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Meat butchering/processing tips

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by Texaszach, Oct 26, 2012.

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  1. Texaszach

    Texaszach Member

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    Hey guys

    The last few years I have paid for my deer to be processed. Id just dress them and then take them in to be ground/sliced/ made into sausage.

    Well I am done paying that kind of money when I can just do it for free.

    I have access to my Grandad's vacuum sealer and am well versed in getting the meat. I do not have a grinder at this point but would consider it if the price was low enough. I just do not have a lot of cash to spare with a baby on the way.

    My biggest dilemma is I do not have anywhere to "hang and cure" the meat. How do you guys go about this?
    I have read of people using their fridge to do it, but that would not fly with around my house...

    What is your process/method of doing this? And any helpful tips from you experienced hunters??

    AS ALWAYS, THANKS!
     
  2. Kingcreek

    Kingcreek Member

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    The meat doesn't really need to cure but it cuts a lot easier if its cold. I have put a whole 200 pound Illinois whitetail in a 128qt marine cooler with ice. Leave the drain open so it isn't sitting in water as the ice melts. Obviously, it will only fit if it is front and hind quarters and neck, back straps.
     
  3. CoRoMo

    CoRoMo Member

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    Venison does not have marbled fat like beef does. The marbled fat in beef is supposedly what causes the benefits in aging.

    This is why many will tell you that 'aging' venison does nothing whatsoever.

    If you have a garage or a spare portion of your abode, keep your eye on craigslist.com for a free working refrigerator. They are out there. You can designate it as the 'deer fridge'.
     
  4. ColtPythonElite

    ColtPythonElite Member

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    I do my grinding with a hand crank grinder that clamps to the counter.
     
  5. 25cschaefer

    25cschaefer Member

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    We have a four footed grinder that my dad set up with a 3/4hp electric motor for grinding - total cost was $60; new grinder and brushes for the salvaged motor. It will process an entire elk in less than 15 minutes.

    We do not cure our deer, elk, antelope, moose, or anything else for that matter. We are very meticulous about gutting and skinning - no hair, dirt, feces or entrails in our meat. We have had many guests that have tried venison before and did not like it but loved ours. We took an old doe to a processor once to get sausage made and the packages we got had hair and dung in them, never again.
     
  6. Rembrandt

    Rembrandt Member

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    Started with a hand crank grinder....after doing 10+ deer a season your arm will need therapy, later moved up to a 1hp electric....a dream machine.

    Grinder, vac sealer, and a freezer is all you need.
     
  7. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf member

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    If you already have a KitchenAid mixer you can get a meat grinder attachment for it.
    You can't kill those things.
     
  8. 41 Mag

    41 Mag Member

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    As mentioned look for yourself a game fridge, or freezer. I have one at our farm which is solely set up for chilling out feral hogs, or bags of ice till they are needed. I have several wire type baskets in it which are used upside down to set in hams, shoulders, and what ever else I need to chill out quickly. I don't have it turned down much past 40 degrees, but it will keep ice for at least a couple of weeks before it starts to show any sign of melting. You can look on Craigs list or shop around at some of the discount appliance centers locally to see what a good size might run you.

    As for the processing, we usually do what we can and prefer to keep things in bigger portions. We do have a small electric grinder we picked up for cheap and figured if we liked it we would get a better made one. Well that has been some 8 or more years and the cheapie is still running strong. We separate the individual muscles and either cut them into cutlets and tenderize them before packaging, or we trim out the sinue and tendons and simply grind them up. The one thing you DO want to look for and remove are the little glands you will find in and around some of the muscles. They will look like a wet raisin or a fat no legged tick. They are pretty easily seen and are in between the muscles, once you find the first one you will know what to look for. They can make that next bit of meat pretty distasteful.

    When we are making sausage or grinding up pure deer meat we usually try and stock up on some bacon ends when we can catch them on sale at the local market. THe meat is so dry that you need a little bit of something in there to help hold it together if your making burgers or meat loaf. Same with pan sausage it has to have some added fat in it due to being so lean or it will simply crumble up in small pieces. We grind the meat, then the bacon ends, and hand mix them together in a big SS bowl, adding in seasoning as we mix, then we will run it back through the grinder once more for good measure. This usually blends everything up very well and since we use a coarse cutter it also cuts the meat just a little bit finer.

    For the ribs, hams, or shoulders on a hog, we usually just trim them up and wrap them whole. When we cook them up we do the whole thing first putting them on the pit for a hour or two, then wrap them in foil toss in a pan and throw them into the oven at about 230 for 4-6 hours. They come out tender as can be and very moist. After the initial cook we take what ever is left over, and either refreeze it for a quick heat up meal later, or put it in a crock pot full of beans for another supper during the week.

    Hope this helps.
     
  9. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    http://www.academy.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product_10151_10051_233359_-1?N=903862932

    Not the same model, but similar to mine I got from Academy 8 or 10 years back. It's a nice hunter sized grinder that stuffs well, too. Came with stuffer tubes, but I had to buy the stuffer plate for it.

    NUMBER ONE, soak that deer on ice water for 2 or 3 days to get the blood out, change the water out each morning and fresh ice. I haven't had a gamey deer since I started that back 30 years ago.

    I quit taking meat for sausage at about a buck ten a pound UNsmoked. I have done my own for since I got the grinder. Well, I had a cheaper grinder before this one, too much plastic, didn't hold up. Mine's all stainless with a plastic cover on the body of it.

    I just put mine in plastic bags. My next step is the vacuum sealer. My SIL has one and it's kinda neat. :D Heck, I also use good old fashioned masking tape and freezer paper.

    Anymore, I'll take a couple of rump roasts off the hind quarters for the slow cooker, the back strap and tenderloin get saved. The rest is either ground for sausage or chili meat. I will occasionally jerk some. I eat a lot of hog. Hogs are great for the pit/smoker. Venison...not so much, too dry.
     
  10. Texan Scott

    Texan Scott Member

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    I don't cure venison. It's too lean, there's no point. Especially if grinding- NP point at all
    Take it off the bone, do what you will with it, and put it in the freezer asap
     
  11. Texaszach

    Texaszach Member

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    Thank you everyone for your responses. As always timely and very informative.
    Gotta love the high road!

    Hey MC, I see on the academy site that it comes with a 7/8" stuffing tube. Is this for stuffing sausages?

    I will probably end up doing the cooler method and water change, and luckily I already have a "garage fridge".. I just wish I had a nice deep freeze as well, but in the meantime I can use my freezer I have in the garage and a little bit of what is in the house.

    Also, assuming this vacuum sealer doesnt work as well as I am hoping... how well does the freezer paper work?

    Thank you sirs
     
  12. cheeze

    cheeze Member

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    This is what I do:

    I dress and wash the deer, a saw the spine in half longways with a sawsall while the deer is hanging. I leave the shoulder and ribcage intact but cut the hindquarters off. Put one half of the deer in an ice chest, the other in another, or all in one if you have one big enough. Fill the chests with ice and leave it for a week or so, adding ice as needed. This helps make a clean tasting non-gamy meat if the cleaning was done properly.

    Take a filet knife and some other assorted knives and sharpen them really well and sit down at your cleaning table and start cutting hunks of meat off. The natural lines of the sinews and membranes will help guide your knife. Try to filet the meat off of the silverskin when you can within reason. The whiter the silverskin is, the tougher it will be. I grind the shoulders, neck, and ribmeat and other scraps into hamburger, so make hamburger last to make use of those scraps. Pick up a cheap oster or westbend or whatever electric grinder on ebay. If you leave a lot of silverskin on (I don't even try to get rid of the silverskin in the front legs... too much work and wastes meat) then doublegrind your meat. I go to the local store that cuts their own meat for their meat dept and ask for beef fat. I like to add 20% beef fat to my deer since deer is so lean, but my wife likes me to add less. It makes the meat much better and not so dry and packy. You can make hamburgers this way and not know it's deer. They may give it to you or sell it very cheap. Mix it in well, then i like to freeze it in roughly 1 lb packs. I use either foodsavers or ziplocks. Form your 1 lb of ground meat into a football shaped ball so you can drop it into the bag without making smears on the edges where the bag needs to be clean and seal. Seal it, then mash it out flat so it can be stacked in the freezer.

    For the backstrap, cut it like you like it (butterflied, cubed, steaked) And same with the hams. I like to put up some cubed for stews and bacon wrapped venison on the grill. I also like to make butterfly steaks out of the backstrap, and the tenderloin gets kept whole. If I get enough deer, I throw some of the backstraps and hams on the slicer and make jerky.

    It's not hard to do. Once you get into it, you'll see what needs to be done. I paid for a deer once and I didn't get the amount of meat I expected, it wasn't as good, and it wasn't packaged as I would have preferred. It also cost too much, so I do it myself. I get a sense of satisfaction that way anyway... I took it from hoof to table.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2012
  13. ColtPythonElite

    ColtPythonElite Member

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    Freezer paper works fine. Ziploc bags work even better....either is much cheaper than vacuum sealing.
     
  14. Texaszach

    Texaszach Member

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    Exactly what I've been thinking.
     
  15. HOWARD J

    HOWARD J Member

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    I hunted for about 7 years with a friend--his wife--his brother-in -law & their nephew. I would call them meat hunters--they were not up there for the sport.They had lots of coolers--dry ice--grinders--gas generator & the rangers watching us like a hawk.
    I always had lots of free meat.
    I quit going with them when his wife pumped a 30/30 into him---I guess you could say that she had a very bad temper. Even tho he was full of fiberglas to hold him together--he outlived her by 6 years.-----------:uhoh::uhoh:
     
  16. Twig

    Twig Member

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    I made my grinder with a old hand grinder and a grain elevator motor works great.
     
  17. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    Yep. Mine came with several size tubes. Depends on the casing you buy as to which one you'll need. Works well, but you'll need a stuffing plate, too, and you take the blade out when using the stuffing plate.

    I have a small chest freezer that will hold 4 or 5 deer. I had a larger one, but it quit on me and I got this little one for about 150 bucks on sale. They've got 8 CF ones at Walmart for 200 now. They aren't expensive, the little ones, and they hold more'n you'd think. I usually have mine mostly full of pork. I don't need a bigger freezer. I've still got sausage I made last year. Of course, I've got it stored at a friend's and haven't eaten any in a couple of months with all this move going on. We're moving up to Rock Island, which is between Hallettsville and Eagle Lake on 90A, soon as we close. It's a HUD foreclosure and HUD is a typical federal bureaucracy, all I got to say on THAT. :rolleyes: Anyway, the house has an older fridge in it, guess these folks were living on a shoe string, used fridge and stove 20 years older than the house. We're bringing our fridge with us and I'm going to set the older one on the back porch for beer and cokes like my redneck BIL..[​IMG]...and I plan to keep tubs and milk cartons of water in the freezer for ice so I don't have to run to town to buy it when I'm soaking meat. That's the plan, anyway. :D A commercial ice maker would be nice, but probably overkill, not to mention expensive.

    It'll keep for at least a year W/O freezer burn. It's the old school way. :D A vacuum sealer is NOT a high priority for ME, put it that way, I just like how tidy the packages are when you vacuum seal 'em.
     
  18. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    Can't do that in Texas anymore. Has to be quartered in tact on ice until you get it home. You can't bone it out, grind anything in the field, only after you get it home. But, I soak the meat several days, anyway. I don't like gamey venison.
     
  19. Kingcreek

    Kingcreek Member

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    Maybe Illinois corn fed deer are different than Texas deer but I've never soaked a deer and if any of the last 50 plus deer were gamey it was only a buck or two taken during the rut.
    Vac sealers. After I wore out my first one and broke my second one, I bought a commercial grade sealer, best money I ever spent.
    Hand crank grinders are OK but a 3/4 up or bigger grinder makes the job much easier. If you get 2 or3 buddies to share the cost and the work it is well worth it.
    I like to chill my deer down overnight and cut and wrap the next day. I've probably been involved in processing 70 deer and a few pronghorn and elk. None required aging and the gamey taste has more to do with how it is handled than anything else. If you want the best tasting wild game meat just remember:
    Kill it well
    Keep it clean
    Cool it quick
     
  20. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    Most deer around this part of the state are acorn fed. I'm not sure if that's the difference, but doe, buck, no matter, I've had gamey venison until I started soaking the blood out of the meat. I field dress on the spot and get 'em on ice post haste. It also works to get the funk out of Javelina.

    Helps to have nearly frozen meat for grinding. I will often freeze the boned meat in baggies and grind at my leisure. I'll thaw until it's still partially frozen, flexible, and grind. The blade/plate seems to stay cleaner that way, don't have to pull it apart so much to get the gristle out that I missed when boning.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2012
  21. Texaszach

    Texaszach Member

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    Yeah my uncle actually does the same method with the coolers, but I think it's mostly because it's easy.. We get them quartered/backstraps and whatnot then he just tosses em in the cooler with ice.

    So anyway do you have a dedicated cooler for this? I'd rather my ice chest not smell like bloody deer everytime I open it if it is one of my "regular" coolers.

    Anyways thanks again.
    Your advice is always appreciated in my book MC
     
  22. 41 Mag

    41 Mag Member

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    With all of my coolers, no matter what was in them, before they are put away they are scrubbed with a little bit of Comet or similar powdered cleaner, then after rinsing, I spritz them down real good with a 2-1 water/bleach solution using one of the cheap hand held spray bottles. I let them sit for 5 or so minutes then rinse with the hose and set them upside down to dry.

    I use mine for everything from game to fishing bait and believe me when I say, some of the shark bait I use from time to time, will foul an ice chest up royally. Even so, the same follow up will usually take every bit of smell right out of them. Worst case I use a bit of fresh coffee grounds spread out in the bottoms after they are dry and close them up for a day or two. After the day or two I Open them up and dump the coffee out and rinse again with clean water, and allow to dry. This usually removes all odors.
     
  23. Sav .250

    Sav .250 Member

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    "Hang and cure" .........nope. Started in the late 40`s and haven`t "cured" one yet.

    "Grind all into hamburger"........ What a total waste of venison. Maybe some but all?
     
  24. dab102999

    dab102999 Member

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    As said craigs list for cheap or free fridges and freezers. Also good will or church resale places. You tube is a pretty good sorcery to show you how to process. Been doing it so long I would really have to sit downland think about myprocess from start to finish. Also depending on where you live but if you don't have room in your garage freezers or fridge will last outside also.
     
  25. Lloyd Smale

    Lloyd Smale Member

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    Ive done 62 deer so far this year so yes ive cut up a few deer in my day. If i had to pay a butcher id have to take out a lone! Best advice i can give is buy good stuff. I started with a cheap grinder and stuggled with it for years. Bought a good #32 weston and I think God had a hand in designing it, its that much better. I make alot of summer sausage, snack sticks, jerky, bratts and ham. If your going to do sausage do yourself a BIG favor and get a verticle stuffer and a meat mixing box. I can remember years ago making summer sausage. Ive got a fairly large smoker and it can easily handle 20 sticks at a time. it used to take me 6 hours for starting with bulk meat to having the sausage ready for the smoker. Now with the right equiptment i can do it in under 2 hours and im not wore out from trying to stuff meat in a grinder for a second grind. the #32 will do it about as fast as you can dump it in. I also do alot of cube steaks and when i bought this grinder i replaced my crank cuber with a unit that goes on the grinder for power. Another big time saver. Another good investment is a comercial grade vaccum packer. I burned out 3 of the foodsavers before i bought a better unit. Ill add to this that i NEVER age venison. Ageing venison is rotting venison. Nothing wrong with putting it on ice for a day or two till you get around to processing it but id never hand a deer to age. Most of my deer are cut up and in the freezer the morning after i shoot them. Ive never once had someone complain that it was gammy tasting. Most of that will come from guts and fecese not cleaned off the meat and hair left on meat or in some rare incidences the diet of the deer and you cant do anything about that.
     
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