Complete Bear Hunting System

How to gut and skin a deer

Location : Full Articles : Taxidermy and Field Care Tips and Tricks : How to gut and skin a deer

After you have successfully killed your deer, before it ends upon the dinning table it has to be field dressed before the butcher can hang, cut, and wrap your meat. A freshly harvested deer should be gutted in the field before it can be skinned, butchered and stored.

Click to see the Deer Field Care Video

Tools required


A good knife with a sharp blade of 3 to 4 inches is the best option, although some prefer large classic style hunting knives. A smaller knife allows one to reach the inner parts of the abdomen and the chest area more easily. It reduces unnecessary cuts and makes the job easier. Make sure the knife is sharpened and cleaned before making the first cut.

Sharpening device

Make sure to have a stone or other sharpening device to keep your knife edge sharp.


Latex gloves that cover your hand right up to the arms are recommended to avoid health risks.


String is required to tie and secure the anal tract, bladder, urethra to avoid spilling of urine and fecal matter. Zap straps are another option.


A clean towel will help in doing a neater job and also be quick in cleaning yourself after the gutting. Wet wipes is another option.


If doing the field dressing at home or in your backyard a bucket is useful to discard the innards like the tarsal glands, the intestines, the urethra, bladder, anal tract and other dirt. If field dressing in the field then it is advisable to leave it in the bush.

Ziploc bags

Store the heart, liver, in the Ziploc bags.

Gutting the Deer

Lay the animal on its back, take a cut around the anus and free the anal tract from the hide and the membranes that hold it to the pelvic bone. Pull out the freed anal tract and tie a string around it to avoid spilling its content. In case of a doe, the urethra has to be removed along with the anus and tied. Take a cut from above the genitals right up to the sternum or the rib cage. Do not take the cut too deep just enough to go through the hide and the stomach muscles, a deeper cut could result in cutting through the intestines and spilling the contents.

Now turn the deer on the side downhill and let the guts fall out. Then put your hand in the cavity near the spine and cut off the fat that holds the intestine. Cut carefully as the bladder is close by and puncturing it may spill the urine.

The diaphragm separates the deer’s chest cavity having heart and lungs from the abdominal cavity, which holds the intestine. Cutting off the diaphragm removes the entire intestine. Put a hand deep into the deer’s chest cavity and feel for the esophagus and with the other hand reach the knife and make a clean cut and pull out the heart and lungs

The deer is now ready for skinning.

Skinning the Deer

Skinning can be done both head up and head down. Just remember to always be cutting the sinew that holds the hide to the carcass. Do not cut the hair!! You will get deer hair all over the meat and will not enjoy eating steaks with deer hair on them.

If you want a shoulder mount then make a cut a foot away from the back of the shoulder. The more skin you give the taxidermist the better mount he prepares. In case a shoulder mount is not required then make a circular cut around the neck, connecting it to the cut on stomach made during field dressing. Start removing the hide pulling it down hard with both hands. A knife can be used to free the hide from the flesh. Cut off the flesh that comes off with the skin. Pull the hide down around the shoulder.

Cut off the front legs just above the knees with a hacksaw. Then make a cut on the inside of the deer’s legs and proceed towards the chest cut made during field dressing. Free the hide from the front legs and then pull the hide down the deer’s back, towards the feet and tail. Pull the hide down far enough and cut the tail free through the tailbone. Continue to pull the hide down till the tarsal glands are exposed then saw and cut off the hind legs just above the tarsal glands.

The deer is now gutted and cleaned and ready for butchering.

This is not a very complicated process and somebody untrained can also do it, only take care to minimize the contamination by urine, fecal matter, bile, tarsal glands, and any other dirt.


Posted November 30, -1 by Justin Ott

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