How to skin a deer? An Expert Advice.

Most whitetail hunters hunt on their farm or public land close to their truck and it’s much easier to bring the deer in where you can hang it and you get a water hose close by to keep the meat clean.

To cut, save and store the meat of deer after you have shot and field dressed it, first you need to know how to skin a deer. The method of skinning a deer varies from region to region, however, the basics are the same. Let’s learn how.

Points to remember before starting skinning a deer

Field dressing a deer is an ideal way to avoid meat contamination

It’s recommended to field dress a deer right after the shot. To do so, grab a sharp hunting knife and start making an incision along the chest of the deer and stop just above the hip bone. Remove all the internal organs of the deer and dispose of them. Make sure, not to puncture them at any point.

Hanging up the animal for skinning is a smart move

Hanging a deer up makes skinning so much easier where you can stand around a deer and work your way around, all the way around. Instead of rolling your deer all over the ground and getting leaves and debris all over the meat. Experts prefer processing the deer with the rear end up and hanging by the back legs.

Cut outward while skinning the deer

Whenever possible, when skinning a deer or any game species, you want the knife blade, where it’s safe, sticking out. If you are cutting in, you are cutting through the hair, and you are putting more hair on the meat. 

If you have a knife blade out and you are kind of pulling out, you are going between the hair(almost the combing); you are not cutting hair, and there will be much less hair on the meat.

Prepare the deer for hanging up

Remove the back legs first

There is very little meat or fur on the legs so removing them first will keep them out of your way.

  • Use a semi-stiff six-inch knife to start cutting the skin of one of the back legs.
  • Make a cut that follows the tendon all the way down from the back of the leg to the top of the rump. Be careful, don’t cut into the meat to avoid meat contamination. 
  • Keep cutting until you reach the base of the cut made when field dressing the deer. Repeat on the other leg. 
  • The two cuts along the legs and the one cut down the chest of the deer should meet near the hip bone to form a “Y” shape.
  • Tightly grab a corner of skin outside of the cut and start pulling the skin backward using your hand force. For the points where the skin is not easily separating from the meat, use a sharp edge knife to slice the two apart.
  • Use the sharp edge of your knife to locate the center of the joint. It is the softer part of the leg as compared to other bony hard parts. Saw through the joint and snap the rear leg to split it from the rest of the deer.

Note: Avoid cutting the tendons on the rear side of the joint. The space between the tendon and the bone will be used to hook the gambrel and hoist the deer up later on.

Remove the front legs

Place your knife right on this joint and, using medium pressure, cut around the circumference of the leg to make a ring around the top of the leg so you can start removing the to reveal the joint slightly.  Repeat same for the other front leg.

Hold a bone saw or sharp knife over the cut in the skin of the front legs, right at the centre of the knee joint.  Start sawing through the joint to sever the leg in two. Do this for both front legs and dispose of them.

Cut between the leg bone and the major tendon to make a hole.

This hole helps to put the gambrel in. A gambrel is a wide piece of metal with hooks on each end used to hold the deer up to the skin. Be careful, don’t cut through those tendons. Otherwise, you will have no way to hold the deer up. 

Hook a gambrel under the tendons of each leg. 

Hook each side of the gambrel through one of the holes that you make between the leg bone and tendon.

Hang up the deer to skin

Throw a long piece of rope over a sturdy-looking tree branch. Tie one end to the middle of the gambrel and pull on the other end of the rope to begin hoisting the deer upward. Get someone to help lift the deer up and hold it in place while you tie the rope off. 

To skin the deer

Pull back the skin around the chest cavity

Once you have removed the legs and hung the deer up, then you can make progress quickly by simply pulling the skin out. Grasp your sharp knife and just lay where they hide connects to the muscles. You don’t want to turn into muscles or you will cut in there. And the more you cut in there, the more dirt can get on the inside of the meat that you and your family are going to consume. Peel the skin back towards the tail.

Cut the tailbone to free the hide

Once you have removed the skin from all around the hams, you are at a point where the tailbone is actually connected and the hide wont go around it unless you skin out the tail. You don’t want the tailbone so just put pressure down on the tail and free up the hide around it and even below the tailbone. Keep pulling the skin back, revealing the soft part of the tailbone right at the base of the tail. Cut through this part of the tailbone and separate it from the rest of the body. 

Continue pulling the skin down toward the head 

After cutting through the tailbone, get ready to pull the whole skin down, as there is nothing impeding you from pulling the hide all the way down.To do so, use one hand to firmly hold the loose skin away from the deer carcass. Keep your other hand in a loose fist and push it down between the skin and the meat to separate the two. Keep pulling around the body of the deer until you reach the front legs.

Strip the skin over the front legs. 

Evenly begin pulling the skin over the two front legs, rolling from the body down toward the end of the legs. The head should now be mostly covered by the removed skin that is hanging loosely over the deer.

Removing the head 

Follow the same cut you have made through the center of the skin and pull down on the skin until it is completely separated from the neck.

Place your knife on one side of the neck, first cut it through the flesh around the top of the neck, then rotate your knife around the spine until you have a complete cut through to the bone.

Use a bone saw to slice through the neck to remove the head from the rest of the body.

Skin a deer

Pull the pelt away for tanning 

Remove the pelt from the deer to save it for tanning or disposing of it safely. 

Wash the carcass 

Use a water hose or another source of clean water to wash the carcass to remove hairs or remaining blood from deer meat. 


Always use a sharp knife to skin a deer. As they can make the process of skinning as easy as a breeze. However, be careful when working with sharp knives and saws. So you don’t hurt yourself.

The process of skinning a deer is easy if you follow the steps in the right sequence. However, it’s impossible to do it in 10 minutes on your first try. Keep going and make deliberate cuts to get perfection with practice.

Hope you enjoy this article on how to skin a deer. To learn how to skin a rabbit, keep another article on

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