Home processed sausage on wood plate

5 Reasons Processing Your Own Venison is a No-Brainer

There’s nothing quite as satisfying as sitting down to a home-cooked meal, and knowing that you harvested the wild game meat that takes the spotlight.

Not only does that satisfaction connect to the success you had pulling the trigger or releasing the arrow, but it multiplies tenfold when you do the extra work to field dress, process, and butcher the meat yourself, too.

If you still need convincing, here are five more good reasons you should start to process your own venison.

1. Save money

Have you seen the price of deer processing these days? Some places want more than $250 for a full sized animal, and it seems a little silly to pay so much for something you’re getting from the woods instead of the grocery store.

The investment in wild game processing equipment might seem a little steep, but once you consider how quickly it will pay for itself, there’s little to be concerned about.

2. Guarantee the quality

You don’t know where that beef or chicken has been before it reached your local market. Be assured that your protein comes from clean, safe sources and process it yourself, keeping an eye on things the entire way through.

Also, you’re ensuring that the meat you process is yours. There’s never a guarantee that you’re getting the same deer meat when you send it to a mass processor, which sort of defeats the purpose.

3. It’s healthy

There are no hormones or preservatives in wild game, and it’s low in fat compared to other typical meats. And organic? Yeah, this is as organic as it gets.

Plus, you can portion out future meals while you process it yourself. Whether you’re making sausage or cutting steaks, you can weigh out things to your exact specifications.

4. Learn from it

There are countless online videos and instructional materials showing you how to process your own game, but you can’t really get a feel for it without flat out trying. Experience is virtually the best way to further familiarize yourself with the animal you hunt.

5. Experiment

What if you want to try a new collection of spices on your backstrap? Or your elk burgers needed more juiciness? Of your jerky from the processor was too spicy?

By starting and finishing the wild game process yourself, you’re able to use creativity and inspiration far beyond the limitations of a business operation looking to turn a profit.

Keep in mind that no one can become an instant expert at wild game processing, and the only real way to get better is to practice. But if you’re sending your deer to a processor every time, how are you ever going to improve?

Do what hunters were meant to do and take care of your own wild game. You’ll thank yourself each time you sit down to the dinner table.

Become your own butcher! Find Grinders, Mixers, Dehydrators, and other Food Processing Equipment at Sporsman’s Guide.

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8 Responses to “5 Reasons Processing Your Own Venison is a No-Brainer”

  1. Dan

    I’m 69 years old and still learning. I grew up outside a very small town in PA. I had a lot of high school friends who grew up on the local farms and did their own butchering. I learned a lot from my experience thru association.with then. One of the best published books I purchased a few years ago has full color photos and very precise directions for the processing of all types of wild game be it Deer Elk, Fish, Birds or small Game. They also elaborate extensively on how to clean, store and cook your wild harvest. The name of this book is Preparing Fish & Wild Game. Published by: Creative Publishing International, Cost: $29.95, Bar code #: 5294401206, Internet site: http://www.creativepub.com

    Just another old country hunter

  2. Randy Holm

    I’ve been processing my deer since I shot my first one almost 40 years ago. I could not have been more of an amature than I was at that time, as neither I or anyone else in my hunting group had ever butchered anything bigger than a rabbit or goose before ! LOL One of my friends had done a little more research than I had and because of that we did know how special the Back Strap is and that it would be a lot easier if we hung the deer up to skin and do a lot of the initial processing ! That first deer was initially approached as if it were a really big RABBIT ! lol We skinned it, disjointed the legs, and cut the rest of the parts into smaller sections … We used a newly purchased hack saw and hack saw blade (after sterilizing both) to cut the ribs off and into slabs, cut the neck into crock pot size chunks, and then filleted the back strap out of the little that remained of the carcus at that point. We then filleted the meat off of the bones of the legs and decided how to best cut those into roasts, stew meat, meat to grind, and of course the thin stips for jerky .
    There are many books, videos, and articles available to help you thru this process but the main thing to remember is that it really isn’t that difficult and with practice you will get better at it and it will also become easier to do ! I also approach deer meat a lot like my grandmother taught me at a very early age to do with rabbits and other game meat. Vat soak it in a chilled salt water bath for at least 12 hours or more before freezing it or cooking it. That also allows you more time to actually cut the meat up and put it in the freezer because you can use that vat ( I use a food grade barrel that is sterilized prior to each use) to keep the meat properly chilled for the 1 or more days that it may take me to finish cutting those big chunks and pieces into the way you want to freeze them.
    Also , if it is warm where you have the vat you add more ice (block ice works best) to keep the meat cool enough and if it is below freezing you add more salt to keep the water from freezing ! Just be sure you have washed the meat very well prior to putting it in the vat to be sure that any hair , ect. is not also going into the vat ! During that first deer processing experience in my brothers garage we also recognized three very important things while we were cutting the back straps off of the deer…. His Gas Grill was within easy reach , the fact that we were hungry, and that with bacon wrapped around the 2 1/2 inch fillets we cut from those backstraps; that brine soaking isn’t an absolute must for Kansas deer to taste delicious and amazingly tender ! Even when cut from a very old & big 9pt buck . :-)
    Another one of the real advantages to doing it yourself is that you can actually get a lot more meat from your deer as you can take the time to make use of a lot of the smaller and harder to get to meat areas on the deer that most processers do not bother with. These smaller pieces of meat can then drastically increase your meat for stew meat, grinding, & or for smoking or jerking!
    Have fun with this and look at it as the final act of respecting the deer you just harvested, and that you get to the joy of eating it way before you would if it went to the processor.. Also do not forget to save the heart when you field dress the deer as it is delicious. Some people feel the same way about the liver…
    ENJOY !!! :-)

  3. Drbill

    Great article. Having been a meat scientist, I taught venison processing to hundreds of hunters. I totally respect those processors in that business, I would not want my meat mixed with several others. It is fun and challenging to process your own.

  4. J.

    My family moved to a farm prior to the end of WW II and I began to learn many skills in hunting
    both small fur type animals to deer. We later moved to another larger ranch / farm, where we both
    farmed and raised livestock as well as started a class B dairy operation that I helped operate while in high school to the 50’s. During that time I was involved in FFA (Future Farmers of America) & Home Making as well as trapping for fur money. One experience in trapping was catching a mink. Dad showed me the trick of stretching the hide, wrong side out & to scrape off the fat. When sold for $15.00, trapping became a major effort, as it was like finding gold. FFA too
    taught me to Caponize frying sized, half grown roosters by operation as well as castration of calves for the steer market as well. Yes, I acquired a quarter mare and over time she had two colts that were raised too. Sometimes it got rough, when a young dairy Guernsey heifer that was
    bought for $200.00, three day before was found in the pasture dead, due to bloat of something
    she ate. While raising stock from pigs, sheep, chickens and even picking up an egg snake in
    error, late one night in the nesting house, scarring the water out of me, I learned to pick all the
    eggs up before it got dark. I am in my mid 80’s now, only looking back at all those adventures of hands on learning, especially taking care of game butchering of deer, Elk and even an African
    Oryx.on a special hunt at White Sands Missal range, as well as turkey hunting and preparing them for my wife to cook. She had been a city raised girl, so it was a real learning experience that she has sensed survived, to my eating enjoyment over the past years. If any one reading
    this, please know that FFA is still around, bigger & better than in the 40’s or 50’s and is a good
    basis for learning many skills that have been forgotten. See RFD TV & look up the FFA on the e- net, as no matter what your age is.one can still learn not only farming skills but to survive as well.

  5. Wayne

    I’m 73 years old still love hunting, and even “getting” sometimes. I don’t know why that I’ve never learned how to properly cut up elk and deer, but understand the reasons given for doing it yourself. Especially, the cost and not knowing if my venison has been mixed with others. We all take the time in the field to dress the animal out, keep it clean, and cool it down as quickly as possible.
    Initially, I was going to ask where I might get some good visual information on the “how to” part. Then in the middle of this comment, I read the other responses. I guess this was kind of like closing the gate after the horse was out. Great article and equally as great responses.


  6. Robyn Theese

    We have always processed our own meat, pork, beef, venison, chickens. We have a small hobby farm and we raise our own animals, and process them our selves. We are avid hunters and have done our own venison. Skin, cut, wrap, grind, and dry. This is the only way to do it

  7. Sandra

    I do all the processing for friends and family

  8. Phil

    Processing your own is a great idea and I did it probably 65-70% of the more than 100 animals I have harvested and eaten. Now, being 70 with severe degenerative disc disease of both the upper and lower back, both shoulders worn out and basically just being old and lazy, I gladly pay $100 to have mine skinned, wrapped, ground, and vacuum packed wit neat little labels. I do want to share a little tip. I have seen dozens of guys drag that deer or pronghorn hundreds of yards to the truck, throw it in the back, maybe throw a couple bags of ice on it, and then drive 200 miles home. A friend gave this tip and I know have done it a couple dozen times. As you drive through that first small town at dark, drive by the local car wash, and wash out that deer. I run a little wash soap, then clear water, then ice them down. No, you do not need to use the wax cycle, but you can also get that mud and blood off your truck while you are there. When you drag that deer out the next day, it is clean without most of the bacteria that would have grown overnight. FWIW