Skinning and Cutting Up Your Deer

While it may not be the most pleasant task in the world, skinning your deer is a must after returning from a hunt. Sometimes it is necessary to do it while still on the hunt. If you have taken down the deer, elk, antelope or goat of your dreams in a glorious hunting adventure, you will need to know how to skin the deer and how to get the most out of your kill. If you are just learning about hunting, this information will also be handy for that remarkable day on which you will finally be able to skin a deer.

Basically, the act of skinning a deer is quite simple and any other animal follows the same principle.

How to Skin a Deer
You’re going to be doing the field dressing, or to take the internal organs out while you’re still in the woods or as soon as you get it transported.
Tag it before you move it of course.
Remove the organs.
Hang on to the heart and the liver. The heart? We’ve got an amazing stuffed deer heart recipe for you… that’s another article for another time.

The basics behind skinning a deer is to follow the built-in guidelines of the body of the deer, and work from that standpoint. The skin and muscle tissues of the deer are naturally separate from one another because of the protective membranes, making the process of skinning a lot more like following a built-in blueprint than like trying to lift a rug in the dark.

You should first hang the deer. This makes it easier for you to use your body weight in the skinning process and creates a greater leverage point for skinning the deer. This also ensures that the meat will stay clean. Whether you hang the deer from the neck or from the legs, there is no particular difference.

It is important to try to skin the deer within an hour or two of the deer’s death, making the skinning process a whole lot easier.

Your knife should be very sharp. My dad always told me that  nothing in the world is more dangerous than a dull knife or an unloaded gun.

Supposing the deer is hung by the legs, find the large tendon connecting the lower leg segment to the rest of the deer’s leg.

You should poke a whole with your knife in between the tendon and the bone there, then use your fingers to feel the lump that is created by the deer’s double-jointed bone.#Once you have found that lump, sever the lower leg at the lower end of the two parts of the double joint.
Cut the skin and the tendons here and then snap the deer’s leg over your own leg, using your body’s leverage to break it.#After you have broken the deer’s legs in this fashion, make several incisions around and near the tendon areas.

There should be a hole between the tendon and the bone of the lower leg, as well as several incisions near the front legs.

You will then sever and snap the front legs as well, making the skinning process easier.
After you have made the initial incisions, you will begin the process of undressing the deer of its skin.

Use your finger tips and thumbs to get inside the skin near the lower leg incisions and begin to pull the skin off.
The skin should easily peel from the meat because of these membranes, creating little risk of tearing the skin or tearing the meat.

The most important aspect in skinning a deer is the use of your hands and the pull of your own body weight. With these two integral tools, the aspect of skinning a deer becomes incredibly simple. In fact, skinning a deer can typically be completed in about ten to fifteen minutes without any serious complications.

Essentially, the pulling of the deer’s skin should work a lot like pulling a tight jacket or pair of blue jeans off. It may be a little bit awkward, but the layer of meat revealed below the skin should be a more than ample reward.

After the skin is pulled off, you will notice the meat is ready to go and the separation of the meat thanks to the deer’s membrane has made the whole process a lot simpler than you ever thought possible.

Skinning a deer, while not particularly romantic, is a process that should take around ten to fifteen minutes and relies almost entirely on your own body weight and strength to pull the skin off of the deer’s body. It really is that simple.

You’ll hear that the meat has to “cure”, or hang, before you eat it. Sorry, but I have never subscribed to that theory. Two hours after we have gotten home from a hunt, with the back strap cleaned, we’ve had it cutup and in the frying pan.

Do what you want, but the old theory about getting ill from eating newly cleaned deer meat just isn’t the case. There are a couple of precautionary comments here though. If however you’re in a chronic wasting disease area and you have concerns, do wait until you get your reports back.

I’ve gotten deer in really bad winters where they fed on pine or hemlock. There isn’t much way to mistake this. The deer smells like the pine or the hemlock that they fed on because it exclusively ate these. The old story from my elders is that you can’t eat the meat from deer like that until after the strawberries ripen. The meat reeked of it and it tasted like pine as well. In cases such as this, it may not hurt you, and I’ve heard of people eating it, but I never have. As much as you dislike the idea of wasting a deer,your options are fairly limited when it’s absolutely unpalatable.

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