In this article, I will walk you through the steps of How to Clean a Deer for cooking. This process involves skinning, gutting, and quartering the deer, and I will also touch on how to cook the various cuts of meat. Having been involved in many deer cleaning processes, I aim to make these instructions straightforward and easy to understand, ensuring even beginners can follow along.
To start, you will need a set of tools to effectively clean a deer. These include:
- A sharp knife
- A skinning knife
- A pair of gloves
- A bucket
- A tarp
- A saw
- A meat cleaver
- A butcher block
- A cutting board
- A meat grinder
Preparing the Deer: How to Clean a Deer
Before diving into skinning and butchering the deer, some preparation is necessary. First, the head and antlers need to be removed. This is done by cutting through the skin and neck muscles just behind the ears, followed by using a saw or axe to cut through the skull just behind the eyes.
Next, it is time to remove the internal organs. Begin by making an incision through the abdomen just below the ribs, then reach inside the cavity and carefully remove the organs, being cautious not to puncture the stomach or intestines to avoid contaminating the meat.
With the head, antlers, and internal organs removed, you can start skinning the deer. Make an incision around the neck and down the back’s center, then peel the skin away from the body, taking care not to damage the hide or meat.
After skinning, the deer is ready to be butchered into quarters by cutting through the shoulder and hip joints, then further into smaller pieces.
Different cuts of venison can be prepared in various ways. For instance, backstraps are lean and tender, ideal for grilling or roasting, while the neck and shanks offer more flavor, perfect for braising or stewing. Venison is a nutritious meat, rich in protein, iron, and zinc, and lower in fat and cholesterol than many other meats, making it a healthy choice.
Skinning the Deer
For skinning, you will need a sharp and a skinning knife, along with gloves for hygiene and safety.
Begin by making an incision around the deer’s neck, just below the jaw, followed by a cut from the neck down to the tail along the belly. Carefully peel the skin back, ensuring the meat remains undamaged. Once skinned, the deer can be sectioned into smaller parts for butchering.
Removing the Entrails
Removing the entrails is next and can get messy, so gloves and a well-ventilated area are recommended. Start by cutting around the anus to carefully remove the rectum, followed by an incision along the belly to pull out the intestines, being careful not to puncture the stomach or bladder. After removing the entrails, rinse the deer carcass inside to clean any remaining blood or dirt.
Quartering the Deer
Quartering involves dividing the deer into four main parts: the front quarters, hindquarters, and the neck.
To separate the front quarters, cut through the breastbone below the neck, then sever the joints at the shoulder, elbow, and wrist. For the hindquarters, cut through the pelvic bone below the tail, and then through the hip, knee, and ankle joints.
For the neck, cut through the spine below the skull, then separate it from the shoulder and the elbow joints. After quartering, the deer can be further butchered into smaller pieces for cooking.
Removing the Backstraps
The backstraps, running along the deer’s spine, are premium cuts often used for grilling or roasting. To remove them, cut through the skin and muscle along the spine from neck to tail, then pull the backstraps away from the spine. These can be cut into smaller portions or cooked whole, offering a versatile and delicious option for various dishes.
Removing the Neck
To remove the neck, first cut through the skin and muscle at the skull’s base, then detach the neck from the body, being careful not to harm the spinal cord. The neck is excellent for stews, soups, and roasts, providing valuable protein and nutrients.
Removing the Legs
To remove the legs, cut through the skin and muscle at the joint where the leg attaches to the body, then sever the joint to detach the leg. Repeat this for the other leg. The legs can be butchered into smaller pieces or cooked whole, offering yet another versatile option from your deer.