Deer Skinning And Quartering

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Since 2002, I have processed all my deer harvested taken with bow and arrow, muzzleloader, revolver and rifle.  Back in the late 1970s there were not any small Mom and Pop type wild game processors nearby and only a few regular abattoirs would process wild game with later regulations prevented that from happening.   It was not until the 1990s when a few small part time deer processors came on the scene offering their services and was welcomed by the hunters.  Prior to 2002, I processed deer myself when the weather was conducive to hang them outside for a few days, but the weather doesn't always cooperate with you which required you to process the deer immediately.

As with most things, prices continued to rise and a small deer processed would cost you around 65 dollars and you might end up with 20 pounds of actual meat if you were lucky.  After loosing a deer in 2002 to a deer processors freezer going out, I decided to process all my deer myself since I already had a meat grinder and other required items and only had to obtain a refrigerator to age the deer once skinned and quartered which is the topic of this short story. 

The real work begins after the deer is down and field dressing in my case is mandatory which renders a much better product in my humble opinion.  A few sequence pixs are posted with narrative comments and as the ole cliché, "A picture is worth a thousand words"  and will start with the field dressed deer hanging ready for skinning.  NOTE:  If the outside temperature is between 50 degrees F. and 35 degrees F., I will let the deer hang with the skin on several days before skinning, quartering and processing.  The ideal temperature is around 40 degrees F. and far above 50 degrees today so will immediately skin and quarter the deer:

Use care when cutting between the deer's hind quarters tendons and the lower shank because if you sever the tendon you will have to jerry or jury rig an alternate means to hang the deer.  Above is an ole antique metal single tree that I shortened up and changed the hooks on each end to allow to properly grip the hindquarter tendon.  Also, there is a boat trailer wench secured to the large white oak tree with a steel cable to easily hoist the deer carcass at the necessary working height.  I have actually used a rope and trailer hitch on a car to pull the hide from a deer many years ago.  Now, most processors use an electric overhead chain hoist to hoist the deer up and pull the hide from the deer at the same time with anchors secured into the concrete floor for attachment of short cables to the deer's hide at each hindquarter.

Only a few basic tools are needed to skin and quarter a deer; some type of table or stand (optional), knife, meat hook and meat saw.

Your first cut will be around the shank being careful not to cut into the tendon and only cut through the deer's hide and then a cut made from the base of the hindquarter terminating at the shank.  Use the back of the knife blade and only allow the point under the skin and this is where a drop point knife earns its keep which keeps the point away from the meat and excess hair off the meat. 

Continue pulling on the hide and use the point of the knife blade to assist in removing the hide and try not to make any deep cuts into the hindquarter.

After both hindquarters are skinned out to the base of the tail, you can either use your knife or a meat saw to several the tail bone leaving the hide attached to it.  The meat saw works much better than the knife blade.

I usually cut around the front legs and make a cut on the inside of each leg terminating at the breastbone and then make a cut from the breastbone all the way to the deer's throat in order to remove the hide at the base of the deer's skull.  You can see the blood shot area of the entire right quarter in this pix.

The above pix of the tail bone cut through and still attached to the hide.

Continue pulling the hide from the deer carcass until you reach the deer's head.  The above deer was badly blood shot by the arrow that traveled through the deer's shoulder and most of the neck was blood shot as well, therefore I decided not to utilize the blood shot meat and will leave out separating the front quarters from the deer and also the removal of the deer head and neck area.  I will add additional pixs of the next deer harvested to complete the sequence.

This pixs show the blood shot areas I was talking about in the above paragraph.  My arrow placement on this deer was about 6 to 8 inches too far forward which caused all the blood shot damage and the deer crashing into small saplings and undergrowth as it exited the area.

Once the entire deer is skinned, I next removed the tenderloins from the inside of the deer.  This is the most tender part of the deer since those muscles apparently never get stressed any.

Above pix has the tenderloins outlined using PhotoShop CS2 that will be removed.

Pix of the tenderloins removed.  This is the filet mignon of venison! 

A horizontal cut above the hindquarters next to the last ribs is made on both sides of the loins or back strap and a vertical cut is made beside the center of the spine to the neck aiding in removing each loin.  Use the tip of your knife and cut close to the rib cage and spine to keep from wasting any meat.  The loin renders some excellent cubed steak.

Both loins aka back straps are removed from the deer and will be aged and later sliced into steaks and hand cubed.  Normally, the next step would be to remove each shoulder and the sever the head from the neck and remove the neck for ground venison and/or a neck roast.  Removing the neck requires the usage of the meat hook while sawing through the spine with the meat saw.

The hindquarters are removed from the carcass and then cut in two at the pelvic bone using the meat saw.  You need three hands when trying to do this and get a pix at the same time so left off showing the meat saw in actual usage.

Remove the lower shank from the hindquarter by making a cut across at into the ball point.  It takes practice to find the connecting joint with your first try and work the knife blade between the joint and the shank portion can be easily removed.  The lower shank portion contains very little edible meat and will clog your meat grinder blades up due to all the gristle and sinew, etc. 

Pix above of the hindquarters, loin straps and small tenderloins ready to be placed in plastic garbage bags that are not sealed tight and placed in my game refrigerator with the temperature around 35 to 40 degrees.  I allow the deer to age about 3 to 6 days before further processing.  See my Venison Chop Shop page for the final steps of processing a deer.

The above sequence pixs is definitely not the only way to skin and quarter a deer and many that do not field dress a deer will remove the entire skin,  then remove the deer parts while the deer is hanging and bone out the hindquarters while attached to the carcass, remove the loins, shoulders and then the neck with the viscera (internal body organs) still inside the cavity.  If you can accomplish this without any delay in time from the actual harvest, the meat should still be very palatable, however many hunters will transport their buck around for several hours showing off their trophy before having it processed which is definitely not the way to handle any wild game in my humble opinion.  Check the below YouTube video out of skinning a deer in less than 2 minutes:

Deer Skinning

Web published by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 10-11-13.


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