How to Gut a Moose

by Bryan Clark
Many hunters enjoy dining on the results of a successful moose hunt.

Many hunters enjoy dining on the results of a successful moose hunt.

Hunting moose means enjoying the beautiful outdoors and the majesty of the animals. You also have the camaraderie of the hunt and time with friends that adds to the fun. A successful kill brings a huge sense of accomplishment. Unfortunately, the next step is the hard work of field dressing the moose. Hopefully you will have some fellow hunters to make the process easier and more fun. With their help and a few crucial steps, you'll be on your way home quickly.

Work slowly and carefully. The process will take at least an hour for a novice.

Clear your work area. You will need a large area to accommodate the animal. Find the lowest area around for the entrails and make sure there is a clean path through which you can carry the carcass to your transportation.

Position the animal on its back with legs spread with the help of a partner or using the ropes and pulleys or using tree branches as pulleys. Tie ropes to trees to secure the moose in this position.

Bleed the moose. With a sharp knife, slice across the throat cavity opening the main blood vessels and allowing the animal to bleed out. Blood will flow only from gravity, so turn the moose so the blood will flow away from the animal onto cleared land.

Open the moose by cutting down the center from the throat to the anus. When cutting through the stomach be careful not to cut into any organs. Hone the knife periodically if it begins to get dull. Be careful to cut around the genitals. These must be left intact in some areas to demonstrate gender to authorities.

Break the breastbone using two axes or one ax and a hammer. Begin at the base of the ribcage and break the bone up to the top of the ribs.

Cut the windpipe away from the neck muscles. Pull it down and lay it in the chest cavity.

Cut the diaphragm out of the chest cavity. Remove it carefully from both sides of the chest and discard. This can be slow-going and may require extra hands to hold organs clear while you cut. Start at one side near the base of the ribs and separate the diaphragm from the chest wall on both sides.

Split the pelvic bone. Using the two axes or one ax and hammer split the bone in two. Be very careful to stay clear of genitals and any organs, particularly the urinary tract that could taint the meat.

Remove the anus and bladder. Take the utmost care not to pierce the urinary tract or intestines or you will taint the meat. Using a sharp knife cut the large intestines and rectum out of the pelvic area. Extra hands are helpful here.

Stop cutting when you get to the point where the rectum meets the muscle tissue near the anus. At the base of the tail cut a core of skin about 1-inch to 2-inches around the anus. Use some string to tie off the anus preventing any spilling that could taint the meat. Then cut through the muscle to free the rectum and anus from the pelvic bone.

Roll out the abdominal organs. Gently roll the moose toward lower ground and pull/roll the organs with the anus and rectum attached out of the carcass. Reach up and pull on the windpipe to remove the heart and lungs. Cut any remaining diaphragm tissue to free it from the carcass and pull it out along with the other organs.

Clean out the carcass with rags or paper towels. Do not use water as it will dilute a protective layer of bodily fluid and can introduce bacteria to the carcass.

Prepare to move the carcass for transport whole or to quarter the carcass.

Items you will need

  • Ropes (with pulleys or near tree branches)
  • Hunting knife
  • Honing steel
  • Ax
  • Hammer or second ax
  • Rags or paper towels
  • Water or hand cleaner
  • Boning saw
  • String

About the Author

Bryan Clark has been a freelance writer since 2002. His work has appeared in "The New York Times," "USA Today" and the U.K.'s biggest paper—"The Guardian," amongst other, smaller publications.

Photo Credits

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