle, it should be done before anything else. The mantra we teach all of our classes is “Tag it before you Drag it” to get that point made clearly.

    I typically hunt with a handgun and sight it in @ 50 yards and then take several shots at 25 and 75 yards, making note of the rise and drop of the bullet holes. With a .357 and an 8 inch barrel, the drop is generally negligible.

    There are probably a dozen ways to skin a cat or field dress a deer, and I will list a few differences in how I’ve found works best for me keeping in mind that YMMV.

    I most often start on the chest, just below the sternum and unzip the skin toward the anus, with a small sharp knife. I next split the pelvic bone where the anus tunnels through it with a small cold chisel and a hammer or the back of a hand axe. This seems to work well and gives excellent control of the cut. I next pull the anus into the body cavity and tie it off, generally with a small nylon tie wrap.

    Instead of splitting the sternum, simply reach into the chest cavity with a firm grip on your knife and slide your hand up the esophagus as high as you can reach, at which point you can cut the esophagus. I generally keep a tight hold on it to keep it from leaking, as I pull it, along with lungs, and connecting tissue down and out of the body cavity. From this point I pretty much do as Paul explains, tipping the carcass to one side and pulling everything (with the help of gravity) out onto the ground. At this point, you can dig through the pile to fetch the liver, and then extract the heat from the pericardial sack. I generally place these in individual 1 gallon zip lock bags.

    One safety note is to look at the deer for any healed or partially healed wounds. These could be from being shot by a non-lethal arrow hit, but this could leave a razor sharp broad head (or pieces of one) inside the carcass. Even if it has some healing around it, reaching into the body cavity to field dress the deer could result in a nasty cut, in an environment where you wouldn’t want to get a cut (not that you ever would). If you’re archery hunting, and can’t find your own broad head, take the same precaution when field dressing and make sure the person doing the final butchering and dressing is aware that a broad head may still be somewhere in the carcass. They will appreciate it.

  14. gutting a deer and not keeping the heart is a huge waste of one of the best cuts of meat.

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