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butchering deer (or antelope)

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Topic: butchering deer (or antelope)
Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Subject: butchering deer (or antelope)
Date 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

Helfen, Wehren, Heilen
Die Wahrheit wird euch frei machen



Replies:
Posted By: The_Mountaineer
Date 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! 


Posted By: CB900F
Date 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.

900F



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Birth certificate!? He don't need no steenkink birth certificate!!


Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date 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

Helfen, Wehren, Heilen
Die Wahrheit wird euch frei machen


Posted By: Spot shooter
Date 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).

Spot



Posted By: Triggerguard
Date 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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"...A moral compass needs a butt end.Whatever direction France is pointing-towards collaboration with Nazis, accomodation with communists,...we can go the other way with a quiet conscience"-O'Rourke


Posted By: Spot shooter
Date 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.

Spot



Posted By: dakotasin
Date 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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Hunting is not a matter of life or death; it is much more important than that.


Posted By: Spot shooter
Date 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.

spot



Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date 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!)



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TasunkaWitko - Chinook, Montana

Helfen, Wehren, Heilen
Die Wahrheit wird euch frei machen


Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 05 October 2004 at 05:33

awesome link -

http://www.askthemeatman.com/deer_processing.htm - http://www.askthemeatman.com/deer_processing.htm



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TasunkaWitko - Chinook, Montana

Helfen, Wehren, Heilen
Die Wahrheit wird euch frei machen


Posted By: 7mm Magnum
Date Posted: 05 October 2004 at 07:38
Hmmmmmmm,.... that link looks pretty familiar!

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Shoot Straight & Stay Safe!
Terry A. Webster

Life Member NAHC
Life Member NAFC
Life Member NRA
Mich. Steelheaders
RMEF Supporting Member
SCI
Veteran US Army 70-72 SGT 1Bn 327th Inf Div



Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 05 October 2004 at 07:40


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TasunkaWitko - Chinook, Montana

Helfen, Wehren, Heilen
Die Wahrheit wird euch frei machen


Posted By: T.T.U.
Date 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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The good life!!!!


Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date 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.

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TasunkaWitko - Chinook, Montana

Helfen, Wehren, Heilen
Die Wahrheit wird euch frei machen


Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date 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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TasunkaWitko - Chinook, Montana

Helfen, Wehren, Heilen
Die Wahrheit wird euch frei machen


Posted By: max-p
Date 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.

max.



Posted By: CB900F
Date Posted: 04 December 2004 at 14:35

Max;

Good one.

 900F



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Birth certificate!? He don't need no steenkink birth certificate!!


Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date 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.

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TasunkaWitko - Chinook, Montana

Helfen, Wehren, Heilen
Die Wahrheit wird euch frei machen


Posted By: max-p
Date 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?

max



Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 05 December 2004 at 03:49
max -

i've read many different ways to prepare them, roasted whole and otherwise. so far, i've tried none of these, mostly because i never have the time, the ingredients and the tenderloins all at the same time in order to experiment!

what i generally do is slice them across the grain into thin medallions, splash them with a little soy sauce and a few other seasonings lying around, dust them in flour and saute them in butter and onion. served with mashed potatoes and pan gravy, these are especially nice on a grey night with snow falling outside the window.....

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TasunkaWitko - Chinook, Montana

Helfen, Wehren, Heilen
Die Wahrheit wird euch frei machen


Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 05 December 2004 at 18:09
today was my first experience with a vacuum sealer, and i gotta say that once i learned the voodoo involved, i really started to like this thing!

it is going to be hard to abandond my freezer-strength ziplocks and white butcher paper, but considering that this does the job of both, plus a better job of squeezing out the air than i ever can, i'll find a way to cope.

the one we have is the http://www.rivalproducts.com/support_files/vs110.aspx - VS110 seal-a-meal from rival .

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TasunkaWitko - Chinook, Montana

Helfen, Wehren, Heilen
Die Wahrheit wird euch frei machen


Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 13 October 2010 at 10:08
forgot to mention that since i last posted this, i've begin popping the hindquarters out as described in the diagram, rather than sawing them in half. this works very well and i am glad that i tried it!

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TasunkaWitko - Chinook, Montana

Helfen, Wehren, Heilen
Die Wahrheit wird euch frei machen


Posted By: Guests
Date Posted: 13 October 2010 at 12:36

If the weather is warm I pack ice bags inside and get it to the local deer processor.  We have a lot of them within 15 miles of my hoouse.  The one I take it to does 1600-200 deer a year, so it is a real setup and super clean.

If cooler and we have 3+ guys we meet at my bro house and group dress it.  his garage is set up neat, but it is still tiring to do it right.

My wife does the tenderloins and back straps by slicing them lengthwise , stuffing it with lobster, and tie it shut.  Then broil with white wine and lemon sauce.



Posted By: Guests
Date Posted: 13 October 2010 at 12:37
I should have mentioned, I had vension Romano tonight.  tender and delicious.


Posted By: deaddog
Date Posted: 13 October 2010 at 16:42

Bear, I'd like the recipie for that lobster stuffed loin. Sounds real tasty!

 

DD



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Endeavor to persevere.


Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 07 December 2011 at 05:20

i can't imagine anything easier than this:

simply drill a hole:

screw in a hook:

hoist her up:

and hook her on....

...repeat for other leg.



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TasunkaWitko - Chinook, Montana

Helfen, Wehren, Heilen
Die Wahrheit wird euch frei machen


Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 07 December 2011 at 05:23
Originally posted by max-p max-p wrote:

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.

max.

 

here we go ~

we miss you, max ~



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TasunkaWitko - Chinook, Montana

Helfen, Wehren, Heilen
Die Wahrheit wird euch frei machen


Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 07 December 2011 at 06:19

i've said it before and i will say it again:

remove ANYTHING that isn't meat, and you will be ok.

that is the NUMBER ONE rule as far as i am concerned. our steaks and roasts have everything removed: bones, fat, silverskin, membrane etc. - it all goes to the dog. i even take down individual roasts in order to get strips of silverskins that (over the years) i have learned are inside. anything that goes into the freezer labeled roast, steak or cubes will be meat only.

when it comes to burger, sausage and jerky trimmings, i relax a little bit, but not much and ONLY where some of the thinner, clear membranes between muscles are concerned, since it would be a shame to waste that meat. this is because there is plenty of meat that is great for these purposes, and the very light-textured membranes i am referring to either melt away in cooking (collagen) or dry on jerky. by membranes i don't mean silverskin, which is whiter in colour and much heavier in nature/texture - that STILL comes off of everything.

also, my oldest son likes to keep the hocks/shanks whole for smoking or braising with beans or something. other than that, if it ain't meat, it's gone.

my kids hate how "anal" i am about that, but regardless, i make damn sure they leran to do it that way. the meat is a lot better for it and it shows in the finished meal that is prepared from such meat.



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TasunkaWitko - Chinook, Montana

Helfen, Wehren, Heilen
Die Wahrheit wird euch frei machen


Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 29 November 2015 at 17:58
I've shot, butchered and eaten deer since 1983, and I've had the opportunity to try venison almost every way, ranging from butchered the same day that it was shot (not by choice), to hanging from November until March (also not by choice). In between, I've let them hang 5 days, a week, 10 days, two weeks, three weeks and as long as a month. The deciding factor, in all cases, was the intersection of temperature with available time, so my experiences apply to my specific area only, or areas that are like my area. In most cases, the deer were mule deer (muley) does, although there were also some mature bucks and a couple of yearlings. In at least two cases the deer were superannuated. There were also several whitetails of both sexes. In all cases, the deer ate on some farmed grains (wheat and barley), as well as alfalfa and whatever grass or sage they could browse. These were not only my own deer, but also deer that had been shot by my father and by my sons. My conclusions are that both hanging and aging contribute to better tenderness and flavour, within reason.

Obviously, the extremes (same day and 4 months) are not at all recommended. In the "same-day" case, it was a yearling whitetail. The meat was ragged, tough, and had an unpleasant taste that reminded me of metallic, rotten milk. This deer (closely followed by one that I had a processor do) stands as my absolute worst venison of all time, when the age and species should have put it in the top 5. In the 4-month case, it was due to the fact that it was frozen solid in sub-zero temperatures for the vast majority of that time. The meat from that deer (a mature muley buck) was actually quite good and quite tender, but there was an "outer layer" of 1/4-inch on some exposed parts that was no good. This was my dad's deer, and I wasn't too happy about it going so long, but the meat underneath WAS just fine. I include this example because it demonstrates that even when the situation goes way out control, you can salvage it, if you pay attention to details.

If memory serves, a University of Wyoming study found that hanging and aging deer for 10 days at 40 degrees is optimum, and my experience would be about the same, although an extra week or so has never hurt anything. The vast majority of deer were butchered and in the freezer within a month, with most butchering being started at 2 weeks, although once again, starting at 3 weeks hasn't hurt anything. Venison has always been more flavourful and certainly more tender in the two-week range; after 3 weeks, the meat is starting to get "too tender" (for lack of a better term), but has never been mushy. Another benefit of hanging is that when hanging, the weight of the deer causes a slight stretching that contributes to tenderness. In all cases, I would not describe the taste as gamey. To put it more simply: my wife complains about the taste of venison if it is butchered inside of 10 days, but not if it hangs 10 days to 3 weeks - she seems to enjoy those. As for those hanging longer, she has not expressed an opinion one way or the other, but I hadn't yet met her when the 4-month hang happened.

Very important: Respect the meat! A calm, 1-shot kill is important. Quick field-dressing is a given; removing of the entire windpipe as well as propping open the chest cavity are vital. We also usually rinse the body cavity right away with cold water, since we almost always stop by at my dad's place after hunting and he has a spigot/hose right there. I leave the hide on until it is time to butcher; the reason for this is because in a very short time, it is going to be cold anyway (night) and because the hide keeps the meat from drying out while hanging and aging. But depending on location/climate, this might not be feasible. I contend that hanging and adequate aging (when possible) are just two small steps in an entire chain of events that leads to good meat. Above all, when butchering, do it right! Remove ALL fat, silverskin, membrane etc. before packaging and especially before eating. These are the primary cause of gamey flavour. Go boneless with your cuts - and my advice is to also avoid the bone saw. It can be done, and leads to better quality, in my opinion. Cuts with bones, bone chips and bone dust are not necessary. Just because you are used to seeing pork chops with an attached rib or round steaks with a ring of bone, doesn't mean that this is good for venison. The fats, connective tissues etc. are not the same.

Once again, I repeat for emphasis: my area/region/climate is friendly toward this practice; yours might not be. Temperatures at night are in the 20s or lower, temperatures in the day are rarely over 40 - or, if they are, it is not for any significant length of time and the carcass stays very well-chilled. If I were much farther south, I wouldn't hang nearly as long - but I would still hang, whenever feasible. The same University of Wyoming study outlines definite benefits to hanging, with added benefits to aging, so I do both, because I can. Your situation might be different, but if you are in the far north and have regularly-cold temperatures, there should be no issues as long as you are aware of what's going on.

Since 1983, I've never had gamey-tasting meat, because I took care of it. I've had flavourful meat and tender meat to varying degrees, but the meat that made it to the plate has never been gamey or rotten. The deer we shot two weeks ago was frozen solid at 10 days, so it probably won't get done until next weekend after a couple of days in the 30s and 40s, but I have 100% confidence that she will be quite fine. She was a mature doe who went down with one shot as she was eating alfalfa and winter wheat sprouts, and she will be very well-trimmed when she is butchered. Those are the main factors, but the fact that she spent time aging and hanging will push her from "very good" to "absolutely delicious."

I don't know everything, but I do know venison. I say all of this with confidence because I've gone from one extreme to the other under varying circumstances and have pretty-well wrung out most of the scenarios. If 30+ years of real-life experience are worth anything, then I hope someone gets some benefit from this.

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TasunkaWitko - Chinook, Montana

Helfen, Wehren, Heilen
Die Wahrheit wird euch frei machen



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