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Field dressing large game diagram

As you proceed, there are several things to keep in mind.

  • A small- or medium-sized knife is appropriate for field dressing most deer or smaller animals.
  • Wear rubber gloves. They prevent the spread of certain diseases from animal to human and protect you from various parasites such as ticks and fleas. Properly dispose of the gloves at home, not in the field.
  • There is no need to slit the animal’s throat to make it bleed—your arrow did that. Also, there is no need to remove the glands found on a white-tailed deer’s rear legs. They will not taint the meat.
  • Any trophy animal that you intend to have mounted must not be slit up the neck. Stop your cut well behind the front legs to avoid ruining the cape.
  • As you work on the animal, avoid cutting or puncturing the internal organs, especially the intestines, stomach, and bladder. They can unleash fluids that require additional cleanup and may taint the meat.
  • When working inside the animal, be aware that your broadhead (or someone else’s) may still be inside the animal.
  • Once the animal is slit open, it’s easier to empty the contents if the carcass is on a slight incline. The body cavity can be tilted downhill to allow the contents to drain.
  • Wash out the body cavity with a solution of water and vinegar (mix 1 tablespoon of white vinegar in 1 gallon of water), and then wipe it dry with paper towels.
  • Prop the body cavity open with a stick to help it cool.
  • If insects are a problem, many hunters place the carcass in a commercially available game bag. Flies and yellow jackets can be repelled with a liberal application of black pepper.


Because the hide acts as an insulator, warm weather will require the hide to be removed from the animal as soon as possible. An effective technique for prepping the hide for removal is called “knuckling.”

Starting in the chest area, insert your fingers between the hide and meat. Work your hand under the hide to break it free from the connective tissue. Continue around the entire carcass going as far as you can reach.

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