How to butcher deer

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Dennis Clay

The shot was right on the mark. The deer is down. Now what?

Many, if not most, of the deer hunters are experienced enough to know what to do at this point. However, there are enough new and inexperienced hunters to justify going over these instructions.

Make sure the animal is dead. If not, you need to finish it off. The next step is to notch your tag and secure it to the deer. A piece of cotton string can be used to tie it to an antler or an ear of a doe.

The problem comes from dragging the animal out of the field. Many a hunter has arrived at the vehicle to find the tag missing, having been separated during the drag.

The solution for many is electrical tape. They carry a partial roll of this tape and fasten it to the animal with several wraps.

Next, the deer needs to be gutted. This means it needs to be opened up and all of the innards need to be removed. Basically, a knife is used to cut open the belly skin from the butt end to the neck. Care must be taken to avoid cutting the stomach or intestines, as doing so may taint the meat.

My group saves the heart and liver, but many others throw these parts away. If there is a hunter working on a downed deer and this person isnít going to take the heart and liver, she/he is asked if they would give it to me, after a Game Transport Form is completed, of course.

Either a person likes liver or they donít. The liver of a deer is, in my opinion, the mildest liver in the world. Deer liver and onions is a favorite dish or mine.

The heart can be fried or baked, but my preference is to pickle it, simply delicious. Look for the recipe in this column in the near future.

At this point the deer is ready to skin. Usually, the animal is hoisted, strung up, by the back legs to a point where the hunter can use a skinning knife to carefully remove the skin from the animal. This need to be accomplished so the animal will cool. Keeping the skin on may cause the deer to spoil.

The animal carcass needs to be placed in a cool place to allow the body heat to dissipate. This can be a shop, garage or walk-in cooler, but it needs to be out of reach of rodents and pets.

The amount of time between hanging the animal and butchering is debatable.

Tomorrow: Butchering deer continued.

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