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Book Review - Gut it -Cut it - Cook it
By Dave Conrad - Senior Fielld Evaluator
Apr 10, 2010 - 11:25:00 AM

My mother always use to tell me that the real work in hunting begins when you put the animal on the ground.  Well when I shot my first two deer I thought she didn't know what she was talking about cause my uncle and brother field dressed em for me.  Well I got a rude awakening when had to field dress my next buck on a remote ridge top on the backside of the family farm. 

Getting ready to butcher the shoulders.

From Chapter 6, Footless, Headless, and Up on the Gambrel.

Well first thing after filling out my tag was to get to work gutting.  What a chore and by the time I was done I had more blood and stuff on me then I think was originally in the deer, thanks to a couple nicks from my own knife.

Once you're done skinning, you'll be ready to start butchering.

Getting ready to butcher the shoulders.

Everything would have been much easier, if I would have had some experience under my belt and if I would of had Eric Fromm and Al Cambronne's book "Gut It, Cut It, Cook It".  This hardback book is loaded with descriptions, full color photographs and a handy CD that makes the entire process much simpler.  This book is not like others on the subject as it starts preparing you before you even take a step into the woods.   

I did find some humor in the book as well.  For example in the second chapter "Gearing up and Getting Ready", it has a list of questions entitled "Before You Shoot".  The last question asks if it is going to be warm over the next few days and if you are getting up early to drive to Grandma's house for a couple days over Thanksgiving and you are going to be processing your own meat then maybe you shouldn't be going hunting tonight.  Ha, my answer to that is 'anytime' I can get out in the woods it is a resounding "YES".

Butchering the shoulders.

The great thing about the book is that it prepares you for every facet and all aspects that are involved with getting yourself ready as well as preparing an animal from field to table.  It discusses common tools necessary like different knives and why you may use them and even what type of rubber gloves are best.  Things veterans may take for granted like shot placement and choosing the adequate cartridge. I was intrigued and alerted by the section that covers CWD, what precautions are necessary and should be taken throughout field dressing as well as processing.

By Chapter 4 the authors take you step by step on how to field dress a deer, whether it be a doe or a buck.  The color and detailed pictures will aid the novice or experienced hunter in how to take care of the carcass from making the first cut to how to make the last. 

Getting ready to remove the backstraps.

The middle chapters of the book is where the real "meat and potatoes" comes out.   Each chapter is dedicated and focuses on a different section of the carcass.  In goes into great detail on knife placement and the cuts that are needed deer in order to retrieve the best cuts of venison.  Once again and I cannot stress how the detailed pictures are a real asset in guiding the reader.  

Once cut, the next chapter discusses the importance of packaging and wrapping your meat.  I find it interesting that they suggest plastic "and" paper method works best.  I guess they are correct, cause if neither is better then both are best.

The next several chapters contain an assortment of information on how to prepare and cook each cut as well as covering how to grind hamburger, sausage or the fine art of making jerky.  

This book also shows you how to cape your buck and get it ready for the taxidermist.

The final chapter is dedicated to those fortunate hunters who would like to prepare their trophy animal for mounting.  Great detail is explained in preparing the hide in order to take it to your taxidermist.  A number of options are also explained if you would like to accomplish this feat on your own.  European mounts are also discussed and by what means can be used to prepare the skull.

The binder of the book was well thought out.  The ring design allows the pages to be easily turned while remaining open.  This make is nice for referencing while you are actually in the process of cutting up your deer.   You do not have to worry about the pages flipping by themselves, allowing you to view the book and not getting it messy from turning pages back and forth with bloody gloves.

The CD that is included with the book enhances many of the aforementioned chapters.  it includes a picture sequence of the gutting procedure, a color coded cut chart, equipment needed, gravies, as well as a multitude of recipes covering everything from main dishes to ground venison favorites.

This book has definitely found a home in my office as a reference as well as a cookbook in the kitchen.

"Gut It. Cut It. Cook It. is available online from sources like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Wal-Mart, and Target.  You can purchase it directly from the publisher at; it's also available at bookstores and at major outdoor retailers."


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