Gutless field dressing will save hours of difficult work and can allow you to hunt further, longer, and deeper in remote territory.  This YouTube video will show exactly how this process is done and you may want to consider it, where legal.  Although a mule deer is shown being cut up, the process works equally well on elk, bear and other large game animals.

Standard Procedure 

The gutless method is ideal for back-country hunting.

Cutting game animals for pack out is legal and the norm in many Western States.  For logistical reasons, dragging a mule deer up steep slopes and over boulders is extremely difficult for the average hunter and impossible with a  600-pound elk.  Hunters in our Colorado spike camp can choose to gut and quarter an elk, or use the gutless method.  In recent years, most hunters have switched to the gutless method for several reasons.  First, gutting an elk can be dangerous as you must work with a very sharp knife inside the elk cavity and out of sight.  Countless hunters have cut themselves during this process, causing injury and a much greater chance for infection.  Secondly, by boning out meat, you do not have to carry extra weight and you do not have to sever the lower legs, a difficult chore.

Cleanliness and Preparation are Important

If gutless field dressing is an option, decide how you will handle the process before leaving camp.  The gutless method will require multiple knives, extra blades, or at least a sharpener.  Make sure that you skin one side at a time and work on the skin to keep your meat clean from contamination.  Finally, put meat in ventilating meat bags or plastic bags for a short period.  Cool the meat as quickly as possible to reduce bacteria build up.  I hunt in the West each fall and even our deer camps now use this method.  This video will show you the steps.