How to perform the gutless method on big game


Large bull elk on the ground guided by Jay Scott
All photo credits: Jay Scott — A goHUNT Business Member

It is said that once an animal is on the ground… the real work begins. That could not be further from the truth. There are two methods to prepare any big game animal like sheep, elk, mule deer, pronghorn, etc. for packing it out and getting it to a processor. The first way is to use the basic field dressing method, which requires you to gut the animal before packing the animal out whole or cut into quarters. You can check out the video series for how to gut an animal here. The second method requires you take the quarters, tenderloins, back straps, ribs and neck off without gutting the animal, which is referred to as the gutless method. Each method can be broken down one step further by deboning the meat.

Saves time, cleaner and easier on heavy animals

I prefer the gutless method because I think it is much more simple to do in the field because you are removing the meat from the animal without exposing the sometimes stinky and messy innards and guts. Plus you are able to cool down the meat much faster, which helps reduce the chance for spoiled meat. The gutless method is also preferred when you are dealing with heavy animals such as elk and moose.

Tips for the gutless method:

1. A sharp knife is essential.
2. Take your time and do a good clean job.
3. It goes faster if you have a buddy helping you.
4. Try to get the hide off as quickly as possible to cool the meat down.
5. Try to get every last piece of meat off of your animal.
6. Don’t press your knife into the bone a lot as it will dull your knife.
7. Once you cut pieces of meat off, place them in cool place — preferably in a game bag so dirt, hair and flies can't touch the meat.
8. Have a good headlamp with plenty of batteries for working at night.
9. Be careful when quartering as to not cut yourself in the backcountry.
10. Try to keep hair from getting on your meat.

Continued below.

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Jay Scott hanging and packing elk meat

In this video series you will see the gutless method from beginning to end. Everyone has their own little tricks and procedures for the gutless method. I would like to thanks Chris Roe of for his help with this video.

Part 1 - removing the hide on one side of the animal


Part 2 - removing the rear and front quarters plus neck meat


Part 3 - removing the back straps


Part 4 - removing tenderloins, rib meat and more neck meat


Part 5 - continued neck meat removal and skull removal



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