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Discussion Starter #1
I've only taken two bucks in my life, so you'll have to excuse the fact that I am a babe in the woods (okay, an old guy in the woods). Both times, the butchers have seemed to short me on the better cuts of meat. I realize the yield on a buck is about 50-60% of the meat, but both times, I have ended up with very small amounts of back straps and tenderloins.

I have heard from hunting buddies that this is a common problem. Next year, I plan to buy a vacuum wrapper and do the tenderloins and back straps myself. Any suggestions for the rest of the animal?
 

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I've spent all day processing the doe I took over the weekend. Generally I cut out the backstraps, cut a few roasts out of the back legs, then grind the rest into sausage or burger. We mix either Purnells sausage or beef with it 50/50 to give it some flavor. The beef mix get's made into hamburger patties, the sausage into 1# packs. This year we used medium, spicy, and Italian sausage, and chuck roast to mix. All in all we have about 70#s of meat in the freezer.

We split the cost of the grinder and vacuum sealer with my in-laws. Neither is really high end either. The Grinder is a mid level unit from Cabelas, and the sealer is a 8yo entry level Foodsaver brand. We tried some of the better models, but would burn them out halfway through packaging.

Around here, it cost's over $100 to have one processed. Add the cost of tags, and there's no savings over beef. If I didn't learn to do it myself, I probably wouldn't hunt at all.
 

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I've only taken two bucks in my life, so you'll have to excuse the fact that I am a babe in the woods (okay, an old guy in the woods). Both times, the butchers have seemed to short me on the better cuts of meat. I realize the yield on a buck is about 50-60% of the meat, but both times, I have ended up with very small amounts of back straps and tenderloins.

I have heard from hunting buddies that this is a common problem. Next year, I plan to buy a vacuum wrapper and do the tenderloins and back straps myself. Any suggestions for the rest of the animal?
IMG_2632.jpg

Well, as you can see, there is nothing left here. A hunter should process his own meat; it's part of the hunt.

There are a couple of ways you can do it.

If I can't get the animal out of the woods, I cut it down the spine, peel the hide back till its draping over the stomach and remove the backstraps. Then skin and reveal the front shoulder, and hind quarters and remove the big chunks of meat from the back legs, and the rump roast. Remove the little meat on the front shoulders.
Flip the deer over and repeat.

With this process, you are only losing the small tenderloins under the spine, and the ribs, but you don't have to gut it. Leave what remains for the critters.

The second method pictured above is pretty easy. A gutted deer can hang for a day as long as the hide is covering the meat.
With that method you get the ribs, and all usable meat on the deer.

Either method is better than the services of a game processor.

The first, in the field method gives you enough meat to make your back hurt packing out.
I carry a couple of scent free garbage bags to put the meat in, my caping and filleting knife, and knife sharpener in my ALICE pack.
I put the bag of meat in my cooler and put ice on it as soon as I get it out of the woods.
It will keep for a a few days, and you can clean, and trim it for wrapping in freezer paper at your leisure.

I cut and package mine in to steaks and roasts with the scrap pieces used for stew meat..
 

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I've never had one processed and i often use the no-gut method described above with the deer hanging.
I then drop the carcass into a 7.5 gallon pool chlorine bucket, screw the lid on and throw it in an area dumpster.
 

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Invite him over for dinner. Start eating while he stares at his empty plate. "Sorry, our butcher shorted us...."
 

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I did some shopping around last year for my elk. There were a few places that had a bad reputation in town, and ended up finding a good one. I did get shorted on meat though, he called me up one night and asked how many times did you shoot the #*&$#*& thing? I told him at least it didn't get away.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well, as you can see, there is nothing left here. A hunter should process his own meat; it's part of the hunt.
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I know how to field dress, but I guess I am going to have to learn how to cut the meat off the legs and identify and carve up what qualifies as steaks, roasts, burger, etc.
 

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I know how to field dress, but I guess I am going to have to learn how to cut the meat off the legs and identify and carve up what qualifies as steaks, roasts, burger, etc.
It will for you when you get to cutting. The meat will tell you what it is.
Just take it off the bone in as big a chunk as possible, and you can cut it like you want it at home:)

Just don't forget to mark on the wrapper what it is!

You can even cut and package it in any portion size servings you want to.
 

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One can EASILY learn to process the 'hunt'. Find an experienced hunter friend, or a butcher friend. Either can easily teach you how to process your catch. Many years ago, while living in Michigan, my neighbor and I (each of us on 10 acre wooded plots next to each other) could have a deer wrapped and in the freezer in about four hours after the shot. We had it down to a science, and it was easy to learn.
 

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I do the same thing Gman does. Put it in a cooler full of ice. I keep it drained and make sure it is covered with ice. I think it even helps if if you keep the cooler in the back of your truck. I keep it like that for two days, then cut it up. The meat will cut much better when it is nice cold. Wrap in clear cling wrap and then white freezer paper. I like as many steaks and roast as possible. When making sausage I pinch off a little and put on a paper plate and micro wave to see what I need to add. A little liquid smoke goes a long way.
 

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I don't do steaks or roasts, just sausage, ground, and backstrap & tenderloin cutlets. So I butcher my own and have occasionally cut an entire doe into jerky strips. If you want to source it out, basic cut and grind around here averages $70 +/-. Sausage prices average around $2.75 Lb in addition to the C&G if you have it made. I know of a tamale shop that will make venison tamales if the customer brings in the meat so I've done that a couple of times. mmmm good.
Brought my last deer home quartered in an ice chest then did the final process at home. As for the trimmings, I leave them on the ranch (2700 acres) out away from the hunting areas and they are gone within a few days...gotta feed the critters.
 

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I know how to field dress, but I guess I am going to have to learn how to cut the meat off the legs and identify and carve up what qualifies as steaks, roasts, burger, etc.
I kind of learned as I went. I knew about the back straps going in. Basically anything on the back legs can be cut into roasts or steaks. Any of it can be ground up.
 
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I'm going to take the distaff side . I worked for 2 commercial/custom butchers that were gracious enough to close their shops to commercial work during hunting season as a community service . State law required a full cleaning of the plant before and after the game processing . The profit margin was minimal .
There was a fellow that broadcast far and wide at coffee shops that these butchers 'stole meat' .
He got a deer that he poorly field dressed and brought to them . Just wanted it boned and ground to sausage . Bill and Ronnie complied . They hung it and took a rail weight . Then they skinned and deboned everything that would come loose from the bones : the eviscera , hair , and leaves the hunter had failed to remove when he killed it . They threw all that into the grinder tub and weighed it as well as weighing the bones and hide separately .
As Ronnie was about to start that big Hobart grinder the guy started spluttering about wasn't he going to clean that up a little bit before he ground it up .
My lifelong friend Ronald Wade (former USMC and turned 80 this year) put his sharpest knife under that customer's nose and said :
"You SOB ! You have run around for years talking about how the Wades steal meat . I guarantee you that you will get back every ounce you brought in here today !" And then he pushed the button to start the grinder .
I think that processors are often misaligned by disgruntled customers that failed to use their own due dilligence .
 

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I'm going to take the distaff side . I worked for 2 commercial/custom butchers that were gracious enough to close their shops to commercial work during hunting season as a community service . State law required a full cleaning of the plant before and after the game processing . The profit margin was minimal .
There was a fellow that broadcast far and wide at coffee shops that these butchers 'stole meat' .
He got a deer that he poorly field dressed and brought to them . Just wanted it boned and ground to sausage . Bill and Ronnie complied . They hung it and took a rail weight . Then they skinned and deboned everything that would come loose from the bones : the eviscera , hair , and leaves the hunter had failed to remove when he killed it . They threw all that into the grinder tub and weighed it as well as weighing the bones and hide separately .
As Ronnie was about to start that big Hobart grinder the guy started spluttering about wasn't he going to clean that up a little bit before he ground it up .
My lifelong friend Ronald Wade (former USMC and turned 80 this year) put his sharpest knife under that customer's nose and said :
"You SOB ! You have run around for years talking about how the Wades steal meat . I guarantee you that you will get back every ounce you brought in here today !" And then he pushed the button to start the grinder .
I think that processors are often misaligned by disgruntled customers that failed to use their own due dilligence .
I would say in a small percentage of occurrences you may be correct, but, my guess is you have not processed your own vs a butcher.

If the profits were marginal, they would not do it. When a business says it does something to serve the community, take it with a grain of salt.
I always visit the butcher shop, which raises and sells its own meat, during deer season to get an idea of how the season is going.
The place is usually stacked full of deer carcasses, with an occasional Elk or two hanging.

Years ago, when I was pressed for time, I would drop off a few deer for processing. When I picked up 2 deer that filled one brown sack and half of another, I knew that wasn't worth the $40 per deer (back then) that they charged, but judging from the number of deer they were doing, I have no doubt it was a highly profitable endeavor.

Now, I don't think they are "stealing", but I'm sure that the need to be quick with the turnaround time leads to leaving a lot of meat to waste, and leads to this type of reputation that hunters have experienced across the board.
 

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had that happen to me many, many years ago when I first started out and lived in an apartment with no place to process an animal.....got back 2 bags of rib bones and a few scraps of meat........bought a home soon after and have processed my own ever since.....there are thieves out there.....and how do you know whose deer your getting back and how long the meats been in their freezer.....years ?
 

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I think something all hunters should be aware of is that with some processors you don't actually receive the meat that you field dressed. It seems, when the season is hot & heavy with processing orders coming in on Fri-Sat & Sun nights by the truckloads, some game processors simply take your processing order and fulfill parts of it with bulk meat from their cold storage shelves.
I know this for a fact as I've had this experience with two processors here in Tx.

My issue with this practice is that I go to great effort to field dress my game cleanly, pack the cavity with ice, and get it to the processor in good, clean condition. However, I can't expect that from someone else's game so I could be getting meat tainted with all kinds of field bacteria.

The first time I experienced this was with a small level processor I'd used for several years in a small Texas hill country town near our lease ranch. I always dropped off on the way home from a hunting weekend and picked up on my next hunting trip a couple of weeks later, again as I was heading home. Meat was always boxed up well, frozen hard, and made the trip fine.
My last process with those guys, about 15 years ago, I came home with 50 Lbs of smoked rings that were so incredibly salty it was completely inedible. Normally great, I ended up throwing it all away. Next trip down I told him about it and he said, "You should have called me and I'd have made you another batch." I asked how he could do that since I had already picked up all my meat and he told me he had freezer racks of meat from other hunters that he could pull from and the sausage is made in bulk anyway, since many hunters order sausage rings, so he consolidates the cuts of meat that are targeted for sausage and pulls meat from the freezer stock as needed, then boxes up the amount to fulfill the order. ???!
First, I thought that was illegal, but it's definitely unethical at best. I decline the offer and found another processor.

A few years later, I followed the recommendation of a friend who referred me to a processor that had a reputation of making incredible smoked sausage. And I was told the same thing by the owner of that place. It was a big operation. One night while dropping off a hog, he showed me their processing room and it looked like a big corporate processing house... approx 15 guys in white coats and rubber gloves, all trimming sections of meat as fast as pro butchers and tossing the specific cuts into big rubbermaid tubs. Then other guys would pick up the filled tubs and take them to another section of the bldg where I guess they were put in cold storage...consolidated by cuts, grind bulk, etc. They had 3 guys at the loading dock with ceiling mounted electric chain drive gimbals stripping hides from carcasses that were anchored to the concrete floor at the rate of about one per minute. Fascinating I guess, the first time you see an operation like that, but again their sausage was produced in bulk then sold by the pound for customer orders. I paid them $50 and asked them to donate the meat to the local shelter or children's home, whoever needed it.

Since then, I make my own sausage, and do my own cut & grind. It's not difficult and not necessarily time consuming.
I quarter my game at the ranch and bring it home on ice in a big ice chest. And I know where it came from, what it went thru,
and exactly what went into it before it it put on the table.
 

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I know how to field dress, but I guess I am going to have to learn how to cut the meat off the legs and identify and carve up what qualifies as steaks, roasts, burger, etc.
The Kentucky Dept. of Fish & Wildlife is a GREAT outfit. They've done a fine, professionally-produced instructional DVD on taking your OWN harvested deer all the way to freezer-packaged venison. It has no commercials (knife sharpeners, vacuum bag food-savers, etc.), it's just a clear, step-by-step how-to. Your Utah whitetail are gonna' be just like Kentucky whitetail... only, uhhhh, smaller. :biggrin2:

Details on on their website! Good Luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
The Kentucky Dept. of Fish & Wildlife is a GREAT outfit. They've done a fine, professionally-produced instructional DVD on taking your OWN harvested deer all the way to freezer-packaged venison. It has no commercials (knife sharpeners, vacuum bag food-savers, etc.), it's just a clear, step-by-step how-to. Your Utah whitetail are gonna' be just like Kentucky whitetail... only, uhhhh, smaller. :biggrin2:
Details on on their website! Good Luck!
Thanks! Down here, we're hunting mule deer....but I am sure they process identically.
 

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The Kentucky Dept. of Fish & Wildlife is a GREAT outfit. They've done a fine, professionally-produced instructional DVD on taking your OWN harvested deer all the way to freezer-packaged venison.
Just ordered one of their DVDs. Thanks again.
 
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