The Pack Report

Outdoor Guide: How-To Properly Gut and Breakdown A Deer

How-To Properly Gut A Deer

The crisp cool air of fall means it is time for deer hunting season. Hunting is all about being outside, connecting with nature, being with family and friends, and building memories and traditions. Bagging a beautiful deer is a special reward for this enjoyable experience. Today, you have been blessed with a beautiful doe or buck. You have tracked down your deer and now it is time to take great care of the meat, called venison. Properly gutting a deer is an important part of hunting, thus we put together this step-by-step guide to help you with this process. We found this information from

Now that you have harvested this wonderful animal, it is your responsibility to ensure that you take the best possible care of the meat.

First, make sure you have all of the proper tools. We recommend using latex gloves, and a sharp knife. Gut-hook knives are a great option because they open the hide with ease. You also want to make sure you have the right mindset when beginning the gutting process, as it can be a shock to some.

Secondly, look for where your deer was struck with your arrow or bullet and try to remove it as best you can. If you can not find it immediately, be on high alert throughout the process. The broad-head on an arrow is extremely sharp and a mushroomed bullet can also be sharp.

Now you are ready to begin the gutting process. Locate the animal’s anus and make a circular cut around it. The cut should be two or three inches deep, you want to make sure you do not penetrate the walls of the anus. This step makes it easier when removing the entrails (guts) later on.

Now, prepare for your next incision by properly positioning the deer belly up. Have a friend spread the hind legs or prop the deer up to hold it firmly. If alone, try tying the legs to trees to keep it in place. Then, make an incision far back by the legs, aim for the point in which you see a “V” shape in the skin. If it is a buck, remove the genitalia.

From here, you want to make a clean midline incision up the belly. Start at the “V” shape in the rear and end just below the neck. Do not cut into the neck, stop just before it starts. If you plan on mounting your trophy, stop just before the breast bone and do not cut any further. Have your knife facing up the entire time, this will keep the inner organs intact and reduce the chance of contamination. As mentioned previously, using a proper knife is key, Duluth Pack always hand selects the highest quality knives.

Your deer should now have a slice down the center and should be open. To release the entrails from the rib cage, you must cut all the way around the diaphragm. You can recognize the diaphragm by looking for a thin membrane that lines the inner walls of the deer’s chest. The diaphragm separates the organs in the chest cavity from the organs in the belly.

The next step is cutting the windpipe. Grab the windpipe with one hand, it should be located above most of the organs in the chest cavity. Once you have found it, hold it firmly and cut the top of it, separating it from the throat. At this point, you can remove and save the heart and liver if desired. The folks at MeatEater have an assortment of recipes to test out.

Pull the windpipe and entrails out, they should move as one solid unit because they are free from the walls of the cavity. You may need to make a few extra cuts in certain areas to free the entrails. Once the guts are out, follow your state guidelines on how to manage them. You can then drain the blood by carefully turning the deer over.

Hang your deer and remove the hide to cool the meat as quickly as you can. If the weather is warm, you must break down the deer and get it on ice as quickly as possible.

You have now properly gut your deer, great job. Get ready for plenty of delicious venison to enjoy with friends and family. If you need cooking ideas, we suggest checking out our favorite venison burger recipe or venison stew recipe from Duluth Pack.

Happy butchering, friends!

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