How To Field Dress an Elk

Field dressing elk can be a much more time-consuming and messy task compared to field dressing deer, mainly because elk are much larger animals. It must be done, whether you are alone or part of a team, in order to get the meat to your car or van, and involves not only skinning the elk and removing its internal organs to ensure the meat is not contaminated, but also cutting it into smaller pieces that are easier to transport.

The first cut

With the elk on its back, make the first cut from between the legs, just above the anus all the way to the top of the neck. You may want to make several cuts, in order to avoid cutting into the internal organs, which would spoil the meat. Cut around the skin of the elk’s genitals, taking care not to cut the organs themselves, which could cover you and the meat in urine. Also cut around the anus of the elk, as this separates the large intestine from the pelt of the elk.

Remove its internal organs

When these cuts are complete, you can reach into the chest of the elk to remove its internal organs. Make careful use of your knife to remove them without injuring yourself, as there will be times when you may need to reach into a part where you cannot see what you’re cutting. Even if you are experienced in field dressing deer, you may find it surprising how long this task takes, with you cutting, then pulling out organs over and over until you have removed all of the internal organs.

Get your skinner and hacksaw

Once the internal organs have been removed, skin the elk to help cool the meat and keep it fresh. Then, with your hacksaw, cut the carcass in half lengthwise, then cut off each leg, using your hacksaw to go through the elk’s thick bones. Again, take your hacksaw and cut down the backbone, to start quartering the carcass. Next, cut off the head of the elk, using your hacksaw for bones and thick tissue, using your knife as needed as well. To complete quartering of the carcass, make horizontal cuts with your hacksaw; you can use the carcass’ third rib as a means to measure your cuts.


At this point, with the skin and internal organs removed and the carcass quartered, you can now transport the meat with relative ease. Pack the meat into game bags; if you are alone, you should now be able to make several trips to pack your meat for the trip home.

Elk Skull

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