If your primary objective of hunting is to obtain tasty meat that will last for the long haul, then you absolutely must be well versed in field dressing. The importance of this vital step is undeniable and must be followed correctly to avoid risks to your own health and the longevity of the meat. Let’s look at some specifics.
What is Field Dressing and Why is it So Important?
In its most basic terms, field dressing includes removing the entrails and internal organs from the body of a game animal in an effort to cool down the meat as quickly as possible. As goHUNT notes, this is a vital step that must occur soon after the animal is taken to prevent the meat from spoiling.
The primary importance of field dressing is to ensure that your meat stays clean and safe from bacteria. This bacteria starts growing almost immediately, so quick dressing is essential. After the initial dressing, you need to store the meat in a refrigerator that keeps it below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Proper field dressing and keeping the meat cold not only prevents it from potential bacteria but also aids in its longevity. When properly cared for, the meat from your hunt could last more than a year.
Field Dressing Animals
As you can imagine, the process for field dressing can differ slightly depending on the size of the animal. For large animals such as deer, you will make a cut from the anus to the breastbone. This gives you full access to the animal’s body cavity, which helps you access the internal organs and entrails and make removing them an easier process. This also exposed more of the animal to the cool air outside, which can help in quickly dropping the temperature of the animal. The process for field dressing smaller animals is similar to the large game, though you may need to extend the incision to get more access to the organs. In both cases, once all organs are removed, the next step is to get the meat to a well-ventilated and cool area to complete the butchering process.
What Not to Do
When field dressing your game, you want to avoid a couple of key mistakes as they could ruin all of your hard work and leave you with inedible meat. First, it’s vital to avoid cutting through the intestines, bladder or stomach organs. These are all filled with fluids like urine and stomach acids, not to mention the contents of the animal’s waste and most recent meal, all of which can easily sully the meat. It’s also important to use a steady and careful hand while cutting to avoid catching yourself with your knife. You want your field-dressing knife to be sharp, but that also makes it dangerous – especially when working in confined spaces. A cut can also lead to an infection if you’re not careful, so work quickly but carefully when field dressing your kill.
Proper Field Dressing is Essential
As you can see, proper field dressing is an absolute must, both for the benefits of your meat and your safety as a hunter as well. PennState Extension from Pennsylvania offers a great guide online to outline the steps and concerns, not only with game animals, but also with fish and fowl hunter. Check it out online here.
At Watsons Kaby Lodge, we offer a variety of hunting, fishing and fowl hunting packages for sportsmen. Our fly-in lodge on Ontario’s Kabinakagami Lake is a wonderful retreat and offers an unbeatable combination of beautiful scenery and excellent game. To learn more about booking a hunting package, give us a call at 877-484-1672.