Oct 18 2007

Butchering a Leg

Published by at 10:16 am under Animal Materials

As much as I despise the wasteful practises of most modern hunters I am grateful for the opportunity it gives me for an virtually endless supply of free food, skins, sinew and bones. The moose legs are usually discarded and provide all of these resources. Even if I could get 1000s of legs I have limited capacity. This time I butchered somewhat more than 30 legs. I regret that I don’t use the toes and all of that, since there are some interesting bones there, but because of the mentioned capacity problem I focused on freeing the cannon bones, sinew and skins. That is the process I describe in this tutorial.

First, make a cut with your knife from the upper end of the leg and just push it down to between the dew claws. After you get the cut going it will easily travel down the leg skin.


Cut the membrane on the top a little, so that you get a good grip with your hands.


Make sure to free also the backside, so that the tendons on the back will not adhere to the skin, but remain attached to the bone.


Cut around the skin from just above the dew claws.


Skin a little in the lower end as well, to faciliate easier removal.


Step on the leg in the lower end, take a grip on the top and pull the skin off.


Next we focus on the tendons. First, free the small ones on the front of the leg. Make incisions from the sides from the top and skin it off with a cutting motion until you get down to the joint.


Do the same on the back side. This tendon is however much larger and is composed of several layers. Cut a hole on each side, all the way down to the joint. Make sure you free the tendon that lie in the depression at the same time. The example leg is a back leg, on the front legs there are also some bones that rest on top of the sinew. Free them first by cutting underneath from the top.


Cutting off the tendon can be rather difficult if the knife is dull or short. Get a good grip and carve your way down.


Now it is time to free the cannon bone. Start cutting from the backside of the joint. Cut the cross-supporting tendons first. They are on both sides of the bone.


Cut the tendon that rests in the joint by sticking the point of your knife into it and carve it off. Break the leg backwards as you work your way down through the tendon. Be careful not to snap your knife tip as that may easily happen if you force it into the joint.


Cut the connective tissue in the front and you have freed the cannon bone.


Here is a small pile of cannon bones, hides and sinew. Dry the tendons and skins in a place with good ventialation, to make sure they don’t sour. Outside is such a place, unless it rains. Stretch out the skins by the aid of pegs or similar. Make sure there are no closed folds where the skin can sour. The cannon bone can be split open and the marrow eaten at once, or it too be dried. The fat will store well within the bone, but you will have to render it if you use it while it is not fresh anymore.


In one leg only you have many potential projects. Enjoy!


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4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Butchering a Leg”

  1. suburban bushwackeron 18 Oct 2007 at 12:02 pm

    Hmmm bone marrow, Yummy!

  2. Bradley C Baileyon 24 Oct 2007 at 6:45 pm

    Just curious what do you do with the leg skins? I usually skin them down all the way to the hooves and then make bags out of them (rawhide).

  3. adminon 24 Oct 2007 at 6:54 pm

    Hi Bradley

    I haven’t used them much before. Only as rawhide also.

    This time I will use them for shoes and other items. They are presently in a bark tan bath together with some ear skins for pouches.

    There is a specific, traditional type of shoe here that utilizes leg skins that I want to check out.

    Do you just wring the leg? Or do you cut up the leg in the regular style?

    Nice site you have! Inspirational things you are selling. Just curious, which bone is the deer needle bone?

  4. Bradley C Baileyon 26 Oct 2007 at 8:17 pm

    Thank you 🙂

    I split the legs down the front all the way to the hooves. This way when I take off the skin the dewclaws are together. Then I do pretty much the same as you described. Once you get to the dewclaws you will need to do a bit of cutting to remove the skin, then I cut it off as close to the hoof as possible.

    The “needle bone” is attached to the dewclaw only on the front legs on deer.

    There was some good information about them on the hideout:


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