After you have made a kill, how you care for it is crucial. If you want to enjoy the great
taste of wild game, following a few simple steps will make all the difference in the world.
Time is of the essence. There is lots of heat stored in the animal’s body and the sooner
you field dress and cool the animal down the better. The warmer it is, the quicker you
need to act. The process described here is straight-forward and applies to all big game
such as deer, antelope, elk and moose.
Position the animal so that it is on its back with the rump on the down hill side. (Figure
1). You may find it beneficial to tie the legs off to maintain the animal in position or prop
the carcass in place with rocks or stones to keep it positioned, especially if you are
alone. Spread the hind legs. Start at the breastbone and cut down the center of the
animal to the pelvic bone (Figure 2). You may want to make two passes – one to cut
through the muscles and hide and one to cut through the viscera encasing the organs.
You can make the cut the other way (pelvic bone to breastbone) but this will result in
more hair spreading to the meat. Cut through to the cavity containing the organs, being
very careful to avoid puncturing any organ. Use your free hand to push the organs down,
away from the knife. If you are left handed, the back side of your left hand is pushing
down on the organs, and your fingers are lifting the hide up to be cut. The knife is
guided between your fingers (Figure 3). Using a knife with a small long blade, make a
circular cut all the way around the anus, freeing it from the hide (Figure 4). Roll the
stomach and intestines out so you can reach up and cut around the edge of the
diaphram, as close to the inside of the body cavity as you can. Reach as far forward as
you can along the esophagus (windpipe), hold it firmly with one hand and use your knife
to sever it as far up as possible. Pull the heart, lungs, and esophagus and windpipe out
of the chest. You will need to do a little cutting around the cavity to completely free
these. There will also be some connective tissue that will need to be trimmed to
completely remove the organs. Once this is done, all of the internal organs can now be
pulled away from the carcass.
Use a saw to cut through the pelvic bone and also through the brisket to hasten cooling
and complete any trimming of conective tissue in the cavity.
Clean out the body cavity as well as you can. If possible wash it out with water.
Live to hunt!