I have been processing my own deer for many years. I’m choosey about the deer I shoot, so it’s important to monitor my venison from field to table.
When hunting, I seldom target big bucks. I have passed shots on some huge antlered bucks to drop a doe in the lead on the trail. I’m a meat hunter. I want the young, tender, great-tasting deer and I skin them, hang them and butcher them I know that what I shot ends up on my table.
Other hunters quiz me on the steps to process a deer. I have had hunters who rely on locker plants offer to help me with my animals so they can learn that process. I’m always willing to assist because having some extra bodies around when cutting the meat off the bone accelerates the process. Then there are years when it is just me and that carcass, and the process is completely different.
When I have help processing a deer I split it up. I remove the back straps with a fillet knife while the deer is hanging and then quarter the animal. The front quarters are mostly meat we grind so we put one person on the fronts and have him trim the meat from those parts.
The hindquarters have some nice cuts so I work on those to make sure I end up with some great roasts, steaks and stew meat. The tenderloins never make it to the vacuum packer because when there are a few people working on a deer you always fire up the charcoal grill and the first pieces that hit it when the coals are hot are the tenderloins.
Get one guy trimming, one guy boning, and one guy vacuum packing and you can process a deer in 90 minutes without rushing.
By yourself the best way to process a deer is to fillet it out while it is laying on a table. There is an excellent video that shows this step-by-step. The video is called Care and Processing of Venison by Bill Hesselgrave, and it takes the hunter all the way from skinning to bagging. If you plan to butcher your deer by yourself, this is the very best way.
The process has you filleting the deer starting at the rear, moving to the front, then meeting in the middle. Once you butcher a deer like this you will be hooked on the method.
Check out www.hessvideo.com to find the video I just mentioned. There are others regarding knife sharpening, sausage making and fish cleaning. Bill’s sausage processing is outstanding.
So don’t hesitate to butcher your deer on your own, whether you have someone to help or not. It is quite satisfying to see a big pile of processed deer vacuum packed on the table and know your labor produced it – from trigger pull to freezer.