Nov/Dec 2007Top Ten Tipsby Dennis Chastain

  1. When skinning a deer, always begin at the end - the rear end that is - or more specifically, the anus. Step one should always be to ring the anus with a sharp knife freeing it from all connective tissue. This will simplify the entire process once you begin eviscerating the animal.
  2. Have everything you will need, such as a bone saw, garden hose and gut bucket within reach before you get started.
  3. Don't bust a gut. Use the two-finger method, or a so-called gut hook or Wyoming Knife, to ensure that you don't rupture the intestines. For the two-finger method, make a small horizontal cut in the pocket at the rear end of the abdominal cavity. Insert your index and middle fingers into the cut. Place the knife blade in between the two fingers with the blade facing away from the deer. Work down the hide until you reach the sternum.
  4. Don't remove the bladder. A ruptured bladder can spoil the entire carcass. It should come out intact along with the other viscera.
  5. Don't ruin a trophy cape. If you are planning on having a taxidermy mount of the deer, don't cut the abdominal section of the hide beyond the sternum. The best strategy is to ask your taxidermist beforehand how he or she prefers for the deer to be skinned. Or better yet, just take the entire deer to the taxidermist.
  6. Keep the deer cooler cold and clean. The optimum temperature for hanging deer is between 36 to 40 degrees. Coolers should be sanitized at least once a year. Simply wipe down walls and floor with a 10-percent solution of water and chlorine bleach.
  7. Don't discard the liver. Hunters are missing a real culinary treat when they throw away the deer liver. Simply release it from the abdominal contents with a knife and place in a clean bowl or plastic bag. The trick to making it as good, or even better, than pork or beef liver is to soak it in brine for 1 to 2 hours before freezing.
  8. Wear rubber boots to keep the odors of blood and intestinal contents off your hunting clothes.
  9. Transferring a soaking wet, freshly skinned deer carcass to the cooler can be a challenge. Simplify the task by cutting two "handles" in the carcass. Make a cut at the mid-point between the last two ribs on each side of the rib cage.
  10. Keep dirt and debris off the deer carcass by bagging it in a 55 gallon trash bag or by wrapping it in plastic sheeting or a tarp before transporting to the processor. Use duct tape to seal it up.

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