After logging many hours at the range and scouting in the field, you finally did it! You killed a deer. What comes next? Well, after tagging the deer and field dressing it, it’s time to process it. This means it’s time to transport it to a clean environment, skin it, age it for 3-7 days in a 33-42 degree environment, and butcher it. In this article, we are going to look at how to skin a deer.
To skin your deer, you’re going the following equipment:
- A sharp knife
- Rubber gloves (optional)
- Chainmail glove (optional)
- A gambrel or equivalent hanging device
- bone saw or reciprocating saw
How to skin a deer
- Hang the deer on a gambrel from its hind legs.
- Skin out the hind legs.To skin out the hind legs, start with your knife blade facing outward and run it between the leg meat and the skin.
Make your cut all the way up to the hanging hole you made for the gambrel.
Now start peeling back the hide and skin around the hind leg, away from your cut.
Once you’ve skinned both sides of the initial cut, it’s time to cut the skin around the deer’s lower leg. Turn your knife blade side out and carefully remove the rest of the hide from the leg. Be careful not to cut the achilles tendon.
- Skin the hide to the deer’s tail and cut through the tailbone.Work the hide down to the deer’s tail bone and cut through the bone by delicately pressing the knife until you split two tailbones. Once you split two tailbones, continue skinning until you have freed the hide from the tail area.
- Work the hide off the back of the deer.Depending on the deer, this maybe as simple as pulling on the hide. If the hide is reluctant to come off the back, you may need to work the knife during the process. If soft tissue remains attached to the hide at the field dressing incision, you’ll have to separate it from the hide with your knife.
- Skin out the front legs.This can be a little tedious due to the anatomy of the deer. You’ll want to turn your knife’s blade outward and start your incision just above the deer’s knee joint. Run the blade upward toward the torso so your blade will pop out just behind the front shoulder and in the area that is already skinned. Once you’re blade appears in the previously skinned area, finish your cut. You now are ready to skin both sides of the front leg(s).
After the initial front leg incision, work the hide off both sides of the leg(s).
After completely skinning around the front legs, cut the final strip of hide that’s attached to the leg(s).
- Skin the hide from the deer’s neck.Pull the hide downward and work your knife to aid in skinning out the neck area. During this part of skinning out a deer, it’s hard to keep the hide separate from the neck meat. You’re bound to leave a little meat on the hide. To prevent this from happening, you can run an incision all the way to the base of the head. This will allow you to pull the skin from the neck while working your knife instead of fighting the hide as if it were a tight sock.
- Remove the deer’s head with a bone saw.Once you’re at the base of the head, cut through the deer’s neck bone with a bone saw or reciprocating saw.
Finish cutting the soft tissue with a knife if your saw doesn’t complete the task.
- Cut off the front legs.This can also be done with either a bonesaw or a reciprocating saw.
Summary of how to skin a deer
When learning how to skin a deer, just keep in mind it will get easier every time you do it. The most important things are to have the proper equipment and a clean environment. Although a good quality sharp knife is essential, personal protective equipment like a chainmail glove can save you a trip to the emergency room. If the deer was properly field dressed and you follow the steps in this article, you’ll be on your way to enjoying some of the best venison mother nature has to offer. Check out our other articles on how to quarter a deer and how to butcher a deer to help you along the way. Good luck and happy hunting!