How to Butcher a Deer at Home

If you are a beginning deer hunter, processing your first animal can be daunting. Many hunters choose to field dress the animal and take it to a butcher where it’s processed for them. They might end up with a few choice cuts of steak and the rest ground into sausage.

For a detailed look at an easy-to-follow method for getting the most out of a deer we turned to Scott Rea, a British butcher who has attracted attention lately for his Youtube instructional videos. Having uploaded his first video more than three years ago, Rea has gained a following by hunters as well as professional chefs. 

His detailed instructions are easy to follow and inspiring to try yourself. We just wish we had a deer this year to try it out.

Venison, by the way, is an excellent alternative to beef, according to Paul Johansen, chief of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Section.

“Venison is a good source of protein for many West Virginia families and has fewer calories and less fat than an equivalent serving of beef,” Johansen said in a press release.

To become a home butcher you only need a few tools. They include a large pointed knife about a foot long, a saw for cutting through bones, a knife sharpener and a small filet knife for de-boning cuts and skinning. 

The same technique Rea uses in the following video can be used on any type of deer and can also be applied to lamb and other animals. The first step is to quarter the deer into it’s primal components. Next, remove the breasts with the saw.

Taking on the shoulder, you will need to de-bone the meat first by cutting as close to the rib cage as possible. Here you’ll find your neck filet. Then use the filet knife to cut around the shoulder bone. Now cut off the lower part of the front leg bone and bone out the rest of the shoulder. Most of this can be used for ground meat. 

When it comes to the haunches, Rea demonstrates how to bone out the leg and create various different cuts. 

Now when Rea gets to the torso of the deer he does something a little different. Instead of simply cutting out the backstrap, he treats it more like a lamb and first splits it right down the middle with the saw. He then cuts off a portion for the filets and then removes the backbone so he has what looks like traditional rack of lamb.

There’s a whole lot of other detail so we suggest you watch the video and hopefully be able to follow along with your own deer. 

Photo credit: Youtube screenshot