If you’re an avid deer hunter and plan to process your deer yourself, you’re going to need to know how to skin a deer so you can the most of the game for meat or for having the pelt processed for any number of things.
And if you can field dress a deer, you should have no problems with the next steps in processing your deer and even butchering it.
If your brought your deer home in tact, make sure you’ve field dressed it before starting the skinning process. A deer’s skin and muscle tissue are separated by protective membranes, which allow the skin to easily peel away from the meat. This also reduces the chances of tearing the skin or tearing into and ruining the meat.
Your hands and your pull strength are actually the most important tools for this process and you should be able to skin the deer in about 15 minutes or so. So follow along with the steps below and you’ll know how to skin a deer in no time!
Step #1 Hang the Deer
You should hang the deer from its rear legs as soon as possible after the kill. This allows the blood to drain away from the areas of the meat that you’ll be removing after it’s skinned. Many hunters fashion a type of pulley in a garage or other outside covered area so the deer can be lifted by the pulley. This is especially useful if you’ve brought home a large buck.
Step #2 Use a Sharp Knife
You should actually purchase a skinning knife, which is specially made for removing the hide from the deer. Using a sharp skinning knif will also prevent lifting any meat off with the hide.
If your deer is hung by its legs, look for the large tendon that connects the lower leg to the rest of the leg. Using your skinning knife, poke a hole between that tendon and the bone, and using your fingers, feel for a lump caused by the deer’s double-jointed leg.
Step #3 Remove the Legs Before Skinning
When you find the lump, go to the lower end of the double joint and cut the lower leg at that point. Also, cut the skin and tendons and snap the leg. You can place the deer’s leg on your own leg to give you some extra leverage to snap the leg.
Once the leg is broken, you can cut around and near the tendons. You should see a hole between the tendons and bone on the lower leg and near the front legs. Snap the front legs like you did with the back legs to make skinning the deer much easier.
Step #4 Removing the Hide
Now that you’ve made the initial incisions, you can start removing the deer’s hide. Using your hands, begin at the incisions you made at the lower leg, and start pulling off the hide, which is probably going to feel like trying to pull off a pair of tight wet jeans.
As you’re removing the skin, you’ll start seeing the meat that you’ll be removing in the next process of processing the deer.
Those with relatively weak stomachs may not even want to learn how to skin a deer, and that’s fine. It’s not for everybody! There are a lot of hunters who aren’t even able to field dress a deer and take the whole deer to a butcher shop to be processed.
And since butchers know how to skin a deer and then butcher the meat, this is a way for some hunters to be able to enjoy the meat and even the hide of the deer without having to endure the process of gutting it and processing it themselves.