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>> Skin a Buck With Your Pickup Truck! :: By Marshall Stanton on 2001-01-30
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This method of skinning a deer is so fast, so easy, and makes such a clean carcass that I decided it needed its own place on the Tech Notes.

When skinning a deer using a vehicle, as detailed below, the carcass will have a minimum amount of hair on it when finished, never be exposed to the tarsal glands, won't lose the flank meat, and you will end up with a totally flawless hide if you wish to tan it!

This process is simple; you are basically making initial cuts in the skin, then securing the deer to a stationary point via the head and peeling the hide off using the ease of a vehicle and a rope attached to the hide. Here's how!

Lay the deer out, more or less on its back. Cut the hide below the knee joint on each leg. Then cut from these incisions along the inside of the front legs to a midpoint on the brisket, making sure that the cuts along each leg meet at the brisket. Cut the hide on the back legs from the incision made below the knee joint, along the rearward, inside hindquarter to a point just forward of the rectum. Make sure that these incisions also meet at this point about one inch forward of the rectum. Now make a lengthwise cut in the hide from where the hind-leg incisions intersect one inch forward of the rectum, forward to just underneath the jaw of your deer, following the midline of the brisket as shown below.

Please forgive the somewhat dark photos. These were taken solely with the aid of a camera flash, at nearly ten o'clock at night with temperatures in the mid teens.

Just below the point where the head and neck are joined, cut the hide all the way around the neck, being careful not to cut into the meat of the neck itself. Then, beginning where this cut around the neck meets the longitudinal cut coming up the midline of the brisket and neck, skin back the hide away from the head for about half the length of the neck.

Once having skinned out this flap of skin on the neck, next insert either a golf ball, or a relatively smooth round rock of the same general dimensions under the flesh side of the skin, completely covering the golf ball or rock. Then, from the hair side of the hide, grasp the golf ball/rock and tie a heavy, stout line or rope around the hide and ball/rock as shown below. Use a slip knot to tie this, because it will tighten itself as the rope is being pulled, thus preventing slippage of the hide off the ball/rock.

Now the hard part of this process (if there is a hard part) is over! Position your deer on the ground near a secure object such as a tree, stump, or similar solid anchoring point. Tie a stout rope/strap either around the antlers or neck of the animal (just below the head, and above the now peeled neck skin). Secure the other end of the rope or strap to your anchor point (tree stump, etc.).

Position your vehicle directly in line with the deer and the anchoring point it is secured to, then tie the other end of the rope connected to the ball/rock to the vehicle. At this point you are ready to skin the deer! Double check your knots, then slowly and carefully pull your vehicle ahead to take the slack out of the rope attached to the deer's hide. As you now apply tension to the rope, the hide will begin to peel off the deer, and will actually lift the deer free from the ground.

Notice how the hide is pulling off the deer free of meat or fat. Also note the tarp in the background. Now is the time to put a fresh, clean plastic tarp underneath your deer! As already mentioned, the deer is actually being held off the ground by the tension of the rope on your vehicle pulling on his hide, but once the hide is free from the deer, it will drop back down on the ground. The clean tarp keeps every bit of dirt, hair and contaminants off the skinned carcass once it pulls free from the hide.

As you pull with your vehicle, do it slowly and steadily. First the neck will finish peeling off, then the shoulders, the front legs, then the ribs and flank, without pulling off the flank meat!

Note in this photo that a brand-new poly-tarp (about $2.50 at discount stores) has been placed underneath the deer to keep it clean. Also you can see the rope tied to the antlers which is in turn tied to a tree. On the left side of the photo can be seen the red and white rope tied to the hide via the ball/rock.

As you continue to pull the hide will peel off evenly and cleanly. In the above photo the hide is pulled off of all but the hind legs, even the tail peels clean when you use this technique to skin a deer! (Nice when you want a hair-on tanning job!)

You can see in this photo how important the tarp is in keeping the carcass clean. Also it is easy to see here why there is so little hair on a carcass when skinning this way, as the hide gets turned totally inside out, and is being pulled away from the skinned meat at all times.


Now, the finished, skinned deer! The carcass is clean and without hair, and the hide is pulled free without holes or flesh left on the skin. All that remains is to cut off the legs, hang and bag, or, if done in the field, just bag and load into the vehicle!

This is absolutely the easiest and cleanest way I have found to skin a deer! It is also the very fastest (if you aren't taking photos of every step) that I know of. Give it a try, and you'll never go home with a deer that needs to be skinned! It's just too easy to do it in the field and take home a clean carcass! Also, as an added benefit, the deer cools out much faster when skinned in the field.

I've been doing my deer this way for years (yes, elk too; when you can get them out to a vehicle whole, it works great), and I can't even remember where I learned this technique. My grandfather and father both hung their deer to skin them, and I can't remember where along the line I picked this up, or I would give credit to its origin. Nevertheless, it's worth checking out the next time you have a game animal to skin!

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