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Thread Like Summary
FishinRod, gehajake, RAH, SetterGuy
Total Likes: 7
Original Post (Thread Starter)
by FishinRod
I am a relatively newbie deer hunter, but definitely want to get better at field dressing and cleaning my deer. The state keeps increasing our limits on antlerless, so we have the capacity to take a lot of deer from our property.

In addition to being an inexperienced field dresser, my back and knees are also protesting more while cleaning a deer on the ground.

Are the deer gambrels helpful in field dressing, or are they primarily for people that wish to age the meat prior to butchering?

The doe my brother harvested today had a really high fat content. He commented that she would have been "really easy to skin". We usually pay the deer processor to skin the carcass.

Do you hunters generally skin your deer, pay the processor (since they are definitely more efficient at it than I am), or decide on skinning based on the size, sex, fat content, or some other variable?

Finally, what is the most important thing you changed on your deer cleaning, between your first few deer, and where you are now?

FishinRod (and increasingly DeerHuntinRod)
Liked Replies
by Augie
1.) How do you chop off the head while the deer is hanging? (Sawzall?)
I use the sawzall. Bow saw will work too. Use a knife to cut through the hide and muscle all the way to the bone, then use the saw.

2.) Do you remove the innards with the deer still hanging vertically by the hind legs, or do you use the FEL to change the working angle on the deer?
Yes, I hang the deer from a loft floor joist.

3.) We just leave the innards on the ground for the coyotes, but I hate coyotes. (It sounds like an idiotic practice when I type it out.) Should I make a little burn pit in a safe spot and get rid of the innards without attracting coyotes? Do deer hate wood smoke? (I don't want to drive off deer when I have people going out again to hunt the next day.) Do deer hate smoke with burning innards smell included?
I don't like putting gut piles out where the varmints can get them. We build a good fire in a 38"x16" tractor wheel rim and burn the offal and bones. Never noticed it bothering the local herd.

4.) We usually don't skin, because ground skinning (even with a tarp) gets dirty meat when the wind starts blowing. They charge $10 or $15 to skin a field-dressed deer at our processor. It sounds like the skinning is much easier with a hanging deer?
I would never skin a deer on the ground. Not sanitary, even by my Grizzly Adams standards.

5.) Do you actually butcher the meat cuts yourself? Do you keep the backstraps and loin cuts as steaks, and then take the rest of the boneless meat to the processor to make summer sausage and slim jims?
Yes, when I'm done there's a pile of meat and a pile of bones. I cut the backstraps to a length that will fit in a quart ziplock bag. Two or three pieces will fit
depending on the size of the animal they came from. I generally make those into pastrami. I take however much boneless meat that I want for sausage to the locker plant. The rest of it I grind. I've got a size 22 grinder that I drive with an electric motor. You can see the motor stand in the picture I posted. I've got a stuffing horn that attaches to the outlet of the grinder. Muscle goes in, burger comes out and is stuffed into poly sleeves that I close with a small hog ring.

6.) My wife will cook any fish or game that I bring her. However, it must be presented to her as "meat". She wants no part of any blood or guts! Any advice on handy features for when I finally build my work shed? (For deer AND fish guts.) Floor sluice/drain, removeable mats, etc.?
I use rubber stall mats on the floor of my shop, but if a piece of meat hits the floor it goes into the trash. When hunting season is over I drag the mats outside, clean the floor and mats with the power washer, then put the mats back in. When I butcher fish the guts go into a 5 gallon bucket, then get buried in the garden. Once I finish landscaping my pond dam I'm going to pour a foundation for my pump house. Phase two of that project is going to be building a shed onto the east side of the pump house. That will have one wall on the south side, with a countertop running the length of the wall. I picked up a double-basin stainless steel sink at a yard sale awhile back that I'll set into the counter top. I'll run a hose to the sink supply and pipe the drain water onto the ground outside and downhill from the fish cleaning station.
1 member likes this
by SetterGuy
I’m new to this deer stuff also. We’ve had our place for 8 years, that’s when I tapered off on bird hunting and tried deer hunting.
We’ve evolved to using the fel on the tractor to bring in the deer, and then hang them from the back legs. My back gives me fits, so I raise and lower the bucket to always work at about chest level. We just catch all blood and guts in a big wash tub, and dump them near where the coyotes hang out.
We don’t skin em. Both of the processors near me guarantee you’ll get “your” deer back for steaks and burger. One cuts the burger with beef fat, the other with pork. I get the back straps cut in 6” lengths. The rest is summer sausage, meat sticks, jerky, and sweet pepper bologna. The bologna is amazing and grows in percentage every year. It’s still on the $$$ side, but a lot less than buying it retail. The burger is good enough to get substituted for any burger use.
One of my favorite pics..
[Linked Image from hosting.photobucket.com]
1 member likes this
by FishinRod
Thanks guys, what a treasure trove of good advice!

I put my nephew in the "best" spot this morning. He didn't see a single deer. I dislike being a "bad" uncle! (Our high was 74F today, more than 25 degrees above our expected high for the date. I think the warm weather has messed up their winter pattern.)

I shot a medium doe as we were getting close to quitting time. I then noticed "she" had tarsal glands when I get ready to field dress. My brother rubbed the deer's head, and found two large antler bases. They weren't broken antlers, but they were way bigger than typical buttons. (They were bigger than a quarter, but smaller than a half-dollar.) When I cleaned the deer, his testicles were still inside him.

I thought this was a 1-1/2 or 2-1/2 year old doe based on the size when I shot. The weight of the buck on the ground about matched that size range.

Was this a very large 6 month old button buck, or was he an older buck that had some testosterone or developmental problems? He walked in and moved normally with the two does he was travelling with, and looked healthy in all other respects while cleaning.
1 member likes this
by FishinRod
Originally Posted by SetterGuy
One of my favorite pics..
[Linked Image from hosting.photobucket.com]

SetterGuy, good thing you are new to this deer stuff.

If you get more "experienced" and bag some bigger bucks, then your wife is going to get mad at you for spending money. As Roy Scheider said in Jaws, "You're gonna need a bigger boat tractor!"
1 member likes this
by FishinRod
Originally Posted by esshup
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Pro tip: If you ever find yourself in prison, then I think esshup is who you want as your "shiv guy"!
1 member likes this
by esshup
As a FYI, that deer hoist that linked to at Rural King has the top of the hoist when it's extended to its highest height that is approximately 8 feet above the hitch on the car/truck. It fits with the tailgate down on my Ram 2500. So, a person can put the deer in their vehicle easily. There is a Torrington bearing on the upright that allows you to pivot the top section 360°
1 member likes this
by FishinRod
Originally Posted by Augie
Before I had a loader tractor I used a come-a-long and a 2x10 to ramp big deer into the back of a pickup.

My uncle usually goes out to my property to get a deer after all of his grandnephews have bagged their deer. Consequently, he is frequently out there alone.

He is not a large guy, and he is getting up there in years. He can still field dress by himself, but two years ago I had to drive out (45") just to help him load a medium-sized doe into his truck.

I have some cheap aluminum ATV-rated truck ramps and a come along. I definitely need to take your advice and set that gear out for him by his favorite deer stand!
1 member likes this
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