Butchering 101: Deer

It is my impression that many deer hunters give their kills over to processors and get lots of ground venison and a few steaks.  I believe this is wasteful of the resource, and may well not do justice to numerous delicious cuts and uses of the meat, as well as costing a significant amount to have the processing done.

Yes, but butchering requires work and proper weather conditions, but I suspect that many hunters may find this a satisfying activity, get JUST the cuts of meat they like, and save a substantial amount in the process.

To be clear, I did not kill the deer shown here being butchered.  It was hit and killed by a car in front of our house in the evening. It was a seven point buck, apparently a year and a half old.  I immediately hung it and gutted it and let it hang overnight before skinning it the next morning.  I then let it hang at 35-40 F in a protected area for two weeks.  I have never had such mild, tender and delicious venison.  It needed no heavy seasoning, over cooking, or disguising of its flavor.  I would suggest to all who try venison, to be sure to gut it immediately, carefully and cleanly skin it, let it hang, and try it with the minimum of seasoning and cooking.  If yours tastes like this one, you will have your socks knocked off.

Most of these pictures were taken by Tammy Maham. My thanks to her for her assistance and photographic skill.

The Hind Limb Joints of a Deer

The Hind Limb Joints of a Deer

Here is the hip joint labeled. Here is a labeled view of the knee joint.


Cut open the pubofemoral capsule to reveal the labrum
As the capsule is cut open further, the ligamentum teres can be seen within the acetabulum
With the entire capusle cut, the head of the femur can be pulled aside showing the ligamentum teres connecting to the acetabulum and the acetabular labrum around the edge of the acetabulum.

Here is a labeled version of the same hip joint.

This close up of the head of the femur shows the articular cartilage which covers it (white, smooth hyaline, the fovea capitis at which the ligamentum teres attaches, and theturned back synovial membrane which lines the inside of the articular capsule.
The femur and the acetabulum separated and lined up


(These pictures were taken during dissection of both the right and left knees. Those taken of the left knee have been rotated so they all have the same relationship and either are or appear to be the right knee…)

Undissected knee of a deer (patella on the upper R of picture).
Articular capsule has been opened up to see the patellar surface of the femur. The lateral collateral ligament is seen at the left of the specimen.
Open capsule showing the the patellar surface of the femur to the left, and the articular surface of the patella to the right.
Lateral collateral ligament attaches the femur to the tibia (deer have no discernable fibula to which this ligament attaches in humans).
Cut through the popliteal portion of the articular capsule to reveal the posterioir cruciate ligament. The medial meniscus is visible just to the right of the PCL.
Cruciate ligaments of the knee are visible between the femoral condyles.
Knee joint opened up to show the cruciate ligaments and the menisci. The femoral condyles and patellar surface are clear as well.
surface of tibial menisci on knee.

proximal surface of the tibia show the menisci and the remnants of the cruciate ligaments. The remains of the patellar ligament is at the top of the picture
Here is a labeled version of the same hip joint.


The distal end of the femur shows the stumps of the cruciate ligaments in the intercondylar fossa.
Here is a labeled view of the knee joint.


patellar surface of the femur