Although some say taking a deer is the highlight of every deer hunt, many feel that the best part of deer hunting comes later, at the dinner table.
To get the most enjoyment from your harvest, however, you need to take proper care for the meat. If properly handled, you'll be able to enjoy many meals of lean, high-protein meat that is 100-percent natural, with no additives or preservatives.
"People hunt for a lot of reasons, but every hunter agrees that eating game is an essential part of the hunting experience," said J.D. Peer, hunter education coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "It's the key ingredient that connects the hunter to the game, that makes us participants in the cycle of life in the natural world instead of just being observers. Partaking of game gives a hunter a deeper respect and reverence for that animal than those who don't understand that connection."
Upon harvesting a deer, the first thing you must do is attach the proper tag to the carcass as required by law. Then, you should remove the animal's genitalia, or, if it's a doe, it's udder. Make a circular cut around the area, and remove musk glands to avoid tainting the meat.
Split the hide from the tail to the throat, but be careful not to pierce the body cavity. Peel back the hide several inches on each side to keep from getting hair on the meat.
Cut through the pelvic bone. Tilting the carcass toward the rear will cause the innards to sag into the rib cavity, decreasing the chance of puncturing the ,viscera while cutting through the bone. Then you can cut the large intestine from the pelvic cavity without severing it from the viscera.
Open the carcass by cutting the length of the breast bone and neck.
Working uphill, turn the carcass, free the gullet and pull viscera to the rear. Remove the head and legs, and then rinse the carcass out with water. Skin and sack.
Allow the carcass to cool before transporting if conditions allow.
Many hunters recommend cooling a deer six hours before transporting.