When most hunters get an animal down the first thing they do is tag the animal, snap a photo or two, and then get right to work. The first step in “getting to work” on the animal is usually the gutting or “field dressing” of that animal. This process opens the animal’s body cavity up and allows the animal to begin the cooling process, preventing the meat from spoiling. Another benefit of field dressing is to lighten the load, therefore making the transportation of that animal a little bit easier. Gutting is standard procedure, especially when we are talking about whitetail deer. However, something I have wanted to try for a while now is the “gutless method” of game processing. I had a chance to do just that on my last harvest.
The gutless method is ideal in several scenarios. This method is most popular when dealing with larger animals (such as elk), and especially when one is packing out the meat of the animal and not the entire carcass. The gutless method allows the hunter to begin removing meat immediately and begin the cooling of that meat apart from the body. The gutless method isn’t the right answer for every situation, but it is a great method to learn and have available – even for whitetail hunters
On my last hunt I was fortunate enough to have my kill site be only a few hundred yards away from a garage that I had access to. It was late, dark, and hot. I could have gutted the animal where I found her, but doing so in the dark would have taken me at least 20 minutes. After that I would still have to drag her to the garage, setup the hoist, begin skinning the animal, and then begin removing the meat immediately to put it on ice. That is probably what most hunters would have done, however by using the gutless method I saved valuable time. Instead of field dressing the animal upon recovery, I immediately began the short drag. I was at my processing location and had begun skinning the animal within 10 minutes of recovery. Another advantage of the gutless method is that hanging the animal is not required. I did all of my skinning and deboning easily and on a tarp laid out on the floor.
I am not advocating that the gutless method should be used in every situation. There are many scenarios when typical field dressing is absolutely critical. However, the gutless method is a great choice to have if you are close to your processing facility, or if you are packing out meat. If your goal is to quickly get the meat from the body, then consider the gutless method.
Learning the Gutless Method
To learn the gutless method, and see it in action, please see this “teaser” video form Elk 101, or visit Elk 101 for a detailed step-by-step instructional.