So, you’ve completed a successful whitetail deer hunt. Harvesting your deer is only the first step, however. It’s time to roll up your sleeves and field dress your deer—there’s work to do before you can enjoy deer at your dinner table!

Step 1: Field Dress

After your deer is down, you need to field-dress it as soon as possible. Opening the chest and removing the internal organs initiates the cooling process and slows bacterial growth. Additionally, the blood and organs of the deer comprise around 20% of its total weight, which means it will be lighter to carry after you field dress your deer. 

You will need a field knife to successfully field dress your deer.

Step 2: Hanging Your Deer

How you hang your deer can determine how the meat turns out. Hanging your deer by the Achilles tendons or neck are common methods, but the tender stretch method is worth considering as well.

Step 3: Skinning Your Deer

Many people choose to skin their deer hung from the back legs on a gambrel, but there are a number of ways to do it. Regardless of how you choose to hang your deer for skinning, the basics stay the same. Make initial cuts around each leg at the knee joint, then make cuts along the interior of the legs to connect the cut to your field-dress cut. If you hang your deer from the neck, you’ll need to make a cut around the neck or shoulders as well. Slowly work the hide away from the muscle with the edge of your knife until you’ve removed the entire hide.

Step 4: Quartering Your Deer

In order to quarter your deer successfully, it’s important to know where the different cuts of meat come from. The more you know about the deer’s anatomy, the better you’ll be able to extract the meat. Ideally, you should be able to use a small knife instead of a saw (which can throw bone fragments into the meat). Remove the legs first, then the backstraps along either side of the spine, the tenderloins from the rib cage, and the neck meat. Trim any remaining meat for grinding or jerky.

After you’ve quartered your deer, it’s time to freeze the meat so you can enjoy it for the months to come!

Ready to get started? Visit Oak Creek Whitetail Ranch online today or by calling 573-943-6644 to schedule the best-guided deer hunts in Missouri!