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Thread: Field Dressing Advice

  1. #1
    Member ocium's Avatar
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    Field Dressing Advice

    Hey All,

    I was wondering if I could get some advice on field dressing/extraction please?

    Ideally, I would like to field dress/butcher on site. Aside from lugging-out redundant weight, my missus is a bit squeamish about that kind of thing and I don't really have current facility at home to butcher or dispose of carcasses/hides/bones efficiently.

    Most videos involving field dressing I've stumbled upon centre around removal of the innards so the entire carcass can be extracted, but I'd rather carry out meat I can bang straight into the freezer (i.e. skinned and butchered cuts - shoulders, backstraps). Seen a few videos on how to take apart a beast where you drop it (on the ground) and bag the meat for extraction without worrying about gutting it, but I'm not sure about a few aspects of the process.

    So my first question is, assuming I'm butchering on site (without a lifting rig), do I need to bleed the animal before butchering it, and if so, how?

    Second question is, after I get the meat cuts home, should I hang them before freezing, and if so, is it safe to hang them in a cool spot in my garage (in a fly-proof area in pillow cases), or do they need to hang in a refrigerated environment?


    TIA,

    Dave
    The forest spoke with secret sound
    A whispered hush both still and clear
    Communion and peace around
    That those more unfamiliar fear

  2. #2
    Member Tahr's Avatar
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    I always turn the deer downhill if I can and stick it like you would a pig (in the thorax) and usually give it a couple of pushes down on the ribs with my boot to push the residual blood out.
    Hanging in pillow cases this time of the year in the shade for a few days is fine. But soon it will be too warm so you will need to lay it out or hang it in the fridge. Leave it in the fridge or hanging for about 7 days.

    I come through Featherston quite often with a whole deer and would be happy to call in and give you a demo on breaking down a deer as if it is in the field if you want. Or if you can get a whole one home I will happily come over and show you. I'm in Wellington - but don't worry - I won't have my shiny arse suit and tie on.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tahr View Post
    I always turn the deer downhill if I can and stick it like you would a pig (in the thorax) and usually give it a couple of pushes down on the ribs with my boot to push the residual blood out.
    Hanging in pillow cases this time of the year in the shade for a few days is fine. But soon it will be too warm so you will need to lay it out or hang it in the fridge. Leave it in the fridge or hanging for about 7 days.

    I come through Featherston quite often with a whole deer and would be happy to call in and give you a demo on breaking down a deer as if it is in the field if you want. Or if you can get a whole one home I will happily come over and show you. I'm in Wellington - but don't worry - I won't have my shiny arse suit and tie on.
    Take tahr up on this very generous offer man. No substitute for hands on experience.

    Butchering a deer isn't rocket science but there are a few tricks that can make all the difference.

    I'm fussy about my meat and want it to be the best it can be so I take the extra time to skin out a side then butcher. Keeps the meat cleaner from both hair and dirt. If you can get the deer up hanging with a bit of line it does make the process a lot easier
    ocium likes this.

  4. #4
    Member ocium's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tahr View Post
    I always turn the deer downhill if I can and stick it like you would a pig (in the thorax) and usually give it a couple of pushes down on the ribs with my boot to push the residual blood out.
    Hanging in pillow cases this time of the year in the shade for a few days is fine. But soon it will be too warm so you will need to lay it out or hang it in the fridge. Leave it in the fridge or hanging for about 7 days.

    I come through Featherston quite often with a whole deer and would be happy to call in and give you a demo on breaking down a deer as if it is in the field if you want. Or if you can get a whole one home I will happily come over and show you. I'm in Wellington - but don't worry - I won't have my shiny arse suit and tie on.
    Thanks for the advice, and I'd like to take you up on that demo offer please!
    The forest spoke with secret sound
    A whispered hush both still and clear
    Communion and peace around
    That those more unfamiliar fear

  5. #5
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    Cutting them up in the field is over-rated imo. Get Tahr to show you how to gut and then carry. And how to separate a set of hindquarters from the carcase with backsteaks attached and the skin from the shoulders and back wrapped round them as a carry load. There is good meat like the neck chops that will get left behind if you butcher on the hill.
    'Bother' said Pooh, as he chambered another round ... Wong Far King Way

  6. #6
    MSL
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moa Hunter View Post
    Cutting them up in the field is over-rated imo. Get Tahr to show you how to gut and then carry. And how to separate a set of hindquarters from the carcase with backsteaks attached and the skin from the shoulders and back wrapped round them as a carry load. There is good meat like the neck chops that will get left behind if you butcher on the hill.
    Butchering on the hill is not over rated in the right situation. Obviously its nice to carry the animal out whole but its not always practical. Id say more meat gets left behind by those who remove the legs etc with bone in skin on.
    veitnamcam, Micky Duck and Pixie Z like this.

  7. #7
    Member homebrew.357's Avatar
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    Also look at gutless field dressing a deer on utube could be a help and I made up a pulley system for hanging a deer in a tree to make it easier, keeps it off the ground.

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    Plus depending on the terrain and animals size/weight (also your own, I'm not a big guy and won't pretend to be tough for no reason) it may be impossible to carry the whole thing out in one piece.

    Last Red I shot was easy twice my weight + and in shitty country. Took a couple of trips but got almost everything out by boning it out and doing "shuttle runs".

    I.e. meat cooling in pillow cases (hanging in shade) and moving a few hundred metres to a "staging" area, re-hang in shade and repeat. Took a few hours and admittedly wasn't too warm, BUT salvaged about the same amount of meat I would have by risking a broken leg or worse trying to mutton it out.

    P.s was head shot so the only practical meat left on carcass was between the ribs.
    Moa Hunter and ocium like this.

  9. #9
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    It's pretty straight forward. I shot a lot of goats for practice.

    I have found that removing the back legs and the back steaks in one go with a vertebrae cut off just before the pelvic bone.

    Front legs if they are not smashed then get cut off really easily. Just pull it up and just start cutting in its arm pit area. Neck meat trimmed off.

    I have not always bothered with the eye fillets unless it's for a deer.

    What's left will be ribs, guts, neck.

    This whole process still takes me a while.

    I only do a full carry if it's a small deer or good terrains and near camp.
    Moa Hunter likes this.

  10. #10
    Member ocium's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moa Hunter View Post
    Cutting them up in the field is over-rated imo. Get Tahr to show you how to gut and then carry. And how to separate a set of hindquarters from the carcase with backsteaks attached and the skin from the shoulders and back wrapped round them as a carry load. There is good meat like the neck chops that will get left behind if you butcher on the hill.
    Thanks for the response mate. I've seen a few vids on how to extract the whole carcass;
    Scott (Backblocks Hunting); Turning a Deer into a Backpack... "Kiwi Style" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhPp_m3Kz2k
    Josh; Deer Backpack with the Kiwi Bushman - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WN3ltoYTAMc
    Shaun (Pig Hunters NZ); Gut and Carry - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6kdX9fG-dA
    Shaun (NZWildThings); Backpacking a Wild Pig - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_eeFVWmO9E

    I'm not a huge bloke, and this is another reason why I thought it would be more practical to only carry out what I can eat. Even considered boning-out shoulders and neck on site (weather and time permitting) to minimise load-out weight.

    I don't see any reason why you couldn't take the neck out in one piece (bone-in), or bone it out, along with tenderloins and offal (heart, liver, kidneys), without having to gut the carcass, all on site; I've seen a few vids on how to do this too.

    What is the advantage of carrying a full carcass out when you're going to biff the head/spine/pelt/hooves? Maybe because you want to mount the head as a trophy, or use the bits you're not going to eat yourself to cook-up for dog tucker?
    The forest spoke with secret sound
    A whispered hush both still and clear
    Communion and peace around
    That those more unfamiliar fear

  11. #11
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    meat is always better if hung to set as a body.
    lets the carcase cool as well as it's going to,any residual blood drains,all the muscles set in a "rested" shape.not contracted and bunched up.
    This makes it easier to break into cuts,which makes it easier to trim out sinew(and fat?) and easier to cut
    steaks etc.
    I think they're easier to carry if they're set too,not flopping around.
    I was a butcher in another life so tend to break down a red deer the same as a beef.
    fallow,sika etc(smaller animals) get dealt with like a mutton,frozen then cut into chops on the bandsaw
    Moa Hunter and ocium like this.

  12. #12
    MSL
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    It is a lot easy to hang/age the carcass whole, and a lot easier to process when its hanging somewhere convenient, rather than a scrubby hillside somewhere. Ideal, but not always practical.

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    As MSL said, although aside from gnarly stag I find "ageing" in the fridge vs hanging in chiller makes no real difference for me. The processing part absolutely easier if hung whole for a bit.

  14. #14
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    I had a real battle with this one recently. I had to deal with him hooked up like this and it was a lot steeper than it looks. Its always way more difficult by yourself. He took off down the hill and into a steep creek while I was removing the last shoulder so I just waved it goodbye.
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    This recent one too was a big heavy bugger to turn over and deal with in the steep scrub by myself. Boned him right out where he was - it all fitted into my 55litre pack. Hell of a load for an old bugger though. I hung the head up in a tree half way up the climb out and it can stay there.
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    @Tahr is a legend offing to show you hands on and can’t be beaten. I lay the dear on its belly and cut the skin down the centre of the back and cut/pull the skin away down each side to expose the back steaks. I then remove both back steaks by cutting down along both sides of the back bone (there’s a ridge of bones along the centre of the back) then cut up to the centre of the back bone along the ribs rolling the knife around the ribs to get as much meat as possible. I like to start at the neck and work down to the back legs working the knife along the bone. Then flip the dear and cut down through the crutch following the hip bone and avoiding the gut cavity, work the knife around the hip joint and then keep close to the bone and take all the meat down through to the tail. Hang the leg in a tree and cut the skin from the bottom of inner leg up to the top of the hock and pull the skin off around to the outer leg and cut around the hock. I then remove the meat off the leg bone by dividing into muscle groups. All the meat goes into a pillow case and is hung in the shade to cool. Job done.
    stevodog, Preacher and ocium like this.
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