How to Field Dress A Rabbit and Butcher It

By Charles •  5 min read

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After you have killed your rabbit, you may be wondering how to field dress a rabbit.  Rabbit seasons are generally during the colder parts of the year so you do not necessarily have to dress them right away.  So to start with, you can throw the rabbit in your vest pocket or a backpack to carry it until you are finished with your hunt. However, if you want to take care of it right on the spot, there is nothing wrong with that either.

How to Field Dress a Rabbit – Skinning

You can start to field dress a rabbit by taking the hike from the body.  While you are doing this, remember that rabbit hides are pretty thin and will tear easily. 

  • You need to start by making a shallow cut around each of the hind legs at the first knee joint.
  • Then you should keep your knife blade facing up and away from the body.  While only cutting through the skin and make a cut from this knee joint up to the genital area.
  • Now you should start peeling the skin away. This can be done by working your fingers under the hide around each leg and pull it down towards the front of the rabbit.
  • After you get to the tail, you will most likely need to use your knife to cut through the tail bone. Separating the tail will allow you to now hold the rabbit’s hind legs in one hand and peel the skin down with the other hand.
  • When you get the fur to the front legs, you should push the legs through the hide. Usually, the hide will break loose without cutting it when you do this.
  • Next, when you get the hide down around the neck, use your knife to cut through the neck and sever the head.
  • Finally, with all of the hide off, you should cut the paws from the legs at the first joints.    You can use your knife to cut the tendons and work the blade between the joint. This takes a little practice, so don’t get frustrated!

Hot Tips:

  • If you do not have a good rabbit knife, you should take a look at the Outdoor Edge 3.5″ RazorLite EDC
  • Fresh killed rabbits will slide out of the fur very easily.
  • If you have a pair of pruning shears, they work well to snip through the leg bones.
  • Wild rabbits often have fleas, so it is a good idea to dress your rabbit outdoors or let it cool completely before you bring it inside.

How to Field Dress a Rabbit – Gutting or Removing the Entrails

After skinning the rabbit, you will have to remove the entrails (guts).  This keeps the meat from spoiling too quick.  If at all possible, try to keep from cutting the stomach open and spilling the contents all over the meat.

  • Probably the easiest way to start is to make an incision from anus to breastbone.  Then finish your cut by opening the rib cavity. Make sure you are keeping the sharp edge of your blade up and away from the entrails. 
  • Next you need to remove the windpipe, esophagus, and continue to remove all the entrails.
  • After you have removed all of the entrails, take a minute and rinse the carcass down with water to remove any dirt, fur, or debris.
  • Finally, use a cloth or paper towel to pat the inside of the carcass dry.

Hot Tips:

  • A lot of hunters dress their rabbits on-site to reduce the amount of weight they carry back. 
  • Let the rabbit cool for at least two days to allow rigor mortis to pass.  This will give you much more tender meat.

Butchering and Eating Rabbit for Dinner

Butchering a rabbit is not all that difficult.

  • The first thing you need to di is cut off the hind legs. Since the legs are not connected to the body by bone, this is pretty easy.
  • The next step is to repeat for the front legs.
  • Finally, you may want to remove the ribcage and divide the rabbit up along the backbone.  Take a look at the photo below to get an idea of what you should have.  If you click on the photo it will take you to Hank Shaw’s Website where you will find many great rabbit recipes.  

You can eat rabbit in a variety of ways; however, it is most often prepared in a stew. Braise it first to add that lovely, umami taste of roasted meat to your stew.

How to field dress a rabbit - butchered rabbit
Photo of a butchered rabbit – Click to visit Hank Shaw’s Website for recipes.

Feature Photo by Gary Bendig on Unsplash


Charles is a man who loves the outdoors. He moved to Wyoming specifically to spend more time in the mountains and wilderness. A hunter and fisherman, Charles knows how to enjoy nature and all that it has to offer. He is an outdoorsman through and through, and he wouldn't have it any other way. Charles is the President of Absaroka Enterprises, an company focuse on outdoor entertainment and endeavours. He's also an Editor for Alpha and Omega Outdoors, an online hunting, fishing, camping, trapping, and all around outdoors blog.

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