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butchering deer (or antelope)

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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    Posted: 15 June 2003 at 14:27
for what it is worth, i have butchered all my own game except one deer, and the main thing i have learned is to get EVERYTHING off of the meat that isn't meat. i don't mean to sound anal, but i am pretty anal about it because careful trimming will ensure the best tasting meat. this includes fat, membrane, silverskin, bone, you name it. trim it off carefully with a very sharp fillet knife, you will be left with a nice roast which you can package, or cut into steaks, butterfly steaks or cubes. if you have a dog, it will love you for keeping the scraps, portioning them into "dog meals," and freezing them in plastic bags and wrapping the bags in paper. i label these packages "DOG." the kids think it is hilarious and the neighbours wonder........another thing, at least in this climate, is to leave the deer to hang a few days. this will age the meat and make it very tasty, using the same process that the big beef places use for prime rib and such. up here in montana, during hunting season, i can let it hang for a week easily; even two weeks, if it gets cold during the night and the deer is hung in the shade such as in a garage or shed. then i can skin and butcher it over a weekend. if you have to skin it immediately or cannot hang it for some reason, you can skin it, then cut out the backstraps and loins and remove the front quarters, then saw the hindquarters into two quarters. then place each quarter into a trashbag (unscented) and the loins and backstraps into another one and store them in the fridge for at least 3 days, but no more than a week.as for the ribcage and neck, there are many options. you can trim quite a bit of good meat off for jerky, cut the ribs into equal sections, then saw the sections in half and wrap them for barbecued ribs, cut the neck off and wrap it whole as a roast or you can take the whole thing in to be made into burger or sausage. one thing i have heard of but haven't tried is to saw the neck, ribcage, etc. into chunks, then boil the chunks with water, salt, seasonings and vegetables, remove the bones etc, strain through cheesecoth, boil it down even further, let it cool, skim off the fat, and you have broth for use in recipies.

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TasunkaWitko - Chinook, Montana

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote The_Mountaineer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 July 2003 at 08:00
  Personally, I hate butchering deer!  I've butchered every single one of mine and it is nothing short of a pain in the ass!  When trying to hunt an entire week, maybe your only week of firearms season, hunting all day and then come back to a pile of deer carcass is nothing short of drudgery.  I agree with you though that by getting all the stuff off the meat, it makes it so much better, especially in making fine sausages.  Aging the meat in proper temperatures helps also as you've said.  But when you hunt with a group of hunters like I do having as many as 5-7 deer hanging up at a time can be foreboding to start! 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CB900F Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 July 2003 at 10:28

Mountaineer;

That type of situation is where you set up a disassembly line & everybody works it.  Switch positions every once in a while & it's not too bad.  How you divvy up the work is up to the guys in camp, but no slackers or no hunt with us again.  Kids can cut stew meat if nothing else.  If the kids are old enough to be in camp, they're old enough to do something, even if it's keeping flies off the meat.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 July 2003 at 10:50

this is pretty much how i butcher a deer, except i hang it head down and i saw the pelvis in half rather than popping the joints. it works quite well; i find it to be efficient and fairly quick.



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TasunkaWitko - Chinook, Montana

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Spot shooter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 July 2003 at 13:46

Folks at my house don't like deer burger, but everybody loves jerky.  I love stakes, and jerky - but I'm tryin to keep the stakes kind quiet (too good).

  The processor I use to make jerky will charge ya nearly $40 to bone a deer (forget that).  I skin then out, cut stakes of the hind quarters, pull the backstraps out and butterfly them.  Then I just bone the rest of it right there.  Don't take long if you got two guy's workin it.   Oh ya the "jerky," are really sticks like slim jims (but these are good!).  He grinds up the boned meat, adds 25% hamburg, season's it, put's it in tubes, then smokes it.  (dang I'm droolin).  After thet he vacuum packs it in .75 lb packages.  Stuff is completely addictive, great fer huntin, hikes, snackin, takin to work for the city trolls to expand their horizons'.....   Last year I only took 2 deer, after cuttin the stakes I still had near 200 packs of jerky (we got heavy deer in KS).

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Triggerguard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 July 2003 at 16:47
Where I hunt, large bucks will go 135 to 140 pounds, does about 100.
Hang them in camp, skin 'em, and pretty much follow the pictures above.
I pop the joints instead of breaking the pelvis...much easier, IMO.
I cut off the front legs, slice off the backstrap, and then pop the joints
and take the hindquarters. Everything goes into an icebox to wait for the trip home.
I do the butchering at home a couple of days later, after giving the meat a bit of age on ice.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Spot shooter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 July 2003 at 17:27

Tas,

   I haven't cut a bone to quarter in years, it takes a time or two but once you learn where to cut your set.  When I hunt mulies, were at the farm (10k acres) and we get them back to the barn and jack them up with a fork lift. 

   Once the hide is off, I take off the backstraps first by cuttin down the backbone and gettin under the shouldlades to get as much stakes as I can.  Then I cut the front legs off, with the shoulder blade in tact.  I use heavy duty suran wrap, and wrap the hole leg til it's water tight.  After that we cut the meat off the rib cage, then cut it off at the hip.  We do cut the hip in half so we don't ruin the rump stakes.  After the hip is split I just wrap them up and put them on Ice also.  We have three 125quart coolers we put the quarters, backstraps, and boned meat in. Takes less than an hour a deer, and you let the meat age a bit before you cut it up more.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dakotasin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 July 2003 at 00:38

i used to pop the pelvis, but have since discovered the zip-saw (hand held little cable thing). the zip saw is faster and cleaner than popping the pelvis. i zip saw the pelvis while field dressing (which also makes field dressing easier).

 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Spot shooter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 July 2003 at 05:53

Dakota,

   I tied the zip saw, but found a small gerber hatch works great.  You can also use the hatchet fer emergencies, an cleanin a place to sit or work on yer critter once it's down.  Zip's don't take much weight but i hated cleanin mine up after.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 August 2004 at 10:48

First and I think most important, butcher the deer yourself. It is not that difficult and no way mysterious. Once you get started removing the meat from the bone it is all self explanatory. The biggest problem with butchering is they rely too much on the saw. The gamey taste that so many complain about is not in the red meat. It is in the velum between the folds and muscle groups, in the fat, and in the bone marrow. When you simply run a quarter of venison through a saw you are using the best tool for distributing the gamey taste to every cut it comes in contact with.

There is no steak on the shoulder. Trying to make steak of any cut other than the backstrap or hind quarter sets you up for dissappointment. The shoulder is excellent meat and after being boned should be cubed up for excellent stew meat or sausage if you like.

The backstrap speaks for itself. Simply bone along the backbone ridge and off of the ribs. The best way of butchering the hind quarters is to first remove them one at a time from the pelvic bone. It will take some experience to remove the quarters cleanly. But don't worry about your first efforts, whatever you botch up makes excellent stew meat to add to your shoulder. Once you have the removed quarter examine it. There are lines to follow for undoing the muscle groups. Use the tip of a fillet knife and slit along these lines and pull with your other hand to separate the muscles from one another along the vellum folds. The entire quarter will come apart this way. Some of the muscles will be flat and diagonal, some will be round and straight. But all will be separated from each other by the gray vellum that allows the muscles to slide against each other as the animal moves. Use this vellum as your road map to disassemble the quarter.

Once you have separated the major groups, slice the steaks perpendicular (across) to the grain. This is the advantage you have over a butcher. A butcher will simply stiffen the quarter in the freezer and run the whole works through the saw. It is a sure bet that over 80% of the quarter will be sawn at an angle to the grain and not perpendicular.

Your steaks will be made up of one muscle. When thawed any remaining vellum will be on the outside edge and easily removed, which you should always do. A sawn steak will be comprized of many muscles usually in small pieces all with vellum in between. This vellum is what makes the difference between gourmet and dog meat.

Take the plunge. Do it yourself! You'll throw rocks at butchered venison from then on.

(ron'z comments - i trim the silverskin (what he calls vellum) off BEFORE i cut the steaks. other than that, this looks like a good basic run-down of the process!)

TasunkaWitko - Chinook, Montana

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 October 2004 at 05:33
TasunkaWitko - Chinook, Montana

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Hmmmmmmm,.... that link looks pretty familiar!
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TasunkaWitko - Chinook, Montana

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote T.T.U. Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 October 2004 at 08:05
we process all our deer also but down here during bow season there is no hanging for more then a day. Dad thinks the processing people waste to much meat. And it is a good thing to know how to do. I have done several of my deer on my own and it actually can be fun at times.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 December 2004 at 08:41
this year my dear hung (hanged?) for exactly two weeks. i skinned her pretty easy, although skinning around the front quarters too way longer than they should ahve. this is ntohing enw for me, as they slow me down every year. this year i tried making a starting cut from the knee to the rib cage, which of course was already cut open, but i still had a rough time with it.

anyway, after crossing that hurdle, i was able to skin all the way up the neck and popped it off at the abse of the skull. i the cut off the front quarters, the loins (from the hindquarters and up the neck as far as i could) and the ribs. this left the neck, backbone and hindquarters. i sawed the neck off at the point where it begins to branch into the ribs, and will save that for my dad to ahve as a neck roast. i then sawed off the backbone right at the hindquarters for the dog, and for the first time, i tried my hand at popping the hip out and cutting the hind aquarters away. this worked well, and i will probaby keep doing it in the future.

the meat is currently in the fridge, and i will start the cutting up tonight after dinner.
TasunkaWitko - Chinook, Montana

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 December 2004 at 08:49
i forgot to mention: i tried this basic method of hanging this year and it worked well for me. the only thing i did different was to say the hell with the wood-shop project and i screwed in two big hooks (the kind made to hang bicycles) into the ceiling beam of the shed and hung from those by the exposed tendon shown in the picture. worked well.



normally in the past i would use rope, cord or wire run through slits that i had made in the same area. doing it this way allowed me to get a good start in skinning and kept everything fairly well organized. i know that many have good luck hanging head-up, but i ahve never been able to do that with any success. call it a mental block???

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote max-p Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 December 2004 at 13:51

No one has made mention of the two best pieces of meat on a deer. Relatively small but fork tender. Those two tender strips that lay up under the backbone just  in front of the hip sockets. They peel out pretty easy, clean up well, and when rolled up like a jelly roll , wrapped in bacon and cooked rare over the coals would make a vegetarian Democratic person involved with a same sex significant other go out and buy a pick up truck and a Handi rifle with a Tasco scope and apply for a hunting liscense.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CB900F Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 December 2004 at 14:35

Max;

Good one.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 December 2004 at 14:45
max -

you are, of course, correct. i grew up calling these backstraps, but since have leared that the "proper" name is apparently "tenderloins." no matter what you call them, they ARE excellent~~

i treat them the same as i do the loin on a deer, except i remove them when i hang the deer. if i don't get them immediately, then they tend to dry up and there isn't much left. the rest of the deer, i leave to hang with the hide on as described above.
TasunkaWitko - Chinook, Montana

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote max-p Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 December 2004 at 15:03

Tas,

If the rest of the deer was as wonderfull as those two little strips there'd be fewer deer running around. Aren't they just the top of wild game? How do you fix them?

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