How to Quarter a Deer

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Tracking and taking down a deer is the easiest part of hunting, but how do you quarter a deer? To quarter a deer is butchering it in four parts: front shoulders, backstrap, tenderloins, and hindquarters.

This process will be influenced by where you’re quartering the deer, either in the field or at home. Many hunters have the concern of what to do after shooting a whitetail or an elk. Once you shoot down the deer, you need to approach it carefully, then cape the deer and finally start the quartering process.

The Procedure on How to Quarter a Deer

Assemble Your Tools and Gear

Before taking you through the procedure, you should put in mind there are tools you shouldn’t lack for quartering. These tools will determine how perfect you can slice the parts and how easy it will be for you. Make sure you have sharp butchers and chef’s knives that can sever the skin or meat with minimal pressure. Also, a hoist is vital whether you are quartering the deer at home or in the woods.

However, you can choose a rope if a hoist isn’t at your disposal. Have a board or any surface that is washable to place under the deer for harvesting the blood spills. While not necessarily recommended, you can have a saw with you, although you might not need it. But it depends on your level of expertise on the butchering game.

With these tools, you’re now ready to quarter your deer as long as you have one prepared after a hunt.


Dressing means cutting the guts off from the deer, so you have to remove all the internal organs. This should be done carefully if you don’t want to experience bad taste with the venison. The first step you have to undertake is often the dirtiest, although pretty straightforward and shouldn’t take you long. Nevertheless, note that dressing can be done before or after skinning, especially if you’re doing it at home.

There is no harm with starting with either step, and the state you come from will influence where you start. First, make an incision on the lower side of the belly from the back horizontally towards the front. You will find fat on some deer while cutting the rib cage area, therefore more pressure could be needed. Take precautions not to puncture the stomach because you don’t want to mess the deer meat.

To ensure this doesn’t happen, the deer should be in an upside-down position. Open up the stomach entirely and let the guts out. Some parts are attached to the inner ribs; therefore, you should use your hands to pull them off. A smaller hunter’s knife can come in plenty here.

Pull the large intestine heading to the back slowly, so you don’t spill the waste and slice it. Hold the end part as you separate the guts from the venison. You can save the liver and heart, which are a delicacy for some individuals. When dressing, the process should be quick too, and caution should be prioritized not to contaminate the venison.

Skinning the Deer

Skinning is simple, and something many have never realized is the skin can peel off without using a knife. But there is a trick here. The first thing to do is hanging your game in an upside-down position. Take the hoist straps and hook them at the bottom of the back hinds.

Carefully pull the deer up and make sure the open part doesn’t touch the ground. At the end of it all, having clean meat is the goal. The height you choose to position your deer for skinning is up to you. Make ring or round cuts anywhere before the knee joints on all of the deer’s hinds.

Incisions should follow this on all legs that connect the main skin. Make a round cut on the neck close to the head that connects the first incision made during dressing. Now from here, you can choose to skin it any way you wish. If you want to peel the skin off, start skinning the front hindquarters.

Then do the same to the back hinds until you cover the tail area. From this point, you can pull the skin down easily but use a knife when some parts refuse to come off. By doing this, you save the meat from getting the fur, which would give the deer meat a gamey taste. Then slice the head since you are now ready to quarter the deer meat.

Quartering the Venison

You are past the complicated steps since this is touch and go if your knives are sharp enough. But, be ready for frustrations if you make the cuts wrong. This is where you find individuals using electrical saws, and this shouldn’t be the case. Start with front hinds either left or right.

Pull one hind and carefully slice the muscles towards the joint, ensure the cut is close to the ribs. When you find the joint, locate the socket, and with a sharp knife, that shouldn’t be a problem to detach. Do the same to the other hind then separate the rib from the back hindquarter. This is done by slicing the meat attaching the two towards the backbone on both sides.

Remove the tenderloins which are located inside, just below where the two back hinds interlock. Do this on both sides. You can now remove the backstrap, which is found at the back between the ribs and the spine. It’s on both sides, and this should be done before cutting the ribs. Now slice the ribs using a chef’s knife to separate it from the spine.

When cutting the back hindquarters, locate the ball joint by cutting through the muscle for a perfect cut. Do the same on the other hind then slice at the elbow joint to detach from the handing hinds. Now you have quartered your deer.

Legalities Surrounding Quartering Deer

Can I Quarter a Deer In The Wild?

You can quarter a deer in the wild if you wish to. It’s easier to quarter a deer in the wild and transport it as meat than carrying it whole. But there are regulations on how far you can quarter your deer meat in the woods. In Texas, you can only quarter the deer, but you can’t debone it completely.

Also, you can’t transport the deer’s skin, guts, and the meat, at one go. You have to take the meat to your truck first, then come back later for the other parts. This is to avoid contamination of the deer meat. But it’s legal to quarter a deer in the wild if you want to.

Keep in mind for the venison to pass the health test in Texas, you should not debone it.

Transporting a Quartered Deer across State Lines

It’s illegal in at least twenty states to transport deer meat or carcass across the state lines. This law was introduced some few years back due to Chronic Wasting Disease. Hence, for states to protect their game from the disease, a bill was passed. It prohibits the carrying of deer meat from some states infested by the disease.

It’s vital to check your state and determine what the legal prerequisites are to conform to them.

Which Is The Best Way To Transport Deer Meat After Quartering?

This is applicable only if you have quartered your deer in the wild. If you’re doing it at home, you can pack the venison in packing bags and store it in the freezer. When transporting the deer meat from the woods, you need unique game bags or pack boards. Considering you’ll probably be trekking for a long distance to get to your vehicle, you need a useful carrying bag.

Thus, the best way to transport the venison is by first covering each quarter separately. Then place each piece one by one in the pack board until they all fit. Usually, a deer will be 170 pounds, but that weight reduces when you remove the guts, hooves, and skin. Therefore, with an eighty-liter bag, you are sorted.

This is the only way you can transport your precious trophy stress-free. An additional benefit with these bags is you can strap the antlers to ease your luggage.

The Do’s and Don’ts When Quartering a Deer

When quartering a deer, there are some things you shouldn’t do. You’re not supposed to process it before the authorities can pass it as safe. Also, keep the genital to be used as evidence on the sex if you are requested to produce it. Don’t forget to wash your hands and any part that touches unwanted matter when quartering.

Disinfect any surface you’re using and all the knives to prevent the meat from contamination. This meat is meant for human consumption; therefore, cleanliness should be prioritized.

Can I Sell Venison After Quartering?

After quartering the deer, you can’t sell it because it has to go through processing first. After inspection, if it’s found to be okay for human consumption, then you can go ahead and sell the meat. Although, it’ll vary from state to state because some do prohibit keeping deer from extinction. Therefore, keep this in mind before selling venison in a state where it’s illegal.

Deer Meat: What You Need to Know

Which State Has The Tastiest Deer?

There are different states that you’ll find deer meat, and each has a distinct taste. To find the state with venison that tastes best, you should take personal tasting trips. According to deer meat enthusiasts, Nebraska and Alabama are some of the states with the tastiest deer meat.

How Long Can You Store Deer Meat

A full-grown deer can give you 70 to 80 pounds of boneless meat, that’s after processing it. It’s tricky to finish all that meat in one or two days. Thus, it’s vital to understand how you can keep the meat from going bad. If you store the venison in the freezer, it can go for three months without going bad.

But, this might make it slightly lose its taste, plus it’s unhealthy and unnecessary to store meat for that long. If you wish to keep it in the fridge, it can stay good for five days. It depends on how you want to preserve your game meat. How do you know if deer meat is bad? Check out here!

Final Verdict

If you wanted Knowledge on how to quarter a deer, then you have it here at your disposal. It’s not the most straightforward process to undertake, but you can accomplish it by following the right steps. Note, when quartering, using either a hand or electric saw for cutting through the bones may leave small bone fragments. This can be harmful and irritating when cooking and eating meat.

Since joints have ball sockets, they can be separated using a simple but sharp hunter knife. It’s the best way to harvest quality meat from your deer.

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