LAST UPDATED: May 1st, 2015
When I first started hunting I was thrilled with the opportunity to kill a deer and take it to the meat processor for butchering. Successful hunting opportunities were fewer and much farther between for me as a teenager. In those days I felt pretty blessed if I killed a deer every year or two. At that time the basic butcher price was about $45 for an average sized deer. I never thought twice of taking advantage of this great service provided by the local slaughter house.
Taking your kill from the field to the table all on your own is not only a rewarding experience, it also helps quarantee the quality of the food on your table.
As time went on I began to kill more deer and also began to question whether or not I was actually getting my own deer back. I toyed with the idea of trying to butcher my own deer so my wife bought me a meat grinder for Christmas the first year we were married. And this is where the grind began. With my own tools and time committed to the process I’ve saved a pile of cash on butchering and have never again had to question the quality of the food I prepared for my family. This month we’ll take a look at some of the tools that will enable you to do the same.
The grinder my wife bought me for Christmas was a $99 entry-level grinder from Cabela’s. I’ve honestly lost count how many deer have been run through that little machine. But even after 15 years it’s still grinding it out.
Processing your own deer can be fairly simple. For the most part I simply make steaks out of the backstraps and several cuts of the hams. I put the rest of the meat in a plastic tub to be ground up. A simple, inexpensive meat grinder will serve this purpose well. The money you save by processing just one or two deer for yourself will more than pay for your first meat grinder.
A few other simple tools that make the grind much easier are a quality selection of knives. The crew at Outdoor Edge offers several great Butcher Kits in a price range of $45-$80. These kits make things slick and simple with tools like a caping knife, gut-hook butcher, boning knife, sharpener, ribcage spreader, bone saw, and more. I learned early on that sharing my wife’s tiny kitchen cutting board wasn’t going to work.
I love The Plank from the guys at Can Cooker. The Plank is a very unique cutting board design that is foldable for easy storage and spreads out to huge 16”x32” size that allows you to spread out and do work. A cutting board and a scary sharp fillet knife is all you need to cut your desired steaks for the grill.
The Good Stuff
I have the opportunity to speak at a number of wild game dinners each year at churches across the country. I’m always quick to grab a sampling of processed summer sausages, Italian sausage, jerky, and various other meats that have been prepared at home for these events. These “specialty meats” use to be the very reason you would take your deer to a professional meat processor. There was simply too much involved in the process and access to quality seasonings was slim which made sausage making on your own a bit of a task.
However there is now a growing line of products that are designed to allow hunters to make their own specialty meats in the comfort of their own home. Companies like Hi Mountain Seasonings offer a seemingly endless variety of seasonings and blends for your specialty meats. With a dozen different jerky seasoning kits, breakfast sausage kits, bratwurst, Polish sausage, Italian sausage, Old Fashioned Bologna, Jalapeno Summer Sausage kits, and many others, there’s sure to be something for all your jerky and sausage stuffing needs.
Kits such as this one from Hi Mountain greatly simplify the task of makign delicious summer sausage from your harvest.
Are you tired of spending the big bucks for someone else to process your wild game each year? The products now available for home processing of wild game have simplified what was once a grueling task. There’s no greater satisfaction than being a part of the process of providing food for your family…from the field to the table. Take the challenge, grind it out, be your own butcher.