Now take up your big knife, insert its point alongside the breastbone, and cut through the false ribs to the point of the sternum. In a young animal this is easy; but in an old one the ribs have ossified, and you must search for the soft points of union between the ribs and the sternum, which are rather hard to find. Here your knife's temper, and perhaps your own, will be put to the test. The most trifling-looking pocket hatchet would do the trick in a jiffy.
Open the abdominal cavity, taking care not to rupture anything, and prop the chest open a few inches with a stick, or by merely pulling the ribs away from each other. Cut the diaphragm free at both sides and at the back. (It »s the membrane that separates the organs of the :hest from those of the abdomen.) Everything now is free from the body except at the throat and anus. Reach in and take in your grasp all the vessels that run up into the neck. With knife in the other hand, cut them across from above downward, taking care that you do not cut yourself. Now pull away gradually, helping a little here and there with the knife until all the contents of the visceral cavity lie at your feet, save the lower end of the rectum, which is still attached. With a hatchet, if you had one. you would now split the pelvis. The thing can be done with a large knife, if the animal is not too old, by finding the soft suture at the highest part of the bone and rocking the knife-edge on it. But you may not be able to accomplish this just now. So reach in with the jack-knife, cut carefully around the rectum and urinary organs, keeping as close to the bone as possible, and free everything from the cavity. If water is near, wash out the cavity and let it drain, or wipe with a dry cloth if you have one. Be particular to leave no clotted blood.
To remove the head; flay back the skin for several inches at base of neck, cut through flesh, etc., to the backbone. Search along this till you find the flat joint between the faces of two vertebrae, separate these as far as you can; then twist the attached part of the body round and round, until it breaks off.
Directions how to skin a head for mounting are given in Volume II.
In butchering, save the liver, heart, brain, milt (spleen), kidneys, and the caul fat. The caul is the fold of membrane loaded with fat that covers most of the intestines. In removing the liver you need not bother about a gall-bladder, for a deer has none. Many a tenderfoot has been tricked into looking for it. In the final cutting up, save the marrow-bones (especially of elk) for eating; the ligaments that lie on either side of the backbone, from the head backward, for sinew thread, the hoofs for glue (if you are far from supply-stores and expect to remain a good wmile) ; and perhaps the bladder, paunch, large intestine, and pericardium (outer skin) of the heart, for pouches and receptacles of various kinds, and to make catgut. The scrotum of a buck, tanned with the hair on, makes a good tobacco-pouch.