Nadia van der Donk

Deer Meat Guide: All the Most Common Deer Cuts and Parts

If you're interested in how to butcher your own deer harvests, you might like this illustrated deer meat guide.

This illustration by artist Nadia van der Donk shows where the different cuts of meat come from on a deer.

A hind quarter alone from a single deer can provide a lot of meat that can last for months if rationed properly. Learning to butcher a deer is an integral part of deer hunting that, frankly, is becoming a lost art for too many outdoorsmen.

Butchering at home requires a lot more than a deer meat guide. You'll need the right knives for the skinning process and butchering, a bone saw or hacksaw for cutting bone, a clean butchering surface, and maybe even gloves for cleanliness.

But when you get to reap the rewards of a harvest, cooking up stew meat or slicing jerky strips to chare with friends and family, it makes it all worth it.

How Well Do You Know Your Cuts of Venison?


Getting a deer from the field to the freezer starts with properly field dressing the animal. Make sure to store and hang the meat in a cool and dry environment that's below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

The process can get a little dirty, so having a safe place to do it without risking a seriously messed up kitchen is key.

If you don't know what you're doing, your first time will be intimidating. You'll be much better off taking it to a deer processing facility or experienced butcher. But, if you're up for the challenge of learning how to do it, this handy guide will help out big time.

Once you get a little experience, you start to recognize things that seasoned deer processors already know. The front legs, or front shoulders to be exact, don't have as much meat on them as the hind leg. But deboning the meat and making ground venison in the meat grinder is just as great a way to enjoy it as whole muscle.

And of course, it isn't all about the venison steaks and jerky, but the other trophies from a successful harvest like antlers and deerskin. Tossing a backstrap on the grill is great, but it won't last nearly as long as that antler mount on the wall.

What part of the deer is your favorite?