How To Field Dress A Deer

23 February 2016
 Categories: , Blog


When deer hunting, it is necessary to field dress the deer carcass as soon as possible. Field dressing is removing the internal organs of the deer to rapidly cool the carcass and keep it free from bacteria. The process to field dress a deer is as follows:

Tools and Supplies:

  • Latex Gloves - You will need 2-3 pairs.
  • Sharp Knifes - An 8" or 10" butcher knife and two smaller 6" or 8" knives will work well. 
  • Bone Saw - Use this saw to cut carcass bones at the joints.
  • Strong Ropes - Several short lengths of rope are needed from 6' to 10' in length.
  • Plastic Tarps - Bring 3-4 large 8' x 10' plastic tarps that are 6-10 mil thick.  
  • Plastic Resealable Bags - You will need several sizes of resealable storage bags up to 24" x 36" in size.  
  • Large Plastic Trash Bags - Plastic trash bags that are at least 6 mils thick are best. 
  • Ice - Bring several ice chests and coolers filled with bags of cubed ice. 


  • Lay one of the plastic tarps on the ground.
  • Put on a pair of rubber gloves.
  • Place the deer on its back on top of the tarp. 

Field Dress the Deer:

  • With a sharp knife, cut deeply around the anus and colon to loosen them from the intestines. 
  • Cut the deer hide between the hind legs on the anterior side of the carcass going up from the anus towards the sternum. 
  • If your deer is male, cut around the penis and scrotum but do not remove them from the carcass as many states require evidence of gender for all deer kills. 
  • Cut through the muscle on the lower part of the carcass near the anus to expose the urethra and pelvis.
  • Remove the urethra and discard. 
  • With a knife, cut the muscle on both sides of the pelvic bone to create an open pathway for removing other internal organs. 
  • Move to the deer's throat, and insert your knife into the throat and cut just the hide from the throat, over the rib cage to the sternum.  
  • Always cut up and away from the carcass to avoid cutting hairs on the hide and scattering hairs on deer meat. 
  • Continue to cut the hide away from the carcass, taking care not to cut the abdominal lining or stomach. 
  • When you have cut the hide from the throat to the anus, move to the sternum. 
  • At the base of the sternum, insert the fingers of one hand between the abdominal lining and the stomach.
  • Lift the abdominal lining with one hand and cut through the abdominal lining with a knife in your other hand all the way to the pelvis.
  • Move the bladder and lower intestines to the side of the carcass to expose the pelvic bone. 
  • With a bone saw, saw through both sides of the pelvic bone and remove the central pelvic bone ridge which will separate the pelvic bone into two parts. 
  • Move back to the sternum and lift the rib cage and cut through it towards the throat to separate the chest cavity into two parts. 
  • When separated, reach into the chest cavity and remove the heart by cutting the tendons and heart sac that hold it in place. 
  • Set the heart aside to cool and then place it in a plastic bag.  
  • Cut the windpipe and esophagus away from the throat. 
  • Cut the entire diaphragm away from the chest cavity on both sides of the carcass.
  • Now that you have opened the carcass completely, remove all of the internal organs: the windpipe, esophagus, lungs, liver, kidney, stomach, and intestines. 
  • Separate the liver and kidneys and place them in a plastic bag. 
  • Put the rest of the removed internal organs in a large plastic trash bag to discard. 
  • Wrap the carcass in another plastic tarp, secure it with rope, and transport it from the field to your vehicle.
  • At your vehicle, place bags of ice inside and around the deer carcass.
  • Use another plastic tarp to protect your vehicle and load the deer carcass to transport it. 

The deer carcass can be completely skinned, deboned, and butchered when you are out of the field. With a minimum of tools and supplies, you can field dress a deer, or any other animal with antlers, and transport it for final processing.