Hanging a Deer: Head Down or Up?

   11.19.19

Once you’ve bagged a buck, the work has just begun. Now it’s time to get it out of the woods and (in the words of my late father) “knock its guts out” and skin it. And most of the time, we hang up our deer to do that chore.

Me, I’ve always hung my deer with the head down. That’s how I started doing it as a kid because that’s what the menfolk said to do, and it’s been working for 30+ years now. But some folks, such as the guy in this video, say it’s better to hang a critter with its head up.

He’s a bit long-winded, but there’s a point to it all. Turns out, he made a video on “how to skin a deer” and he started from the head without explaining why, and commenters went nuts on him. So he decided to make a video about it. In this video, he cites his father, who’s been a meat cutter all of his adult life.

Although cattle were usually hung head-down when he worked in a meat packing house, he says that’s largely because they are killed via head trauma and then hung head-down to be bled. It’s also because they get sawed in two before being butchered.

He also thinks it’s easier to skin a deer with its head up, and he tells us why, as well as how the quartering or dismembering can go more smoothly.

He makes a good point about the gambrel. Whenever I get to cutting the hams off the pelvis, things get tricky when I use a gambrel — and I almost always use a gambrel.

Maybe it’s time for me to try something new.

How do you do it, and would you consider trying something different?

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