Processing tips/tricks

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by Axis II, Nov 25, 2021.

  1. Axis II

    Axis II Member

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    Share your processing tips and tricks. My buddy has a complete setup in his garage and I thought about seeing if I threw him some money if he would allow me to cut my deer up rather than $125 for a butcher. I have only done 1 deer so very new to this. I have watched videos and some seem like rocket science and some like Stevie Wonder could do it. I mainly do backstraps and ground as I am not a fan of steaks or at least the ones I have had. I have a good boning knife, apron, saws all, table, debating on purchasing a $100 grinder.
     
  2. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Member

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    I would spend more on the grinder if you are going to grind everything other than the backstraps. Better grinders not only last longer and do the job quicker, but they also do a better job. Grind the meat semi-frozen and the grinder will cut it instead of mashing it. Think of a good grinder as an investment. I buy bulk pork butts when they are on sale and grind my own pork sausage with mine too. Processing is not rocket science and doing your own means you know exactly what you are eating.
     
  3. Cemetery21

    Cemetery21 Member

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    Maybe go in with a few guys on a very good grinder. We used to have grinder/smoker parties where maybe 8-10 guys would grind their own meat. Then, those wanting to make summer sausage would mix/regrind/stuff and smoke the amount they wanted.
    Or, I've taken frozen deboned meat to the Amish butcher way after season and had it either ground/packaged or made into summer sausage.
    Either way, you control how the meat is handled and you get your own meat (and all of it).
     
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  4. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Member

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    This, for the most part, along with the cost most dependable processors charge, is why I originally started to do my own back in the 70s. As for getting "all of it", I think this is a highly overstated misconception. I know a few butchers and this is one reason why some of them quit processing deer. Folks bring in a shot up yearling and then wonder why they only get one grocery bag of meat for the $100 fee. My issue was never with getting too little back, but getting meat back that I now throw away. Anything close to the hole, contaminated with blood or heavy with tendons gets tossed. Some folks say I toss too much, but aince I'm not starving, I only keep what I truly want to put in my mouth. This is meat many processors would be hesitant to toss because of the accusation that they "are stealing my meat!", So they cut it up and wrap it. Same comes down to grinding burger. Since they grind in huge quantities, it's not that convenient to grind each deer separate and then clean everything before they do another. They just weigh your deboned meat and then give you back that much after it's ground. Even those processors that give you your own, rarely clean the equipment between deer. Thus you meat is mixed with possible contaminants from the previous deer. Seeing how other folks handle their deer in the field and before they get it to a processor, I don't want any of that.
     
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  5. LoonWulf
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    LoonWulf Contributing Member

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    Ive got a little LEM grinder and it works fine. I would second the other guys in saying save up and buy a better one tho. The family back home has a big one they got from Cabela's (cant remember the actual make, but its decent), and doing more than 10-20lbs on that is easy where as mine is slow and tedious......and having ground most of a few cows after our cow hunting trips, ill spring for a better grinder before i do it again.

    Big grinders also stuff sausages better....tho i still prefer a sausage press.
     
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  6. .308 Norma

    .308 Norma Member

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    We run deer and elk meat through the grinder once to "start" the grind. Then the second time we run it through, we're mixing it 50/50 with the cheapest danged beef burger we can find - the stuff that comes in 5lb "chubs" works great. As far as we're concerned, mixing deer and elk burger (which is too "dry" on its own) 50/50 with cheap beef burger makes more sense than buying beef suet to mix with it because it doesn't cost any more, it does the same thing (adds the right amount of fat to the deer or elk meat) and it extends (by 50%) the amount of ground meat we get out of one venison or elk carcass.
    The other thing we do with some of the ground venison (the stuff we've already ran through the grinder the first time) is we mix it 50/50 with pork sausage and run that through the grinder a second time. We also sprinkle in some Italian seasoning and sage, and maybe a little cayenne (it's gonna be your sausage, so add whatever seasonings you like) as were running it through the grinder the second time.
    Then we set our newly made bowl of ground sausage in the fridge for a couple of days until we're all through processing the rest of the animal(s). On "frying" day, we shape the venison/pork sausage into 2oz patties, fry them up, put them on lightly oiled cookie sheets, and put the cookie sheets in the freezer overnight.
    The next day we scrape the patties off the cookie sheets and put them in gallon zip lock bags - they won't stick together because they're already frozen. 23 seconds in the microwave makes a frozen, venison sausage patty piping hot, and delicious. And if you put a hot venison sausage patty in the middle of a sourdough-buttermilk biscuit with a slice of pepper-jack cheese, and pop it back in the microwave for another 15 seconds, you'll turn your nose up to sausage biscuits from fast food joints for the rest of your life.:D
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2021
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  7. Axis II

    Axis II Member

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    I just don't trust anyone anymore. My buddy took me to a guy who does his and after watching him leave deer lay on a plywood floor with sawdust thrown down and cutting up deer with the same knife/saw, dump a 10gal tray of meat into the grinder, cut steaks on a band saw or on a wooden table and tell you come get your deer you shot at 7pm the next morning at 8am it made me wonder. The next guys place was spotless but he called me while I was at work and blocked his number so I didn't answer. I called him back and said I would be over the next day after 4pm when I left work. He got mad because he was running out of space. I asked for smokies and he said it would be a few weeks and he would call me. I got back a small 20qt cooler from a 100lb dressed doe. I figure he kept some for smokies and never heard from him. He wont answer the phone so you have to text him who you are and then he will call you.

    Just told my buddy who introduced me to the dirty butcher I don't want to use him anymore. My brother used him a few years ago and found turds in his roast.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2021
  8. Chuck R.

    Chuck R. Member

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    I agree with the better grinder....

    I've got a Cabela's basic model and it does "OK", but strains on the larger chunks. I normally cut most of mine into roasts (defined by me as any large chunk of meat that isn't backstrap). Later the roasts turn into: Jerky, stew meat, and "teriyaki venison kabobs" (Family Fav).

    Unidentifiable pieces get turned into burger.

    Friend of mine retired a couple years ago and is now into sausage making, he's also grinder challenged so maybe we can work something out.
     
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  9. Kingcreek

    Kingcreek Member

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    It’s better if you can partner up with a couple friends. Go together on cost or share equipment and processing goes faster and is more fun.
    I started out with a vacume sealer and a borrowed grinder. Later bought a good grinder with sausage stuffing attachments. Good sturdy tables the right height, big cutting boards, and dollar store dish tubs and good lighting all helps.
    I have garage with radiant floor heat, floor drains and a double utility sink. I set up one cutting table and one for grinding and vacume sealing. I make and smoke all my own sausage and jerky and I make usually 20-30 pounds of breakfast sausage.
    I lost one hunting buddy so I pal up with a younger friend that wants to help and learn and appreciates me helping him butcher his deer.
     
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  10. .308 Norma

    .308 Norma Member

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    Oh, absolutely!:) My wife, our daughter, her husband and all 3 of their sons (our grandsons) hunted. So processing venison was always a "family affair.";)
    We used to set up a regular assembly (more like a "disassembly") line in the kitchen. One person, usually me, went out to the shed and cut quarters off the carcass and carried them into the house, while one or two other people were cutting steaks, chops, roasts and "scrap" (burger) meat. Someone else was doing the grinding, while a couple of others were weighing the meat as well as wrapping it and/or running the vacuum sealer. Processing went real fast that way.:thumbup:
    Things change - sadly. Our daughter still hunts, but her first husband passed away and her new husband, good guy though he is, doesn't like wild meat. Our grandsons grew up too, don't live at home anymore, and are scattered across the country. So my wife and I are pretty much the whole "disassembly line" for processing big game meat these days. That's largely why we took our deer to a local butcher last year. And we won't do that ever again! I shot that deer right under his chin as he was standing, facing me, not over 100 yards away, and I actually saw the bullet kick up dust on the hillside behind him after it passed through his neck. Yet a couple of months later, as my wife and I were enjoying a venison stew one evening, I bit down on a fragment of a bullet jacket. There was no way that was a fragment of a bullet jacket from my bullet - which like I said, kicked up dust on the hillside behind the deer as he dropped in his tracks.o_O
    At any rate, our new son-in-law, even though he doesn't like wild meat, considers himself sort of a chef. And he makes a real good beef, prime rib roast - which he'll make for us for Christmas dinner next month. So I guess it's a pretty good trade off. My wife and I are getting too danged old for dragging dead deer out of the hills anyway.:p
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2021
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  11. Random 8

    Random 8 Member

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    If your wife has a Kitchenaid upright mixer, they make a grinder attachment that is quite effective. Doesn't produce the quantity of a commercial one, but at least as good as the $100 kind I've seen.

    I like to use disposable wood and sawhorses to set up my table. I get cheap OSB partial sheets from dumpsters on jobsites I go to, but even if you had to buy you're not into it for too much $$. I staple butcher paper on top of the sheet for a clean working surface.

    Scrap 2x10 or glue lam beam pieces make cutting boards. Those go in the woodstove when I'm done with them as they're replaceable. If one wanted to wash them, you could. Wood is naturally antiseptic. I WILL NOT use a plastic cutting board. I've seen what grows on them, and once you get little knife nicks they are nigh impossible to sanitize.

    As far as actually cutting up a deer, don't overthink it. Everything can be done with 2 knives. A saw will never touch my meat. A heavy breaking knife (I just use my field knife which is a fixed blade Mora stainless 4" blade sheath knife). Such a knife is very inexpensive. You can dedicate one to your butcher kit. A boning knife does all the rest. Deer is hung by the hind legs with a gambrel. A block and tackle or a pulley attached to rafter with a vehicle or winch to lift is most useful here. Brute strength will also do the job. Two heavy spikes into a stud in a wide V to secure your hanging rope to are a nice touch. I use the field knife to skin, then separate quarters one at a time, starting with the shoulder. You just kind of cut in the "armpit" between the rib cage and shoulder and follow the path of least resistance until it separates. With practice you will leave almost no front qtr meat on carcass. Transfer this to your work table and bone out. This is grinder meat. Repeat 2nd shoulder. Use your boning knife to filet the backstrap off the spine one side at a time. Takes some finesse. Very much like filleting the meat off a catfish if that makes any sense to you. Transfer each side to your work table and cut into chops with a slight quarter to the grain. Trim excess tallow and ick from your chops one at a time. The hind quarter is the hardest to separate. Takes a lot of finesse and practice. You will make a lot of stew meat your first few times. A video may be helpful here. Your basic line is along the pelvic bone up to the spine and femoral joint. There's a magic spot around that ball joint that when you find it with your knife tip, it pops off like magic. Transfer that to your work space. remove the lower hock at the leg joint. Once again, some probing around and practice here. This is grinder meat. If you wish to try steaks, it's rather simple. Probe the thick part of the HQ with your boning knife to find the orientation of the bone. Cut a thin starting cut along the shallow edge of the bone roughly lengthwise on the HQ. Now use this cut as a starting point to reverse filet the bone out of the quarter. Start at the skinny end, and cut around the femur and pull it out as you go. Square up the big lump of meat you have. Good tender meat here on the thick end, good stew or fajita meat. Cut with a slight quarter across the squared thick part into desired thickness steaks, Trim off any excess tallow and ick. Butt simple right? It is after 20 or so deer. You will make mistakes, and the boning knife and grinder will fix all. It is a very rewarding experience, and you will get better quality meat than the butcher will give you.
     
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  12. Hugger-4641

    Hugger-4641 Member

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    I had a real good processor who always did me right, but he retired from it a couple years ago and now I do my own. Tried another processor, took him a neck shot doe that field dressed 130 lbs and got 30lbs of meat total. I've processed enough of my own deer to know better than that. I got 35lbs of just ground from the 100lb buck I shot in ML season this year, and he lost half a shoulder.

    One of the secrets of good deer meat is, if you can, let the deer hang and dry age for a few days. Hang from rear legs, head down, this helps blood and moisture drain away from where most of the meat on a deer comes from, which is the back and hind quarters.
    Fieldress and leave the hide on if aging outside in a shed, remove hide if hanging in a cooler as skinning is a little easier when the carcass is fresh.
    A trick to easier skinning, no matter if aged or fresh: make a small hole in the hide , shove an air nozzle in and use the compressed air to "swell" the hide up like a balloon until it won't swell anymore. This separates the hide from most of the carcass and makes pulling it off easier. Of course, you want be sure you are using a good compressor that's not puking up rust and water or oil.
     
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  13. Highland Lofts

    Highland Lofts Member

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    Some good advice here.
    When I first started shooting deer fifty years ago things were really tight, my father died when I was eleven back in 69. My mom was a stay at home mom. Things changed in a hell of a hurry. He died in August, that X-mas I got a brand new Mossberg bolt action 22lr.
    22lr Wildcat ammo was 49 cents a box at the original Dicks Sporting Goods Store on Court Street in Binghamton New York..
    I shot a ton of small game and a four point buck just after I got that gun.
    To make a long story short went and got a friend to help me with that deer. His parents hung it up and cut it up for me. They took care of any deer I killed for several years.
    Once I got bigger I knew how to go about it and took care of it on my own.
    In over fifty years of shooting deer I never paid to have a deer cut up.
    At today's price of $120 a deer where they pilfer some meet from you and they mix all the meat together then cut steaks, roast, stew meat and hamburger weigh it out and you get sub-quality meat back.

    Processing a deer isn't rocket science, gut it out as soon as possible. Don't drag it threw dirt & mud.
    Buy a gamble from Harbor Freight and put up a 2x8 to hang your deer from.
    Skin it off as soon as possible.
    It is a beach to skin when they get cold.
    We hang them hind quarters up and get them high enough to work comfortably on them.i take a month off work to hunt with my older brother.we generally have twelve tags between using can take a butt load of deer and we process them all ourselves.
    It won't take you long to figure it out, one word of advice is a couple of sharp knives, a plastic fold up table to work on, a meat grinder ( I started out with a knock off Kitchen Aid with a meat grander attachment)
    A vacuum sealer and a black sharpie to write down what you packaged and the date when packaged it.
    Just remember you don't need butcher quality meat when you start out, you will be cutting it up after it is cooked to eat it any way even if you cubed all up it will eat the same.
    And cut all the fat off and as much sinew as possible
    we have a good quality meat slicer,a good Gander Mountain meet grinder, a good quality vacuum sealer and good quality knives to get the job done, but it all started as a young 11 year old boy back in 1969 when my father died.

    I enjoy cutting the deer up just as much as taking it. Our meat pole only holds three deer so we need to get them processed when it gets full before we can shoot more.
    We just finished processing a deer tonight so we can go shoot another tomorrow or Saturday.


    We start by taking a front leg off
     
  14. Highland Lofts

    Highland Lofts Member

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    Also go to wally world and buy a cheap food dehydrator to make venison jerky. We have two of them and they will be running every day for the next two weeks.
    Everybody loves JERKY.
     
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  15. FL-NC

    FL-NC Member

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    As far as options with the meat and recipes, there are more than you can shake a stick at, and youtube is definitely your friend. We are seldom (if ever) able to hang deer even overnight, let alone during a daytime period due to outside temps in Fl, so deer are immediately quartered and put on ice for at least overnight to bleed out. Yes, some of the meat gets "burned" and needs to be discarded, but that is the nature of the business. Regarding equipment, my MVP pieces of equipment are: 1- a large restaurant- style cutting board 2- MY (off limits to Mrs. Fl-NC) set of Cold Steel kitchen knives, 3- vacuum sealer and bags 4- Hamilton Beach dehydrator. I put the cutting board on the kitchen sink as my workspace (from where the big screen TV in the living room is fully visible), and I use several casserole dishes to drop the meat in as a process- 1 for steaks, 1 for backstrap fillets, 1 for diced up stew and soup meat, 1 for jerky, etc. Mrs. FL-NC is part of the assembly line- she portions the meat into meal-for-2 size bags, and seals and marks them with a sharpy marker for inventory/rotational purposes, for example: 26 Nov 2021/backstrap filets. Once portioned/sealed/marked they are then placed in the big freezer in the garage. Jerky is usually identified and set aside for marination and dehydration during the initial processing, along with tenderloins- which are prepped for breakfast for the day after the deer is killed and set in the fridge overnight. I insure ALL fat and silver skin is removed. All trash and discards (minus the hide and digestive tract) is placed in empty feed bags and donated to the local zoo for the big cats.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2021
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  16. Seedy Character

    Seedy Character Member

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    Lots of good advice, already.

    As the OP said, "only do backstraps and grind everything else. Neighbor has a complete set up."

    I am assuming, you know how to skin and remove back strap.

    Ask neighbor to help or buy a decent grinder.

    Deer is hanging and skinned
    Remove backstraps
    REMOVE MEAT FROM BONE -you aren't worried about steaks or cuts. Just slice off chunks. Remove excess fat, sinew or tendons. Put in grinder bowl.

    If you want burger - grind
    Sausage, add CHEAP pork cuts, get butts on sale, add seasonings - grind. ( most will say 50/50 mix on venison/ pork, I prefer 80/20. 100# doe yields ~45-50# and a 5# butt )

    Wife prefer cooking with venison burger. 1st deer we get us 100% burger. Deboning is fast is easy.



    Neighbor has a complete set up
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2021
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  17. entropy

    entropy Member

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    .......sentence. ;) Darn phones! Despite the ribbing, yours is very good advice.

    My first deer was 'professionally' processed, and the returned meat (as several of you have experienced) was not only my own; someone else also got part of mine that was gutted immediately after I verified it was dead, cooled fast, only hung overnight, and brought to the butcher shop, one famous for doing venison. I'm not a fan of 'ageing' venison; it improves beef to hang as long as some hang their venison because of the marbled fat, but hanging venison that still has the tallow attached ruins the taste, in my opinion. I've done my own since then.

    My secret these days to getting good venison? Have my son do it. He processes meat for a living.
     
  18. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Member

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    While those of us in the Northern Latitudes may have the proper temps to properly hang a skun carcass for a week, without the aid of a walk-in cooler,many times during early bow season and sometimes during the gun deer season we do not. Most folks down South do not have this at all. So, without a walk-in cooler, or the correct ambient temperatures to keep the meat at the proper temps, instead of ageing your venison and making it more tender, you will actually "sour" the meat because of the bacterial action due to moisture and contact with the air. I believe this is a major contributor to what many folks refer to as the "gamey" taste of venison. Thin pieces of meat like ribs, flank and lower legs can sour very quickly when exposed to warm temps, even before the deer is skun. During warm temps this can happen within the matter of hours it takes to get the deer out of the field and transported. Transporting and/or hanging an unskun deer exposed to the wind and/or sun, because of how their hair works, can accelerate the "souring". This is why handling in the field is as important to good venison as the processing.

    I too do not like the taste of venison tallow and this is again why I process my own. As I said, anything I do not want to put in my mouth gets tossed. This is why I remove as much tallow as possible before and during the butchering process. Thankfully game animals tallow is not present withing the major muscle structure, but on the outside, so it is relatively easy to remove. If the tallow is not removed before butchering, it can be transported to the interior of the meat when cutting it. This is the issue I have with processors that use band saws to cut steaks and roasts. Not only is the tallow spread across the surface of the cut meat, but so is any marrow picked up on the blade when cutting thru bone. While the marrow, like the tallow can be nutritious, it tastes terrible. Venison tallow also has a lower melting point than beef, thus it will "skin" over or turn solid many times while the meat is still luke warm. I also remove any dried meat/membrane on the outside of the carcass, before processing to remove it, because it too is likely to be soured, even in the proper temps and like the tallow, it can be transported to the surface of cut meat from the knife. Removing this, especially if the skun animal has been hung in a shed/garage, removes any other contamination that may have been deposited on the carcass by the air......like dust and fly poop. I don't like eatin' that either. One also should wear rubber gloves and change them frequently when they are handling the meat to keep from contaminating the meat with what accumulates on them during the process. Washing your hands frequently if not wearing gloves will do the same thing. I also wash my cutting boards frequently to remove the blood/tallow and other residue that accumulates on them. It doesn't take much of something to taint the flavor of meat......so make sure you rinse all the soap off. Again, when I butcher my deer I am after quality, not quantity. Any meat that does not appeal to me gets thrown. Could be because it has dried out or is contaminated with blood. Same goes for meat exposed to body fluids during the field dressing procedures. One can touch the glands or rupture the bladder/intestines/stomach, or they could have been damaged by the shot. This is another good reason to remove all of the "rind" from the outside of the meat before cutting it up. While it takes some knowledge of muscle to cut steaks and roasts properly, getting it ready for burger just means getting it off the bone.
     
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  19. Hugger-4641

    Hugger-4641 Member

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    As long as temps stay below 40F, aging does improve the flavor and tenderness. The "gamey" taste that some refer to can be from spoiled meat that wasn't cleaned or dressed properly and mature bucks in middle of hard rut are especially prone to a "gamey" taste if not dressed cleanly and quickly. As long as this is done right, aging helps. If this is not done right,, the tallow does absorb bad flavors. If temps are too warm for hanging to age, then I quarter and place in a large cooler overnite with salt brine or Apple cider vinegar solution.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2021
  20. EMC45

    EMC45 Member

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    When I hunted (it's been a few years since I've been) I did all my processing. Long fiber meat got turned into jerky. Backstraps got frozen and grilled later on. All the rest was ground up and made into tacos/burgers/marinara meat sauce.

    I have a hand crank grinder I clamped to the table and ground a bunch and my father felt bad for me and got me a LEM electric I think it is.

    I heard too many bad stories about the processors near me when I lived in GA.
     
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  21. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Member

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    ^^^For years, my grinder was a large (#12) hand crank grinder than was intended to be bolted to the table. I fastened it to a large butcher block to make it more portable and usable in the kitchen(where I process my deer). As time went on, I modified it so that I could remove the handle and attack a variable speed 1/2" drill to it. Still have it and lend it out to folks instead of my good electric grinder I have now(LEM #12). It would produce ground venison that rivals what the LEM does.
     
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  22. EMC45

    EMC45 Member

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    Totally. My hand crank worked just fine. I got it at a yard sale for 5 bucks and checked the plates and it was good to go so I went after it with it. My dad got me the electric, and I will say it does a quicker job. I also ground up all the sinew and silver skin for my brother's dogs and it went quick.
     
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  23. Grumpy_old_Fart

    Grumpy_old_Fart Member

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    I bone mine out. I follow the muscles and separate each large muscle on the hams, those are easily made into steak. Front shoulders are good for roasts, flank steak for jerky, neck for carne asada or fajitas or stew. Backstrap, is....well, steaks. Hocks, rib meat make burger.

    To separate muscle, follow the white lines. Easy peasy
     
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