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Gear & Supplies

I won't attempt to cover all the possible equipment and supplies that you may need for your deer hunt. That is simply not possible given that different environments impose different demands on the hunter. This is only a reminder of a few items that you may want to consider in light of your desire to field dress and butcher your own animal.


  • Rope: I know it seems obvious, but you can never have enough. Make sure that the rope you carry with you is not too small of a diameter. If you have to use it to drag your deer, you don't want it to cut into your skin.

  • Portable sled, dragging harness: If you are going to have to drag your deer, you may need some aids to help you get it out in a timely manner. It may not be practical to carry the sled with you while hunting. If I need it, I'll walk back to the truck, shed some clothes and other unnecessary equipment, then go back to retrieve the game.

  • Ziploc bags: Of course, you're going to want to recover the tenderloins and maybe the organs, and you'll need something in which to put them.

  • Latex gloves: Not actually necessary, but when there is no water or snow nearby with which to clean your hands, the gloves will do a pretty good job of keeping your hands relatively clean..

  • Rags: Your hands, knife and saw might get lots of blood and fat on them, and some rags will be appreciated for cleanup of hands and equipment after field dressing a deer.

  • Hemostat: A hemostat with coarse teeth can be very helpful when making cuts around the anus. If your knife is very sharp, it's not really needed. However, one year, I gutted four deer without sharpening the knife.  I really appreciated the hemostat with that last deer.

  • Bone saw: There are many varieties of saws. You'll have to find one that suits you. Don't get a cheap one. It's difficult to sharpen saws, so get a good one that will give you years of use. Some people cut the chest open with their knife. This works, but you'll need a saw for the pubic bone, so you may as well use it on the chest.

  • Large plastic bag or tarp: If you have many miles of dirt roads to drive, you may want to cover your animal to keep the dust and debris out, also it will help to minimize desiccation of the meat.

  • Pen: I know this has nothing to do with butchering, but it's helpful information. In South Dakota, we have to sign our tags after fixing them to the game. It happens time and time again that someone's pen doesn't work, or s/he doesn't have one. Most pens gel-up when it gets cold. I have a Fischer Space Pen that is fantastic. It hasn't failed me in fifteen years. It writes upside down, in a vacuum, under water, on glass and in extreme cold. The next time that I'll need to butcher a deer in a vacuum, under water, I'll have the right pen.☺

  • Fanny pack: I used to stuff my pockets with all my gear. The bulging weight was inconvenient when stooping and bending while dressing the deer. Now, I use a multi-pocket fanny pack. It keeps everything well organized, and I can take it off while working on my deer. It makes a great pillow too.

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