Field Dressing Made Easy

Every successful hunt ends with a carcass that must be converted to groceries. Whether it's a squirrel or a moose, the process is more or less the same, as is the goal: to create clean, healthy meat for the table. The first step in this transformation is removing the innards of the animal--in this case, a deer. You'll need a knife that's sharp, but it doesn't have to be big. A 4-inch sheath knife or locking folder will serve. You'll also need a stretch of strong, small-diameter rope (parachute cord works well). And you'll need some time to enjoy this most satisfying end to your deer hunt.
Once you've confirmed that the animal is dead and you've tagged it, you need to gut it immediately. Drag the carcass to a shady spot and position it so the head is slightly uphill. If you have a partner, have him hold the rear legs open; if you're alone, tie the legs open with rope. Dally two half-hitches around the hocks and tie the other ends to tree trunks, roots or, even better, metal tent stakes.
Remove the genitals if your state doesn't require evidence of sex to be left naturally attached to the carcass, remove the genitals. If it's a buck, cut around the base of the scrotum forward to the penis, and remove.
Cut around the anus and carefully remove the intestine from the anal wall. Tie off the anus with a short hank of cord to keep fecal material from spilling out of the intestine when you pull it forward.
Make a shallow incision in the lower abdomen, taking extreme care not to cut too deeply into the stomach or bladder. Work your knife blade (or gut hook) toward the head, directing the cut with two fingers.
Cut forward to the sternum, or breastbone. You should be able to find the diaphram, a rubbery wall that separates the heart and lungs from the guts. Carefully cut this muscle away from the abdominal wall.
Reach into the chest and carefully cut through the windpipe. Now pull the heart and lungs toward the rear and the stomach and intestine out toward the head. Let the guts roll downhill, away from the carcass.

Every successful hunt ends with a carcass that must be converted to groceries. Here's how.