Advice on butchering deer

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Mar 13, 2006
Have picked up a roadkill deer today. Still warm.
Any advice on how to prepare and butcher the animal would be grateful, Websites with illistrations would be good.


Sep 20, 2005
County Durham
I'm guessing you've gralloched it already, if not then I wouldn't touch it. There's lots of threads on this topic on if you want to know more, but the main points to take onboard are that it is illegal, and potentially dangerous if you don't know how to identify that it was a healthy animal.
The law aside, there's nothing to stop you skinning it and using the hide, sinews, tendons etc. for bushcraft projects, but as to whether the meat is safe for human consumption, that is a question for your conscience. If you decide it is, then look for the usual cuts, leg, shoulder, etc...
You don't mention what kind of deer it is, so it's pretty hard to say much more in terms of butchery.


Jun 3, 2004
It's also pretty difficult to learn from text or even illustrations. Something that is much easier learnt by seeing someone else do it and then do it yourself. :)

Woods Wanderer

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Jan 26, 2006
first advice dont take it to a butchers it will get hached to pieces
iv eaten roadkill were i had to cut the maggoty bits of so edability should be fine

ill try to explain how i do it cut the hind legs of at the joint, scrape the fat off its back untill you find a silvery band and put a sharpeden stick under it and loosen the band across the back trying not to damage the loin then hang the band to dry ,do the same on the other loin now cut the loins off. Now look inside the animal and you will see the tenderloins (they look like slugs eather side of the spine) and cut them out now chop the meat (the saddle) off at the spine, now hit your knife the length of the breast bone, stick the knife in between the 4th and 5th rib and cut up to the breast bone and down to the spine, repeat on the other side,saw or chop across the breast bone so the two cuts you made on the ribs meet, now chop through the spine this will have seperated the front of the animal from its back, now cut down the ribs on the in between the meat and the ribs to seperate the rib cage from the meat and follow the cut down this should seperate the ribcage from the sholders with the front legs still on the shoulders, cut the front legs at the joint, cut the neck off, now all of the front of the animal is for stews and saugages the saddle for the oven the loins and tenderloins for steaks (though i prefer for pies) the hind legs after boning are best as a primative type meal after that cut all the meat off the bones put in a bag and ask you local bucher to make them into sausage (make sure theres more that 10 lb because anything less isnt worth there time) bury all the bones for a month and dig up for projects(i have a fox skeliton and a deer skelington in my back garden the dog eat my pigs skull though my mum went nuts when the dog dug it up) hope that helps
if you take it to a butchers the skin will be slashed to pieces the bone bined and the tendon cut through


Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Aug 15, 2005
Cardiff, South Wales
I'm not basing this on anything, but I'm guessing a butcher wouldn't go anywhere near a roadkill dear carcass. As twelveboar says, there's lots of info in the River Cottage forums, including plenty of posts from a professional deerstalker.

There's loads of factors that you need to consider, including how quickly the carcass has been chilled and whether you can recognise signs of disease which may be a factor in why the animal was hit - a diseased animal is a more likely target for roadkill.

Finally, I believe legally any deer killed on a road belongs to whoever's land it ends up on.


C.E.S.L Notts explorers
Oct 10, 2004
uk but want to emigrate to NZ
did you get confirmation on how it was killed ie some road kills are now given lethal injections due to the lack of hand guns to put the beast out of its misery!
if you so it being hit and know one went near it then youre alright or if you have a tell tale bullet hole (its also illegal to pick up what has been hit by yourself i know this was not the case as stated by yourself)

if you have cross beams in your garage spread out a fly sheet and slit between back tendon and bone then hang up from the back legs.
slit its throat and drain then yu can gralloch paying attention to the liver lungs and heart check for anomlies then pretty much if for yourself cut it up to the sizes you want to cook it in.


Feb 18, 2005
once you have gutted and skinned it put it somewhere cool then ask a butcher if you can watch while he busts up a lamb they are about the same size and the cuts are close enough to make good use of the meat


Sep 4, 2005
Stroud, Gloucestershire
So much depends on where and how badly it was hit. I wouldn't bother with any meat that's bruised as it often doesn't taste too good. It might be that some of the main cuts (eg saddle, hind legs) are OK , or maybe the meat on the opposite side to which it was hit. I've been given roadkills (for the skins), where from the outside there looked like very little damage, only to open it up and find mostly mush inside (urgh!). .


New Member
Mar 13, 2006
Trial and error man, that's the way to learn. If you're carefull not to puncture any organs just have a go at it, you'll figure it out. As some others have said, it's up to you if you want to eat suspect meat though. Also watch out for any cuts on your hands, you can get an infection. If you are saving the hide try to pull it off more than cut it off, you'll have a nicer hide.


Sep 4, 2005
Stroud, Gloucestershire
Watch out for ticks too, when you're skinning (too late for this time, I know). They're not too much of a problem at this time of year, but in the summer the deer can be crawling with them. Although we don't have the same danger of ticks carrying disease in the UK as they do in America, there have been cases of Lyme disease in Britain, particularly in the South West. It's nasty, so avoid the ticks if at all possible.

pierre girard

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Dec 28, 2005
Hunter Lake, MN USA
Woods Wanderer said:
first advice dont take it to a butchers it will get hached to pieces
I'll agree with that. Main thing is - butchers know how to do beef - and most butchers treat deer the same way, sawing the loin into chops leaving bone in the cut of meat, etc.

Deer need to be boned out. Woods wanderer gave a pretty good description of removing the backstraps (or loins). I like to do them when they are half frozen (not too tough to do in our area this time of year). Then you can do most of the work without a knife, just using your hands.

For haunches and shoulders, just cut them at the joint, and cut off the forelegs. To make the haunches and shoulders into steaks - just make sure you are cutting the meat cross-grain. It's not rocket science.

Be sure to remove any tallow or sinew you can. They are what makes the meat taste gamey.

For the flank meat, and rib meat (if it is a large deer), just cut it into stew chunks, or strips for jerk. Again, get rid of all tallow and sinew possible.

For venison steaks, I cut them thin. I usually use a high heat for short duration (about three minutes). You never want to overcook venison. Best served hot.

If I want to cook a whole shoulder or haunch, I always do it over a fire. I wouldn't know how to do it any other way.

It takes most of a day. Meat should always hang to the side of the fire - not directly over it, and the outside should be thouroughly burnt at the outset, and set off a bit for slow cooking for the rest of the day (or two days - if you can manage to wait that long). It is soooo good!