Maintaining the flavor and food safety of game animals
begins in the field. The need for punctual field care applies to all
game animals from doves to deer, and immediate field dressing helps
prevent spoilage caused by bacteria and the animal’s body heat. Top...
of Small Game
After removing the skin, cut the animal down the stomach,
being sure to cut the bone between the hind legs. It is easier to eviscerate
(remove the organs and stomach) and skin animals like squirrels and
rabbits while still the animal is still warm. Once eviscerate, the carcass
should be wiped thoroughly with a clean, dry cloth or dry leaves. Keep
the carcass cool. Transport in the open air, if possible, or in a vented
vehicle. Refrigerate if cooking soon, or freeze if you are not eating
it in the next day or so. Top...
of Game Birds
Draw (remove innards) and cool birds as soon as possible.
Pluck all feathers (outdoors if possible) and thoroughly wash the carcass.
A good way to cool a game bird is to place it in a cold water brine
(about 2 tablespoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of vinegar to 1 quart of
water) and allow it to stand in a cold place overnight to remove blood
clots and strong flavors. Remove from brine, and dry thoroughly inside
and out. You may either now freeze the bird or prepare it for the night’s
of Larger Game
For bear, antelope and other large animals, the end result
at the table starts the minute the animal dies. It is important to take
action correctly and promptly. Once the animal has been felled, it should
be bled as soon as possible. The more blood that is drained, the better
the meat will keep. Dress the animal carefully, removing offal (entrails)
and wiping the cavity well. Use a dry cloth or leaves for this as wet
surface blood spoils quickly.
Cool the animal quickly by hanging it in a shaded spot
with good air circulation. Prop the flanks open with a stick. It helps
if the stick is sharpened to a point at both ends, so as not to slip.
Keep the animal cool when transporting the carcass home or to the butcher.
Transporting it inside a warm trunk will accelerate meat spoilage, and
never put the meat over a hot car hood.
Hanging the meat for several days in a cool storage area
or refrigerator will improve its flavor. Leave the skin on the carcass
so that the meat doesn’t dry out or turn dark. Trim the fat from
the carcass, as some of the characteristic strong flavor is concentrated
in the fat. Top...
of an Antlered Animal
Bleed any antlered animal as promptly as possible. Cut
the throat at head, unless the head is going to be mounted, in which
case the cut should begin at the top of chest. Insert the knife, cutting
deeply until the blood flows freely.
Prop the carcass belly up using rocks or brush for support
if needed. Cut a circular cut from one hip to the other. Musk glands
are located near the cut and must be removed to prevent tainting of
the meat. Clean the knife immediately.
Split the hide from throat to tail by inserting the knifepoint under
the skin without cutting into the body cavity. Peel back the hide several
inches on each side of the cut so that hair doesn’t get into the
Cut through the pelvic bone, being careful to avoid cutting
the stomach. Turning the carcass downhill will cause the stomach to
sag into the rib cavity, which decreases the chance of cutting it. Large
intestines can then be cut free from the pelvic area but not severed
from the stomach.
Open the carcass by cutting through the length of the
breastbone and neck into the exposed wind pipe. Turn carcass uphill
head first, if possible. Free the gullet and pull stomach toward the
rear and out from the cavity. Remove the head and legs and hang the
carcass, allowing it to cool before transporting, if conditions permit.
(Remember, in most cases, a leg should be tagged with the permit and
registered at a check-in site prior to removing the head or legs.) Top...
Processing of Meat
Most hunters find it more convenient to large game to
a butcher for processing (butchering, wrapping, labeling and freezing),
but here is an alternative.
Hang the cleaned carcass for at least 48 hours, even up
to a week or more if the temperature will allow it. Ideally, temperatures
should be around 34 to 40 degrees F.
To hang, insert a Gambrel hook through the rear hocks,
spreading the hindquarters. Wrap the meat loosely in cheesecloth to
protect from flies.
Excess fat and darkened blood spots should be cut away.
To start the quartering process, split down length of backbone from
head to tail. Then cut around the bottom of the rib cage. This will
give you four large pieces of meat. Further trim the meat and cut into
desired cuts, wrap, label and freeze. Top...
Begin with the hind quarter. Cut off the leg by making
a cut with the meat saw from the hip to the tailbone. If you cut across
the top, you will have round steaks. The first cuts are top round and
are the best. Thicker cuts make round roasts. The small, less meaty
part near the shank is the heel of round, which makes a good soup bone.
The muscle flap on the belly is the flank steak. Cut off
and remove the layers of fat.
The rump roast is the meaty end that was cut away from
the leg. Bone it out for a rump roast or just cut it off with the saw.
The top muscle on the remaining piece is all steak. You
could cut through the backbone for each steak or bone it out and then
cut into steaks. Or the part behind the ribs could be left whole for
a sirloin roast. The meat underneath the backbone is the tenderloin
or filet mignon, which can be removed and cut into steaks (butterfly)
or left whole.
Steaks, beginning at the rear just ahead of the rump roast
and moving forward, are sirloin, porterhouse, and T-bone (if boned),
separate into the filet mignon and New York strip. The rib steaks could
be left whole for a rib roast, which would be your best roast. Everything
left on this quarter is stew or burger. Stew meat is the better meat.
Remove the fat and anything non-meatlike.
On the front quarter, remove the leg, lift it up and start
cutting underneath until you have cut behind the shoulder blade and
separated the leg from the body. The part on the shoulder is called
a blade roast. It can be boned or just cut with the saw to the size
you prefer. The top part of the leg is chuck and can be made into roasts
or steaks. It can be boned or not. The lower part of the leg is burger
or soup bone. There are probably a couple of rib steaks on the remaining
piece, so cut these out. The neck meat provides more stew meat. The
meat at the front that would have been just behind the leg is brisket.
Remove that from its bone. Cut as many ribs as you want for short ribs.
Everything else is stew or burger. When making hamburger, use at least
one fourth fat. Top...