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Holding the top end of the esophagus and trachea with one hand, pull firmly toward the rear end. Your knife in your other hand will be used to make a few strategic cuts to loosen the various organs where they adhere to the chest or abdominal walls. Be careful not to slice the tenderloins, which lie along either side of the backbone (figure 10). Keep steady pressure, pulling the whole package toward the rear end. Since the animal has been positioned with its rear end downhill, the guts will roll conveniently out the back end (figure 9). Lift or tilt the animal, as required, to drain out any blood. Use a handy stream or handfulls of snow to do the necessary preliminary cleaning in the field, giving it a good, proper cleaning once hanging back in camp or at home.

NOTE: Many people prefer not to make the incision as long as I make mine, citing possible contamination while dragging the animal from the woods. Good point. What I have done on occasion is temporarily sew the body cavity shut with a few strategic loops of baler twine. This, then, also makes a good way to contain the heart and liver during transport.


Figure 8 -- Although a little hard to see in this picture, the tip of the saw blade is resting on the forward end of the pelvis. When splitting it, use extreme caution not to puncture the bladder, visible just to the right of the saw


Don't forget to salvage the heart and liver. The heart, which makes superb sliced sandwich meat after being cooked like a roast, is encased in a sack-like membrane and can easily be cut out. Find it hanging out with the lungs. As for the liver, be very careful when cutting it free from its attachments, especially as far as cutting the gall bladder. This will cause contamination from bile and render the liver inedible. Wash both organs thoroughly, since they are both charged with blood, and cool quickly.


Figure 9 -- This picture is turned 90 degrees out of whack. To view it more easily, tilt your head to the right

The entrails have all been pulled in a coherent group from the front end out toward the tail.


The first time through will seem a little intimidating, but they're all made the same and it doesn't take many sessions to get comfortable with this. It is of paramount importance to gut as soon as possible and get the carcass cooling, which also means skinning relatively soon in most cases. The cooler the weather, the less critical this becomes, but it's easier to skin a carcass that hasn't set up yet.


Figure 10 -- Once again, tilt your head to the right for a better perspective of this picture (carcass is hanging by the back legs).

View inside the body cavity showing the 2 tenderloins, strips of muscle on either side of the backbone from about where the ribs end to where the back legs begin.


Finally, once the deer has been hung, skinned, and had the head removed, I finish the cut forward from the brisket up the neck. Any remaining trachea or eosophagus is then removed, eliminating that possible source of contamination and preventing pooling of fluids.

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Good luck and bon appetit.