We have been wanting to post some video’s on deer processing for some time but for a variety of reasons, mostly revolving around timing, it hasn’t quite worked out yet. So for now we are going to settle on a blog post. Our main reason for sharing this is to show just how easy and rewarding it can be to process your own deer. For me it is one of the best parts of the hunt, albeit a fair bit of work. You can share a couple refreshments with your hunting mates, shoot a little bull and make some great food.
I must be honest and say I am no expert at this and I think that is what makes this a reasonable conquest for any hunter. My dad and other pro staff members have been at this, butchering their own deer that is, for a number of years. I have had the chance to work with and learn from them on a number of occasions. This particular animal was my first ever solo effort, and I mean SOLO. I was able to process this entire deer with a 3” browning field knife, a standard Bass Pro Shop fillet knife, and a sharpener.
I will also admit that I haven’t brought a deer to a butcher in about 10 years so I have no idea what the going rate is? That said I assume it be anywhere from $100-$150 including all of your ground meat. Although not necessary, I upgraded my processing system with a vacuum sealer ($120) and a electric meat grinder ($115). So my total costs to have everything, knives included was around $275-$300 and you are set forever. In other words, 2 trips to the butcher.
Step 1: Once your deer is field dressed hand the animal by the head, being sure to remove the oesophagus. This allows the deer to drain appropriately. If temperatures are less than 40 degree’s and timing allows it, the best bet is to allow your deer to hang for 48-72 hours inside a protective game bag.
Step 2: Skin the animal. No secrets here the more you do the better you will get at it. No “right way” and as the saying goes “there is more than one way to skin your booner!”.
Step 3: Now the fun and finesse begins. If it is your first time and you do not have a lot of time I highly recommend making this a two step process. The front legs are largely going to be de-boned turned into your ground meat so I suggest removing and placing them in a clean plastic bag in the fridge. The de-boning and meat grinding can then be done the next day.
Step 4: Next steps depend on how much help you have. In a perfect world one of you can remove the slabs while the other butterfly’s the chops. If you are solo I take a large bin filled with ice and covered with clean foil. I the place the strips of meat on them as I remove them from the deer to keep them cool.
Step 5: Choosing your cuts. This is where processing your own deer really becomes fun and as individual as you are. There are a couple of staples. The back straps will be butterflied into chops (see below). You get 2 beautiful sirloin tips from every deer and 2 rump roasts from each. These both come from the hind quarters and as you remove the smaller straps their locations become apparent. The neck meat can be turned into roasts for tying or if you are someone who like sausages/burgers they can be turned into ground meat. Similarly the straps/loins from the hind quarters can be kept as steaks or ground up.
Step 6: Making the chops. The back straps are laid out and can be cut into slabs and butterflied into chops as you see fit. The beauty of the vacuum sealer here is that you can organize the chops in packages of any size to suit your personal needs.
Like I said this is not an exhaustive article but stay tuned for more comprehensive videos. As you can see processing your own deer is relatively simple and very efficient. Nothing gets wasted and you end up some fantastic meat!
Happy hunting until next time.