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So I've spent a lot of time practicing my shot and figuring out where I'm going to hunt, but I've realized something. I have no idea what to do with the deer after I've shot it. I'm a first time hunter with no prior experience. I understand that I need to track it, make sure its dead, then tag it. Then what?
The hunter education class really didn't go into gutting a deer. Does anyone have any websites or books that explain how to do this? Am I over complicating this?
Then after its gutted, how long do I have before I need to take it to a meat locker?
 

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Everyone has their own way, but there are small booklets you can get to keep in your bag once you are ready to field dress the deer to help you out. Some people start by cutting the glands off the hind legs, others don't worry about it. Then you make a clean cut thru the hide from the collarbone down to the tail. Be careful not to puncture anything you don't need to. I usually use some kind of zip knife for that. If you are going to mount the buck then don't go any higher than you absolutely have to on the ribs. You need to leave a lot of hide for the mount to look good. Then take your knife and cut thru the meat until you reach the abdominal cavity. Go all the way to the pelvic bone and crack it down the middle, some use a saw, others use a hatchet, some don't break it at all. Reach up into the neck and cut the esophagus and pull it straight down to the tail and hopefully everything else will come with it. Helps to have the deer on somewhat of an incline also. If you run into problems pulling everything out carefully use your knife to cut it away from the interior lining. Once it is all out make sure you have cut around the anus and drain the rest of the blood out of the deer. Temperature plays a big part in how long you wait to take it to the locker. The hotter it is the shorter I would wait. I have seen people hang a deer up in a tree for days, but I don't. If it is cold then hang it and keep hunting. Everyone has their own opinion on how it is done, but this has always worked for me and only takes a few minutes once you get the hang of it. Just be careful where you put you knife. Don't want to cut the wrong thing. Also, keep a clean knife, a backup knife, bone saw or hatchet, some kind of gloves, I use non-latex, paper towels, and a zip knife in your bag. Go to the local Wally World and they should have a book or some place that sells hunting supplies can take care of ya. I am sure another thread will be started closer to season on this subject. Good Luck!!!!!!!
 

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Lots of variables involved in those questions. First, if you're shooting with a bow or if you got a questionable hit you need to wait at least thirty minutes before starting to track. (Soime will say an hour). Pay attention to exactly where the deer was standing when hit, and what direction it went after the hit. This will help you find the clipped hair and the start of the blood trail. If you're not experienced at blood trailing you can drop little pieces of toilet paper on some blood spots as you go, to help you stay on track and also to give you a better visual on the path the deer took when it ran off.

I have no info to share on field dressing, but others will.

As for how long before getting it into a cooler, that varies with temperature and also with opinion/tradition. When I kill a deer I prop it's chest open with a stick so that it'll cool, and I also try to keep the back legs apart. Those hams will hold a lot of heat. I then get to a gas station ASAP and buy some blocks of ice (because cubes melt too quickly) and put two in the body cavity and one between the hams. Then I get it into a cooler or get it home ASAP, and unless it's cold out I start processing it right away. (I used to. I can't anymore, so I take it to someone who can, or have Ellie May help/do it). Skin it, cut off the head and lower part of the legs, and then quarter it and drop the parts into coolers with blocks of ice. Fill the coolers with water, and change the water a few times over the next 24 hours or so to get rid of most of the blood, then start hacking and packing.

Many others will say to hang it for different periods of time, and have been doing so longer than I've been around without ever having one go bad, but I don't choose to do that.
You'll get some differing opinions, so you need to choose what seems best to you and try it.
 

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as far as field dressing, I start by cutting around the :***: and tying it off. Then cut from the sternum back to the goods. Then cut out the guts. Not rocket science, just practice makes perfect. I try to cut as small a whole as possible or else the inside is filthy when you get it drug out. I rarely field dress a deer in the woods though, but that's how I do it when I do.
My advice...have someone with you that has done it before and doesn't mind showing you how.
 

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I pretty much do it like Hoyt explained. If you are not too far out and it isnt really hot, try and drag it out without field dressing and get someone who knows to HELP YOU OR WATCH you do it. Dont let them do it, get yer hands in there and learn. Processing your own deer isnt too hard either and will save you a lot of money, plus you dont have to worry about how your deer was handled cause you know. You dont need a band saw to do it, just basically debone it into roasts. the backstraps and roasts can be made into steaks now or after they defrost before you cook them. It will take a couple of deer before you really get the hang of it so dont get frustrated. Dont get in a hurry either. I got a couplf og those 70 dollare coolers from wally world and if you quarter your deer first, each one will hoad a quartered deer. Then you can ice it down and work on it a little at a time. Good luck to you!
 

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Oh and the bloodtrailing advice is great too. DO NOT TRACK IT TOO SOON! It will be the longest time of your life but wear a watch and force yourself to wait at least 30min to an hour before you trail so you dont push your deer. If you think your shot was too far back getting liver or intestine, then you want to wait several hours if possible to let it bleed out. One of the biggest mistakes new hunters will want to make is to rush after their deer after they shot it. Even if you see it drop, give it 30-45min and watch it with your binoculars.
 

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Last year was my first time. I was fortunate to have watched a guy work a Buck the day before. Then, when I got my doe back to camp (guts still intact), a guy coached me on what to do. He worked for a processor before and had worked lots of deer. He said he had worked up deer at night by flash light with out getting caught, what that meant, I don't know. I will give you this tip, if can gut it after you drag out and to camp etc. it's easier from what all the guys in our camp say. We find them, get a guy or two to help drag and load it in it to a golf cart, and zip back to camp and hang them up to gut them. The good part about that is if you get bile or bad stuff in the cavity, you can rinse it off right away and it will wash out. Gravity really helps.
 
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