How to Skin and Hang a Deer

Skinning a deer is not easy the first time. In this article, I’ll explain the basics of how to properly skin and hang a deer. Before you get to the skin, you have to field dress the animal. You can do this with a hunting knife, such as a Bowie knife. Many hunters find smaller blades easier to use than larger ones. The largely stems from the fact that gutting and skinning the animal are rather precise tasks and failure to pay attention to where your knife blade is can result in your ruining the meat by tainting it with urine and feces.

Bowie Knife

A well placed cut

You should have a cut that goes up to the animal’s rib cage, at least, from when you field dressed it. Bowie knives will work well for the next cut. Make a cut around the animal’s neck and continue down to the cut where you field dressed it. You’re now going to peel the skin down the animal as far as possible, which will usually be the front legs. You use the hacksaw to cut off the legs, right above the knees, and then continue pulling the skin off of the carcass from that point. The next challenging areas are near the tailbone and the back legs.

Peel back the skin

When you get to the deer’s tail, you can just peel back the skin enough to expose the tailbone and cut it off with your saw. Bowie knives will also work but, again, this is cutting through bone and you’ll be making a sharpening job for yourself by using a good knife blade to saw bone. Don’t try to skin the tail itself. It’s a small appendage and you’re creating more trouble than it’s worth. Snip off the tailbone, the skin will come away, and you can move to the hindquarters.

Deer have a pair of glands called tarsal glands on their back legs. Their coloration is slightly darker in this area. Cut off the legs above the glands, and then take the rest of the skin off of the animal. Make sure that you hang the skin up right away.

Almost ready for tanning

Work the skin back enough to get a good grip, and then tear it off of the deer with even effort, stopping at the front legs. The front and back legs will both have to be removed with a saw, so you can do this now. After they’re off, pull the skin down to the tail and remove it by snipping the tailbone. Once the skin is off the back legs, it’s ready for tanning.

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