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I can’t remember the last time when I had brought home an entire carcass of a deer or elk. It is so much easier to field dress the animal and take all the meat out with me. There is less of a chore of having to take care of it once you are home and less time involved once you get there. Many feel that hanging and aging meat is very important but I haven’t felt that it is enough of a need to ensure my meat is hung and aged rather than almost processed right out of the field. Once home all I have to do is clean it up and package it.
Using the gutless method is also very inviting for obvious reasons; there is no need to remove the innards as there is no reason. The way I like to go about doing this is by boning out the animal; removing the meat and leaving the carcass behind. The head and cape will go home with me as well if it is a buck or bull.
After walking up to the animal and admiring it and taking the necessary and wanted pictures I always go straight into removing the meat. I start on the side that is facing up and skin the animal on that side only. I make a cut through the hide along the entire length of the animal from the back of its head to the rump. Usually this involves caping the animal out and removing the hide on that side as far up the neck as I can go. (Watch for a future blog about caping) Next I remove the hide all the way back to the hind quarter on that side. I first take the backstrap off of the upper side, debone the hind quarter by following the leg bone with my knife and take all shoulder and neck meat as well. If done right you will have the hind quarter all in one piece. It can be a bit of an art and practice makes perfect! Last thing I do on that side is remove the tenderloin on that side. Once I have that side done I flip the animal over and do the same to the other side, removing the hide and all meat. Removing the tenderloins can be a bit of an art as well. This is done by making an incision below the spine and pushing the guts away to get to them and carefully filleting them out. Be extra careful not to puncture the stomach as this could cause an unwanted mess! If needed open the bottom side of the hide and belly to allow the guts to escape. This will move them away from the tenderloins giving you more access.
Flip the animal over and continue with the other side as previously completed.
The last thing I do is remove the head and cape from the spine. The meat has been laying on my game bags cooling and is now ready to be put in my pack. Each piece of meat is placed in a game bag before being put inside my pack. I will pack everything that I have with me below the meat and then put the meat on top of that with the intent to keep the heaviest load close to my back and in the center. This allows for more comfort while packing out and the load will be distributed evenly. After the meat the head, antlers, and cape are place on top. Obviously this will require numerous trips if packing out a large animal. Also remember that many states require that the head is the last portion to be packed out and the tag needs to remain with the majority of the meat the entire time. This will require you to move the tag as you pack out. Wherever most of the meat is as is where the tag needs to be!
I have found that packing out an animal in this way is far easier than having to drag the entire animal out of your hunting area. Even if I have an animal that is close to an access point I still will incorporate this practice in as to me, it is much easier and less hassle once you get home. But make sure you get off all the meat that you can to safe you some anguish later!
Going in light and coming out heavy always leaves a smile on my face!
Jared “J-Rod” Bloomgren is a hardcore Do-It-Yourself bowhunter who strives to better himself each year in the outdoor community. As a professional hunter, freelance writer and photographer, he likes to relive his outdoor adventures through written expression and photography making the reader feel as if they were along on the hunt. He attributes much of his success to the vital education he has learned from the various big game animals that he hunts. He is quoted as saying, “In each and every hunt, success or defeat, I learn something from every outing and that I can put in my arsenal of knowledge to use at a later date, a later date that will again put my wits against that of my prey.”