Is slitting the throat of big game necessary?

by Aaron
(British Columbia)

Should I Slit the Moose Throat?

Should I Slit the Moose Throat?

After a shooting a big game animal such as moose, is it necessary to slit the throat to bleed the animal?

I was told that the meat will spoil if the animal has not been bled out.

You have asked a valid question Aaron. Let's see if I can answer it.

Typically when hunting big game, once an animal has been shot and the hunter approaches, it is already dead. That is to say the heart has stopped beating. Once the heart has stopped beating, cutting the jugular artery will do nothing more than to allow gravity to drain what it can.

It is always recommended to approach a downed animal from the rear and ensuring it is dead before you touch it. A very good way to identify if an animal is indeed deceased is to touch the eyeball. If the eye is closed the animal is likely alive and if touching the eye causes any movement... the animal is still alive.

The short answer to your question is... no, slitting the throat is not necessary once the heart has stopped beating.

The big game animal... moose, deer, caribou or what have you once shot will under most circumstances bleed enough internally or through exit wounds to bleed out.

Take example an archers broadhead. If the arrow placement is correct the arrow will penetrate both lungs and possibly the heart and maybe the liver. All these organs will bleed profusely resulting in a bled out animal and a quick death. A rifle hunters bullet will do the same as well as cause collateral damage causing massive hemorrhage and ultimately death.

Let me explain how the idea of throat slitting of big game came about.

In many cultures the slitting of the throat to kill an animal is a ritual of death. The throat of the animal is slit or stuck with a sharp knife while it is still very much alive. The heart beat will then force the blood out of the severed artery and the animal will bleed itself out.
As well as the fact many religious beliefs will not allow the eating of an animal that was not killed in this way.

If we as hunters could get to our game while the heart was still beating, then yes, slitting the throat would be very beneficial.

I don't know about you... but if I thought the heart was still beating on a 1400 pound moose, I for one would NOT be reaching over and trying to cut its throat. I want to be sure it is quite dead before I touch it.

Blood is very quick to spoil and nothing will spoil meat faster than having blood not drained away from or out of the meat. This is one of the reasons I stress so carefully that animals must be field dressed as soon as possible after death.

The field dressing alone will usually drain the blood sufficiently to prevent meat spoilage (bone sour)... provided the meat is cooled soon enough.

Another case in point is that if you plan to drag your animal before hanging the meat, the cut areas around the slit throat are always a good place to trap dirt and other contaminants.

I hope this answers your question.
All the best,
"The Moose Man"

Comments for Is slitting the throat of big game necessary?

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Nov 09, 2020
by: Dave

If you shoot an animal in the evening hunt and don’t find it till morning dead but not bled out will the meat be bad.

Sep 08, 2015
Another good place to bleed
by: Anonymous

When the animal is on its back cutting the inner thigh of the hindquarters let's a lot of blood drain out, something to consider if for example, if you had to leave it overnight for some reason, in addition to gutting and opening up the cavity.

Mar 14, 2012
Well said
by: Muskie Moose

I agree, there is no reason to slit the throat of an animl that is already dead. Without the heart beating all you do is drain the blood in the immediate area of the slit.

One thing I do though is once the animal is field dressed we either flip the animal over (helps to have 4 or guys to do this) or I take a plastic water bottle and bail the blood left in the body cavity out. I was taught this from some of my Quebec friends. When you get the animal to your butcher the inside looks so clean and neat.

Mar 10, 2012
moose opinion
by: Anonymous

dont matter if you cut the throat,but if you dont paunch him right away,he can blow up due to gases in him,therefor thats why i think everyone cuts the throat to let the gases out of him so it wont spoil so quick....

Mar 10, 2012
Slitting the Throat
by: Moose caller

Congrats, ...finally someone knows what there talking about...very well said...I couldn't of put it any better myself.

Well explained !!! Top Marks.

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