Step By Step Guide to Successfully Field Dressing a Deer

Are you new to deer hunting and are worried about field dressing a deer for the first time? This final step is one that many hunters dread having to do since this is where the real work seems to begin.

Field dressing a deer can be a challenge if you are unfamiliar with how it is done. There are a number of things that can go wrong and can potentially cause you to lose a significant amount of useable meat unless done properly.


However, if you follow these steps and have a little patience (and a sharp knife!) you will soon be able to properly field dress a deer with no problem.

What You’ll Need

Apart from a deer to gut, there are some key items you will need in order to make this process easy and efficient. While the items in this list aren’t the only tools used to field dress a deer, they are the ones you will find most useful when following the steps detailed below.

  • Hunting tag with string already attached
  • Recently sharpened knife
  • Bone saw
  • Disposable plastic gloves
  • Dark colored rag
  • Rope
  • Large plastic bag
knife and gloves

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Steps to Successfully Field Dress a Deer

To have the best chance for field dressing a deer, you should follow the following steps:

Step One:

Ensure the deer is indeed dead. Approach the animal from the rear and look for any signs of life. If possible, poke the animal in the eye with a long stick in order to ensure it is actually dead. Deliver a killing blow at this point if needed.

After the kill is confirmed, make sure to unload and safely store your firearm. Next position the deer on its back with the head pointed uphill if possible.

Step Two:

Tag your kill according to local policy. You are then going to want to remove any clothing you want to avoid getting blood on. Mark your position in the field by hanging a blaze orange marker either above or close to your location.

Next you should lay out your necessary tools in a place where they are easily accessible and won’t be misplaced. Put a pair of disposable gloves on prior to going any further.

Field Dressing a Deer

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Step Three:

Using your knife, make a small incision at the base of the sternum. Make sure the blade of your knife is pointed up to help avoid any unnecessary wear and tear to the blade. Only cut deep enough into the cavity to pierce the hide and the initial layer of fat. Avoid cutting any internal organs throughout this process unless otherwise instructed to do so.

Insert two fingers into the incision to help guide your knife and keep the hide in a taut V. This makes it easier to cut and will also keep your fingers out of harms way.

Continue the incision down to either the base of the penis or the udder. If a buck, cut around the penis and down to just above the anus. If a doe, cut around the udder and down to just above the vagina/anus.

Step Four:

Lay the deer on its side and then gently remove the internal organs. Only make cuts to the connective membranes preventing the organs from being removed. Be careful not to damage the bladder or large intestine during this step.

Once the lower organs are removed, carefully disengage the diaphragm at the base of the ribs. This will fully expose the heart and lungs. Using a bone saw, sever the sternum of the deer to fully expose the chest cavity. Sever the esophagus and remove the remaining organs.

Make an incision around the anus and vagina (if necessary). Once you have fully cut free these items, carefully push them back into the cavity of the deer. Both the large intestine and the bladder can now be successfully removed from the deer.

See How Other Pros Get the Job of Field Dressing Done

Step Five:

Once all the deer’s internal organs have been removed, use the large plastic bag to safely store the heart, liver, and other organs you wish to keep. Next, tip the deer on its stomach to help remove any remaining blood or other debris.

After this, gather your belongings, secure a rope to the deer’s legs and drag it to a secure area to continue the butchering process.

Check this article to learn about Tracking wounded deer.


It is highly important that you process your deer as soon as possible in order to avoid damage to the meat. The steps needed in order to properly field dress a deer can vary based upon preferred methods, but the above steps are a proven way to do it safely and with minimal cuts needed.

We here at hope that you found this guide to be of value to you as you pursue your hunting goals. We not only believe in what we post but practice it as well.

Have a different method for field dressing a deer or have more questions regarding one of the above steps? Let us know below and as always…feel free to share our posts with other dedicated hunters.

Captain Hunter

Captain Hunter provides guides on how to hunt effectively, answer reader questions, and reviews of the latest hunting gear. We specialize in providing expert information that does exactly what it claims. Our dedicated staff members are each seasoned professionals with a passion for hunting built upon years of in the field experience.

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