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Skinning and Hanging-graphic content

To skin the deer we first cut around the bottom of the knee, remove the knee at the joint and the cut the hide away always keeping in mind that on the inside of the hind legs are the scent glands where there is a small, smelly patch of hair which should be avoided (take a good sniff-haha-yekk). The hair and hide should be pulled away while working so that it doesn’t get all over the meat. Some does despite the best efforts though. After using a knife to cut a dirty area or hair, etc., a clean knife should then be used so the scent isn’t transfered to the meat. I found it helpful to run the knives and the saw through an icy chunk of snow and then wiping it on a clean cloth. On the right, below we are using the saw to break through the pelvic bone around the butt-hole.


The first cut around and below the knee after which the hoof end can be removed.



The back legs can be hooked or roped to something high and or lifted to make the job easier. This is usually facilitated by  using the hole-opening at the hoof-ward end of the back legs between the bone and the tendon. Hubby warned me again not to cut that tendon and whoops…I cut the one 1/2 off by carelessness. There was just enough left to hold it.



Here it’s being split down the back-bone while hanging from the back legs


Pull the hide hard while slicing between the flesh and it with a sharp skinning knife. The first big problem is to cut around the butt hole. If the intestine and bladder have been tied of on the inside of the body then it’s just a matter of scraping around the outer edge of the hole until the intestine pulls free. It’s gross work. If you cut the wrong thing, you end up with manure on your knife and meat and have to do some cleaning.

We cut our hide off by hand but the following is a fun way to make it a faster job:

After the head came off, we cut it down the middle with a meat saw. I’ve seen power-saws used for this too, but Hubby doesn’t like using one without oil (it will get damaged) and doesn’t want oil splattered all over the meat. We decided next time we’d try a reciprocating saw.

Then we cut it into quarters by slicing and sawing between the third and fourth ribs and give it a wash with buckets of warm water from the house. I put garbage bags around each piece to keep the blood off of the rest of me. I already had enough painted on me without adding to the picture. It should hang for several days if it isn’t going to freeze. Ours will freeze, so we left it just long enough to let it cool and started to butcher it in the house.


Deer quarter hanging from the rafters in a bag

It’s heavy work  climbing that ladder with a quarter slung over one arm. One hand had to be free to tie the rope too!

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8 Responses to “Skinning and Hanging-graphic content”

  1. Wendy says:

    City dwellers might go vegan reading this. But I love meat, and though it is a good deal of work, it must be a very good feeling to have done it yourselves, from start to finish.

    • sherry says:

      It’ nice to have a freezer full of cheap meat. I don’t love the work when it’s -25 with a wind chill of another 20.

  2. Anna-Marie White says:

    Hunters here field dress the deer and then put it into bag sealers. Can you believe it! There are bag sealers that run on 12V. I plan to get one for my Airstream. I imagine it preserves the meat and keeps the flies off. But..Im a bit confused. You hang yours? I would be scared to do that but I know its the best way.

    • sherry says:

      We used to pin sheets around them, but now I let it cool and then put a bag around it. Hanging is supposed to help it tenderize. It will be frozen shortly this time around so I’ll just cut it up and take my chances.

  3. Naomi says:

    This post was fantastic! Great info because some day I want to get out and hunt.
    If you were able to hang it, how long would you do so? Would you hang it in a bag to keep it moist?
    How do you keep deer from being gamey?
    I have so many questions! This is fascinating!

    • sherry says:

      That a lot of ?’s. Hang it 3-14 days depending if you want it to tenderize( or half-rot…kidding). The cooler it is without freezing the longer you can hang it. I think that a light deer like this one won’t benefit as it doesn’t have enough weight to make a difference. One could hang a hunk of iron on the bottom…
      To keep it from being gamey: Don’t kill around their rut (usually after a cold spell in the fall). Don’t let the hair touch the meat. Clean of the meat with warm water and a cloth. Find an animal that has had some grain. Choose a female that is ‘dry’ (has no baby).

      • Naomi says:

        Whoah! Even more fascinating! I’ve heard that you shouldn’t scare it and that helps, and letting it bleed out. I have no clue, but do these things make any difference in the meat?

        • sherry says:

          You’re right about both. If it doesn’t bleed out you get really wet, bloody meat for one thing; otherwise i just do it…’cuz.


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