how to Field Dress a Deer

Section #9: Field Dressing A Deer

Congratulations, you successfully harvested a whitetail deer! Now the real work begins. This how to field dress a whitetail deer article will walk you through the steps to get your venison out of the field.

Roughly half of what a deer weighs is high-protein, lean meat for you, your family and your friends if you are in a sharing mood. Our goal as hunters is to not let any of this hard-earned food go to waste.  The first step towards filling the freezer is done with the deer being done, now it is time to field dress our harvest. Field dressing is vital because it helps keep the meat from spoiling. For many of us, field dressing is a necessary evil, but it is vital to cool the meat. The field dressing process is detailed below. 

Grunt, Snort-Wheeze, and Rattle this to your buddies!

Field Dressing Deer – Preparation

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Before we begin cutting, a few things need to be mentioned. First and foremost, you need a good, sharp knife. A dull knife is the last thing you want, as it can pose a safety hazard to you. A pair of latex or nitrile gloves, while not necessary, will protect you from any infections or diseases the deer may be carrying in its blood. Even if you don’t see cuts on your hands, micro cuts can be present. Bloodborne illnesses from the deer can find their way into your body, so it is better to be safe than sorry.  

A bone saw is not necessary, but it can be useful. If you want to save the heart and the liver to eat later, consider bringing freezer bags for them. If you think there is a good chance you will have to drag the deer back to your vehicle, it might be helpful to attach a length of rope to the deer, as well as to a stick, and use it as a handle to help ease dragging. It might also be helpful for the blood draining process to position the deer so that its head is going up a slope. Now that we have squared away a few details, let’s begin.

First Cuts

To begin the field dressing process, cut a ring roughly two inches deep around the anus of the deer. Once this is done, try to cut the pelvic area well to detach everything down there. Make sure to watch out for the whitetail’s colon and bladder, as well as either the testicles or the milk sacks. Next, make a sweeping cut up through the chest until you get to the rib cage. Be careful to only cut through the skin and not poke any of the internal organs, as this will make your job harder and more messier. Once the deer is opened, you are ready for the next steps. It is worth mentioning that an optional step is to either split or bone saw the pelvis so blood can drain more easily.


This is one stage of the process where it is nice to have a bone saw, but you can also use a knife. The goal is to split the breastbone in half. This can be done by sawing through it with the bone saw or putting a lot of pressure on it with the knife. Once this is done, you can pull apart the sides of the whitetail and have better access to all the organs. Now that this is done, you can start removing the organs from the carcass. 


            There are many ways to remove the organs, but we will use a common technique. To begin, reach up in the chest area to find the diaphragm and cut whatever muscles or membranes are attaching it to the carcass. Then once this is done, you can reach up to the esophagus and pull on it. Once you have it in your hands, use caution to cut the esophagus above where your hand is holding it. Make sure to cut AWAY from your hand. An alternate way to do this is to cut the throat and make sure the esophagus is cut as well. Now the process gets easy.

 If you like to eat the liver and heart of your game, go right ahead. Make sure to keep them clean and put them in a bag. Everything else can be pulled down out of the body. It is helpful to roll the deer on its side at this point. It is now time to clean the rest of the carcass. Let the blood that has pooled up drain, and be careful not to let any contaminants, such as dirt get inside the deer’s carcass. 

Almost There

Congrats! You’ve field dressed your deer. Now that the field dressing of your deer is complete, you might possibly have more work to do. If you have a vehicle or an ATV close to where you hunt, and if you can drive up to where you killed the deer, the hard work is done. If you don’t have driving access to your deer, the real work begins now. This is where that rope and stick (used for a handle) come into play. It might be easier to grip the stick than drag the deer by its legs. Once you get the deer loaded up, you’ve completed your successful hunt.

How To Field Dress A Deer – Wrap Up

Now that you have finished field dressing your whitetail deer your deer is prepared to be butchered. Now that all this work has been done, you can relax and relive your successful hunt for days to come. If you choose to have a deer prepared for taxidermy, there are additional steps that need to be taken. With all this new information, you’ll be able to go out this fall and successfully take care of the whitetail you harvest confidently and efficiently. 

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