Separating a Moose Knuckle

One of the mysteries of moose field dressing is separating the front foreleg at moose knuckle.

It's really not that difficult if you know what to look for and cut at just the right place. This method can be applied to any ungulate when cleaning. Keep in mind that this method is only applicable to the front legs not the rear legs.

The rear legs need to be sawn off using a bone saw or something similar. We use either a butchers bone saw or an electric saws-all to do that. If we are doing our cutting at camp the saws-all comes out for splitting the backbone as well removing the back legs.

Moose Knuckle Skinning

Step #1:
Skin the Knuckle Joint

The first step in separating the front leg is to skin it out to just below the knee joint. You want to remove all the moose hide from around the front leg so the entire moose knuckle is exposed.

After the skinning of the knuckle is complete then place your fingers from one hand onto the side of the joint. Using your other hand pivot the foreleg back and forth (in the natural movement direction) and feel for the joint. It's a little difficult to locate but if you bend the joint enough times you'll begin to notice there is a definite spot where the joint bones pull apart when to bend the leg.

Step #2:
Separating the Knuckle Joint

Using a sharp knife, make an incision across and through the joint ligaments at this point. Continue the cut across the rear of the knee joint. Now locate the side flex point just like you did on the other side of the leg. Cut that one too.

You should be able to start to pull the leg backwards at this point. While doing so, look into the joint and you'll see another ligament hiding behind some of the bone. Using the point of your hunting knife force the knife into the joint and cut the ligament.

Step #3:
Bend the joint back to finish.

Being careful and using a little force now, you should be able to bend the leg right over backwards now and severe the remaining tissue. You may have to do a little digging into the joint to severe all the tendons, it really helps to have a sharp knife for this operation.

Like I said, it's really not that difficult to remove the lower leg at the moose knuckle. You'll get better at it with a little practice.

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