7 Steps: How to Field Dress a Deer

7 Steps: How to Field Dress a Deer
Tasty, lean meat without antibiotics, growth hormones, steroids or preservatives is readily available after your next successful whitetail hunt, but you need to make sure you field-dress your deer properly first.

Maximize the taste of your venison by making sure the animal is field-dressed quickly and properly.

It's clean, lean, tender and all-natural. Plus, it's absolutely delicious and doesn't contain any growth hormones, steroids, antibiotics or preservatives as store-bought beef does.

I'm talking about whitetail deer meat or "venison," and every hunter should have their freezers stocked full of it by the end of season.

In order to take full advantage of this natural resource and maximize the taste, however, you first need to make sure the animal is field-dressed quickly and properly.

Here are 7 easy steps you can follow that will make your next field dressing job fast, easy and hassle-free.

Step 1: Make Ethical Shots & Fast Recoveries

To ensure great-tasting venison, you need to recover, tag and field-dress your deer quickly to allow the meat to start cooling as soon as possible. This is especially important during hot-weather conditions, which are common in the Southeast in the early season.

A well-placed shot will ensure a clean kill and speedy recovery, which is important for several reasons.

For starters, bullets and broadheads punching through guts, intestines or the stomach are not very good for the meat.

When shots are not well placed from the start, you're often forced to let the animal sit for several hours or even over night before tracking, which can cause major problems.

Step 2: Be Prepared & Have The Right Tools

Being organized, prepared and having the right tools for the job will save you a great deal of time and aggravation. I made my own field-dressing kit and it includes several pairs of latex gloves, one sharp knife, two large Ziploc freezer bags, a pack of wet-wipes and some heavy-duty paper towels folded in half.

A knife with a gut-hook really does the trick, because it can safely open up the deer's hide like a zipper without puncturing the innards or stomach. I also prefer a partially serrated blade for sawing through the breast bone to get the chest cavity opened for quicker cooling.

Step 3: Position The Deer Properly

Once you have all of your tools laid out and ready, place the deer on its back and spread the hind legs. If at all possible, try to position the deer's head slightly uphill to allow gravity to work for you.

Keeping the deer's head uphill will enable the deer to properly drain, while making it much easier to remove the organs.

Step 4: Make A Precision Cut

If it's a buck, start at the bottom and remove the testicles and reproductive organ. For a doe, you'll need to cut out the udder first. Next, utilize the hole left behind as your next entry point.

When using a knife with a gut-hook, simply insert the tip and steadily pull the handle up toward the deer's chest.

With a standard blade knife, carefully poke the tip into the skin and begin cutting upward until you reach the breastbone.

Keep the tip of your knife pointing up at an angle to avoid puncturing the stomach, guts or intestines.

Step 5: Disconnect The Trachea

Once you reach the breastbone, utilize the serrated section of your knife to saw through the center. Then reach your off hand up into the deer's throat area to find the trachea tube.

After locating it, use your dominant hand to cut and disconnect the trachea. Next, begin pulling the tube down toward the bottom of the deer.

Step 6: Remove All Organs & Entrails

As you're working the trachea tube downward, begin cutting all connecting tissue to the organs and entrails. This will enable you to pull everything out in one piece.

When working from top to bottom, the heart and lungs will come out of the chest cavity first followed by the stomach, intestines and other organs of the lower cavity.

Upon completion, move back to your starting point between the back legs and cut all the way down through the meat until you reach the anus. With the pelvis clearly exposed, you can now safely remove the bladder and lower portion of the large intestine.

Step 7: Flip, Drain & Maintain

Tasty, lean meat without antibiotics, growth hormones, steroids or preservatives is readily available after your next successful whitetail hunt, but you need to make sure you field-dress your deer properly first.

After all organs and entrails have been removed, simply flip the deer back over, spread the legs out and let it drain for a few minutes. During early-season hunts or warm-weather conditions, I like to go ahead and cut out the inner tenderloins and place them in one of my Ziploc freezer bags from my kit.

In addition, I always carry a quality cooler loaded with a couple of bags of ice in my truck, especially on early-season hunts. This allows me to safely store the inner tenderloins, and I can stuff one of the ice bags inside the deer's cavity once I'm back at the truck to help keep the meat cool during transport.

Recommended for You


MLF Pros: What's With the Moon?

G&F Online Staff

We're told to pay attention to the lunar phases. What do bass pros think?

Fishing How-To

Your Guide for the Best Catfish Baits

G&F Staff

If you've been catching catfish with the same method for years, it's time to change it up and...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

13 Fishing Inception SZ

Florida angling pro Jessie Mizell knows that the saltwater found in Sunshine State coastal fisheries can wreak havoc on even the best fishing gear. But with 13 Fishing's new feature laden Inception SZ saltwater baitcasting reel, tackling inshore and light tackle saltwater game fish just got a whole lot easier!

BPT Points Champ Edwin Evers Talks New Berkley Baits

After making the switch to Berkley products heading into the inaugural BPT season, Edwin Evers tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead why Berkley baits played such a key role in his recent angling success.

As KVD tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead, innovative Humminbird products and cutting-edge technology like that found in the new Mega 360 Imaging sonar are major reasons contributing to his unparalleled success.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories


10 Best Long-Range Cartridges Ever Made

David Hart - January 14, 2015

Want to test the outer limits of your shooting skill? There's more to successful long-range


Catfish Night & Day: How to Catch 'Em Both Ways

Terry Madewell - April 04, 2018

Catfish tend to be found in shallower water at night, but they are still active during the...

Other Freshwater

5 Great Lures For Bluegills

Stephen D. Carpenteri - March 10, 2011

Who needs live bait when the big 'gills are so eager to strike these lures?

See More Stories

More Whitetail


Early Shed Hunting Tactics

Dan Cole - February 26, 2019

February signifies the start of shed hunting season for many whitetail hunters. Here are some...


Plan It, Plant It for Your Food-Plot Future

Drew Warden - August 07, 2019

Ideally, you want a variety that provides whitetails with foraging options all year.


Crossbows: The Lane Bailey Buck

Tracy Breen

If you think you may have only one shot, pick up a crossbow like this hunter did.

See More Whitetail

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.