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So I’m brand new to hunting and hope to harvest a deer this year. I’ve been researching for months, and now I need to figure out what to do if I am fortunate enough to get a deer, but it is at sunset. During bow season the processors will be closed by the time I would get everything ready.

My plan is to take it to a processor in the morning, so I only plan on field dressing and storing cold overnight. I know some people use the very large coolers, but they talk about bone in and bone out storage of whitetail or bigger deer.

I am wondering about storing a 150-175 pound whitetail that has only been field dressed (maybe remove lower legs). Is there any problem with storing overnight in a cooler in this state? And what size cooler would I need for this? For quartered etc it seems 65-100 qt is plenty big. Coleman has moderately priced 100 and 150 qt coolers I can fit on a hitch carrier basket on my 4Runner. I was hoping I could just stuff a field dressed deer with lots of frozen gallon water jugs and be good till the morning. Thanks for the info!
 

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Can you not process the deer yourself. I watched the bearded butchers on YouTube and when I harvest a deer here in Scotland I process it myself it is really easy to do watch there videos and you will pick it up no problem just take your time and pause the video till you complete each part. All deer have the same structure you could watch a guy called Scott Rea on YouTube too. He butchers roe deer they are just smaller but he is good too and you will save yourself a few pounds/Dollars
 

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I've never put an unskinned deer in a cooler. I think you'd be better off skinning it, quartering it and taking out the loins. You would then be able to place it in a 100 qt cooler with plenty of room to spare and ice it down. Take it to the processor the next morning and you should save $$ because they'll knock off the skinning and gutting charge, at least that's how they do it in my area. Good luck.
 

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Interesting question. I do have a "huge" cooler, but even still it wouldn't be large enough for an unprocessed deer. For this reason, when I hunt locally, and during the early season when temps are not cold, I pretty much only hunt the mornings and into the day to the point where it would no longer be possible to drop off a deer at my local processor. That definitely limits my hunting hours, and I hate that, but I don't really have a better option. Later in the season, when it's cold enough outside, a guy could just hang his prize in the back yard overnight... so long as his wife or neighbors don't throw a fit!
 

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If your going to skin and quarter it and take the back strap off you might as well Finnish the job. As your over half way done
 

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I have a walk in chiller and I tend to butcher my deer in my garden. But sometimes I have to rush it as my little girl and my wife hate seeing me doing that. So when I can take my time I have steaks, roasts, stew, mince. But if they are coming home I usually only have stew as its a rush job except for the back straps and tenderloins
 

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my father used to soak the whole deer in brine for a week, before putting it in the pit cooker, for a family get together. he used a steel watering barrel which we had used for the cows, at that time. too big to relate to a cooler out there.
my suggestion is to remove the front legs at the shoulder (easy) and then cut the spine at the hips.
next, with a sawzall...cut the pelvis in half, so you have 2 separate rear legs.
That will get everything in a 128 quart cooler.
That's my best advice.
 
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Ain't no average size deer fitting in a 150 quart cooler by just sawing the legs off. You'll be quartering it. You can pack the cavity with ice and wrap the deer up with tarp and ice to keep it chilled over night on the garage floor or somewhere cool
My brother in law has done it. Mine get quartered and cooled in the fridge.
 

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When I get a deer processed at the cooler here I take mine gutted but skin on. It costs an extra $10 which is not worth it to me as the cooler is a few miles from where I hunt. I field dress and drop it off on the way home. If I am processing I of course do everything myself. I can fit a large buck in a 48 qt cooler once I have boned him out with ice included.
 

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When I get a deer processed at the cooler here I take mine gutted but skin on. ....I field dress and drop it off on the way home.
Curious... are the local processors for you open late in the evening for drop-offs? I assumed that the hours of my local meat processors (as posted on web pages, etc) is as late as I could go to drop off a deer. Now I'm second-guessing myself and wonder if they'd accept a deer later than their published hours.
 

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I only hunt when I will have time to skin and quarter the same day or next day when I get home. Once the quarters are on ice I can take my time processing it. The best venison is cooled down right after the kill...
 

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I'd just leave it gutted on the hitch carrier, pack the cavity with frozen water jugs. Maybe set one on the ham, too. Plenty of deer are left overnight with the guts in them and I'm guessing they eat them.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Curious... are the local processors for you open late in the evening for drop-offs? I assumed that the hours of my local meat processors (as posted on web pages, etc) is as late as I could go to drop off a deer. Now I'm second-guessing myself and wonder if they'd accept a deer later than their published hours.
I called a few places and it seems during the 2 week rifle season they will stick around for the dusk deer, but not during the 2 month long bow season
 

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Go to Walmart and buy you a tarp or two. Lay the deer on the tarp. Gut the deer and slide as many bags of ice in the cavity as possible. Pack ice on and around the deer and wrap the tarp up. It will be fine as long as you put it somewhere the animals can't get to it.
 

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Curious... are the local processors for you open late in the evening for drop-offs? I assumed that the hours of my local meat processors (as posted on web pages, etc) is as late as I could go to drop off a deer. Now I'm second-guessing myself and wonder if they'd accept a deer later than their published hours.
Yea, they live there beside the cooler so there is usually someone who will come out. I have been there around 10 PM before.
 

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I only hunt when I will have time to skin and quarter the same day or next day when I get home. Once the quarters are on ice I can take my time processing it. The best venison is cooled down right after the kill...
Close to what I do. I have a 35 year old Gott 80 qt. cooler and it will hold a deer. Legs taken off so its just shoulders and hams, backstraps left whole. Plenty of room for ice to leave overnight which helps drain the blood.
 

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If you've never done it before, gutting, skinning & quartering an animal can be kind of intimidating. But none of it is rocket science & I'm sure there are at least 15 U-tube videos out there for each of these steps.

In general, you will save some money taking a quartered deer to a processor as opposed to one that has just been gutted - sometimes you're going to pay $50 or more to have them skin & quarter it, plus it is way easier (& effective) to get one cooled down if it is quartered. Plus, you can have fresh venison loins that evening.
 

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Some processors in my area have walk-in feeezer storage after hours as long as your deer is field dressed, and obviously tagged/reported with DNR.
 
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