How to skin a deer when your parents ask for help

Picture of How to skin a deer when your parents ask for help
First, a warning: I don't want anyone to be surprised by the photos in this instructable. It shows a deer that is dead and it shows lots of muscle and blood but is graphic only in it's reality. If you are at all queasy and maybe you're just looking for pretty pictures of deer, don't go any further in this instructable.

My parents asked me to help them with their deer this season. My dad is in a wheelchair and my mom just had her second hand/wrist surgery a few months ago. But rather than let this deer season pass by and leave them at the mercy of meat from wal-mart, I decided that it would be a good way to spend a day or two. And, I was happy to take payment of half of the meat for my little family of three. Shortly after my parents moved to Arkansas, we were vegan and nobody had any designs on shooting anything. After a fateful bite of some grilled venison tenderloin in a secret sauce, my dad was pushed over the edge. My mom loves to hunt, and has shot the majority of the deer for the family. They are at the point now where it is simply unhealthy for them to eat beef, and chicken is oftentimes not much healthier. Venison meets their requirements of being completely organic, free range, hormone free, and lean like crazy. This is why it is the main meat that they eat during the year. Taking care of your meat needs directly from the source also has some spiritual advantages. Seasoned deer hunters will look at the way we cleaned this deer in shock. Everyone has different purposes for getting a deer. My parents like to eat backstrap steaks and grind the rest of the meat for use in chilis and lasagne etc. My job was to complete the task to their specifications.

There are many ways of skinning a deer, almost as many ways of cooking the meat. This way is a relatively clean way that avoids getting into the body cavity of the animal. There is some meat inside the body cavity that you will be missing doing it this way, but when you hear the coyotes cry out in the middle of the night, you will know that the meat was not wasted. You will see us use two different types of knives in this instructable. You don't have to use any special type of knife. Certain shapes of knifes make it safer and easier to clean the deer, but the only real requirement is that your knife be sharp.
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Yeah! I love self-sufficiency. When people find out that I hunt, they are astonished. YOU?! Of all people?! And I ask them if they're vegetarian. More often than not they say no. I don't understand how people can eat meat from Walmart and then look at me with horror when I tell them I mostly kill my own meat. There is so much more dignity and reverence for life when you do it yourself.

Anyhow. The way my family always skinned it was to start it out like you and the put a rock under the skin (touching the fur side) and tie a rope around it (on the opposite side of the skin) then we'd attach the other end of the rope to a four wheeler or pickup and just drive away until the skin was at their ankles and we'd cut it off. It was super fast and smooth!
that is truly the honorable path! i am currently a vegetarian learning to hunt for just that reason.
alexkinman6 months ago
I agree but we hang our deer by the tendons in the back of their knees by using a piece of rebar like a clothes hanger
weldor1 year ago

Believe it or don't but i actually have an old KABAR folding knife with a fold out hatchet like blade as well as a regular blade. the thing is old. it was my wifes grandpa's. he was 72 when he died in 1994 or so. he was the consumate hunter and fishermanas well as a professional butcher and meat cutter for Safeway (retired after 42 years!). Miss him.

Jordan Dyck3 years ago
hey guys up here in Canada the white tail general rifle season starts about November and leaving the deer outside for any time and is starts to cool off very fast try to get it in doors as fast as you can because it is always easier to skin a warm animal.
bacaboi6 years ago
wow....its like your in my family. :D but we hang the deer my its feet(the whole body hangs on the tendon)... I wonder which way is easier. but we do the exact same thing. but we grind up half pork(fresh and wild.. no preserves) and half venison. WAY better than hamburgers
I used to hang'm the same way by the back legs but now have gone to this way as not having to deal with the breast bone when removing the guts. Great instructable I figured too many tree huggers to put it on here. Guess I need to add a How to Properly shoot a hog....
i was taught to hang them by the back legs as well ,but will try you neck method next time,the thought of not having to deel with the breast bone sold me. thank you for posting this instructable,just when i had thought i was an old pro at this
i have skinned two deer with this hang by neck method and will never go back to hanging by the hind legs ever again your instructable is awesome and very well documented thanks for the needed info
Aren't a lot of hunters tree-huggers? After all their food depends on a healthy wild space! Besides that I'm a vegetarian and read this with no queasy-ness at all. I don't eat meat because of the way we produce it nowadays. However, I have no problem with this. Useful skills here that we will all need again sooner or later. Thanks!
Absolutely. Hunters are typically more concerned with conservation of our natural resources than most of the loudmouths that cry animal abuse.
Another trick that I learned awhile back is to mix chopped onion, instead of fat, in your burgers to keep them moist. (I'm on a low fat diet) Also, venison is best when cooked very rare (except for stews, of course).
applestone (author)  tucklandry6 years ago
Yeah, you can tell from the pictures that ours were pretty crumbly. They were fairly moist, but the experience was more like eating sloppy joes.
I've done far more thinking than butchering, but I would say that doing with the neck up should be superior. Advantage: 1. No spreader bar needed between legs 1. Gravity should help keep the scent glands on the lower legs from tainting the meat 1. Likewise, if cleaning out the guts go awry, they can only taint the meat on the lower legs The only one I've cleaned before was done legs up, but I plan on trying it this way next.
xarlock6674 years ago
Put the round in the brain and you do not have to discard ANY meat. Unless you are into brains. That aside, cook it a little and feed the meat to your dogs. They will LOVE you for it!
Yeah, if the deer is standing dead-still and your rifle is on a bench rest. This is terrible advice.
Robot Lover4 years ago
I think this is great! I'm no tree hugger, what I mean is I believe that God put animals on this earth to sustain human life. Great instructable.
dustindodd4 years ago
why didnt you field dress the deer...?
deadlock764 years ago
You should never hang a deer by it head to skin. The hair around the neck will get all over the meat. You should hang the deer by it's rear legs and skin down towards the head. Thus preventing hair getting all over the meat.
xarlock6674 years ago
I LOVE deer meat, but why grind it up? Some parts I understand, but surely not the whole thing!
codongolev5 years ago
that knife has the coolest name I think I've ever read.
Based on the innuit Ulo knife, and crossed with a machette. Neat but I always used a tool I got at walmart one year for skinning deer, it was a double bladed razor set into a handle that allowed a semicircle of blade out past your hand about an inch and another flat edge set inside the handle so you could reverse it and make long cuts like a zipper down the center. Never have seen one since, but they were DAMN nice to have!
xarlock6674 years ago
Looks like you made a heart/lung shot. Never liked that method myself, I used a .30-06 and went for the head shot. (I am not into trophies and there is nothing in the head that I will eat.) Just a thought.
Screamo4 years ago
Nah just chop it and cook it with the skin, it adds a nice SMOKEY TASTE <.<
Never in all my life have my parents asked for help with something like this...
angi4655 years ago
I'm writing a book and I'm doing research. I don't hunt, but this was sooo informative! Thank you for posting it!! I agree with taraist, though I 'm not a vegetarian. It is deplorable what we do to mass produce meat. If more of us did what your family does, we'd all be a lot healthier! Thanks again!
freethemall5 years ago
I can't beleive that any of you actually enjoy doing something this horrific.
Think, people had to do this for food. Without this people would die of malnutrition. Some people here in west virgina have been doing this for their whole lives for food for their family. Some people do this for a living. I, for one, applaud this user for posting this for it shows the time and effort people go through to get food on the table!
You are joking, aren't you? This is as natural as it could get! I suggest you visit an abattoir if you that that this is "horrific".
skunkbait6 years ago
Great job! I had an ible like this on the back burner. I'd taken the pics, but was dragging on actually writing it. You've covered it nicely. I've processed about 20 deer over the years (and 2 this season). We make a family event of it. Everyone helps, and it takes about 45 minutes from the time we string it up till the time it's in the freezer.
applestone (author)  skunkbait6 years ago
WOW! 45 minutes was nothing like how long this took me (8 hours till it was in the freezer). Though, when I was done skinning him, he looked like he could've been in a plastination exhibit. My dad came outside and said, 'well.....I guess that way works too....' I left everything connected and just removed the skin which apparently is more time consuming. It was interesting to see all the parts though.
The first one I did took several hours. I had only cleaned squirrels and rabbits before. My kids were real little and didn't help much. I cut my hand, the rope broke, etc. Now (10 years later) we have it down to an art. I use scissors, vise-grips, a machete, and a gut-hook/knife. One kid holds the plastic bag, my wife stays in the house and packs the meat in plastic/paper for the freezer, and the other kid is the gopher (for towels,knives,bowls,etc.).
The family team sounds just idyllic, certainly something to be proud of. I wish more people would give processing their own meat a shot, because not only is it better for the meat to be immediate, but having a hand in it helps keep it precious. Hope you'll still post your 'ble in the eventual future, as everybody's got their own method and there's a lot to be learned from seeing others'.
It really is good having the family involved. That way, when we sit at the table, everyone knows exactly how the meat got there! I also started teaching the kids early, what each part was, and what it was good for (intestines to wrap sausage, brains to tan the hide, plus all the edible organs). I really hate to see anything wasted! I may try and re-write my instructable and post it sometime just before deer season. We've all been so sidetracked lately. I have a couple of other skinning methods I want to try (as I usually ruin the hide). One involves an air compressor, while the other uses a rope, a truck, and a golfball!
codongolev5 years ago
aww, it's so cute. MOVIE IDEA!!! the attack of zombie bambi!!!
good idea
fzxdf56 years ago
After you get the hide off you should take an ordinary bottle gas torch, like used to sweat copper plumming...and singe the outside, don't cook the meat...just burn off any hair you may have stuck to the meat.
How is that better than water?
it keeps the surface dry and easier to handle...where I "dress" my deer is at my camp and I only have a pitcher pump for water, no garden hose...when you are lone with a 4 hr project from field to freezer, it takes a lot out of you pumping 4-6 buckets of water...
This was done very well, it was incredibly informative and the amount of pictures really made a clear sense to the progress. Now i cant stop thinking about venison, I wish that step nine would have been some of your own personal recipes for some summer sausage or jerky.
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