How Much Meat From a Deer, Bear, or Elk?

Before you buy a new freezer, you need to know how much meat from a deer, bear, or elk you can expect to get on average.

For most new, successful hunters, the average yield is a shock. Sometimes with a sneaking suspicion that your butcher ripped you off. A few days ago, it took every ounce of strength you had to lift that buck into the back of your truck. Today, you are driving home with a cardboard box that fits in the front passenger seat.

What happened?

How much edible meat from a deer can you expect to get?

Whitetail Deer. After skinning, removing of non-edible body parts, and deboning, the average meat yield is 48% of the field-dressed weight.

This means you’ll need enough freezer space for 50-70 pounds of venison for a 100-pound doe or a 150-pound buck.

Mule Deer. The average meat yield for a typical sized mule deer after butchering was 33%.

A successful mule deer hunter should expect to bring home 50-100 pounds for a typical-sized deer (depending on sex).

If you still have doubts about your deer processor’s work ethic—try it yourself. You’ll get a bit more meat but work twice as hard.

Meat from a deer
Nope, the butcher isn’t ripping you off.

Average meat yield from a bear.

There’s an old saying, “No one is harder to get to go bear hunting than someone that’s been successful at it before.” The struggle to field-dress, drag from the woods, and secure a bear to your vehicle is legendary. The tiny freezer paper-wrapped box you eventually take home from the butcher is an insult to this injury.

The average meat yield for a field-dressed black bear is 33%.

We’ve left out brown bear (for it’s lousy taste and smell) and grizzly (legally hunted only in Alaska and the Yukon).

One more thing to keep in mind, and that’s the black bear’s feeding frenzy during the fall. They put on a lot of fat during this period—resulting in an even smaller meat yield.

How much meat can you expect from an elk?

The average meat yield from an elk is 50% (boned/edible) of the field-dressed weight.

How to get the most meat from a deer.

Your shot placement can dramatically affect how much of any animal you take ends up in the freezer. Any shot outside perfect heart/lung placement will result in a lower yield rate.

Read The best place to shoot a deer for more information on ungulate shot placement.

To learn how to skin and butcher a deer at home (with basic meat cuts shown), check out this video.

Dennis V. Gilmore Jr.

Dennis V. Gilmore Jr. is a former Marine Sergeant and the author of several books, including two on night hunting coyotes and red and gray fox. He has written several hundred articles on predator hunting for

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