How Much Meat From A Deer And Factors Affecting Venison Yields

Most deer take place some distance away from home. Many hunters process deer in the field and wish to grind their own deer meat. Other hunters take deer to the butcher and collect venison later. Meanwhile, they are left wondering if they would detect it should the butcher cheat them off a few pounds. So, can they? To answer the question above, we must ask ourselves, “ How much meat from a deer ?”

N.B.: It is important to know that if you can't shoot your target perfectly then, the portion of edible meat will differ from your expected estimation. To kill your deer humanely, you can use rubber hunting boots to help your stalking and avoid it to be scared and misplaced shot. Also, I will advise you to use a great rangefinder binoculars or scope that will help you to aim your target precisely. You can choose some budget scopes from here best rifle scope under 100, best rifle scope under 200, and  best rifle scope under 300.

How Much Meat From A Deer

Many hunters have asked me for a formula to calculate how much meat on a deer to expect from the butcher. 40-50% of live-weight rightly sums up how much venison from a deer you get. A more precise formula is, however, needed to reduce the error margin.

How Much Meat From A Deer

Before the formula, here are a few definitions to keep in mind.

  • Live-weight: Total weight of a deer.
  • Field-dressed Weight: Weight of the deer carcass without the innards.
  • Hanging Weight: Weight of a field dressed deer without the skin, head and inedible leg portions.

Now, for the formula:

Edible meat = Live-Weight * 0.43875 ( This is the MOST accurate estimate in my experience)

How did I arrive at this calculation? Let me walk you through my reasoning. Things may get a little complicated; I suggest you take me on my word. If, however, you need an elaboration, read on.

A field dressed deer loses about 22% of its weight. ( Innards are about 22% the total weight of a deer)

By extension;

Field-dressed weight = 78% of Live-weight.

The remaining inedibles ( Head, skin, and some leg portions) account for 25% of the field-dressed weight.

By extension;

Hanging Weight = 75% of Field-dressed Weight

The only inedibles remaining are the bones, fat, sinews, and cartilage. These account for 25% of the Hanging Weight.

By extension;

Edible Meat= 75% of Hanging Weight.


Edible Meat= Live-Weight * 78% ( To Find Field-dressed Weight) * 75% ( To Find Hanging Weight) * 75% ( To Find Edible Meat)

The unified calculation to estimate how much meat you get from a deer is;

Edible Meat=Live-Weight * 0.43875

Deer Meat Calculator

Real Example: For example, let us look at the meat on a 100 Kg buck:

Live-weight= 100Kg

The Field-dressed carcass will weigh approximately 78Kg

Field-dressed Weight= Live Weight*78%( NB.: REMEMBER 78%=0.75) = 100 Kg*0.78= 78Kg

Hanging Weight= Field-Dressed Weight * 75% (NB.: REMEMBER 75%= 0.75) = 78 Kg * 0.75 = 58.5 Kg

Edible Meat= Hanging Weight * 75% (NB.: REMEMBER 75%= 0.75) = 58.5 * 0.75= 43.875 Kg A 100 Kg deer will

therefore, give 43.875 Kg of edible meat.

For those who love shortcuts, like yours truly, check it out below:

Edible Meat= Live-Weight * 0.43875 = 100 Kg * 0.43875= 43.875 Kg

I seek to put the myths to rest. So, how much meat do you get from a deer? Well, as I said earlier, deer will yield venison 40% to just under 50% of its weight. Yield will range from deer to deer but always in the 40-50 percentile.

The formulas are only estimations. Yield varies from deer to deer. Other factors determine how much meat is on a deer. Let us look at a few.

How Much Meat Does A Deer Yield And Why?

The main factors that determine deer meat yield are:

  • 1. Size Of The Deer
  • 2. Skill Of The Hunter/ Butcher
  • 3. State Of The Deer

Size Of The Deer

It is obvious that you may asked me, “How many pounds of meat from a deer?” The answer to this question is heavily determined by the size of the deer. Sex determines how big a deer will grow. The average mature Buck weighs about 160 lbs. A mature Doe, on the other hand, weighs about 140 pounds. Bucks, therefore, give more meat than Does.

Some think that Does should yield more because they have a less:

  • i. Bone to live-weight ratios
  • ii. Blood to live-weight ratios

The proportions are accurate, but the assertion above is false. The claim fails to take one more fact into consideration. The ratios, for the Doe, are not sufficient to offset the Bucks almost 20 Plus Pound advantage.

Sex also determines the quality of venison. Bucks tend to be more masculine than does. Their meat is, therefore, tougher.

In conclusion, Does give more Venison per live-weight, but the Buck steals the show on overall yield.

Age also determines deer size. Fawns weigh less than adults. Aged deer also weigh less than young mature ones. The last age bracket produces the most venison of the ages mentioned.

Skill Of The Hunter/ Butcher

How Much Meat From A Deer

How much meat on a deer is affected by the hunter’s skills will shock you. A hunter can lead to the loss of over 10 lbs of venison. A further 5 lbs can be lost when butchering. How does this happen?

The two events in which skill can mess with meat yield are:

  • i. When Shooting Deer.
  • ii. When Dressing Deer.

A poorly placed shot destroys meat portions. A shot on the hind leg with a gun can result in the loss of as much as 6 lbs of venison. The best places to shoot deer and not spoil meat portions are

  • a. The Head: Only experienced hunter should take these shots. They are not easy to execute.
  • b. The Neck: A neck shock will cause the deer to bleed to death quickly.
  • c. The Heart Region: The heart region is an excellent place to shoot a deer. The shot is best taken from the side, 4 inches above the fore-leg should do it.

Dressing deer is another skill that can drop yields if poorly executed. Dressing deer is the initial butchering that removes a better part of the inedible. Here the deer is skinned and innards removed. The head and the inedible portions of the legs follow suit. During the process, two things may lead to the loss of venison yield.

a. Cutting into the meat while skinning.

Skinning is a delicate affair. Take care not to curve into the venison while skinning.

b. A Ruptured Gall Bladder

Ever heard of the saying, “ As bitter as bile?” No kidding! Bile is bitter. It is stored in the gall bladder. The gall bladder is the 'bluish' wobble on the liver. When ruptured, it empties the bile within. Bile makes meat to taste awful.

The unpalatable taste usually necessitates discarding the said meat portions.

State Of The Deer

The state the deer also determine how much venison from a deer reaches your plate. A nursing Doe, for example, will yield less meat per live-weight compared to a similar sized Doe that is not nursing a fawn. The reason is a little bit technical.

Nursing Does need to store food to sustain milk production. The food is stored in the form of fat. Nursing Does, therefore, have very high-fat contents. Unlike in domesticated meat, however, fat from deer tastes bad. You have to get rid of it. Nursing Does will, therefore, yield less venison than their 'free' counterparts.

Bucks also have lower fat contents immediately after the mating season. Most of the fat is burned to sustain the energy for mating and fighting opponents. In this state, they yield more venison per live-weight than any other time.

The three factors affect meat yield across all deer species. Whitetail deer meat is especially loved. The popularity leads hunters to wonder, "How much meat from a whitetail deer goes to waste every day?"

Whitetail is a small deer species. The damage of misplaced shots is, therefore, more pronounced on the species. A bullet lodged in a whitetails, lean, hind-leg can destroy as much as 48% of the meat therein. I advise that you be especially careful with shot placement when hunting whitetail for venison.

N.B.: It is essential that you seek to increase venison yields from small deer like the whitetail. Those little deer are harder to catch. You need to maximize the returns. There are many ways you can increase meat yield from small deer.

A few strategies include de-boning the neck and keeping the liver and heart. Meat from the neck produces a lot of ground meat which is a great source of deer jerky.

The heart and liver, on the other hand, are particularly tasty. Before de-boning, freeze the venison and then let it thaw. The meat slides right off the bones leaving the bones completely bare. These strategies will help you increase how much meat on a whitetail deer ends up on your plate.

Other innards that can be quite tasty are the kidneys. Try them sometime. Innard salvaging (that's what I call keeping the heart, liver, and kidneys) increases how much meat on a deer is eventually consumed.

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