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A Guide to Butchering Deer (Feature Article)

November 2004 Feature Article:

A Guide to Butchering Deer

Please use this area to post comments or questions about this feature article.

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Joined: 10/29/2004
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A Guide to butchering deer

Your feature artical was complete, but I would like to point out some things about this subject.

I have butchered deer for 40 years. I wrote a book on this in 1996 called DEER IN A TUB.

i NEVER EVER USE A SAW OF ANY KING ON A DEER EXCEPT TO SPLIT THE HIND QUARTERS. This is done after all the meat is removed from the whole deer except the hind quarters.

All of the muscles on a deer can be seperated with a good fillet knife. Each muscle is surronded by a silver like skin that looks like serin wrap.

Once each muscle is seperated out, this silver covering must be removed. You can't eat this stuff. Some of the tendon around the muscle is white and thick. Traditional bow hunters use this stuff to make bow strings.

My point here is, IF IT IS NOT RED then don't put it in the freezer.

I am pretty hand with a knife but it still takes 8 hour of steady work to process a 125 # feild dress deer.

A quote from one of the largest sausage makers in the country ( USE ONLY PORK FAT). THE REASON IS THAT IF YOU MAKE SUMMER SAUSAGE, BRAT WURST, OR ANY OTHER SAUSAGES WITH DEER MEAT PORK FAT IS THE ONLY THING THAT ABSORB THE SPICES.

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Joined: 07/09/2003
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A note about wrapping/freezing

I've never been a fan of butcher paper. If you wrap your meat in plastic wrap first, then foil, then store the packages in big zip locks, you can keep it forever. The plastic sticks to the wet meat to prevent freeze-rot. The foil holds the plastic against the meat while it's freezing and the zip locks protect the foil and plastic from getting ripped while you're digging around in the freezer looking for the cut you want. Keep like-cuts in the same bag and label them so you don't have to look too far.

Regarding "not freezing what's not red" I happen to like cuts with bone-in. They add collogen to stews that give it flavor and texture, they reduce cooking time on roasts and let marrow seep out to make great pan sauces. And a good size moose bone will keep my dog busy for days.

You can also "hang" your meat as it comes out of the freezer, too. Take a couple stakes out, put them on your toaster oven rack (so air can flow all around them). .put the rack on the drippings pan over paper towels and make a loose tent out of plastic wrap (so it's not touching the meat) and poke some holes in it. Change the paper towels ever day for a week.

mmmm. . I think I'll have venison for dinner tonight.

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Location: Idaho
Joined: 06/01/2004
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A Guide to Butchering Deer (Feature Article)

Article Author wrote:

"Many deer hunters cringe at the thought of having to butcher and prepare a deer for the freezer. "

Serious Hunter writes: I cringe at the thought of anyone else but me butchering and preparing meat my family and I will eat ...

Our butchering work probably isn't good enough for some gourmet food magazine, but we can get a deer out of the field and in the freezer probably as fast as the average hunter (whoever he is) can get it out of the field, to a butcher, back from the butcher, and in his freezer.

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Joined: 07/09/2003
Posts: 18
I should add

I should add that the plastic-wrapped steak on the toaster oven rack goes in the backest, bottomest part of the fridge, not in the toaster oven. You're shooting for dry steak, not maggots.

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Location: Maryland
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A Guide to Butchering Deer (Feature Article)

Good article,
I always butcher my own deer, unless it's a big buck to be mounted.

If temperature is below 50% I prefer to let it hang a week or so, this also allows me to process two or three deer at a time if the hunting has been really good, usually only during the rut.

a couple of years ago I invested in a meat grinder and a vacuum packer and what a difference this makes in how well the meat keeps and tastes.
Properly handled meat makes all the diffence in the world to taste.

I also do very little sawing, except to quarter into pieces that I can handle for deboning. Also, I sometimes use a sawsall to speed up the seperating of the hind quarters from the back. I cut the rump roasts off the hind quarter and one additional from the inner thigh , the backstraps into two pieces and grind the rest for chili, spaghetti sauce, etc...

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Location: Massachusetts
Joined: 12/27/2005
Posts: 1
vacuum packing

Hunter Ken,

A earlier post by CJfromNY suggested, “wrap your meat in plastic wrap first, then foil, then store the packages in big zip locks...”. How do you use your vacuum packer? Do you do anything like CJfromNY , or do you just vacuum the meat in the vacuum bags and freeze it up?

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A Guide to Butchering Deer (Feature Article)

Lets go back a few steps, if I may:
After field dressing your deer, lay it on it stomach, with rear elevated as much as possible to drain excessive blood.
DON'T hang any animal from the neck as I seen done so many times in photos. The results are called "lavidity staining" and all the blood falls to the lower quarters and stays there.( A human body hanging will be black from waist down,beleive me I know)
On a more pleasant note, I use a quart or so of warm tap water,half cup vinegar,half cup salt, to wipe down cavity after I hang it.
Sit back with a few beer and admire your job well done.. Cry Cry

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Joined: 01/04/2006
Posts: 1
A Guide to Butchering Deer (Feature Article)

This reply should make all of you cringe to the very collagen in your bones, but I'll admit upfront I've never hunted, never dressed a kill, never butchered my own meat. There are men among you one-fourth my age (I'm 52) who are experts in this "field." Thanks to the military I'm an expert shot, but I'm smart enough to know that a training range is kindergarten compared to the high school of the field. So when I sign on as 'newestnovice,' I mean it in every sense of the word.

That said, I want to say thanks to all of you for starting my education in a basic survival skill. The way this country and the world are shaping up, I made a New Year's resolution to learn how to care for my family and myself under no-civilization circumstances. Since eating ranks pretty high up on my list of needs, I found the original article fascinating and very informative. All the follow-on comments were enlightening. Again, thank you everyone for your insights.

Just one more thing: do any of you know where I can find the right material to continue my studies? Due to some extenuating circumstances, It has to be free and available online. I thank you in advance for your help.

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Joined: 11/15/2002
Posts: 157
A Guide to Butchering Deer (Feature Article)
Hammer1 wrote:
Lets go back a few steps, if I may:
After field dressing your deer, lay it on it stomach, with rear elevated as much as possible to drain excessive blood.
DON'T hang any animal from the neck as I seen done so many times in photos. The results are called "lavidity staining" and all the blood falls to the lower quarters and stays there.( A human body hanging will be black from waist down,beleive me I know)
On a more pleasant note, I use a quart or so of warm tap water,half cup vinegar,half cup salt, to wipe down cavity after I hang it.
Sit back with a few beer and admire your job well done.. Cry Cry

Most of if not all the deer I have shot have bled out into the cavity. I get rid of this during the gutting process.

I prefer to hang them head up and have them air and drip dry

than to hang them head down.

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Location: Raleigh, NC
Joined: 01/23/2005
Posts: 36
A Guide to Butchering Deer (Feature Article)

I read in a bow hunter magazine that the issue of hanging them head up is that is where any remaining blood will drain too, which is where the bulk of the meat is. This is an issue because bacteria breeds mostly in the blood. Also, the article stated that life (bacterial life) begins at 40 degrees, so anything above that is a problem.

Here in NC I immediately hang the deer (head down), skin it and quarter it after removing the straps and loins due to generally higher temps. After quartering it, I put the shoulders (if salvagable) and rumps in an old refrigerator on butcher paper to age for app. 7-10 days. I wrap the loins and straps in butcher paper and leave it itn the refrigerator as well (don' want them to dry out like the rest of the meat). When the processing day arrives, I take my cuts and grind/jerky what I want and vaccum seal everything in dinner sized portions. The loins and straps are removed from the butcher paper and vaccum sealed and frozen. This has worked out very well for us. I tried something new this year. Before I vaccum sealed a roast, I added my spices and marinade, then vaccum sealed it and put it in the freezer. I want to see how it works out when it's time to eat. If it works well, I'll do more of it next season.
John-

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