Field dressing, butchering, processing, and cooking deer doesn’t require a lot of fancy tools. But having a FEW fancy tools DOES help. Below is a list of items I recommend that every hunter should have, and a few items that are nice to have.
Shoulder length gloves – buy these veterinary gloves in bulk, they are way cheaper than the field dressing kits at the sporting goods stores. Buy once and you’ll be set for years.
Nitrile gloves – put these OVER the shoulder length gloves, not under.
A smallish fixed blade knife – 3 to 3 ½ inches is all you need. No Michael Scott jokes people…
Rope/Paracord – Always keep at least 50 feet of cord on you. And don’t be afraid to cut it. It’s a tool, it’s meant to be used.
A bone saw – foe splitting the pelvic bone when dressing, and cutting the ribs when processing.
Food grade 5 gallon bags – Great for organs and big enough to hold whole animal quarters.
In addition to the previous list-
A game scale – knowing how much meat will go in your freezer is better than thinking “seems like a lot”. Once you start weighing your dressed deer, you will also get better at aging deer before you shoot. What you thought was big can change once you know what the true weight is.
A skinning knife – The rounded blade makes skinning so much easier than just using your dressing blade.
A flexible boning knife or fillet knife – you can maximize your meat on the backstraps and neck roasts with a flexible blad you can guide around the bone.
A kitchen scale – I label every bag that goes in the freezer. Would you buy unweighed meat at the store? Knowing how much meat you are pulling out for a meal will help you know how many portions you can make.
18″ plastic wrap – I like to double wrap my steaks and roasts before vacuum sealing. I’ve had stuff go several years with no freezer burn. Yeah, sometimes stuff gets “lost” in the freezer…
Vacuum sealer – I’ve tried a lot of vacuum sealers. This is one area spending more money will save you in the long run.
Vacuum sealer bags – you can use these for sous vide as well as just freezing your venison.
Cast iron skillets – you can’t beat the even heat a cast iron skillet provides.
Enameled dutch oven – a dutch oven will give you more cooking options for your stews and chilis.
Crock Pot – I prefer a non digital because it can double as a sous vide cooker.
A thermostatic switch – just for sous vide on the cheap.
A meat grinder – get one measured in horse power – NOT wattage.
A vertical sausage stuffer – a 5 lb stuffer is perfect. The ones for your kitchen-aid are not nearly as good as these hand crank versions.
Jerky gun – the bigger, the better. Metal is better than plastic.
Dehydrator – My go to for making jerky.
Electric Smoker – Make jerky, smoked sausage, smoked roasts, pastrami – a smoker gives you more options than you can imagine to use your meat for.
Books every deer hunter must read:
Finding Wounded Deer by John Trout Jr
Tracking Wounded Deer: How to Find and Tag Deer Shot With Bow or Gun by Richard Smith
Gut It. Cut It. Cook It.: The Deer Hunter’s Guide to Processing & Preparing Venison by Eric Fromm
Making the Most of Your Deer: Field Dressing, Butchering, Venison Preparation, Tanning, Antlercraft, Taxidermy, Soapmaking, & More by Dennis Walrod