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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
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    Default First deer! And some questions...

    Got my first deer ever last night! Still aching from packing her out... I start to see the attraction of a 4-wheeler (though they bug the heck out of me). She dropped to the shot on a steep slope, where I had an interesting learn-as-you-go self-taught field dressing lesson. THAT's when you need a mentor! Actually went pretty well, considering it was 20 degrees and I was doing it by headlamp. All I left was gutpile, ribs, skin and spine so I felt pretty good getting out of there. Until the multiple trips to the car I felt good, that is . AND, this jerk kept driving up there in his truck during my hunt this week, ruining the area. Granted, it's a forest service road technically. But he was hunting too! Ho looked incredulously at me saddling up predawn one morning and said "hey you mind if I drive up there? Are you seriously going to walk up that? I'm just gonna drive up and see what's at the top in case there's any shooters". All he had to do was pop open a beer to complete the stereotype. It's a steep, noisy, rock-strewn road. I haven't been the least surprised to see new tracks each day from him on that road having come home empty... the first time I timed it right to miss him I scored! Even our deer here don't sit still for a low-gear truck roaring up at them.

    Anyway, some of her pals kept hanging around watching me dress her out. It sure beat a mountain lion putting the sneak on me, but it was a little unsettling. I occasionally would sweep my beam around to make sure it was just deer I was hearing. They came about 30 feet from me and stayed most of the whole time! Is that unusual?

    And when dressing out, I kind of improvised. The slope I was on made it kind of hard esp. for a newbie; I had to run cord to a tree uphill to hold her legs. Anyway, rather than "coring" out the rectum/vulva and tying them off, I ended up just leaving that in place and sort of boning the hams off of the pelvis, leaving the femur in the meat. Basically I followed the pelvis and muscle groups around, deboning, until I got to the ball joint. Separated that and had a hock. I didn't penetrate the bladder or the colon. Was that the hard way? Ill-advised?

    When I spoke to the place I'll be taking it to be processed, she said that there's a charge for "cleaning" the meat if it's not clean. Also for skinning. By clean does she mean hair and dirt, or do I need to trim all the bits of connective tissue and whatnot from the meat?

    Rib meat: after a few tries, I gave up. It was just too much work for too little meat. How do folks bone out rib meat?
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Snowmass, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    2,516

    Default Ah the basics of skinning

    Ben,

    Sounds like you did a good job, but a little harder then it needed to be. Here is how I do it. (just one of many I would suppose)

    First, at the belly pull up the skin and slit it..just the skin, don't penetrate the belly. Then I take the hook on my blade and just hook under the skin and run it up to the middle of the throat or higher straight between the ribs. Next, I work down towards the groin as far as I can go. Once I have the skin cut I gently start to cut into the belly and open it up. Switching again to the hook I open up the belly to the bottom of the ribs. Then I work down to the groin and cut around the udder or the penis of the deer. Cut these slowly and pull it to one side. I then spread the legs as far as I can and slowly cut between them till I hit the bone. Careful about the meat on each side of the inner thighs...good meat don't hack it up. I then take my knife and ring out its arse hole. I take an axe that I always carry (some use a field saw for this but I find an axe quicker) and split the bone between the legs. Once this is done you can spread the hind legs and see what you are doing. Finish cutting out the arse and the piping leading to it. You can then place your deer up hill and the guts and all will just spill out. Stand over the deer with one leg propped against yours to open up the belly and work your knife around the back side cutting out anything holding the guts in. They should spill out into a nice pile and you never get close to the bladder. Next move to the throat to where you ran the knife up. Cut through the wind pipe and then grab it and cut the meat away from it so it kind of moves freely. Cut into the chest cavity and reach all the way up and grab the wind pipe. You will feel it. Give it a hard jerk and pull hard. It and everything in the chest will just come out all together. Like I said before if the deer is on the uphill side gravity works in your favor. That's it...skinned out deer. If you are uphill I suggest you then just grab the legs and drab it down as far as you can. The skin will protect the meat and it keeps you from exposing the meat in the field. If that's not possible then first take out the back straps and package them up. Then start to quarter up the animal leaving the skin on (some take it off but I find you get less debris in it if you just skin it off the quarters later.) Then hike down to your vehicle. Get home hang the meat and if you haven't eaten yet cut a couple of steaks from the back strap and reward yourself.

    Good job on your first deer. May there be many more to feed your family in the future.
    Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid. John Wayne

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,492

    Default

    >Anyway, some of her pals kept hanging around watching me dress her out.

    She's the lead doe and they are waiting for directions.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    parker county, tx
    Posts
    7,923

    Default

    Congrats Ben, that's super!
    To me, skinning is one of those skills easier learned by watching, so I won't try to explain it, and it looks like someone else already did.
    Just fyi, there's a great little tool made for removing the lower end of the gastrointestinal tract. (It's called "Butt-Out"- no kidding.)
    It works great.
    So many weeds.......so little time.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,492

    Default

    >there's a great little tool made for removing the lower end of the gastrointestinal tract.

    I've always used a piece of string to tie it off and a pocket knife to cut things loose with good effect...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Devils Lake, North Dakota
    Posts
    9,183

    Default

    Congrats Ben!!!

    Here's a tool you should add to your arsenal for
    making gutting much easier. It's called the Sagen
    Saw. Invented by a guy here in Devils Lake. It is
    a fabulous invention and allows for easy, fast, splitting
    of the pelvic bone and rib cage. It has a gaurd to lessen
    the chance of bladder puncture.

    I wouldn't be without one now that I have used it.

    It's available in most bigger sporting goods stores nationwide
    now.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/Sagens-Hunters-F...QQcmdZViewItem

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Devils Lake, North Dakota
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    9,183

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by dragonfly View Post
    Congrats Ben, that's super!
    To me, skinning is one of those skills easier learned by watching, so I won't try to explain it, and it looks like someone else already did.
    Just fyi, there's a great little tool made for removing the lower end of the gastrointestinal tract. (It's called "Butt-Out"- no kidding.)
    It works great.
    I seriously saw this in WalMart the other day and laughed
    so hard I cried............ A what the heck moment.

    I use a Sagen Saw and cut the pelvis and totally remove
    the tract. So the Butt Out would be useless for me.

    Please help draw a mental picture of the Butt Out in
    action......... It baffles me still.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Wayne, NJ USA
    Posts
    381

    Default

    Personally I've never found it to be a big deal to cut a circle around the area and tie it off with a piece of string, then pull it back through the pelvic bone. No extra stuff to carry, except a piece of string.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
    Posts
    3,030

    Default

    Do folks skin in the field? I've read that the hide keeps the meat from cooling which is a big piece of having good flavor?

    Or if not, when you quarter do you just quarter through the hide? How do you separate the hindquarters from the spine without cutting backstrap/tenderloins?

    Man I've seen this doodad that's a tripod and gambrel; that would have made last night SO easy. Though more weight to bring in on an already groaning back.... It's just that there seems to be very little hunting here that doesn't involve some involved packing out (never get your truck where the hunt is).
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
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    3,030

    Default

    Oh and how the heck do you sharpen a guthook?!
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
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    Devils Lake, North Dakota
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    Default

    If you quarter in the field then skin first IMO. Every
    cut through the hide sends hairs everywhere!! A lot
    cleaner to skin first.

    I don't use a gut hook myself so no idea on that one.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Farmington, New Mexico
    Posts
    6,282

    Default

    Search "field dressing" and similar terms on YouTube. There are some pretty good instructional videos on field dressing and skinning there. This one shows them dressing a mulie, a lot of them are white tails.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjGtra56t-8

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
    Posts
    5,159

    Default

    It occurs to me that like beekeeping, hunting is also regional as well. I have never hunted in the mountains, but if I did I would pick my spot very carefully for not only the possibility of taking an animal, but getting to it and packing it out.

    A fellow told me a story once about a prize elk he shot at 300 yards. His problem was that it was a twenty mile trek to get to it. Poor planning in my book.

    Here in the flatlands what is common is to field dress (gut) the deer, have someone help load it into the pickup and take it to the barn and hang it. Yank the hide off, wash it with a garden hose and pack it with ice if the weather is too warm and let it hang a couple of days then debone it, wash and package it for the freezer.

    I have some buddies that have a sweet setup in their barn for processing deer. They do not field dress but take it to the barn and use an air compressor to inflate the hide from the carcass like a big balloon. After they inflate it all they have to do is slide the skin off.

    Since my barn is dirt floored and being taken over by my sisters cats, we prefer to do as much as we can quickly and in the field. I use only a hookbill knife and for the first time last year a butt out.

    After I had been hunting deer for a while I decided to go out and buy all the neat toys I thought I needed including a Wyoming hook knife and a saw. That year I found myself taking my deer at last light and all my new toys were a half mile back at the truck. I had a choice to either walk a mile and gut the deer in the dark or get er done with the Spyderco serrated hookbill knife that I normally carried everyday. That was a good lesson as it turned out that it is now the only knife I need for field dressing.

    I will typically make an incision from stem to stern being careful not to puncture any of the innards. Cut around the exit after inserting the butt-out, twist the butt-out and pull out about a foot of the intestine and cut it off. Using my serrated knife on either side of the sternum, cut between the sternum and the ribs as far to the neck as possible.

    Depending upon where you shoot it, it can be a bit messy.

    Spread the ribs and trim the organ bundle from the chest cavity including the diaphragm that is between the organs and the intestines. Reach up into the neck area and cut the windpipe. Roll the body over and let the innards and blood fall out.

    It's at this point that washing the carcass out to remove the blood, hair and debris, (especially urine) is necessary before hanging. If I am going to let it hang for a few days I will leave the hide on mostly for protecting it from the cats. If I am going to work the meat right away I will pull the skin.

    The hide will be easier to pull if the carcass is still warm and from a younger deer. The older and leaner that they are, the harder it is to pull.

    Now my brother on the other hand has changed his ways somewhat. We will throw the animal up on his flatbed truck without gutting it out, pull the hide up from the back end, cut off the hind quarters, pull the back straps, and we're done. He always says afterwords, "Buzzards gotta eat, same as worms". Then we set the carcass out where we can shoot coyotes with night vision for a few nights.
    Bullseye Bill in The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
    www.myspace.com/dukewilliam

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Cameron, MO
    Posts
    595

    Default

    Ben- I've cut up 20 or so deer w/ this latest knife and never needed to sharpen the guthook. So I dont know. If its a Gerber send it in and they will sharpen it for free. Probably most knife companies would. "Spiderco" is over in Golden,CO just north of town if you need their assistance FYI
    Location Location Location was brought up on another hunting thread. Dont shoot if its not reasonbly easy to get out. Whats the fun in dragging? I used mules growing up and now try and wait until its in a place I can drive to or at least 4 wheeler access(I've waited hours for and elk to cross the stupid fence, but it was worth it). Cutting up the deer at home is my work. I dont trust other butchers. Its easy and alot cheaper and it all ends up in the same place eventually(feeding the worms). I dont skin in the field if possible but try to get the hide off as fast as possible. It comes of easy if its still warm. Then the deer can cool down(hang it high since pets think you got it for them!!!!) A neet little trick w/ the hair on the carcass- get out the propane torch and run it over it, the hair burns off fast and easy.Them little gambrels are keen but not much help w/ elk and real big deer. Also carry some chord and even game bags if your going to haul it out.
    We just mounted a 12v hoist into the truck so we dont even have to hoist it into the truck. Just slide it up on a board!!!!Already an electric hoist in the garage.(ck out harbor freight they're cheap!)
    Bullseye- I do the same w/ my carcass. I have a fencepost 200' out and put the ribcage over the post to keep it there. Haven't got a singing doggie yet but?
    ben-Learning to dress an animal is easier to show than write out. You sound like you did ok. Use what you learned next time and after 3-4 you'll do it w/ ease. Its still a heck of alot easier than the indians had to do it w/ rocks!!!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
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    Lyons, CO
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    Good advice all. This location wasn't really that bad... it was a little over a trail mile from the car (yes the wife's Subaru, truck's still in a coma) but it was the up-and-down that killed me. Too much mouse jockying at work and too little real exercise this year! It's the only place I've consistently seen deer that's also a 20 minute drive from my house, which helps a lot when deciding when I have to get up in the morning to be in place for shooting light .

    Can I feed raw heart and liver to my cats and dogs? I seem to recall that game liver can likely have parasites? They're loving the knuckles and whatnot though!

    Yeah I couldn't believe how much hair and dirt I had to clean off... I had these HUGE game bags that I ended up using for clean working surfaces, but forgot the tarp to roll the beast onto for dressing .

    Since I'm a total noob, and it sounds like I took the lead doe, my question is was that a poor choice ethically? I just took the biggest one of the three and didn't really think about herd dynamics. I'm sure there can be varying thoughts on this and I DON'T want to get into punching anyone's hunting practices unless they're my own (or if that sounds like fun maybe we can move to Tailgater ), but I'm teaching myself this hunting thing on my own so please share. I'm aware that "taking one doe is killing two deer" and all, and I'm OK with it. There are plenty of the things here and, at least in past years, the DOW hasn't been able to fill as many doe tags they wanted for herd management probably because everybody wants antlers. I want meat, and I actually got into hunting (after a lifetime of angling) after a DOW presentation to encourage new hunters to get into the field. Apparently there's a growing dearth of hunters and they're seeing a future with fewer hunters to help manage herds.

    So anyway: raw scraps to the critters, OK? And harvesting the lead doe. Did I squid?
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Devils Lake, North Dakota
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    Raw scraps to my dogs haven't been an issue for
    years. Besides they drag in a couple winter kill
    deer every spring as well.

    But the heart!! Man that is good stuff. Nothing like
    a sliced heart sandwich on homemade buttered bread.
    My dogs never, ever, get the heart.

    Taking the lead/big doe is not an issue in my book. I
    always look for the biggest doe I can score. Around
    here larger does are far more a challenge than bucks.
    Bucks are downright stupid compared to a wary doe.
    Especially in the rut... Your karma is intact.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Lakewood Colorado
    Posts
    60

    Thumbs Up rib meat

    First off Way to go man!!!!

    Good deal teaching yourself something new. Good adrenaline rush I imagine. You need to take me out and show me now. Few things are better IMHO than a meal that you are responsible for from start to finish.


    I cut beef and game dear/elk for OK meats in Steamboat for a few years and I can not for the life of me imagine A good way to get rib meat in the field in the dark, it takes time and patience.


    Home made mead and deer do you have candles to light the meal with.

    Congratulations
    Matt

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Devils Lake, North Dakota
    Posts
    9,183

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    If I were routinely cutting up animals in the field and
    packing them out I would consider using a cordless
    reciprocating saw. Worth the pack weight I would
    think.

    Then you could easily split the ribs into delectable
    BBQ rib size portions, as well as splitting the animal
    down the spine. It would save a ton of time and
    effort.

    I use Panasonic tools in work and the 18V Reciprocating
    saw is fantastic when I am rough butchering deer. I use
    a 12" wood blade and it really rips them up nice.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
    Posts
    3,030

    Default

    Hmmm.... I'm thinking about investing in some 18V tools for cutouts. I read about a guy who has a chainsaw oiled only with vegetable oil that he keeps for quartering.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Devils Lake, North Dakota
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Brewcat View Post
    Hmmm.... I'm thinking about investing in some 18V tools for cutouts. I read about a guy who has a chainsaw oiled only with vegetable oil that he keeps for quartering.
    If your going to do a load of butchering an electric chain
    saw is handy for splitting. But the reciprocating saw gets
    used a whole bunch elsewhere for me.

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