When skinning a deer it can either be hung by its head or by its rear legs. I generally skin mine by hanging it from its rear legs. But, if you do head up then be sure to begin by making a circular cut around the deer’s neck. Be sure to connect this cut with the cut made in the stomach during your field dressing. To remove the hide you take a hold by grabbing the skin and pulling down hard with both hands. If it is extremely cold out outside you may want to get the help of a person with strong fingers to pull the hide down while you are cutting the hide from the meat for it can be hard to separate. Use your knife carefully when freeing the hide from the carcass to avoid cutting the skin or yourself. If the flesh begins to pull off with the skin you may be pulling faster than you are cutting to separate the skin from the meat, so stop pulling and try again after cutting the flesh back with the knife.
NOTE: If the cape is to be saved, you can cut the middle and rear portion of the hide free by starting the skinning just behind the shoulder and working down from there.
When you get the hide down around the shoulders you will have to cut off the front legs with a hacksaw or some kind of a meat saw just above what you would think is the deer’s knees. Then on the inside of the deer’s legs with your knife you will cut the hide towards the chest and connect this cut with the one made up through the chest and abdomen during your gutting process. After you work the hide free around the front legs with your knife. You can continue to work the hide down the deer’s back towards its feet and tail.
Once you get the hide down around the deer’s tail, simply cut the tail off with a good sharp knife. Let me say this again. “With a good sharp knife.” When you are pulling and cutting the hide from the deer and you can see that the hide is now coming off of the tail, you can now simply cut the tail free. This cut you understand is not through the hide, but only through the tailbone itself because you have pulled the hide down far enough so that it exposes the tailbone under the hide. That’s a long explanation for something that is rather simple just so you will not get confused. Then continue until you get the hide down around the deer’s tarsal glands (the dark patches on the inside of the hind legs) then take a saw and cut through the leg bone just above that tarsal gland.
By now you will be tired from unloading your game and what it took to get that game in the first place, then all your driving, getting up early and dragging that prize deer out of the woods, skinning and gutting it. But, you are far from finished. You must still store the meat for butchering. Here is how I do it. I first cut out the back strap (along the spine) and tenderloins out and place in an ice chest. Then I cut the front legs free (no bones to cut) and place them in an ice chest. Then I cut the back hindquarters free with a knife. You can work a hindquarter free with just a knife if you work your way to the ball and socket joint that holds the hindquarters to the hips. Just work the point into this joint and work around the ball.
Once both tendons are cut the hindquarter will be free. Place any other meat such as ribs and neck into the ice chest. Now place a bunch of ice in the ice chest with the meat. By now you will be probably totally exhausted from all the work. I know I am in no mood to begin butchering the deer. So I usually wait a couple of days before I begin butchering.
Each day you need to drain the water and add new ice. I usually will do a little butchering each day until I am finished, this usually takes about a week. I could do it all in one day if I wanted to but cutting up one hindquarter is easy but butchering an entire deer is work so I spread it out. Besides by stretching the process out it give the meat time to age while on ice and you time to recover from the processing that day.
Now keep in mind what you want to do with your deer. If you are cutting for steaks, hamburger and stew meat you probably know how you want to cut. If you are like me I like to smoke all my deer meat with apple wood or cherry wood, but the most important job I think to make the meat turn out right is how you de-bone and trim the muscle tissue or fat. This may be a project for your wife. My wife does this extremely well and when it is all cooked cooled and sliced the meat is tender and goes down ever so smoothly with your beer and the football game. There are many good smoking recipes on the internet, but just remember if this is your first time smoking the game don’t cheat the recipe or the process you will be frustrated.
Learn a good way to skin and process your deer without wasting a lot of meat. You can also find out out how to save time in the process. For the tools to make this a fun trip and process check out http://www.KnivesPro.com
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