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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hey all,
Do you gut your deer in the field or in camp?
How does this drive your gear and hunting knife selection?

Reading the books and magazines... You would think field dressing and breaking down a deer in the field is how everybody does it... But in real life - the ONLY time I ever see folks doing this is if they have to pack out an animal many many miles on their back.

Nobody I know that hunts these days in a hunt club or local public land even bothers to field dress them until they get back to camp and can do the work at the meat pole.. In fact - the VAST majority just haul the deer straight to a processor... No gutting, no meat pole... Just drop it off and they do the rest....

We do all that work at the meat pole - our gear reflects this. We mostly use sheath knives that are easy to wash for gutting, skinning, and cutting meat, then use a bone saw and tree loppers to hack through the bones and heavy gristle... We have a hose handy for cleanup as well as a sink with hot water and dish soap for washing up afterwards....

All the guts and extra stuff goes into buckets that we haul off for the vultures and critters....

Story time:
25+ years or so back - when I got my 1st deer... I had done all the scouting, hunter education, and read plenty about hunting - but I had never actually been hunting where anybody got an actual deer in real life... So literally everything I had encountered said you ALWAYS field dress the deer out in the field - then bring it back to camp for the rest.

So out I went with a group of experienced hunters in my family.... Shot my deer... Dragged it to the clearing they had dropped me off at and field dressed it..... They showed up with the SUV...

"Great Job!! You got your first deer!!!"
"Thanks"
"Are you ok? There's blood all over you?
"I am OK, I had to take care of the deer."
"Why is there so much blood all over the place? Did you have to finish it off with your knife or something?"
"I field dressed it?"
"What? Why would you do that? You aren't putting that bloody gooey thing in my truck!!!"
"How am I going to get it back to camp?"
"You will have to figure that out yourself.."

And that's when I learned a valuable lesson about hunting in real life and how it isn't like the magazines....
 

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I have done both, but lately we just load it up in the truck and do it at camp.
 

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Yes, I field dress the deer in the field. The gut pile is gone by morning. I always carry the knife on my belt that I intend to use for field dressing. You will find varying opinions on this issue. I consider it wise to field dress the animal as soon as possible.

When I return from a successful hunt, my truck has lots of congealed blood in the bed. That's what trucks are made for. Opening weekend this year, it was full of blood and covered with mud. Now it's clean again and ready for another hunt.

Here's a pic from a couple seasons back. We had a good "daily double" morning. Both deer in the truck have been field dressed. We then take them to another spot farther from where we hunt to skin and quarter. T.S.

 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
My friend - I understand the sentiment about field dressing.. But that's the reality here on the East Coast...

It sounds crazy at first - but many times the processor is less than 30-minutes from camp...

And around here at least - they only knock off $10.00 if you gut/skin/quarter them vs just drop off the whole deer.... So since it's only $10.00 more - guess what folks do?

Almost all my hunting is ~4 hrs from home.... So I skin/gut/break down the deer and keep it on ice in my cooler until I can get it to my local deer processor.
 

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For you guys who do it in the field - how do you handle clean up? Washing off hands, knife, and such?
I carry a bottle of water, gloves and some paper towels in a small pack along with a little zip lock bag containing a ball point pen and some tape to use in tagging the deer. In Texas, you are required to tag the deer before you move it from where it was killed.

T.S.
 

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I deer hunt on a private farm 45 minutes from my house. When I kill a deer, I gut it there. I have disposable plastic gloves that cover my hands and extend up past my elbows. After field dressing, I put it on the HitchHaul on the back of my truck. I usually have hand cleaner, water, and paper towels in the cargo bed of my truck. I don't wash the knife until I get home. When I get home, I get online on my desktop computer and register the deer with the state DNR. I do not process (butcher) deer. There is an excellent commercial processor mere minutes from my house, so, the next stop after my house is the processor. If it's an afternoon and the processor would be closed by the time I'd get there, I just take the deer off the HitchHaul and put it on the garage floor overnight and open up the chest cavity. If it's warm I'll put a bag of ice in the chest cavity.
 

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I usually Field dress in the field. Temperature of the day is very important. I then dragged out to the road when transportation is nesesary. If I am close to the house or camp, I may do it there. As I have gotten older many of the younger guys, always offer me help and get mad when I don't ask for it.
 

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I field dress the deer as quick as possible. I believe in making the deer as light as possible before dragging it out of the woods, not to mention it keeps any contamination down to a minimum.
I only wear gloves during field dressing when I have cuts on my hands, otherwise it's just rolled up sleeves. There has always been a nearby water source for rinsing off my hands and arms and I give them a good washing with soap and water when I get back to camp.
Andrew
 

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I live in central missouri and have always field dressed it in the field. As far as i can remember everyone else i have hunted with field dresses in the field. As far as cleaning up, i always have a spare bottle of water and latex gloves. Although most of the time there is a creek or snow near by. I then take it home to skin and butcher it myself always seems to come out better that way. At least that is my experience.

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My friend - I understand the sentiment about field dressing.. But that's the reality here on the East Coast...

It sounds crazy at first - but many times the processor is less than 30-minutes from camp...

And around here at least - they only knock off $10.00 if you gut/skin/quarter them vs just drop off the whole deer.... So since it's only $10.00 more - guess what folks do?
I prefer to be the one caring for the meat I will be serving to family & friends. I deliver shoulders, hams, backstraps and tenderloins plus some boned meat to the processor iced down in coolers. The hollow organs are full of bacteria that migrates to other parts of the carcass following death. It is best to remove the organs as soon as practical. And yes, I am confident I get back the meat I brought in. I have known the processors at the family-owned business for many years and I trust them.

T.S.
 

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Always field dressed the deer, just the way I was taught to do things.
I was taught the same thing a long time ago.
Perhaps I am too particular, but if I don't follow that regimen, and get the chest cavity rinsed and wiped out well, the resulting meat, be it venison or pork, tastes off to me,
I always have bottled water to drink and some paper towels in my pack, so I am good for the field dressing, and rinsing of hands and knife afterwards as well.
I don't use meat processors, and they may be OK, but I have just heard too many stories in regard to them.
Unsanitary, mixing of deer meat, and even being given someone else's deer.
These may all be camp tales, but better safe than sorry is my motto.
If I do it all, I will have no cause for complaint, is what I have found.
Sort of falls under the heading of the old adage,
"If You want something done properly, Do it Yourself "
 

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I think that the main reason we don't field dress right where they fall is that we will likely be hunting the same spot the next day and don't want to possibly be hunting over the pile. Sometimes they dissapear, sometimes not and we don't want to be attracting any more yotes to our spots if we can help it.

In any case its usually only a matter of 10min or so to go grab the truck, load them up, and drive them out to our field dress spot.
 

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For you guys who do it in the field - how do you handle clean up? Washing off hands, knife, and such?
I carry a pair of shoulder-length disposable plastic field-dressing gloves, a 1-quart bottle of water and a few paper towels. I field-dress the deer where it falls . Over my 50 years of deer hunting I have found that the longer you put off field dressing the quicker the meat quality declines. The hassle of doing it immediately in the field goes a long way towards insuring prime meat and makes the animal easier to transport, to boot.
 
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