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How to hang a dead deer/
Whitetail Deer
Contributors to this thread:
yukon roz 19-Jun-13
Bou'bound 19-Jun-13
jerseyjohn 19-Jun-13
Charlie Rehor 19-Jun-13
jerseyjohn 19-Jun-13
ToddT 19-Jun-13
Brotsky 19-Jun-13
jerseyjohn 19-Jun-13
Bowfreak 19-Jun-13
Russ Koon 19-Jun-13
ToddT 19-Jun-13
jerseyjohn 19-Jun-13
Bowfreak 19-Jun-13
yukon roz 19-Jun-13
ToddT 19-Jun-13
wkochevar 19-Jun-13
havoc 19-Jun-13
tobywon 19-Jun-13
Brian M. 19-Jun-13
Vids 19-Jun-13
Buck Watcher 19-Jun-13
jerseyjohn 19-Jun-13
kellyharris 19-Jun-13
Knife2sharp 19-Jun-13
longbeard 19-Jun-13
Mathews Man 19-Jun-13
Bowfreak 19-Jun-13
Bake 19-Jun-13
longbeard 19-Jun-13
Ziek 19-Jun-13
Joey Ward 19-Jun-13
ToddT 19-Jun-13
MJH 19-Jun-13
CurveBow 19-Jun-13
Knife2sharp 19-Jun-13
JTreeman 19-Jun-13
milnrick 19-Jun-13
LBshooter 20-Jun-13
LKH 20-Jun-13
steve 20-Jun-13
Zebow 20-Jun-13
northwoods hunter 20-Jun-13
YZF-88 20-Jun-13
tatonka 20-Jun-13
Thornton 20-Jun-13
TD 21-Jun-13
grizzlyadam 21-Jun-13
loprofile 21-Jun-13
Fulldraw1972 21-Jun-13
drycreek 22-Jun-13
camp comfort 23-Jun-13
Nalgi 23-Jun-13
From: yukon roz
19-Jun-13
Which way do you hang your deer head up or down?And are there benefits to your way?

From: Bou'bound
19-Jun-13
head down to drain

From: jerseyjohn
19-Jun-13
Rope around horns, head up so no blood in neck. Do it this way if you want to mount the head. JJ

19-Jun-13

Charlie Rehor's embedded Photo
Charlie Rehor's embedded Photo
I'm with Bou!

From: jerseyjohn
19-Jun-13

jerseyjohn's embedded Photo
jerseyjohn's embedded Photo
This is how we hang trophy bucks in Maine and the north east. For big woods hunters in the north east a buck over 200 lbs. is a trophy buck. Rack size is secondary to the weight. Always hang ur buck by the horns. JJ

From: ToddT
19-Jun-13
JerseyJohn, it is funny when you say, always a buck by the antlers. The reason I say this is funny is that hanging a deer with the head up seems to be primarily a northeastern tradition or method. Here in the southeast, you almost never see anyone hang by the head, opting to hang by the rear legs, with the head down. As a taxidermist, you mention that if you plan to mount a buck to hang it head up to avoid blood in the head - I have never found that to be a problem, and again we always hang with the head down.

Now which is correct, well, bou mentioned hanging head down to allow it to drain properly, but when I hang a deer with the head down, I almost always notice fluids gathering in the brisket area. I guess you could circumvent this by cutting completely along the esophagus area to just under the head - but obviously you wouldn't want to do this if you were planning to mount a buck. Even as a North Carolina native - the southeast - where we have always been taught and saw everyone else to hang their deer with the head down, it does make sense, for draining purposes, to hang a deer head up. Obviously due to the evisceration process, their is an optimal drainage opening in the pelvic area.

With all this said, I really do not believe there is a wrong way to hang an animal. The primary objective is to get it off the ground so it cools properly and to get it away from scavengers. Other than that, I do not believe a significant amount of drainage takes place. I have always found it best to place the quartered portions in a cooler full of ice for several days to pull the blood from the muscle tissue, which will result in a milder flavor.

I probably have lost everyone by rambling this long, so, I will stop, anyway, good luck to all, and the main objective is to have a buck to hang, regardless of which way you choose to hang it.

From: Brotsky
19-Jun-13
I do it two ways for different purposes. I hang them by the head to clean them out and let them drain and then I hang them like Charlie does when it's time to butcher.

From: jerseyjohn
19-Jun-13

jerseyjohn's embedded Photo
jerseyjohn's embedded Photo
ToddT,

I agree with ya. When I hunted in NC we hung the deer upside down to gut them. I am sure it doesn't matter how you hang it as long as you drain him well. A doe dosn't matter either way. My 2006 Adirondack buck hanging. JJ

From: Bowfreak
19-Jun-13
I hang by the legs to age if possible but if it is a doe or a deer I don't wan't to mount I skin it hanging by the head. The reason being is I use a golfball and a piece of stout rope tied to my truck to peel the skin off. It is the easiest and cleanest way I have found to skin a deer.

From: Russ Koon
19-Jun-13
I prefer head up. I'm always doing my own processing alone, and it seems much easier to me to have it hanging by the neck (or horns if it's going on the wall), so I can remove the lower legs before skinning and remove the quarters individually during processing.

Not convinced that there would be a noticeable difference in draining. I understand the theory, but haven't seen evidence that they continue to drain appreciably after hanging in either direction. Once blood pressure reaches zero and they've cooled out, they don't seem to leak a lot.

I suspect there's not a lot of difference and it's mostly preference based on how you got started.

From: ToddT
19-Jun-13
Its finally great to see everyone agree, to disagree, without throwing rocks.

As for Bowfreak, skinning a deer by hanging from the head, by using a golf ball then winching it off. I do that with almost all my deer. EXCEPT, again, I hang with the head down. Make incisions along the inner hind quarters, then skin to the tail, cut the tail and place a, I wish I always had a golf ball handy, but it is usually a walnut - I hang most of my deer in a walnut tree - or a rock, or whatever I can get my hands on, place it at the base of the tail and then wrap the winch to my four wheeler around it and winch it off. That is a quick and easy way, as you already know. Helps keep the hair off, quickens the process, etc.

Again, I don't really think it matters which method of hanging you use, but I will say one of the strangest methods of field dressing a buck I ever saw was while watching a guy originally from Ohio. He started at the brisket and cut rearward towards the hind quarters. This is simply backwards of how I was always taught to field dress, and even after hunting all over the country, I have never seen anyone else eviscerate a deer in this manner. He did get the job done, but it seemed a lot harder, and messier, than what I usually do.

Again, good luck to everyone, and may your trees be hanging full of bucks this fall, regardless of which way they point - it will be here before we know it, but I can't wait.

From: jerseyjohn
19-Jun-13

jerseyjohn's embedded Photo
jerseyjohn's embedded Photo
Russ Koon, I agree with the how you got started reference. We did it that way in Maine because most of if not all of the bucks harvested were going to be mounted. I continued the tradition in the Adirondacks of new york and when visiting other camps I noticed they did the head up and on the horns also. I just kinda like how a big buck looks hanging by his horns. In this picture we were weighing the buck at deer camp and he was then hung by the horns till we left for home. JJ

From: Bowfreak
19-Jun-13
ToddT,

The only reason I start with the head side is because the only area where I get any hair on them is wherever I start. As you know...once you start pulling or winching it off....no more hair on the meat issues.

Believe it our not....I have gutted many deer starting at the brisket too but I agree it is easier the other way. :) Maybe I am ToddT's opposite conjoined twin who was separated at birth.

From: yukon roz
19-Jun-13
Thanks guys I hang my deer by the back legs after I gut it on the ground in my garden.I will try to skin the wat bow freak said sounds easy and no hair is always good :)!!!!

From: ToddT
19-Jun-13
Bowfreak, I never thought of it like that, I do prefer the hindquarters over the neck roast, and some does have such a small neck there is very little meat. So skinning the way you described will keep the hindquarters extra clean. I may give that a try next time. See, that is what these forums are all about, sharing ideas, and that is a great one.

As for being twins separated at birth, I believe you may be onto something. How would you like to have a reunion? We could, say, get together at your place and go hunting. We could do it here in NC, but the biggest buck you will likely see after lots of hunting would be around 120 inches. So I believe your place would be the best option ;)

From: wkochevar
19-Jun-13
I used to be a hind leg hanger, but anymore, mounting or not, it's the gutless method in the field and hang the quarters in cheesecloth. Life is so much easier these days!

From: havoc
19-Jun-13

havoc's embedded Photo
havoc's embedded Photo
We used to hang them by the horns, but switched to hanging them from the legs, found we got less hair on the meat when skinning. When we are done skinning, we usually take a propane torch and burn any loose hairs off the meat, makes the de-boning process much cleaner.

From: tobywon
19-Jun-13
I hang by the legs, but I think the head became popular in the northeast since most were hung outside in the cold/weather so the hair on the hide and body cavity was facing down.

From: Brian M.
19-Jun-13
I've always hung by the legs, it opens the body cavity to cool. If hung by the head, the chest cavity retains heat, since heat rises, and I want it to cool down as quickly as possible. Besides, it's hard to hang a deer by the head with a gambrel.

From: Vids
19-Jun-13
Not sure there is a wrong way to do it, but I've found that caping for a mount is way easier with the head down.

From: Buck Watcher
19-Jun-13

Buck Watcher's embedded Photo
Buck Watcher's embedded Photo
We hang it from the head, rinse out the cavity and put a stick in it to keep it open. After that we change clothes we hang it by the legs and skin it. Skins easy when warm and cools quickly without the skin.

From: jerseyjohn
19-Jun-13
Brian M. We only hung bucks by their horns. Never a rope around their neck. Guys I hunted with feel it also showed recpect for the big trophy buck. JJ

From: kellyharris
19-Jun-13
I usually gut, put on 4 wheeler, throw in truck, take to processor! If I do hang a buck always by the horns.

If its a doe sometimes by the legs sometimes by the head. If it is by the head always a rope around the neck.

As for dis-respecting the animal by putting a rope around the neck??? I KILLED THE ANIMAL that had nothing to do with respect other than trying to kill it as quickly as possible.

From: Knife2sharp
19-Jun-13
Hanging by the head is also common in MN and WI. My Dad used to hang by the head to cool, then switch them around to skin them. When I started hunting out West and down South, all the outfitters would hang by the hind legs and now I do to. I always thought taxidermists recommended not hanging by the head to avoid stretching of the hide.

From: longbeard
19-Jun-13
I always hang by the rear legs as soon as I get them home and then they are ready for the skinning process for which I was taught. I used to field dress a deer from hind legs forward, but in the past decade or so I have switched to brisket down because I now use a gut hook knife. For me it seems easier to get that hook under the skin at the brisket and start "unzipping" than trying to get the hook under in the groin area where I could puncture the guts

From: Mathews Man
19-Jun-13
I've never had to hang a whole animal before. Always quarter them and skin them on the ground and then put the quarters in game bags. The backstraps and separately the cape or head get into their own game bag and then hang them to cool.

From: Bowfreak
19-Jun-13
ToddT,

Sounds good....but if you shoot a see a 120 incher here you better be shooting too. We have some big bucks here but Western KY is much better than where I live.

From: Bake
19-Jun-13
I hang by the legs if I'm going to cape the buck for a mount.

Everything else I hang by the head for different reasons. . .

1. I never hang a deer for any period of time. I almost always butcher a deer the night of kill, immediately when I get home (at least quarter it)

2. I quarter when hanging, then take the quarters into my garage to clean and work on on a comfortable height bench, with good light

3. When I quarter, I cut through that back socket, and basically, once I've quartered the hindquarters off, the hanging is done. I don't like that, as I saw off every bone, in easily chewed on chunks (once the meat is off), for my dog. So I like to leave the backbone and ribs hanging for ease of sawing/hatcheting

Basically, when I'm done with a deer, I throw the hide and head away, and the hooves. Sometimes I'll even give the head to my dog, and then throw away what's left of the skull after a week or two. AFter the dog has had a ball with it

I try to use it all, and my dog loves it! Always looks fattest and shiniest in the wintertime :)

Bake

From: longbeard
19-Jun-13
When I hang by the legs I cut all meat from bone (de-bone)as it hangs and take only meat into my butchering area...nothing but skeleton hanging when done

From: Ziek
19-Jun-13
I agree with Mathews Man. Non of those deer are properly field dressed to begin with, since the esophagus and trachea haven't been completely removed. They should be slit and opened from throat to anus. If they were, you could drain them either head up or down. Obviously, if you're going to mount it, it has to be at least partially caped before completing the field dressing. With deer sized game, i usually cape it, field dress it, cut it in half, bag it, and carry it out.

From: Joey Ward
19-Jun-13
I hang 'em by a front a leg and the same side rear leg. 'Bout table high. Work 'em horizontal. Then grab the other two legs and split 'em stomach down so all the entrails, and blood, just fall out. Makes splitin' the sturnem and chest open up so much easier. And better. Makes it easier to ge to stuff on the inside.

From: ToddT
19-Jun-13
Bake, I agree also, I too attempt to use as much as possible, even if it is given to the dog. My chocolate lab usually looks like an overgrown tick after I butcher a deer, she loves it. She sits and waits at the hanging carcass until the butchering begins, it is actually quite amusing. You make a great point though, use as much as possible.

From: MJH
19-Jun-13
Usually butcher mine the evening after I shot it. Allows some blood to drain, and the ticks to fall off. Hang it from its hind legs, and open it up from the top of the throat all the way to the anus.

From: CurveBow
19-Jun-13
OK, I'm jumping in here too! ALWAYS by the hind legs. To me, its a sacriledge to hang them by the head. Its disrespecting the dead animal (hey - My HO!). Plus, depending on the deer, I frequently cut the hind elgs off below the hock area and start the skinning process to below the hock so that its easier and less hair on meat once I finish skinning. Frequently temperatures allow for hanging several days before final skinning and deboning the meat. Yes, it skins harder after the carcass has cooled; much harder!

I ask fans of hanging by the head to look at the neck of the dead deer before hanging and then days later. It will be skinnier and a bit stretched out. Personally, it doesn't matter for me as I will very rarely mount a deer these days, I go with a European mount. Plus, how can you get a nice view or feel of the rack with it way up there? A friend had his dog (a large german shepard) get into his garage with a buck hung by the head and the dog demolished a lot of the hind quarter on one side.

Anyhow, thats my $.02...

>>>>-------->

From: Knife2sharp
19-Jun-13
Regarding esophohus removal. I always cut through ribcage on a doe or young buck I don't plan on mounting and cut up the bottom of the neck to remove the windpipe. A buck I want to mount or need the cape to give to a taxidermist, I remove thecape from behind the front shoulders while iit's hanging from the hind legs and gravity helps considerably. Once I get to the base of the neck I cut through the spine. With the head off I cut the windpipe out. If I want to let it hang I put one of those mesh gamebag thingies around it. Or I will remove the neck muscles and front quarters, then let them age in the refrigerator. In most cases I skin, remove loins and tenderloins, remove front quarters and debone hind quarters within 2 days, then let it age in a refrigerator for several days while I cut and package. I think aging in the fridge is much better as the temp remains consistant and you don'thave to worry about contamination.

From: JTreeman
19-Jun-13
You guys crack me up, I hope that everyone realizes that deer do not have HORNS! Cars have horns, deer have antlers! Ok, off my rant for the evening.

I guess I'm a head down man myself, but have some buddies that hang from the head. No wrong way in my opinion.

--Jim

From: milnrick
19-Jun-13
In my opinion the way a deer is hung for aging is dependent on whether it's going to be mounted, or if it's going to be aged and butchered and how long it'll be hung before being caped.

Our taxidermist recommends hanging a buck by it's antlers while it's in the cooler starting to age. His rationale is that fluid (whether blood settling, or water from rinsing blood out of the chest cavity and/or hide can settle at the 'lowest point', thus possibly causing damage to the hide. (Sort of makes sense to me).

Too, if it's a deer (or any animal) that will be getting broken down and ultimately transported to the processor, I'll hang it by the hind legs, and let it age in a 40 degree cooler for 'about' 7 days.

From: LBshooter
20-Jun-13
Not a taxidermist,but, I have heard if you hang a trophy by the head you will stretch the hide and make it tough to get a good mount. Any taxidermist out here might be able to correct me or not.

From: LKH
20-Jun-13
Head up if I don't want the cape, down if I do.

I use the 4-wheeler to skin them and hair just isn't a problem.

From: steve
20-Jun-13
head up to cooldown ,then I flip it to butcher .STEVE

From: Zebow
20-Jun-13
I do taxidermy work. It doesn't matter either way as long as you don't hang them by the neck with a rope. That really messes up the hide.

20-Jun-13
Either way works. I usually hang from the back legs, because it just easier for me. Skinning is never a problem, since I do it right away...... If its a big deer that I have to get out of the woods, I cut them in half in the woods, so when I get home, they are skinned and butchered right away......

From: YZF-88
20-Jun-13

YZF-88's embedded Photo
YZF-88's embedded Photo
Head down for me. It's easier to do by myself and easier to cape and cut-off the head. I rigged up a winch in my last garage. I miss it...but nobody drags a deer out of the woods where I live now (have to pack them out)

From: tatonka
20-Jun-13
According to Larry Benoit it's disrespectful to hang a buck by his head.... He also says it's disrespectful to cut their tongue out. Just saying.......

From: Thornton
20-Jun-13
If you bone and skin it the same day its killed, it is much easier and then you dont have to worry about hanging it.

From: TD
21-Jun-13
Why would you hang a deer that's already dead??? Reminds me of a scene from Lonesome Dove...

Hind legs on a gambrel. It's just easier to process an animal that way (unless you are going to drag it out of the garage by it's golf balls.... =D)

I have never seen a packing plant or any other commercial processor hang them any other way. They do it for a reason, not "tradition". Has to do with the highest rate of production as well as putting out a quality product. Hands down easier to break down an animal that way.

Honestly though, haven't hung any animal for 15 or 20 years. Debone and pack out. I'm not dragging that carcass all over the place. I could only see doing that if I could drive to it. That hasn't happened for a good many years either.

From: grizzlyadam
21-Jun-13
I always drag a deer by the head or neck, and when it gets home I hang it that way to drain the carcass chest cavity and shed the ticks. I prop the read quarters open to cool down. Within 24 hours l flip it over and put it on the gambrel to and skin and process. If its a wall hanger I hang it head down and skin and cape it immediately when it gets home.

From: loprofile
21-Jun-13
I've hung a few over the years but feel its more humane just to shoot them

From: Fulldraw1972
21-Jun-13
I prefer to hang them by the hind legs. To me its easier to skin and quarter that way. But I very seldom even hang them at all now. Its either gutless or strait to the processer.

From: drycreek
22-Jun-13
Buck I'm gonna mount, head down. Meat deer, head up. Ain't gonna hang long anyway, because it's going in a cooler with ice for two or three days, draining a couple times a day and adding ice.Mmmnnnn good!

From: camp comfort
23-Jun-13
In the bush it's head up,rain and snow just run off .When local and going to process shortly head down.No right or wrong just your choice!! Good Luck to all!!

From: Nalgi
23-Jun-13

Nalgi's embedded Photo
Nalgi's embedded Photo
Heres a novel idea. Lets look at what the Pros do...

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