Skinning and Gutting a Deer

Skinning and Gutting a Deer

Skinning a Deer
Start by hanging your deer head-down from a gambrel bar, this is the best way to hang your harvest for cooling and aging, keeping the blood from draining into the meat. There’s no question that the sooner you skin a deer after shooting it, the easier the skin will come off. But you may need to hang your deer outside, in which case the skin protects the meat from the elements. Either way, the process is the same. So, first things first, a knife kit is an essential part of this job. We have two options to choose from the Accusharp Game Processing Kit and the Outdoor Edge Wild Pack. Now, here’s how to skin a deer in seven simple steps.


How to Skin a Deer, Step-By-Step

Step 1: Cut a slit in between the leg bone and the major tendon giving you a hole to secure the animal’s hind legs onto the gambrel. Be careful to not cut the tendon or you will not have a way to hang the animal.  lower the carcass so the hams are roughly eye level and the head is touching the ground, this will help keep the animal from swinging around as you are skinning. 

Step 2: Once the animal is in position, the first thing you want to do is trim around the anus, getting the hide free. Simply put one finger inside, tugging it either way to allow your knife to cut the skin around, staying really close to the hams. Cut it in a circle until it is completely free all the way down inside. This way when you go to remove everything from the inside it will all come out together. Take a string and tie the anus, this will confirm there is no leakage inside your harvest while skinning the rest of the animal, push the skin and anus back into the deer.

Tip: Whenever possible when skinning a deer, you want the knife blade cutting outwards. If you're cutting inwards, you're cutting hair and putting more hair onto the meat. With the knife blade pointing outward you are going between the hair almost like combing instead of cutting.  

Step 3: Cut a ring all the way around the legs 2 inches above the gambrel, so you can start removing the hide from the hams. Pull the skin taute to be able to smoothly run your blade on the portion still attached. Cutting the skin and hid away from the meat. Once you have completed the first hind leg move onto the other hind leg. 

Step 4: Follow the hair line where the white hair and brown hair meet, slip your knife's point under the skin, blade up, and cut a long slit up from the bottom of one ham to the knee. Repeat on the other side. (Do your best not to get a bunch of hair on the meat during this process, but there’s no need to obsess over it. You can rinse the meat and pat it dry after boning it out and before trimming it.)

Step 5: Grab and peel the skin off the back legs and down to the tail. Serve the tailbone and then keep peeling all the way down to the front shoulders, using your knife when necessary to help free the skin. 

Step 6: Cut the front and hind legs off at the knee. (A good bone saw or even sharp lopping shears are handy for this.)

Step 7: You can use the peel and pull method to remove the whole hide down to the neck. Slice through the meat of the neck with a knife, and cut through the spine with a bone saw.

Now that we have your deer skinned it is time to remove the internal organs. Let’s go ahead and put a bucket until the deer, this is going to catch any blood that leaks out as well as the organs as we remove it all. 

Step 1: Start by removing the front shoulders, these are connected through muscle and other tissues there is no bone connection, allowing you to remove it easily with a knife. We recommend removing the front shoulders and hanging them separately, making it easier for you to hang the meat. 

Step 2: The next step is going to be opening the thoracic cavity. When cutting open the cavity it is a great idea to use bypass loppers, or a bone saw. Take the bypass loppers or saw and start at the sternum, staying as close to the center as possible. Cut downwards through the ribs, going all the way down through the collar bone. If you do not cut all the way down, when we release the organs they will hang up there and you won’t be able to remove the organs cleanly. You need to cut this to get the entire thoracic cavity to open up. 

Step 3: Now, it is time to open up the abdomen to expose the organs.  You want to be very careful doing this to not rupture the rumen onto your meat. Take two fingers inside the last cut pointing upward and kind of push the rumen back. There are no bones in here so just take the tip of my knife, pushing upward with the blade facing outward, cutting through the muscle tissue. 

Step 4: Once you’ve opened up the abdomen cavity, you will notice everything is staying in place and that is because we have not cut through the diaphragm yet. At this point, you can free up any of the little side muscles. Grab onto the anus and start pulling it forward and cutting it away from the meat. Make sure to not rupture the bladder. Keep going downwards losing the organs from the meat cutting the tissues. Once you get to the diaphragm and start trimming it down off both sides. Continue to go through all of the tissue and the organs will fall down into the bucket underneath the deer. As you are trimming the tissue away from the meat, pll the ribs apart to allow the organs to shift down making their way to the bucket. After you have gotten all the way down, cut the esophagus off. 


We are now done removing the organs from the deer, you can now take a hose and rinse off the meat and get everything ready to hang your meat. Hang your meat at 34 to 37 degrees fahrenheit or 0 to 3 degrees celsius. Hanging the meat typically for 7 to 10 days, most of the advantages of aging has been achieved. There is a consumer trend for venison that has been aged longer, usually 14 to 21 days, but could be as long as 35 days. 

Come back next week to read our blog on processing your harvest. We hope you get to drop a good one this year and can’t wait to see your photos. Drop by the store to show us your awesome 2023 harvests. Don’t forget to live on the wildside. 

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