When you find yourself miles from your vehicle, deboning a deer in the field may be your only option.

Deboning a Deer in the Field

Most of us have been there before. You’ve just downed a deer and even while your adrenaline is still fresh from just a few moments before, you remember you’re a mile from your truck – or even 10 miles. So, what do you do?

Dragging the dead weight of the whole animal just won’t cut it. While gutting or quartering up the animal will help lower its temperature and reduce weight, that still leaves several parts of the body you’ll unnecessarily have to tote. In this situation, it’s best to go into the hunt prepared to debone the animal right where it lays. Of course, that means you’ll need to keep a few tools with you whenever you’re in the woods.

What You’ll Need

In addition to a sharp knife (and a sharpener, just in case), you’ll need a packable bone saw, a few trash bags, game bags, soap and/or latex gloves, and a good backpack capable of carrying the extra weight.

Start With the Hide

Position the deer with the exit wound facing the ground in order to keep the meat as clean as possible. Start by cutting the hide from the neck along the backbone, then work your way sideways, pulling the cape toward the front and back legs.

To begin deboning a deer in the field, start cutting the hide at the neck down the spine.
To begin deboning a deer in the field, start cutting the hide at the neck down the spine.

Then, saw off the front and back leg facing you, below the joint. Once the hide is pulled off from the shoulder and hind quarters, you’ll be able to easily remove both of them. Do take care not to puncture the guts when working on the back leg. Set both aside on the trash bags to keep the meat clean while you continue.

Begin Removing Meat

Now you’re ready for the prime cuts: the backstrap and tenderloin. And don’t forget the neck meat. After you’ve cut away the backstrap and meat on the neck, you can work on getting out the tenderloin, which is located inside the chest cavity. Again, be careful not to puncture the guts while working the meat out near the vertebrae. Place all of the meat in the game bags.

Place the meat to the side atop a garbage bag or game bag to keep it clean while you finish.
Place the meat to the side atop a garbage bag or game bag to keep it clean while you finish.

Depending on the shot, you can make the call to remove what rib meat there is, as well as the flanks. After, flip the deer over and repeat the process. If your game laws require identification of the sex of the deer, be sure to either leave the head or the genitals attached.

At this point, you’re ready to start removing the meat from the hind quarters and shoulders that you set aside. Place and seal them in the game bags, just like you did with the rest of the meat.

Wrap Up and Head Home

Ideally, you’ll be able to fit everything into your pack or have the help of a friend. If both of those aren’t options, and the temperature is below 45, you’ll have to make multiple trips. Fit as many bags in your pack as you can and hang the rest in a tree that’s shaded. However, if the temperatures are warm, you’ll need to call a friend to help you. If you’re near a flowing, cold stream, dip the bags in there (be sure to anchor them) while you wait.

If you’re in bear or cougar country, hang the meat in a tree at least 100 yards from the carcass. Choose a tree that gives you a clear line of sight as you approach and not in thick shrubbery, which will enable you to spot any predators. Of course, keep your bear spray nearby.

From here, all that’s left is packing up and heading back home. And, since it’s deboned, it’ll last far longer and give you less of a backache getting it to your vehicle.

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