Jacob Cleaver, grandson of Joe and Alice Stone of Mio, shot this buck while hunting with Grampa.
Jacob Cleaver, grandson of Joe and Alice Stone of Mio, shot this buck while hunting with Grampa.

Northern Michigan - Deer season will soon be upon us, you have taken great care to site your weapon of choice in, placed your blind strategically for the best shot, you’re even fortunate to have killed your deer. After killing your deer, here are a few tips to make sure your venison stays fresh before you process it yourself or bring it to the processor.

After processing thousands of deer, I have seen many deer come into our shop that were not dressed properly and it ultimately affected the freshness of the meat. Believe it or not, many hunters are not sure how to properly dress their deer, so we want to help you to do it right.

Over the years I have seen people dress their deer by cutting through the back and removing the guts by cutting through the back-straps; I have seen hunters cut through the rib cage and take the guts out through the side, and occasionally we have had hunters bring us deer with the guts still in the animal! First and foremost, don't be afraid to gut your deer, just be sure to do it properly. If you follow the preceding steps, you will be sure to have the freshest venison to put on your table. Whether you process it yourself or take it to the processor, it is imperative that you clean your venison properly.

  1. When you begin to dress your deer, the first thing you need to do is to cut around the rectum in a circular motion( by doing this it will help you remove the rectum and intestine after removing the insides of the animal)  2. Roll the deer on its back and cut the hide from the rectum to the beginning of the ribs, do not dress the deer higher than brisket, if you get into the habit of dressing it to the brisket you will not ruin the cape if you chose to have the deer mounted at the taxidermist)  3. As you carefully cut the hide and the abdominal muscle, be sure not to puncture the stomach or intestine (If you do puncture the intestine or stomach, be sure to wash the deer out with cold water). Once you have opened the animals stomach cavity, roll the stomach and intestines out, reach inside the animal above heart and cut the windpipe, this will help you to remove the lungs and heart. When cutting out the organs do not make random cuts inside the deer, this will result in damage to the tenderloins.

 4. After removing the heart, lungs, stomach and intestines, pull the rectum and remaining intestines out from the previous cut made around the rectum. By failing to remove the rectum and innards properly you will cause your venison to spoil more rapidly .5. After you have dressed your deer, carefully remove it from the field/woods. Do not drag it through mud, and try to keep leaves, ferns and dirt from getting inside the body cavity, this will keep your venison fresh and not cause spoilage.

6. Never drag your buck out of the woods or hang your buck by the neck, this will damage your cape if you intend on mounting your buck.

7. Once you have taken your deer from the woods, it is important to cool the deer as soon as possible, this can be done on warm days by using ice placed in the chest cavity or taking it to your local processor. Many hunters like to hang their deer for a few days, but if it is not in a refrigerated facility, you are taking the chance of your deer spoiling. The sooner you get your deer to the processor the better, ask your processor to let your deer hang in his refrigerated cooler if you would like you deer aged,  8. If you go to the processor it is best to understand the cuts available from your venison. The following are the cuts available from a deer. First, understand that the average deer processed into boneless cuts will yield about -lbs. for an average doe and about 50-60 lbs. for the average buck. The cuts available are whole back straps or venison chops; Steaks from the hind quarters, shoulder roasts and neck roast and of course ground venison. If you do not care for ground venison, try having it made into breakfast sausage or smoked venison sausage or snack sticks.

Hopefully this helps you as you take care of your deer, remember, if you are unsure of something, always ask fellow hunters or processors. We love to help educate our fellow hunters!



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