Gutting Big Game By Larry Reese
May 12, 2005 - 4:58:00 PM
Larry Reese of Wildlife Artistry Taxidermy
Great shot! Now what? If you're an experienced
hunter, you'll roll up your sleeves and get to work. But if you're a beginner, faced with this task for the first time, you may wish you had some instruction.
The organs, which are removed in gutting, fill the entire hollow interior
of the body. At the top, the chest cavity encircled by the rib cage, holds
the lungs and heart. Behind them lies the abdominal cavity which contains
the liver, stomach, intestines and bladder. Note the tunnel-like hold through
the pelvis beneath the aitch-bone through which the rectum and urethra
pass to the outside and form the anus and penis. At the other end of the
deer notice the windpipe and gullet that descend through the neck. The
windpipe joins the lungs in the chest; the gullet passes through the diaphragm
to join the stomach. Knowledge of basic deer anatomy will help make the
job of gutting easier, quicker and neater.
Be completely certain that the deer is dead before drawing your knife.
A deer normally dies with its eyes open and they begin to glaze almost
immediately. If the eyes are closed or blinking it is probably just dazed
and will need a finishing shot.
Before gutting the deer, turn it over on its back on the level ground
or with the head slightly uphill. Some hunters remove the musky glands
on the inside of each hock, peeling off the rough hair and hide in which
they are situated. If you do this, wipe your hands and knife free of any
Beginning The Operation.
Begin the gutting operation by lifting the penis with one hand cutting
it and the scrotum free with the other, down to where it emerges from the
pelvis. Here you extend the knife cut to encircle the anus, cutting deeply
around both tubes to partly free them from their channel through the pelvis.
Now insert the knife point, edge up, under the hide only, ahead of the
pelvis where the penis cut as begun and carefully split the hide to the
point of the breastbone (you can feel it where the rib cage starts) and
no further. This will make your taxidermist very happy and insure enough
hide for a good shoulder mount. The hide will draw back as it is cut,
exposing the sheet of muscles beneath and at the same time removing the
hair from the proximity of the next cut. Carefully cut a short slip through
the exposed layer of muscle, taking care not to puncture the bladder or
intestines underneath. Lift the muscle sheet away from the intestines by
inserting two finger of the left hand into the slit. The knife blade is
inserted between these fingers, edge up, and the cut extended to the breastbone.
Notice the liver at the end of the cut. In front of it you will see
the sheet-like diaphragm closing off the chest cavity. Carefully cut this
membrane free of the rib cage until you can get both arms up into the deer's
chest. Reaching as far into the neck as you can, grasp the gullet (a smooth
tube) and the windpipe (it feels like a gas-mask hose) and pull them back.
While doing so, ease the knife up into the base of the neck with the other
hand, being extremely careful not to cut your left hand in the cramped
space, and sever both tubes. Pull them both back, bringing the lungs and
heart with them.
Finish cutting the diaphragm free. With a little clipping of membranes
you can now withdraw most of the deer's innards, except the bladder and
lower intestine which are still partly attached to the pelvis. In doing
so, be careful not to damage the delicate, and delicious, tenderloins that
lie against the underside of the backbone in the abdominal cavity.
Squeeze all the urine out of the bladder to avoid a spill, and push
any droppings out of the last five or six inches of the rectum. Then, working
from the inside, snip off the remaining attachments and pull the penis
and anus forward through the pelvic arch to join the rest of the organs
on the gut pile.
Flushing the cavity.
Flush out the body cavity by raising the deer's shoulders and letting
the accumulated blood run out through the pelvic opening.