When hunting it is important to be able to estimate how much meat a deer will yield before killing it. This is so for multiple reasons.
One you are only aloud to kill so many deer per season, so if you are trying to provide enough food for your family, you need to make sure the deer you are killing will provide enough.
Two it cost money to get a deer processed by a butcher, so you want to make sure you are getting enough meat for the money that it is costing you.
Three it takes time to field dress the deer and carry it back to your vehicle, so you want to make sure your time is used on a deer that is worth it.
Due to these factors having a good estimate of how much meat is important before killing the deer. The factors that go into estimating how much meat from the deer will yield is mostly based on the size or weight of the animal.
With practice you can look at an animal and know close to what it weights. Then you can figure out how much it will weigh after field dressing, which you can then use that number to figure out how much meat it will provide.
After reading this article, you will know what you need to consider to figure out how much a deer weights and then you will be able to have a rough idea of how much meat it will produce for you and your family.
Guessing Weight Based on Girth
So to guess the weight of a live deer you look at the girth. Depending on where you live the weights can vary slightly, but with practice and experience you can get better at guessing the girth of the deer and knowing the weight before killing it.
For white tailed deer, which are the most common type hunted, a deer with a girth of 24 inches will weight around 55 pounds.
The girth is the distance around the body of the deer at the widest spot.
For each added inch the weight of the deer goes up about five pounds or so. This holds true till you start getting into bigger deer. Then the weight goes up more rapidly.
For a deer that is 30 inches in girth it will weigh around 90 pounds.40 inch girth weight around 182 pounds and so on.
When estimating weight it is also important to consider if it is a doe or buck. Does will pretty much always weigh less than bucks. Also, back to location, northern animals tend to weigh more than southern animals, due to population purposes. When go deer hunting, the best shooting sticks for deer hunting is important, you should have one.
Finding Weight After Field Dressing
First before figuring out the weight of the animal you have to field dress it. This is not a field dressing guide, so I won't go into detail on how to field dress the deer, but you have to make sure it is dead and then cut it open with a sharp knife.
Cut thru the fur layer, and then the muscle layer separately for best results. You then pull the layers back and pull out the organs. By removing the stomach, intestines, and other organs now, it will make it easier to take back with you and keep the meat fresher, as those parts break down first.
Once you have field dress the deer, removed all the insides, it is time to wrap it up tightly to make sure no contaminants get into the meat as you are taking the deer out of the woods. At this point you can still not guess the weight yet though to get an accurate idea of the yield of the deer.
Their are still a lot of inedible parts such as the bones, head, tail, etc.. that are left attached, but you can start to get a better idea of the final weight of the deer and how much meat it will yield. Field dressing the deer usually causes it to lose about 20lbs from the previous estimate based on girth.
A typical northern doe will weigh around 105 to 120 pounds after field dressing where a southern doe fawn will weigh closer to 45 to 65 pounds after field dressing. Yearling bucks weigh 105 to 125 pounds field dressed, and other bucks weigh more. These are all estimates though and every animal and location is different.
How much is Lost in Butchering
So how much meat is actually on the animal? How much of the weight is edible?
Well, if you have a butcher that is skilled and minimizes lose, then you can get around 75% of the post field dressed weight as meat. On average the weight is broken down to 71-78% meat, where the difference is 6-9% hide, 11-14% as bone, and 5-6% as blood. This does not factor in damage to meat though from a bullet.
The cuts of the meat are roast from the front end, and butt. Steaks from the middle and bottom of back. Ribs from the rib area and chops from area above that, and flanks from the belly/middle section. With this you can look at the structure of the deer and see how much of each type of cut you will get.
So now you know that the amount of meat you get all depends on the size of the deer after it is field dressed, and completely boned and the hide is removed and blood is drained.
You know that you can use the girth of the chest of the deer to determine a good weight estimate, but that location of the deer depends a lot on how much it weights.
A good formula to use to figure out how much meat you will get is to go by carcass weight which is field dressed weight divided by 1.331.
Then take that number and multiple it by .67 to find the boneless weight, and lastly take the boneless weight and multiple it by .7 to get a realistic idea of the weight of the meat you will get, so using this say the field dressed weight is 100 pounds. Dividing that by 1.331 gets 75pounds.
Then multiplying that by .67 gets 50 pounds for the boneless weight and then lastly multiply by .7 gets 35 pounds for the realistic meat yield. That means a hundred pound field dressed deer gets 35 pounds of meat.
Using this formula and practice, you will be able to figure out how much meat you will get before you even kill the deer.