Archery hunters and gun hunters will have many chances at deer this season. There will be literally tons of venison ready for preparation in the Midwest alone over the duration of a hunting season.
The processing of all this deer meat can get to be an expensive proposition. Let’s just assume that your family gets two deer. That is pretty realistic. The processing cost will likely be in excess of $100. Now let’s say you spend that $100 almost every year. In five or six years you have spent enough on deer processing to buy a new slug gun or a better bow. Let me show you how to put that money to better use.
Processing your own venison is an easy and simple task. You do not have to be a professional meat cutter or have thousands of dollars worth of processing equipment. When you are processing your own meat, you are the only one you have to satisfy.
We should start with proper skinning techniques. Removing the skin from a deer does not have to be a wrestling match. A properly hung carcass can be skinned quickly with a properly sharpened skinning knife. I mention the knife because you MUST NOT butcher your deer with same knife you used to skin it. There is just too much chance of transferring contaminants from the hide to the meat. After getting used to skinning your own deer, you will find they are easier to skin than squirrels.
Once you switch knives and begin the actual butchering, things go really quickly. Again, there does not have to be a diagram posted to make sure you cut the meat right. Basically, you make the cuts that suit you. Chops, steaks and roasts can all be cut without the use of a bone saw. If you have such a saw and choose to use it, great. But just know that it is not necessary to do the job.
The first cuts you should make on a skinned deer are to remove the loin from both sides of the spine. To do this, run a sharp, heavy-bladed knife along one side of the spine. Then run the knife in the same direction just on top of the rib cage, making sure the second cut meets the first one. Repeat these steps on the other side and you should be able to remove both loins in long sections, ready to fillet or butterfly. Do not forget to also remove the inner loins, just next to where the kidneys were.
Cut The Shanks Off
Next, cut the shanks off both hind legs. Bone-out the shanks and bone-out the neck, as well. All of this meat is excellent for stews. Now cut both hindquarters away from the carcass. This is where you will get your rump-roasts and many of your steaks. The steaks will be easier to cut with a meat saw, but it can be done without one.
There are no real cuts that come from the flanks, but there are still many pounds of useable trimmings there that can be ground later. The spare ribs, however, will come off the front portion of both sides of the deer. You really do need a saw if you want bone-in ribs. Otherwise, just cut-off the trimmings for grinding.
Pretty much all that is left now is the chuck roasts you can cut off the front shoulder. But after all of the major cuts of meat have been removed from the carcass, there is still much that can be cut away and ground into excellent venison burger.
And the vast majority of venison consumed in the United States is in the form of ground meat. Chili, lasagna, spaghetti sauce, meat loaf, sloppy joes and grilled burgers are, by far, the most popular venison meals. Therefore, I think we should look at grinding venison a bit closer.
Try an Electric Grinder
We routinely grind the trimmings from a whole deer into perfectly ground venison burger in about 20 minutes. Before grinding your trimmings, however, I suggest you chill the meat thoroughly. This will stiffen the meat, causing it to grind cleaner. Warm venison that is run through a grinder tends to turn to “mush.”
Be sure to wrap your freshly butchered venison properly in freezer paper and mark it with the date.
Following these few tips will provide you and your family with quality venison meals for years to come and save you lots of dollars in the process.
Editor’s Note: Here’s a link to an Infographic Chart that explains which parts of a deer are used or consumed and where the different cuts of meat come from.
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