Butchering is the most distasteful part of a hunter's work—a job to be sublet when you can; but sometimes you can't.
When an animal is shot, the first thing to do is to bleed it, unless the bullet itself has gone clean through and left a large hole of exit through which much blood has drained.
Even birds and fish should be bled as soon as secured. The meat keeps better, and, in the case of a bird, the feathers are more easily plucked. Speaking, now, of large game, do not drop your gun and rush in on a dying beast to stick it, for it might prove an ugly customer in its death struggle. First put a bullet through its heart or spine.
To cut a deer's throat would ruin the head for mounting. Twist its head to one side, with the throat downhill, if possible, so that blood will not flow over the hide; then stick your knife in at the point of the breast, just in front of the sternum or breastbone, and work the point of the knife two or three inches back and forth, close up to the backbone, so as to sever the great blood-vessels. Then if you must hurry on, perhaps after another animal, toss some brush over the carcass, or hang a handkerchief over it, to suggest a trap, and make a brush blaze here and there as you go along, to guide you back to the spot.
If practicable, remove the entrails at once. To do this, it is not necessary to hang the animal up.
If you are in a hurry, or if the camp is not far away, it will do merely to take out the paunch and intestines ; but if this is neglected gas will accumulate and putrefaction will soon set in. A bear, especially, will soon spoil, because the fur keeps in the vital heat, so that the body will smoke when opened, even after it has lain a long time in hard-freezing weather.
If the animal is not to be butchered on the spot, slit the skin only from vent to stomach, using the point of the knife, and taking care not to rupture the paunch. Sever the intestine at the rectum, cut the genitals free, then cut off the gullet as high as you can above the stomach, and pull all out. The carcass should lie so that this is done toward the downhill side.