Joy and her husband are avid hunters, home-butchering enthusiasts, sausage lovers, and cooks. Their German Shepherd dog is raw fed.
Ready to Begin Cutting a Deer Carcass
Information and Pictures About Butchering a Deer
This is the third article of four which demonstrates how to butcher a deer for dog food.
The techniques shown here are not necessarily professional. Rather, they are designed for the average hunter or dog owner who wishes to do his (or her) own work, with minimal investment. Our methods were developed over time and out of necessity. We have had the privilege of working in a professional meat cutting set up, butchering beef, lambs, hogs, etc. Experience of this type certainly helps, but is by no means necessary. On a day-to-day basis, we'd rather do a small carcass with less equipment--and mess!--using our own quick methods.
We would love to hear your own experiences regarding home butchering methods, tips and tricks, also raw dog feeding using the whole carcass method. Please comment below, so everyone can benefit.
If the sight of blood bothers you, you should not continue to read this article.
First Things First! Previous Steps.
- How to Skin a Deer for Raw Dog Food: Illustrated Guide
My husband and I will show you how to skin a deer for dog food. Our dog is on a raw food diet, and deer is as healthy for him as it is for us. The photos are realistic and graphic.
- How to Gut a Deer for Raw Dog Food: Illustrated Guide
This is the second article of four that demonstrates how to prepare a deer for dog food and how to safely remove the guts.
Basic Divisions of Carcass Between You and Dog
Parts for dog:
- Most of ribs, if desired
- Neck and vertebrae
- Bones and hoofs
- Especially tough, dirty, or bloody (clotted) bits of meat
Parts for you:
- Best steaks (especially haunch)
- Maybe shoulder roasts
- Tidbits for hamburger (optional)
Supplies and Tools
- Favorite, medium length knife - very sharp
- Meat saw
- Reciprocating saw (optional)
- Cutting board or other surface suitable for cutting on
- Tarp or piece of clean sheet metal, if working outside, for laying carcass on
- Rags and dish soap for cleanup; disinfectant (optional)
My Son Billy Helps; Small Carcasses
Billy is six years old in these pictures, and can cut up a deer pretty nearly by himself. This goes to show how easy cutting up such a carcass can be.
These techniques can be used with any small to medium size carcass, such as a calf or sheep.
Large carcasses, such as elk or cattle, may be a bit trickier, but can be done similarly, so long as you can get them quartered, or chunked down enough to work on them. Of course, you will want to cut the quarters into proportionately smaller pieces, unless you have a very large family, or a very big dog. An Angus bull can yield steaks the size of a dinner plate.
Step 1--Rib Sections (for Dog or People)
Ribs for You (Optional)
Ribs Require Supervision While Feeding to Your Dog!
Ribs have a different construction than most other bones - they have a likelihood of shattering into shards when being crushed by your dogs jaws. After shattering, they can easily stick in the throat, and stab or choke your dog.
So feed ribs only under strict supervision, and take them away if your dog gets too careless and aggressive, and starts trying to swallow large chunks.
Ribs should only be fed to your dog while they are still raw. Cooked ribs have a higher tendency to shatter, and should not be fed at all.
Step 2--Spine and Neck (for Dog and People)
Step 3--Loin and Rib Steaks (for People)
The deer in the first two photos below is from a different butchering session, which was designed strictly for the dog, and is not as clean as the carcass featured elsewhere in this article. However, all other things being equal, you should get some very tasty round steaks, round roasts, and shank roasts from clean hindquarters. We love deer steaks for breakfast, with eggs and potatoes!
Professional Names and Professional Cuts?
Meat can have many fancy names, depending on how it is served and on such things as marketing techniques. But in the end, your cooking methods are far more likely to make or break a dinner, than whether you know how to label all the meat from your deer.
It is beyond the scope of this article to teach proper meat cutting nomenclature, and signs you can see when passing from one cut of meat to the next. But remember - if you can slice a picnic ham, you can cut up a deer leg. And it will taste as great as any other venison dinner ever did.
Step 4--Hindquarter Steaks (for People)
Hindquarter Breakdown Explained
Chart, Cuts Of Meat
How a Professional Skins a Deer--Amazing Demonstration of Skill!
A Quick Deboning Method, While Hanging
Packaging People Quality Cuts of Meat
If you have butcher's paper and commercial size plastic wrap, use them! Your meat will stay well-flavored for a long time in frozen conditions when carefully packaged.
But it is possible to have good meat for months to come, using simply plastic zipper bags and grocery store plastic wrap. Use a brand with proven "cling" to save frustration, and use plenty of it. Your meat packages may not look professional - but they'll store fine. You may double wrap them in bags, if desired.
Use freezer tape to mark date, basic cut, quantity, and animal (if you do more than one a year), on each package.
Packaging Cuts for Your Dog
You don't have to be quite as careful when packaging meat for your dog, as you do when your human family is involved. A dog is usually not as discriminating, but also has a hardier - and shorter - digestive tract.
A simple way to handle meat for him is to drop each cut, or meals' worth, into a plastic grocery bag, which can then be wrapped over itself, labeled if necessary, and frozen. Of course, these looser packages sometimes leak before they freeze, so you may wish to place a paper bag or even a feed sack in your freezer to catch any drips.
Several hours before feeding time, thaw each package in a bowl.
In hot weather, a dog may enjoy a partially frozen steak, just as you might enjoy a cold drink or ice cream.
This demonstration, along with others dealing with raw dog feeding, was photographed in 2008 and 2009. At the time, I had no ability to finish these demos as I would like, as I moved to a location with no internet. However, as I have had several requests recently to finish this series, and continue to share my family's experiences, I have decided to do my imperfect best. So--
I have pictures somewhere in my files which will clarify and expand on some of these techniques, using lamb carcasses. When I locate these photos and am able to work with them, I will add them in. Until that time, I hope you--and your dog--will receive some benefit from what is here.
As my family now raise sheep and don't go hunting as often, this seems to be the best way to finish these home butcher guides for you and your dog.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2018 Joilene Rasmussen