How to Butcher a Deer
Like other jobs, quality equipment and tools are needed to carry out a quality job. Equipment needed for deer butchering at this point includes a sharp knife, a hatchet or saw, a gambrel, and a cooler or place to put the meat cuts.
The first step in butchering deer is to hang the deer up by the back legs. This is usually done with a gambrel which holds the deer up and spreads it’s legs. The gambrel is best suspended by a winch of sorts that will allow the hunter to raise or lower the animal as needed. To attach the deer to the gambrel, some hunters/butchers use a cable noose that simply slides over the rear legs of the game and the weight of the animal will hold the carcass up.
Alternately, hunters may elect to slice open a furrow under the achilles tendon at the heel or rear knee of the deer, or, under the tendon which is lower on the legs behind the dew claws. Then, a hook attached to the gambrel is inserted and the game lifted.
The next step is to remove the skin. This is done by pulling the skin around the heel of the back leg and then cutting it. Next, opening the skin from that first cut to the anus is necessary. I like to use a Gerber Gator II knife because it has a “gut hook” that makes cuts like this easy. The skin is then peeled down toward the head by pulling the edges and cutting tissue between the skin and the carcass as needed.
Once the skin is all the way down the neck, the head and fore legs need to be removed. The key to making this easy is to cut the connective tissue across the leg joint and simply popping it loose with your hands. For the neck, cut into the vertebrae and twist the head until it falls free.
Continued on Butchering Deer