Field Dressing and quartering made easy.


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H&Hhunter
August 9, 2007, 07:58 PM
Three things a hunter needs to take into account before they start working on a downed animal are;

How far and what kind of terrain do I have to deal with?

What is my mode of transport out of here?

Will I be leaving this kill in place for a day or two and what kind of predator/scavengers live here?

Question one.

If I have just shot a deer from a blind where I can drive up and pick it up don't do a darn thing with it in the field. Wait until you get it back to camp and hang it up by the rear feet and clean it this way. Make a circular cut round the ****(ok that word is bad?? Starts with an a ends with an s and has nu in the middle. You have got to be kidding me, how about the butt hole then) freeing it from the body. Then make a skin deep incision from the middle of the hind quarters to just about the start of the neck cutting up the middle of the belly and the brisket.

BEFORE you open the gut take a saw and split the brisket. Open the gut cavity releasing the connective tissue where needed and pull the ribs apart the whole mess will fall right out the front of the animal requiring only that you cut the diaphragm and the esophagus/windpipe when needed. this is the fastest cleanest way to dress any animal if you have a place to hang it.

If you are going to cape the animal for trophy purposes simply take the skin in the normal manner before opening the animal up.

I know this isn't really field dressing but I also know many guys have access to a gambrel and a gutting area and I've seen guys struggle with this so I brought it up.
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If you are going to have to either carry the critter out on your back or pack it into a plane or possible take it out on horseback here is the easiest cleanest way on the planet to quarter a big animal that needs to be packed out.

This what I call the "gutless" method and it works great on any animal. I used it on a cape buffalo in Zimbabwe in 2004 and even the professional skinners thought it was a great way to do it.


First off and I want to make this clear DO NOT OPEN THE GUT there is absolutely no reason to do this on an animal you are going to quarter in the field.

First lay the animal on his side. Start at the hind leg about even with the hock. Insert your drop point hunting knife into the front of the leg make a skin deep incision all the way up along the flank across the bottom of the ribs about even with where the shoulder meets the front leg around to the neck about half up the neck turn your cut and slide up the the top of middle of the neck.

You should now be on the centerline of the top of the animal right over the middle of the spine. Turn your knife and cut all the way down the line of the middle of the spine to the base of the tail. Once at the base of the tail make a cut all the way down the middle of the hindquarter to the end point of the hock your cut should be right across from where you started.Turn your knife and connect the cuts the cuts.

Now go to the neck where you cut across the neck from bottom to top. Make a small hole in the skin grab it and pull the skin off the animal. So far this should have taken about 3 minutes.

Once you've pulled the skin off the animal lay hair side down leaving the freshly skinned part up. You are going to place your your quarters on this skin which is known in some circles as a meat blanket.

Now you are looking at the animal the skin is removed on top side. So you are looking at the front shoulder back strap hindquarters and the ribs all minus the skin.

Take the front shoulder off by simply picking up the front leg and cutting it from the bottom to the top removing it from the body. 30 seconds to 1 minute depending on the size of the critter. Place the front leg and shoulder on your meat blanket to keep it out of the grass and dirt.

Find the front of the pelvis at rear of the animal there is a ice shelf of bone there. This is where the back strap ends. take your knife with the blade pointed slightly towards the bone of the pelvis and make a cut releasing the back of the strap from the front of the pelvis Now take your knife turning the blade towards the spine slightly and make a cut right along the spine all the way to about one third of the way up the neck. remember that any time you are cutting meat from the bone to turn your blade towards the bone slightly to prevent meat wastage.

At this point I like to find the bottom of the strap where it connects to the ribs so you are starting at the bottom side of the backstrap. And I simply release it from the ribs and then work forward to where you stopped on the neck. You can simply peel it away at this point with a little help from your knife to keep from losing meat. be careful when you get to back of the ribs because it is easy to get into the gut back there.

This should take about a minute or two.

Now all you've got left are the hindquarter and the ribs. Take the hind quarter off as follows. This will take a bit of practice but after you've done it a few times it gets real easy. Lift the hind leg and skin the hair that is left away on the inside of the thigh. Now the easiest way to find the rear ball joint where the hind quarter meets the pelvis is to move the leg around in a circular fashion and feel where the joint is with your free hand. Find the ball joint and cut across it with a sharp knife. It will be further down the leg toward the foot than you think it should be. When you hit the joint just right it makes an unforgettable sound almost like air being released from a ball. It will also make a snapping sound if you have a but of back pressure on it.

Once you are into the joint with your blade push the leg back and will dis articulate itself and with a little help from your knife it pops lose with minimal effort.

Now for the tricky part all of the meat above the hip joint is call the sirloin. You want the to stay attached to your hindquarter. So here is how you do it.
Find the back of the pelvis just to the rear of where you cut the backstrap loose. Simply slide your knife with the blade turned slightly towards the bone along the back of the pelvis. Then just keep the knife in contact with the pelvis and slide it to the rear until the hind quarter comes loose. You will have to do this a couple of times and screw it up once or twice before it becomes obvious to you.

In any case once you get goos at it it should take you about 2 minutes to remove an elk sized animals hindquarter.

The ribs can be remove by simply splitting the brisket and cutting the ribs loose from the spine. A meat saw such as a Wyoming saw or a Gerber hand saw makes quick work of the ribs. If you don't have a saw take you fixed blade or STRONG lock blade knife and find a soft ball sized rock. You can use the rock to hammer you blade through the ribs and brisket with a lot of swearing and probably a cut a finger of two.

Get a light weight pack saw.

Flip critter over and repeat.

The front inside tender loins are a simple deal to get once the ribs are removed. The rear tenders require you to make an incision at the top of the flank near where the flank meets the spine you can simply move the guts over with your hand and retrieve the rear tenders.

When I am hooking it and need to make time I can quarter a bull elk with this method in 20 minutes or so.

If I need to cape the animal I simply make an incision about half way to the back of the ribs all the way around the body then make a cut up the center of the spine to just before I get to the ears making sure to stay in the thickest part of the mane. I then cut around the base of both front legs. And remove the cape with the head and horns attached. I'll cape it out later.
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If I am leaving the animal over night in the field I'll take the quarters and hide them under a thick pine tree if available. I also cut some branches and cover the meat. If it is cold enough outside the scent won't be to much of an attractant but the bright red meat will attract birds which will attract other predators and scavengers so if you can cover you meat with branches and especially a strong scented branch like pine it will usually keep the critters away fro at least the night.

If you are in big predator country like bear country, lion country, ETC MAKE sure that you use extreme caution when approaching your kill. Always approach from downwind and move slowly and keep aware. A big predator is apt to try and protect the kill as far as he is concerned it is his now.

Here are a few clues that a predator is on your kill. If you see birds in the trees above your kill suspect trouble. If the birds aren't on the ground eating your kill it is probably because some big mean mother is keeping them in the trees. Brush and swaying around in the area of your kill is another dead give away. Scat or tracks indicate that Mr. ugly has claimed your kill. Use your brain and you won't get hurt. there is no critter on earth worth you getting mauled over or killed. And it isn't worth the trouble to kill the predator either let him have it. The game department might or might not issue you another license but in any case you'll have a really cool story to tell.

Here is another little ditty I do when leaving a critter overnight. I will stuff something that is unmistakably mine deep into the nostril. Since I shoot a .375H&H with hand loaded bullets I usually stuff a round in the nostril. That way if Mr. A-hole hunter decides to claim your kill as I've had happen I have irrefutable proof when it comes time to take my case to game warden.

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NRA4LIFE
August 9, 2007, 08:20 PM
H&H,

You've just described my nearly exact field quartering method. Bravo. I mentioned this in another thread, about not gutting the critter. Makes a much cleaner quartering. A few subtle differences. If I am hunting where I know for sure I will be field quartering, I carry a lightweight piece of visqueen with me to flop the critter onto before starting. I pack that out then. If I'm packing a long way, I'll completely debone the quarters on the visqueen.

I have never heard anybody else even mention your identification trick, about cramming something in his nose. I use a slightly different method. I carve a small, but very unique (not telling) set of identification marks on the bottom of one of the hooves. It is unmistakably mine, if I had to prove it, but I never have.

In talking to most hunters, they are completely intimidated by field butchering. It is not that hard. The nice part of it is, when you get back to camp your half done with butchering. I won't drag a deer more than a couple hundred yards anymore by myself, if the laws of the state allow you to quarter it.

H&Hhunter
August 9, 2007, 10:25 PM
Yeah I forgot to mention. If it is coming out by "me power" on my back it gets deboned as well.

Try my skin trick for keeping the meat clean it works really well.

One other thing I don't care if it is 20 below out get the skin off as quick as possible. In the past I've open a critter and left it whole with the skin on and a day later the meat was warm deep down. That is bad there is no better way to produce gamey meat.

emerson
August 10, 2007, 05:38 AM
Thank you for this post. I find the information very valuable, and timely, as I've been doing a bit of research on this topic in the last week or so. Does this and the de-boning method allow for keeping "evidence of sex" on at least 1 quarter of the large meat mass of the animal? Do you know if itís legal, in Colorado at least, to field butcher and de-bone an animal if you kept a portion of the skin and gentiles attached to a hind quarter?

I'm trying to be the most field efficient in removing my take. I feel a call to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is in order; however, Iím doing research so I can make one informed phone call.

atomchaser
August 10, 2007, 11:17 PM
Very informative, thanks. Sure would be great if you could take a small video camera and video tape the operation sometime.

sm
August 11, 2007, 04:12 AM
H&H,

Excellent!
Thank you so very much for taking the time to write this up!

Mods : Sticky and Place in Library.

H&Hhunter
August 11, 2007, 11:23 AM
Does this and the de-boning method allow for keeping "evidence of sex" on at least 1 quarter of the large meat mass of the animal? Do you know if it’s legal, in Colorado at least, to field butcher and de-bone an animal if you kept a portion of the skin and gentiles attached to a hind quarter?

Emerson,

Yes it is perfectly legal to do as you asked. With a female I simply leave a portion of the mammary tissue attached to the hindquarter or the a portion of the boned out meat from the hindquarter. For the males I leave the the scrotum attached.

That will suffice for proof of sex in CO.
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Atomchaser,

Good point I'll try and film this the next time I'm in field. Should be in a couple of weeks. If not you guys will have to wait till elk season.;)

I probably just cursed myself by saying that and won't get anything down for the rest this year!:)

emerson
August 11, 2007, 12:10 PM
Thank you H&H, you have been a great help.

- Emerson

Kimber1911_06238
August 11, 2007, 12:27 PM
good point H&H, no matter how cold, get that skin off. I've seen guys hang deer with the skin on in a 40 degree cooler and the meat was still warm down deep a day later. You'd be surprised how well the skin and fat on a whitetail can insulate, not to mention thicker skinned or fattier game.

Caimlas
August 11, 2007, 01:41 PM
There is a slight variation to your way of quickly and cleanly gutting an animal - but you can do it in the field with ease. Just bring a (15') of rope and a short length cord and you should be good to go.

First, after cutting out the arsehole, pinch it shut with your fingers and pull it out a bit. Then use the cord to tightly tie it off so there's no further leakage (if any).

Using this method you also don't end up dragging the arsehole through the entire animal carcass' body cavity, likely contaminating meat. :) Also, you don't open up the ribs and, therefore, don't have all that flesh exposed to the air drying it out, flies, etc. Never had a gamey taste problem related to carcass temperature... In my experience, dirty and/or infected meat is the surest way to get gamey taste regardless of temperature. A couple hours above 50F isn't going to do any harm. Freezer burn on the outer flesh is, imo, a bigger risk (to both the carass and me! :P)

After the arse treatment, tie the rope off around the animal's neck and then loop the other end over a tree. Gently separate the hips (a knife blade with a little pop on the hilt should do 'er). Then pull the rope to give the carcass a little incline. The guts will, again, just fall right out with a little windpipe cutting. You could also do it on a hill with relative ease w/o a rope. Alternatively, don't pop the hips: lay the animal on its side, prop the top rear leg up with a stick (or on your shoulder - whatever), and pull the guts out manually.

I'll skin it out and package it when I get home and have somewhere sheltered from the wind to do so.

sumpnz
August 11, 2007, 06:03 PM
Another vote for a video or at least series of pictures to along with the explanation. I have a hard time following some parts, e.g. Start at the hind leg about even with the hock. Insert your drop point hunting knife into the front of the leg make a skin deep incision all the way up along the flank across the bottom of the ribs about even with where the shoulder meets the front leg around to the neck about half up the neck turn your cut and slide up the the top of middle of the neck.

You should now be on the centerline of the top of the animal right over the middle of the spine. Turn your knife and cut all the way down the line of the middle of the spine to the base of the tail. Once at the base of the tail make a cut all the way down the middle of the hindquarter to the end point of the hock your cut should be right across from where you started.Turn your knife and connect the cuts the cuts.
I found this difficult to visualize. I kinda think I know what you're saying, but a video or photos would be very helpful.

Thanks H&H.

emerson
August 11, 2007, 06:16 PM
Hi All,

I read somewhere online that this video (http://wildlife.state.co.us/wildlifestore/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=D07) is very good. I think it may show what H&H has written about. I plan on ordering it. I can let everyone know my review if there is interest.

Vern Humphrey
August 11, 2007, 07:05 PM
I've seen guys hang deer with the skin on in a 40 degree cooler and the meat was still warm down deep a day later. You'd be surprised how well the skin and fat on a whitetail can insulate, not to mention thicker skinned or fattier game.
True. I've killed elk under conditions where tempertures got up to 60 degrees or more. Under those conditions, the heat will not migrate to the surface fast enough, even if you gut and hang the animal and the meat will sour quickly. That's why I like to use the "no gut" approach -- skin and cut the meat off from the outside. It's faster, cleaner, and allows the meat to cool properly.

glockman19
August 11, 2007, 09:57 PM
H&Hhunter,

Exactly how I was taught. Good post. Thanks

sm
August 13, 2007, 02:07 PM
Bump.

:)

USMC_2674
August 13, 2007, 03:14 PM
Another request for a video or illustrated guide :)

carnaby
August 13, 2007, 08:35 PM
This looks like a job for youtube :)

Leanwolf
August 14, 2007, 10:06 PM
Good advice, H&H HUNTER, including the advice to secretly "identify" your animal if you have to leave it.

For many years, I've carried an empty cartridge case of the caliber with which I'm hunting, with a small piece of paper with my name, address, and Hunting Lic. number written on it, rolled up and put into the cartridge case.

When I kill a deer, elk, antelope, etc., IF I have to leave it for whatever reason, then come back later to pack it out, I always stick that cartridge case waaaaay down into the ear cavity of the animal, where it is unseen.

Came in handy on a nice four point buck when I was hunting in Utah. I was about a mile from the logging road and my truck, where my good pack frame was. Gutted the deer, hung it up on a Juniper to air while I went to get my pack frame. Left my rifle at the truck, although had a Ruger Blackhawk .45 Colt in a shoulder holster.

Got back to my deer just as a couple of yahoos were cutting it down. One of them had already tossed my tag and put his on it. When I claimed it, one of them pointed his rifle at me and said he had killed it, and there was his tag on the antlers.

Now I wasn't about to draw down on a dude who had a rifle pointed at me so I backed off and went back to my truck. I was lucky enough to find a Game Warden about a mile down the road and told him the story. I told him about my empty cartridge case in the buck's ear.

He followed me to the area. A few minutes after we got to where a Utah tagged truck was sitting in the trees, here came the two dudes, huffing and puffing, dragging that buck up to their truck.

The Game Warden confronted them. They swore the buck was killed by one of them. The Game Warden then dug down in the buck's ear and extracted my cartridge case with my information inside. Talk about some embarrassed, stuttering and stammering idiots, those two were.

He cited them, and I ended up with good meat in the freezer and a nice rack on the wall. And I didn't even have to pack the meat out of the rough forest.

Sooooo, if you have to leave your animal, identify it in case someone tries to steal it.

L.W.

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