Elk, Deer Can Be Tough To Field Dress


All the preseason scouting and target practice has paid off with that trophy animal on the ground.

After the photos and the congratulatory handshakes from your buddies the work begins! This will be repeated many times this year as the big-game seasons are now under way.

For first-time successful hunters, an elk or deer on the ground can be a formidable task to field dress and prepare the carcass for one of the local meat processors.

Even the veteran who has many hunts under his belt, needs to be prepared for that moment when the real work is at hand.

I asked Toby Waugh, a longtime meat processor, for a few tips that can be used in the field that will aid in making that wild-game dinner a real delicacy. He was quick to give four valuable tips that all big-game hunters should follow.

As is so often the case, that trophy animal is a canyon away from the nearest road, which makes it necessary for every hunter to have that backpack equipped with the right tools. Two knives are a must, one for skinning only and the other for the actual field dressing of the trophy.

A sharpener always comes in handy toward the end of the job when blades often lose their edge.

Make sure your pack also has that all-important lightweight saw that will come in handy during the field dressing process.

Skinning the animal quickly is necessary to cool the meat which will add greatly to the flavor of that steak or roast which will add to everyone’s enjoyment.

The ultimate goal is to keep the loose elk or deer hair from getting on the exposed meat after the skinning process is complete.

Old bed sheets placed on the ground are perfect, when it is necessary to roll the animal during the skinning process.

As each hind quarter or shoulder is field dressed, it should immediately be placed in a cotton sack or game bag.

Old pillowcases make perfect game bags when transporting the meat by backpack to the vehicle. Using a cheap cheesecloth tube is not sufficient in keeping the meat clean while in the field or transporting to a local meat processor.

Remember, the goal is to keep the hair and dirt from getting on the meat.

Upon arrival at camp or home, it is a good idea to wash the meat with cold water and allow the quarters to air dry which aids in keeping the meat cool.

If you are traveling long distances or on an out-of-state hunt, then putting the meat in coolers with plenty of ice is a wise choice. 

A successful hunt is when fond memories and a story are shared with friends while enjoying a delicious steak or a roast from that animal taken in the wild.


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