How to Butcher a Bison

by Zach Lazzari
Bison contain large quantities of meat.

Bison contain large quantities of meat.

Bison are harvested as domestic livestock and wild game. Butchering a bison is similar to butchering a cow. The animal is large and is either hung from a stand or field dressed and broken into manageable quarters after a hunt. Butchering the animal requires a high quality knife and the ability to preserve large quantities of meat. One bison produces well over 600 pounds of butchered meat that must be cooled or frozen immediately after being butchered.

1. Hook each hind leg of the gutted bison on a pulley-style stand and raise the bison into a hanging position. Use a 10-inch fillet knife to cut the skin along the inside of each leg and peel the entire skin off the carcass.

2. Use a hacksaw to cut directly through the center of the bison. Follow the spine to split the animal into two even sections. The two sections make the animal easier to maneuver and handle.

3. Locate the hump on one of the halves. The hump is the large chuck near the head of the bison. Follow the hump to the rib and cut a cross-section where the hump meets the ribs. Use the fillet knife to scrape the hump off the meat and set the meat on a table. Cut the chuck into individual steaks or roasts.

4. Locate the brisket meat below the original hump and in front of the ribs. The brisket is the chunk of meat on the front shoulder of the bison. Use a hacksaw to remove the shoulder from the rib cage and set the shoulder on a table. Cut the section of meat into steaks or use as a roast.

5. Make an incision at the base of the ribcage and set the ribs on a table. Shave the meat off the ribs with the knife and cube for stew or use as hamburger and sausage meat. The ribs do not provide smooth cuts and the meat is ideal for processing and grinding.

6. Use the hacksaw to separate the remainder of the meat from the hip bone and set the meat on the table. The hind quarters will be the only remaining sections hanging on the hooks. Locate the cross section seam on the large chunk of meat. The seam separates the meat into a large section and small section that are joined with the hip. Use the fillet knife to separate the two sections. Cut the large loin section into steaks and roasts and cut the small sirloin into individual steaks. Both cuts are high quality and the sirloin is the prime cut on the bison.

7. Remove the final quarters from the hooks and lay each on the table. Follow the natural seams with the knife to remove the rough steaks or grind and cube the meat. The hind quarters provide decent cuts for steaks or processing.

Items you will need

  • Butchering stand with pulley
  • Hacksaw
  • 10-inch fillet knife
  • Knife sharpener
  • Meat hook


  • Grind the bones and save the blood for fertilizer. Remove the head, guts and skin before butchering. Butcher in a clean area and wrap the meat in butcher's paper or vacuum seal it before freezing. Plan for a full day of butchering to process an entire bison.


  • Several different methods are used to butcher bison, cattle and game animals. Choose the most comfortable and efficient method to prevent hacking the prime cuts and spoiling meat.

About the Author

Zach Lazzari is a Montana based freelance outdoor writer and photographer. You can view his work at

Photo Credits

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