Tips & Tactics

A Venison vs. Deer Meat Story

A Venison vs. Deer Meat Story

By Harley Trumbo

Thank God, I never witnessed my father field dressing a deer! 

At age 60, and the youngest of three brothers, I shudder at their horror stories of Dad’s methods of handling dead deer and field dressing them.

Killing a deer was rare back then, so Dad made it a point to stop by every gas station in town and relive the hunt with friends — even total strangers. This took hours.

I vividly recall the sight of a deer hogtied to his hood, with legs pointed toward the sky as Dad pulled victoriously into our driveway.

My brother’s descriptions got much worse with the dressing of the animal.

Dad would routinely puncture the bladder and paunch as he hacked his way through the soupy contents of the abdominal cavity, always needlessly sawing his way through the pelvic bone.

His deer would then hang for days, “aging” in the sunlight and becoming an easy target for blowflies. I even remember maggots.

My brothers and I can look back now and laugh, wondering how we were able to keep Dad’s deer meat down!

According to him, all deer were supposed to taste gamey. So, it’s no surprise my brothers gave up deer hunting due to Dad’s tyranny of the table.

But I continued on with my passion and eventually experienced well-prepared venison. I cracked the code, so to speak, in the difference between deer meat and delicious venison.

I’ve found the most critical step to ensuring palatable venison is to remove the innards IMMEDIATELY after the kill. To begin the cooling process quickly is paramount to good taste, but circumstances sometimes make it difficult.

This brings me to my somewhat odd, but very useful tip.

The older I get, the more I use my brain versus my back. Having field dressed well over 100 deer, I've become efficient at removing the entrails on the spot, and I approach the process like a field surgeon, no matter where the deer falls.

A Venison vs. Deer Meat StoryThe most difficult step — especially for us older folks — is the procedure of removing the anus and bladder in the field. When a deer is lying flat on the ground, all the bending and tedious work takes a toll on your back. You almost have to put your face on the ground to see what you are dealing with!

One simple way to elevate the deer’s rump is to pull it up on a stump or rock. But this isn’t always possible.

With the deer lying on its back, first use rope or Paracord to tie the hind legs together. Then, pull the rump toward the antlers with the remainder of the rope or another rope. This will arch the deer’s spine and raise the tail end enough for much easier access.

For does, simply wrap the rope around the neck and draw the hind end toward it.

If you are in a muddy area, this Paracord tip is particularly useful for cleanly removing the anus.

I hope this simple idea will help take some stress off your back, and allow you to more quickly take this vital step toward wonderful venison versus gamey deer meat.

And, even though he wasn’t a good venison prepper, I wish my dad was still around just to hang out with and swap hunting stories. He’s the reason I’m able to introduce my six grandkids to the sport. They love my campfire stories of Dad, and are fortunate to have MUCH better tasting venison than what my brothers and I grew up with.

If you have a unique or special tip you’d like to share with Buckmasters fans, please email it to and, if chosen, we will send you a cap signed by Jackie Bushman, along with a knife!

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Copyright 2019 by Buckmasters, Ltd.

Copyright 2017 by Buckmasters, Ltd