How to Properly Weigh a Deer
When you are trying to weigh a deer, you are likely to run into a few problems, namely that the deer can be huge animals and they are not always easy to weigh on a scale. There are a few different methods you can use to calculate the live weight of a deer short of chopping the animal up into bits and weighing each one of them individually.
Many hunters wrongly calculate their deer’s weight by not paying close attention to the below methods and carrying them out incorrectly. You should avoid doing this and carefully follow the instructions in order to get the most accurate weight.
Do I Need to Weigh Deer?
You don’t have to, but it’s good practice to; all good hunters will weigh their game as accurately as possible. If you are hunting deer for commercial gain (i.e. to sell to butchers), you will need an accurate weight so you can get the best possible price for it.
For something which is a relatively simple process, you would be foolish not to weigh everything which you hunt. So get that big catch hoisted and find out exactly what it weighs using the methods listed below.
Methods for Weighing a Deer
There are two ways you can accurately determine a deer’s weight: the field dressing calculation; and the chest girth calculation.
1. Field Dressed Calculation
This is the most popular method as it yields the most accurate weight calculation. There are three ways you can carry out this calculation –
- With all the lungs and blood vessels removed;
- With the head, feet and hide removed; or
- By measuring only the edible meat.
Of course, the most accurate measurement here will be the field dressed weight – where lungs and blood vessels have been removed – as the hanging weight will vary greatly depending on where the head, hide and feet are removed, and the edible meat weight will vary depending on how the meat is processed, whether it is de-boned and whether any of it has spoiled and been thrown out.
There are different ways to calculate the weight depending on the method –
- Field dressed is field dressed weight x 1.26
- Hanging weight is hanging weight x 1.33
- Edible meat is edible meat x 1.35
With minimal wastage or spoilage, you can expect to get around one half of a deer’s live weight from the edible meat.
2. Chest Girth Calculation
This is another popular method of measuring a deer’s weight and is given preference by some because of its simplicity. To get chest girth, all you need to do is wrap a tape measure around the most prominent part of the deer’s chest and use the chart to look up the estimated weight.
|Estimated Weight (lbs)|
Both of these methods are accurate and widely used by professional hunters and farmers nationwide.
What is Field Dressing?
Field dressing is where the internal organs and vascular structure of hunted game are removed. It is a gruesome yet necessary process which preserves the meat, and it needs to be done as soon as reasonably possible to ensure that the body rapidly loses its heat which prevents the growth of bacteria and spoilage of meat.
Immediate field dressing helps to maintain the overall quality of an animal’s meat and makes it much easier for the game to be transported from the hunting ground.
Field dressing game is a fairly easy process and only really requires a sharp knife to do properly, but some hunters use special machinery to get the job done quickly and with a higher degree of accuracy. This is rare, however, because hunting is generally carried out in remote areas and the animal needs to be field dressed as soon as possible.
When to Weigh
Most hunters will field dress their deer straight away. Whilst there is nothing wrong with this, this eliminates the possibility of ever knowing what the deer’s weight was on the hoof.
If you are rearing a deer for its meat, you should immediately field dress and weigh it, to eliminate the possibility of any of its meat spoiling.
Even if you have not yet drained the deer of its blood, it will still begin to immediately spoil from the moment it dies as i) blood circulation is not taking place and ii) the cells, tissues and meat are not getting freshly oxygenated blood.