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Skinning and Cleaning a Deer

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Published on: Sep. 2, 2003

Last revision: Nov. 15, 2010

pelvic opening, the sever the anus and sphincter muscle from the carcass.

If you plan to eat the liver, heart or kidneys, separate them now and place them in separate, sealable plastic bags. You can ensure the best flavor by putting them in a cold ice chest.

Everybody has their own ideas of how to dispose of the viscera. I usually put it in a cardboard box and take it home to bury in the garden. Others bury it in the field, and some just leave it in the field for scavengers. Avoid disposing of viscera or hides where they'll be seen, or in places where others will likely encounter them because even hunters find such sights (and smells) repugnant.

Next, I take two bags of ice from an ice chest and lodge them inside the carcass. Then, I close the carcass around the ice by tying it with rope or twine. This cools the carcass swiftly.

If you're going to process your deer yourself, you'll want to give it a good rinsing. Start by hanging the deer from a tree by the neck. Use a garden hose to rinse out all remaining blood, bone splinters, dirt and any other impurities. A few minutes with a garden hose will leave a deer remarkably clean.

Use a hacksaw to sever the deer's legs at the knees. Then, use your knife to make incisions on the front side of each leg to the abdomen.

Peel the hide away from the legs and use your knife to begin separating the hide from the carcass. Once you get a good opening, use one hand to continue peeling away the hide while your other hand continues to slice through the connective tissue between the hide and the carcass. Once you've removed a sufficient portion of the hide, gravity will help with the rest.

Once you remove the hide, you're ready to process the meat. If you're going to preserve the hide or mount the head, a number of resources, such as your local taxidermist, can advise you how to obtain the best results.

Cleaning gloves

Because cleaning a deer requires contact with blood, bone, internal soft muscle tissue and possibly fecal material, many hunters use gloves for this chore. I use elbow-length gloves colored hunter orange for extra visibility. You can buy them from many major retailers, as well as from major hunting retail catalogs. They will also help protect your hands from the small nicks and cuts that often result from contact with knifes and sharp bone surfaces.

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