Retrieving Your Deer: Depending on where your shot hits and the condition of the deer, you may have to search for a wounded deer.
Recording Your Deer: After you recover your animal, you’ll need to record the sex, county, and date on your hunter harvest log (attached to your license/permit or some other means of recording).
Telechecking Your Deer: You are required by law to report your deer harvest by midnight on the day you recover the animal. You can do this by phone at 1-800-245-4263 or telecheck online.
Field Dressing: It’s important to remove the entrails (organs in the body cavity) once your deer is down, so that the meat can cool and air-dry. You’ll also want to remove any food material or waste that’s left inside the body cavity, washing if necessary to remove any residue to prevent fouling of the meat. There are many good resources online; here’s our field dressing video. You may wish to "field quarter" (aka "gutless" field dress) your deer to quickly remove the meat so it can begin to cool and stay clean, and to avoid disturbing the entrails: http://www.outdoorhub.com/news/video-gutless-field-dressing/; please note that you must Telecheck your deer and record your confirmation number on your hunter harvest log before processing your deer. Field dress your deer in a discreet place, such as inside of woods, out of respect for the landowner or others using the land.
Dragging: If you’ll be dragging your deer out to your vehicle, you want to keep the body cavity as clean as possible. Meticulous hunters wrap their deer to keep dirt and leaves out. Others use a 2-wheel cart taken in the woods to bring out deer—this also can reduce effort required.
Butchering Your Deer: When you get your animal to the vehicle, if it’s above 40 degrees or if you’re putting the animal inside the car, consider packing 1 or more bags of ice inside the body cavity to cool the meat and help protect from spoilage. Deer processors are listed in your local phone book or online. Check out our helpful deer butchering video if you might want to do the job yourself.
For the Table: Deer meat, or “venison,” is a very healthy and nutritious meat. There are many print and online cookbooks dedicated to venison and wild game. Try Tim Farmer’s hearty venison stew recipe.