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Thread: Field Dressing, Butchering, Skinning, Animal Processing....Wild & Domestic

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    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    Exclamation Field Dressing, Butchering, Skinning, Animal Processing....Wild & Domestic

    This might not be in the right place, but I didn't think it fit into any of the other conversations, so here goes.

    I rode with my uncle on saturday to the game processor to drop off his quarters. While I was there, I mentioned that we had spoken before about getting "good hides" and that I'd pay for good ones If he'd save them out for me...
    Well, he had a wheelbarrow full and brought out 6 good sized ones. I saw a lot of meat and a few knife marks right off, but said 'what the heck'. If these were your deer, you'd be PO'ed.. after fleshing 2 hides, I had a 8" tall 14" round pile of meat that I would guess weighed in excess of 10 lbs. to top it off, I only managed to salvage 2 of the 6 hides. the rest were butchered. To me, It looked like they skinned their deer with the lawnmower. 8" long cuts right in the middle of the hides.
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    Let me be up front here.. I understand that processors really don't give a RA about he skins, just the money... well, he lost 10 pounds of meat on 2 skins... thats a bad skinning job and lost money on his part, since he gets paid by the pound...


    enough ranting..I wanna talk about proper skinning procedures. Granted, there is more than 1 way, but I dont know of any better way than what I learned for anyone hunting for food and skins. It's called "fisting".

    First of all, take that "skinning Kit" you got from cabelas that has 4 saws, 8 knives, gambrels, lawnmowers... and toss that box of crap in the garbage. you need nothing more than a sharp pocketknife to completely dress and quarter a deer.

    Take your single knife, and make a cut all the way around the neck, just below the chin, right up behind the ears.
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    Follow the line along the front of the front legs where the brown and white hair meet, right up the the "cowlick swirl" in the middle of the chest.
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    Follow the line along the back of the back legs where the brown and white hair meet, right up to the "V" in the base of the tail.
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    Make a diamond shaped incision to go around the genetalia and mammaries (if it's a doe)
    Split the deer right up the middle from the diamond to the neck incision.
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    Noose around the neck, and hoist the deer, or skinning can be done on the ground.
    Cut around the circumference of the legs, just below the "cap joint", you'll find where it bends, there is a lump. as you get into it, there are tendons. sever these and break the leg backwards over your knee. sever the tendons still attached and save the legs for the hockskins and hoofs.
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    starting at the neck, you may need your knife just to get started. the neck is the hardest part. Once you are started, put the knife down. you won't need it again until you are cutting meat off the bone or quarters.
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    Once the neck is started, make sure you aren't pulling any meat off with the skin and work your hand in between the skin and meat. Work your hand around to the shoulders and watch closely to the flank meat (I call it the 'fly twitch' muscle. Once you reach the shoulders, move to the legs.
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    Work the legs loose till you are at the belly / shoulder and work the skin off carefully around the shoulder watching the flank meat.
    Work around the belly and lower legs the same way.
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    When done properly, you will have a "cape" hanging off the deer's back. grab the neck skin and with 2 good yanks (you may have to raise it a bit higher for the second yank) you can have the skin all the way down to the tail.
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    To remove the tail skin without damage, you can either take 2 sticks and pinch the tail between them pulling down and it will pull off like a sock, I prefer to use my fingers, two from one hand on either side where the white and brown hair meet, and the other hand on top and bottom.
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    when you are done, there should be 0 meat left on the skin. I mean NONE. there should only be tiny bits of fat still attached.
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    Now you have a cooler worthy hunk of meat hanging in the tree, or laying on top of it's own 'clean' skin on the ground. You save the skin and waste no meat using this method.
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    NOW you can get your knife back out to start quartering.
    There is no reason at all to waste meat and skins simply because you don't know any better.

    honestly, I have seen roadkill skins in better shape than what I got from the processor. As a tanner, you can imagine my disappointment.
    Thanks for listening to my rant and I hope this helps someone to save food.
    Your Comforting Company
    Last edited by your_comforting_company; 11-02-2009 at 01:07 AM. Reason: added pictures
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    Tracker Beo's Avatar
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    Really good posting although I do it a bit differently I am not a tanner, this should be in your blogs so its easy to find. Gonna have to try it when I get my next deer with the flintlock.
    There is no greater solitude than that of the Tracker in the forest, unless perhaps it's that of the wolf in the wilderness.

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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    Nice Post YCC. Good instructional.
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    missing in action trax's Avatar
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    Yep, I was thinking kind of what Beo said, that's not how I do it, but I can tell that it's a good way to go and you laid your instructions out nice and simple. Nicely done YCC.
    some fella confronted me the other day and asked "What's your problem?" So I told him, "I don't have a problem I am a problem"

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    reclinite automaton canid's Avatar
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    key to good skinning is to only use the knife when it's actually needed.
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    Lone Wolf COWBOYSURVIVAL's Avatar
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    Canid, If you said I missed it but do you hang them from their hinds or by the rack? I am only familiar with hangin' 'em from the hind legs. I have never seen it done the opposite?
    Keep in mind the problem may be extremely complicated, though the "Fix" is often simple...

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    Request this thread be moved to new sticky for processing game......

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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    Good idea. Done.
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    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    Thanks guys. I will definately get some pics to go with the post.
    Cowboy, If you hang em by the head, it's like taking off a button up shirt. real easy.
    Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. Helen Keller

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    Lone Wolf COWBOYSURVIVAL's Avatar
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    I can't imagine it being any easier, But I am listening I mean reading...
    Keep in mind the problem may be extremely complicated, though the "Fix" is often simple...

    "Teaching a child to fish is the "original" introduction to all that is wild." CS

    "How can you tell a story that has no end?" Doc Carlson

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    reclinite automaton canid's Avatar
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    i skin on the ground [on the hide] or table-top.

    hanging's good for tenderizing and bleeding, and i can see how it would help keep everything clean while skinning, but i'm mostly used to skinning things small enough to be lifted with one hand.

    my point above had been about seperating the skin from the flesh by hand where possible, and only cutting when nessecary, as that will reduce the amount of fleshing work to be done and minimize the chances of gouging the hide.
    Last edited by canid; 10-28-2009 at 12:01 AM.
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    When quartering I start with the shoulders. You can get your knife back out now lol.

    Starting with the shoulders, up at the center of the chest you will find the breastplate. Come right beside the bony protrusion and cut right next to the bone, following around the ribs. You can see where each particular muscle runs along. slice the membrane loose to free the entire muscle. the shoulder will move away from the breastplate in steps as you cut loose each new muscle layer, eventually you will get far enough up into the 'armpit' to reach the point where the tendons join the shoulder blade. sever these and continue up through the armpit until you reach the long "backstrap". cut the muscle layers loose at the membrane here too. this process will remove all the meat to the bone from the breastplate to the backstrap and the whole front leg will fall off in your hand. DON'T DROP IT! Do the same for the other shoulder.
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    Rear Quarters come off in much the same way starting in the 'pit' and pulling away from the belly. As you work your way closer into the socket area pay attention that you aren't cutting into the abdomen. You don't want to bust the guts open till last, trust me. When you reach the socket, you will have to stick your hand in between the belly and thigh on the rear quarter. Feel where the muscles seperate and notice they all are seperated into "pouches" surrounded by a membrane. Your hand will slide up near the backstrap and you will find where to cut the muscles attached at the top. sever these tendons and crack the socket backward over your knee to expose the last few sinews attached to the femur. Theres the pelvic bone in there and has muscle attached directly to it. you'll have to pretty much scrape that, working a bit more slowly. You will be back at the layers seperated by membranes and you can continue all the way back to the tail. It requires a little more attention to make sure you are cutting the right muscles, and getting all you can off the pelvis, but it's worth it in the long run. As you get up near the tail get ready to catch again!
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    Move to the backstrap. The backbone has a 'rib' of cartilage down the middle. You'll have to cut through the "fly twitch muscle" layer, then another membrane to expose the sinews. Cut as close to the cartilage as you can, through the sinew and down into the meat. move the meat away from the cartilage and slip the point of your knife between the meat and sinew as far towards the ribs as you can. using the dull side of your pocketknife, you can seperate the sinew from the meat all the way down to the hams. Sever the sinews where they attach. Hold on to them and go back up toward the shoulders, you'll notice a piece of meat attached to the top of the sinew. scrape that off with the sharp side of your knife. finish them up with the dull side underneath all the way up till they pop out. When done correctly you will have a really long piece of very strong cordage for bow backing, or whatever. It also rids your backstrap steaks of that frustrating 'gristle'.
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    Now you can start removing the backstrap itself up by the shoulders, working the curve of the vertebrae with your knife as the meat is attached directly to the bone. Some of my friends say it is easier to work from the cartilage out, but to me it seems better to work both sides toward each other, from the ribs in, and from the spine down and out. I seem to get more meat this way. but the basic idea is still the same. get all the meat off you can, to me this is the tastiest part besides the rump roast or tenderloin.
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    At this point you should have, in your tree, a head, a neck with meat, and a spine and ribcage. The abdomen is still closed. You have 2 choices here. slice off as much rib meat as possible from the outside with your knife, or go into the belly. I usually slice off as much meat as possible from the outside of the ribs. Going into the belly at this point will give you the opportunity to use that outstanding saw that comes in your kit. or a sawzall or other device.
    If you want to wait till dead last to open the belly (and I can't blame you) go ahead and sever the windpipe at the 'collarbone', collect the meat low on the neck, and the ribs.
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    Start your belly cut right at the bottom of the breastbone and slide your finger in.
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    push any innards away from the abdomen and slip in the tip of your knife. slide down far enough to open the abdomen and get your arm in, but not so far all the guts come pouring out on you.
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    You can reach up by the lungs and heart and get hold of the windpipe. theres a little gristle to tear through but when you get a grip, you can take the entire contents of the chest cavity out with a few short tugs.
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    Go back to your incision and finish down to the pelvic bone. Theres the diaphragm seperating the abdomen from the chest. this must be cut or torn with your fingers all the way around. watch out at the very back, next to the spine because your tenderloins are in there and that is a prized piece of meat. very tender and good flavor. don't wanna get guts all over them. Let all the guts fall over into a 5 gal. bucket and reach down to the anus and sever that. all the genitalia, bladders, and guts will come right out and can be moved away (for dear old dad's weak stomach).

    The tenderloin seperates with little effort with a knife. you should also collect the abdomen meat along the bottom rib now.
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    Now, you can get your saw out and get the ribs, if you didn't already, or if you sliced off the meat with a knife, move on to the neck meat.
    If you don't want the ribs or tenderloin, you can skip the gutting step entirely, but to me, the tenderloin is totally worth it. (but there's not much that grosses me out either)
    The neck muscles are in small bundles and can readily be severed at each end and removed. pretty straightforward. some bits are attached to the bone. use the backstrap and pelvic scraping method to get those.

    Removing the head is optional, but I need the brains for tanning, so I'll include this bit. There's a vertebrae right up by the skull called the 'atlas'. It's the one kinda like a ball joint or hip socket. If you got all the neck meat you should be able to see it by now. let your deer down almost to the ground, sever the last few tendons holding the head on, and give it a good 180 twist. there may be a few tendons you missed. clip those and you've got a clean carcass on the ground with very little meat left on, a clean skin, and the head.. all using only your pocketknife (unless you sawed the ribs off).
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    As I said before, theres at least as many different ways to do this as there are hunters and no one can say theres a right and wrong way, but this is the way I do it and I dont lose as much meat off the bone as the processor lost on just the skin..
    granted it takes a little longer than doing a callous job and requires a little more attention, but If you hunt for FOOD I think it's the only way to go.
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    That and you only need your pocketknife (thats my favorite part).
    Last edited by your_comforting_company; 11-02-2009 at 02:13 PM. Reason: adding pictures
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    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by canid View Post
    i skin on the ground [on the hide] or table-top.

    hanging's good for tenderizing and bleeding, and i can see how it would help keep everything clean while skinning, but i'm mostly used to skinning things small enough to be lifted with one hand.

    my point above had been about seperating the skin from the flesh by hand where possible, and only cutting when nessecary, as that will reduce the amount of fleshing work to be done and minimize the chances of gouging the hide.
    I have done several on the ground when it wasn't feasible to hang, i.e. at someone else's house. It helps to have someone hold the head end while you yank for sure.
    I use this technique on all my small game also, though I dont hang them. I do small game on the tabletop too. less fleshing = less hair pulling through

    I have a feeling this is gonna take a lot of pictures lol...
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    reclinite automaton canid's Avatar
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    i used to have a book on game proccessing that demonstrated skinning a deer with a tree limb, a rope, a golf ball and a pick-up.

    here we go, like this:

    http://www.the-deer-hunting-guide.com/skinning_deer.htm

    though maybe that should go in the how not to category.
    Last edited by canid; 10-28-2009 at 12:55 AM.
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    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    judging by the amount of meat left on the skin in the pics, I have to agree with that last part
    Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. Helen Keller

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    Tracker Beo's Avatar
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    Yet another sticky.... great information. Again I think you should copy and blog this because a lot of readers on here hit only the blogs, a sticky and blog is best I have found.
    Just my thoughts.
    Beo,
    There is no greater solitude than that of the Tracker in the forest, unless perhaps it's that of the wolf in the wilderness.

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    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    thanks beo, I'll get right on that.

    My wife's Kodak camera takes short videos. Is there a way to keep video on this server, or would I need to use Photobucket? of course I could take pics for each step and just attach them, but video is much better IMO.

    Sorry, I'm not really all that computer savvy, lol.
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    Tracker Beo's Avatar
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    Not sure on the video thingy, I have posted pics using WS.Nets way and by going to Imageshack.com both are good. But videos you may have to do a link to say youtube or somewhere else. Not sure ask Rick or Crash, or Chris.
    There is no greater solitude than that of the Tracker in the forest, unless perhaps it's that of the wolf in the wilderness.

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    Chris would love to have videos posted here. He's actually requested instructional videos several times!! Go for it!!!

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    Sounds good. The next deer I skin will be dedicated to this thread.
    I'll check his video request thread and maybe contact Chris for details on getting them on this server.
    Thanks for everything guys.
    Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. Helen Keller

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