Perhaps you’ve been hunting all your life, or it’s your first time out.
Whatever the case, it’s time to learn how to skin a deer.
While many people will simply take their game to a butcher, it is a good idea to know how to skin a deer yourself.
There are a few reasons why knowing how to skin a deer is a good idea. First of all, some butchers will not touch wild game, and others won’t process them without the animal being deboned first.
Second of all, you may be hunting in a very isolated area, a few hours away from any town or city. If this is the case, there will be a certain window in which you can skin the deer. Otherwise, the meat might go bad.
If you have no idea what you are doing, don’t worry. This guide will cover everything you need to know about skinning a deer.
Let’s get started.
What To Do After Hunting a Deer
So, you’ve shot a deer. Now what?
There are a few essential steps that you should carry out after shooting a deer. Let’s take a look.
- Ensure that the deer is dead. While this may sound odd, this is a very important step. It is rare, but there have been cases of deer getting back up after being shot and injuring or even killing the hunter. Before handling the deer, check for signs of death such as open and fixed eyes, lack of chest and ear movement, and lack of active reflexes.
- Field dressing. The next thing you should do is remove the vital organs of the animal. You should do this as soon as you can, even before transporting. Removing the vital organs will decrease the animal’s body heat substantially and prevent bacteria from growing. To do this, you will need a sharp knife. There are many field dressing kits you can also purchase.
- Transport the deer to your destination. Now that you have removed its vital organs, it is time to transport the deer. An ideal way to transport the deer is to put it on a trailer and tow it. However, depending on where you are in the woods, this may not be possible. Oftentimes, you will have to drag the deer to your truck. If you have to do this, make sure to lay a tarp down and put the deer on the tarp to drag it. Doing so will prevent dirt from getting on the animal.
- Hang the deer. After you have transported the deer to your destination, you will need to hang it. Hanging the deer will drain the rest of the blood from the body. While some people will rinse the deer with water at this stage, try to avoid doing so since the moisture could increase the chance of bacteria growing. If you want to rinse it, blot the deer with a cloth to remove most of the water.
- Cut the deer. After the blood drains, you can skin and cut the deer. Make sure to put the meat in the freezer right away to avoid contamination.
Equipment and Tools Needed for Skinning a Deer
Before you learn how to skin a deer, it will be helpful to have all of the correct equipment you need for the process.
Here are a few tools you may need for skinning a deer.
- Latex gloves – While these are optional, this process will be very messy. Wear latex gloves to protect your hands from bacteria.
- Hanging device – You can use a rope or chain to hang the carcass.
- Water – Make sure you have lots of fresh water on hand while skinning the deer.
- Large bin – You will need a large bin or some sort of container to put the organs and waste in.
- Saw – You will need a high-quality saw on hand. A bone saw, or a reciprocating saw would work well.
- Elastic bands or string
- Sharp knife – A gutting knife will work best
It is worth noting that there are a few different ways to skin a deer.
However, if you have all of these tools on hand, you will have no problem getting the job done.
How To Hang a Deer Properly
Before you skin the deer, you will need to hang it properly.
There are three main ways to hang a deer: through the Achilles tendon, through the neck, or with the tenderstretch method.
While there are benefits to all three, it will depend on your personal preference on how you want to go about it.
The Achilles Method
This method involves putting the meat hook through the rear heels.
While many hunters do this, the method may result in tougher meat. The reason for this is gravity. When you hang the animal by its heels, gravity will lead to increased muscle tension. The carcass will undergo rigor mortis (the stiffening of muscles).
The Tenderstretch Method
Many professional butcher shops often use the tenderstretch method. To hang a deer with this method, you will take the hook and insert it under the pelvic hip bone.
If you do this correctly, the legs will hang at a 90-degree angle. This angle will prevent the muscles from tightening and will increase the tenderness of the meat.
Through the Neck Method
The majority of people who hang carcasses by the neck do so if the animal is decapitated.
If you want to do this method, insert your hook in the chest on top of the rib cage. Inserting the hook there will not stretch the loins and hams.
If the head is still on the deer, simply tie a rope around the neck to hang it.
Step-by-Step Guide to Skinning a Deer
Now that we know what tools we need and how to hang a deer, it’s time to learn how to skin a deer.
While this process may be a bit overwhelming for newbies, you will be fine if you follow the steps below.
One last thing to note is that it is possible to skin a deer on the ground. However, it will be much easier to skin it if it’s hanging.
Step One: Hang the Deer and Remove the Internal Organs
Choose your method of choice and hang the deer. Then, take a gutting knife and remove the internal organs if you haven’t already.
To start, grab the skin near the breastbone and pull it taut. You will then make an incision down the belly to the pelvic bone.
Now, insert two fingers behind the blade into the body cavity. Hold the skin up and cut, starting from the sternum and ending at the crotch.
Then cut the anus of the animal and separate it. After doing so, you can pull the intestines into the stomach of the animal. Use an elastic band to tie this section off to ensure no waste leaks out.
Now you can open the chest cavity, detaching the diaphragm. Pull the windpipe and gullet out. Then, start from the crotch and pull all of the entrails out. You can also take your knife and cut the membranes that attach the innards to the animal’s spine.
Step Two: Get Rid of the Waste and Rinse the Carcass
Now you have a bucket full of waste. Dispose of the waste how you see fit. The best way to get rid of the waste is to bury it in the ground. If you want to do this, put the bucket of waste to the side and bury it after you finish skinning the deer.
After dealing with the waste, rinse the deer carcass with fresh water. If you see any extra stomach contents, remove them. After you rinse the carcass, dry the water with a cloth to prevent the growth of bacteria. Let the deer sit to drain the remaining blood and chill until you are ready to skin it.
Step Three: Skin the Deer
The idea is to pull the skin off in one piece.
To do this, you will need to take your knife and cut near the bends of the deer’s legs. Once you have made those incisions, you will connect them with a few longer incisions up the deer’s legs. Continue to cut until you reach the belly.
Now you can pull the skin off. Pull slowly, and use your knife to separate the skin from the muscle. Make sure to start from the hooves near the elbow joint.
Roll the hair side inwards when you have enough skin to grab and tug the skin downwards. When you reach the shoulders, you will need to grab your knife and cut the skin from the joints.
Now you can use your saw to remove the animal’s head. After this step, rinse the carcass with clean water and dry with a clean cloth.
We hope that this guide has helped you learn how to skin a deer.
The process does not have to be as hard as it seems.
Before you start, make sure you gather all of the equipment you might need. These will include gloves, a hanging device, water, a large bin, a saw, elastic bands, and a sharp knife.
The first step is hanging the deer. You can use a rope or a hook to do this. Then you will field dress it.
After those steps, you can get rid of the waste and rinse the carcass. Then make some incisions near the hooves and up to the stomach. After doing this, you can skin the deer.