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Maine Hntr

Butchering deer

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Let's hear it, how do you guys all do it? Do it yourself? Have someone do it for you? Do you have any tricks or specific ways you deal with it if the weather is warm? I just read another post where Frank said he gutted, got it wrapped in tarp and cooled and butchered the next day, do you guys age your meat for a period of time before cutting it up?

I haven't taken a ton of deer in my life and have always taken to a local butcher for a couple reasons, simply because I've never done nor' seen it done before but also for sake of time, with work and a family and only being able to hunt Saturdays it leaves very little time to be able to do so but I've done a fair amount of research the last couple years and want to take the leap one of these times and just go for it.. my other fear is this warm October weather we're having scares me and just means you need to get it skinned and on ice quicker without the luxury of a walk in cooler..

looking for recommendations, advice, personal stories, etc.!

 

 

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Done our own since about 2003.  No walk in here either, but someday will have a walk in of some sort in my basement.  Usually do 3 or 4 a year.  I use the tractor bucket to gut deer, get them to just the right height that I don't have to bend down.  Then take them in the garage and hang them tail up to skin them out.  Once skinned or caped out I take out the backstraps and inner loins. Then just quarter them up, a portable recip saw with a bimetal blade is very handy for cutting off the legs.  I pack ours in a cooler on ice and change the ice out drain the water out daily for about a week or so.  We also are very careful to wash everything with the water hose before it goes in the cooler, to get any bone dust or hair off the meat.  Then the most time consuming part is cutting it all up and packing it, we package everything except ground we give away in food saver bags.  Give away grind goes in 1 lb sleeves.

Cannot have too much ice in your freezer during deer season if you dont have access to a walk in.  We use rubber maid plastic food storage tubs for our meat tubs, can get nearly 10 lbs in each one.  Fridge space can be an issue if you have a family so we try to process from the cooler as quickly as possible to the freezer, but a lot of the stuff that has to be trimmed until you are ready to grind will take up some space.  

I need a new cooler this year.

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when you put on ice, do you shield it from direct contact with the ice? wasn't sure if introducing direct moisture would affect the meat at all? 

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Do my own; it gets skun and hung within an hour if possible, comes off the electric winch and onto rolling hanger hooks and roll into cooler where I will let it hang until I have time. Got a good cutting table and good lighting, radio, computer chair to sit down on while I trim and cut up. I'm inside out of the weather and can crank up some heat if I need that.

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24 minutes ago, Maine Hntr said:

when you put on ice, do you shield it from direct contact with the ice? wasn't sure if introducing direct moisture would affect the meat at all? 

Never have had an issue with ice touching the meat causing any issues. 

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We/I cut up our own deer for about 25 years but now Mike, the guy I hunt with doesn't want to do it anymore so we just bring it in to have it done.
Usually it's cold enough here in MN so no need to cool it or ice it after field dressing.
I learned how to cut up a pig from my grandpa.
There used to be vcr videos you could buy that showed you how. You could probably still buy them (dvd) but I'll bet there are some very good vids on youtube that show how.
It's not a quick thing to cut one up. Usually took about 3-4 hours from start to freezer to cut one up.
One thing I didnt learn till late in life was to take the tenderloins out right when you field dress the deer. Always just wasted them as they dry out fairly quickly. Now we take them out and have them for breakfast the next day.
How many of you eat the heart and liver?
I love liver half a dozen times a year so always save it. The heart too. Take the heart and boil it for an hour ( I use a pressure cooker) and then put it in the fridge overnight. Slice it up and make sanwiches out of it. Mm mm good..

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I've cut my own deer since I was old enough to help my dad.  It's not that hard once you get the hang of it and learn where all of the seams are.  If possible find someone who does his own and ask to watch.  There are a number of good videos on YouTube that will give you the basics.  Here a few tips.

1. Skin your deer as soon as possible to start the cooling process.

2.  Buy the finest butchering knives out there that you can afford.  I like Forschner knives.  Also get a good sharpener.

3.  I bought an old fridge off craigslist.  If the weather hot I will divide my deer into it's 7 main parts (inside loins, backstraps, 4 legs, neck roast) and put them in there to chill until I'm ready to work on it. 

4. Wrap venison in plastic bags then use freezer paper.

There is few things more satisfying as a hunter than cutting your own deer.  You will have complete control of how much meat doesn't go to waste and the cleanliness of your butchering area.

Good luck!

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1 hour ago, RangerClay said:

I've cut my own deer since I was old enough to help my dad.  It's not that hard once you get the hang of it and learn where all of the seams are.  If possible find someone who does his own and ask to watch.  There are a number of good videos on YouTube that will give you the basics.  Here a few tips.

1. Skin your deer as soon as possible to start the cooling process.

2.  Buy the finest butchering knives out there that you can afford.  I like Forschner knives.  Also get a good sharpener.

3.  I bought an old fridge off craigslist.  If the weather hot I will divide my deer into it's 7 main parts (inside loins, backstraps, 4 legs, neck roast) and put them in there to chill until I'm ready to work on it. 

4. Wrap venison in plastic bags then use freezer paper.

There is few things more satisfying as a hunter than cutting your own deer.  You will have complete control of how much meat doesn't go to waste and the cleanliness of your butchering area.

Good luck!

I've actually watched quite a few youtube videos over the last couple years and there are definitely some good ones, just need to jump in and try it sometime. I've got a couple nice knives from Ross on here (Hammerforged) and I've got a decent filet knife and stuff as well so I think I'd be pretty good that way, finding the right seams definitely looks like an important part of it..

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A fillet knife or two are used a lot between cutting out the inner loins, the backstraps, and then the kitchen trimming.  Also gotta agree on getting out the inner loins asap and then taking out the backstraps.  I never put them in the cooler with the rest of the meat, they go directly into a meat tub and into the fridge.  

If by chance we get a deer and temps permit, I will let them hang, but that does not happen often here.  

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I've been butchering my own for many years too.  Recall only once when I had a deer butchered back when I was in college...I'm 63 now.  At our place in MO we usually have time to hang and age them.  We have a heated skinning/butchering room with a walk in cooler.  When I age meat, the only meat I cut out before hanging them to age are the inner loins.  They'll dry up some if you don't.   I leave the hide on while aging.  Once aged, I skin the deer and bone all the meat out while it's hanging.  I always have some sausage made so all that meat goes into their own bags for processing later.  A food saver is real handy for the choice cuts of meat.

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I have been doing mine for years, I use channel locks to skin them, that really helps with gripping the hide. I use a 6" filet knife for boning the meat while they hang. I put the boned meat in foil trays and put in our fridge to age at least 3 days. I have a LEM #22 grinder. I have a VAC Master vacuum sealer.  the sealer is AWSOME  it will seal soup and water. you have to check them out.  Having the right equipment is a big help

 

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I read the above and you have a lot of good information to soak in.

There really are numerous methods and it's up to you to discover what is worth the time and effort and fit you budget. I've spent a lot of time researching this topic and have my own personal philosophy I'll share below. I also want to point out that I've processed somewhere around 100 deer over the past decade when I started doing it myself and I have never once had bad meat or any problems with how I go about deer processing. I don't add anything to the venison and i trim as much fat away as possible on every deer. I only make steaks, roasts, and ground venison to keep my cost and time commitment down.

1. Aging venison: Never intentionally. Sometimes I have to work and simply can't get to it for a few days.

2. Time commitment: (3.5 hours) Generally an hour to hang, skin, and remove the meat from the bone.  Two hours to trim fat, cut into steaks / roasts, grind into burger and package. I use small freezer bags and use a marker to write dates on them. A half hour to clean up. I use a hide puller and electric hoist installed in my carport (100 dollars and worth it). I use an older  1HP grinder from Cabelas (400 - 500 dollars)- I wouldn't recommend anything smaller than 1hp if you do more than one deer a year. For big bucks over 200 pounds add a half hour and subtract a half hour for small deer.

3. Temperature: I will not process a deer that has been dead in the field for more than 8 hours when the temperature is above 60 degrees. If below 50 degrees I will harvest and process a deer that has been dead in the field for up to 20 hours. When the temperature is between 50 and 60 degrees it's a judgment call that depends on the location it died, amount of sun exposure, shot placement, bugs, and what it looks and smells like.  When in doubt throw it out.

4. Field dressing: I try to get the deer field dressed as soon as possible and get a couple bags of ice inside the cavity. I also wrap in a tarp when the temperature is above 50 degrees. When below 40 degrees I don't even use ice. Yes - remove the tenderloins soon and refrigerate till time to prepare and eat. The tenderloins are a celebration item that I prepare and eat right away. Be careful not to cut them out when field dressing. I do save the heart and years ago I saved the liver.  Once field dressed I personally leave the hide on the deer until I am ready to butcher or store in a walk in refrigerator or freezer. It will help keep bugs off the meat and serves as an insulator when ice is inside the cavity. My taxidermist will store any early season deer in his walk in freezer for free if I don't have time to process.

Don't let the warm weather scare you - hunters in the south have been deer hunting for decades and many have a more relaxed philosophy than I do.

Happy Hunting!

 

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Great information here guys, thanks for the help. So Frank, as an example, let's say it's 65 degrees out, I shoot a deer, am able to locate it within the first hour or two and field dress it right out in the field, bring it back to the house and get it hung, if time allowed, would you skin it and remove the meat from the bone etc. right then and there, or would you fill the cavity with ice and let it cool down some before skinning and processing? JBeck, by putting the boned meat in the refrigerator for 3 days or so, you're essentially aging it a bit, just not with the luxury of a walk-in cooler? I actually checked out the grinders on Cabela's and Bass Pro last week, haven't purchased anything but the LEM were some of the ones I was looking at. The Cabela's pro series DC Grinder looked like a decent little grinder for the money with pretty good reviews, I don't anticipate having to do more than a couple a year at most, not sure if I want to/need to spend the $$ on a larger grinder?

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17 hours ago, Maine Hntr said:

So Frank, as an example, let's say it's 65 degrees out, I shoot a deer, am able to locate it within the first hour or two and field dress it right out in the field, bring it back to the house and get it hung, if time allowed, would you skin it and remove the meat from the bone etc. right then and there, or would you fill the cavity with ice and let it cool down some before skinning and processing?

If the deer was shot in the evening I am generally too tired to mess with it that night. Additionally, the lighting in my carport isn't that good to skin and remove the meat at night. I generally ice the cavity, wrap in a tarp and wait till the next morning (unless I have to work - then I'll do it that night).

If the deer was harvested in the AM I would skin and remove the meat in the afternoon.

Sometimes I'll just keep the meat in a cooler and trim/grind the next day or evening (just depends on how tired I am and what else I have going on). The trimming and grinding I do in the kitchen so the time of day doesn't matter.

It's likely that Cabela's partners with another grinder company to produce their grinders. Might even be LEM. They do that with other products they sell. I'd go with the best deal on a LEM or Cabela's model.

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40 minutes ago, fly said:

If the deer was shot in the evening I am generally too tired to mess with it that night. Additionally, the lighting in my carport isn't that good to skin and remove the meat at night. I generally ice the cavity, wrap in a tarp and wait till the next morning (unless I have to work - then I'll do it that night).

If the deer was harvested in the AM I would skin and remove the meat in the afternoon.

Sometimes I'll just keep the meat in a cooler and trim/grind the next day or evening (just depends on how tired I am and what else I have going on). The trimming and grinding I do in the kitchen so the time of day doesn't matter.

It's likely that Cabela's partners with another grinder company to produce their grinders. Might even be LEM. They do that with other products they sell. I'd go with the best deal on a LEM or Cabela's model.

Sometimes will do like Frank says here and let them hang ice in cavity if it it's late in the evening and I am too tired to skin and quarter them that night, but it has to be where the temps will fall below 45 overnight for me to feel comfortable doing that since that is in the garage.  We have paid a processor to hang a few for us before too, but that can be a hassle.  I use a 30 gallon tub to catch the guts and then use it when hanging to let the blood drain into, makes for less mess.  

We had one of the 99 cabelas grinders for quite a while. It was ok just took a while until it wore out.  Upgraded a few years ago to one of their commercial series grinders. They ran a great deal on them around Christmas that year and also burned some points.  Ours is only the 1/2 horse model but it fits our needs.  I can grind 2 deer worth of meat in pretty short amount of time. 

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56 minutes ago, fly said:

If the deer was shot in the evening I am generally too tired to mess with it that night. Additionally, the lighting in my carport isn't that good to skin and remove the meat at night. I generally ice the cavity, wrap in a tarp and wait till the next morning (unless I have to work - then I'll do it that night).

If the deer was harvested in the AM I would skin and remove the meat in the afternoon.

 

Yup.  Good advise.  Try getting hide off within a few hours, it peels off so easy when they are warm.  It gets cold fast here in NY and I'm sure it's cold in Maine also.  Last deer I shot I had the hide off as soon as I hung it.  It peeled off so easy.

I can never understand why people age deer with the hide on.  Every slaughter house I've ever been to never ages beef with the hide on.

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