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Discussion in 'Deer Hunting' started by Wally, Oct 30, 2009.
Anyone out there with good advice on field dressing and butchering a deer??
Thanks in advance!!
I just posted a little on another thread. I worked in meat processing plants for years, working side by side with USDA meat inspectors. The best advice I can give anyone is to always "age" your deer. That means hanging it in a cool place for at least 3 days, 5-6 days for a bigger one. That allows the enzymes to break down the fiber in the meat and makes it much more tender. For years, I used an old refrigerator for cooling and aging. I would quarter them up and put the parts in there. Now I have a shed to put them in. If it gets over 50 degrees, I ice them down and wrap them in plastic.
Some people de-bone the whole deer and can the meat. I like my steaks and roasts, so I butcher them just like a cow. (I'll take a couple a year and grind the whole thing for burger meat, chilli, and pasta sauce.) I use the front quarters for stew meat, deboning it and freezing it in 2#-3# bags. I take the hind quarters and put them in the freezer until they are ALMOST frozen. It makes it much easier to cut a good steak out of them with a meat saw. (A hack saw with a large pitch works well, also. Cut the steaks at 90 degrees to the bone. I cut the tenderloin into chops by cutting through the back bone about every 1 1/2" to 2" after everything has been cut off the carcass.
I hope this gives you a little help.
Never owned a meat saw or bone saw and see no reaseon to freeze bone and bone dust with your meat. Lay the hind quarter on the bench, cut to bone along the length and cut the bone out. Throw it away, saves freezer space. The muscles pull apart and then you have great roasts or slice them across the grain for some great tasteing steaks.
Walter; When you down your deer, cut the scent glands off the inside of the hind legs and put them in a zip lock bag. The next time you hunt use them to cover your scent. Then use a separate knife to cut a small incision just below the chest cavity. Carefully cut down to the pelvis making sure you don't cut the intestines. Pull out the intestines, cutting the small intestine as close to the pelvis as possible. Before cutting, "milk" the fecal matter forward so when you make the cut none will get on you or the animal. I have seen some guys wrap a rubber band around the small intestine in the pelvis to help keep it closed. Pull out the intestines, cut the diaphragm, reach in the chest and cut as far forward as you can to remove the heart and lungs. If you are not mounting the animal you can go just left or right of the sternum and slice the rib cage open, making the job much easier. One thing I want you to do is as soon as your deer is hanging take the tenderloins out. They are a small strip of meat on the inside of the body cavity where the kidneys were located. I just push my fingers behind the tenderloin and pull it loose and cut each end free. Do not leave it in the carcass, if it dries up it's just not the same. They are small but your tongue will beat your brains out trying to get to them after you have sliced, rolled them in flour and fried slowly in butter. When I work up the animal I leave it hanging by the head. As Flathead Willie suggested I agree that they should be aged at least 4-5 days. Be sure to saw or chop open the pelvis to remove the rest of the small intestine and to help the blood drain. I prop open the chest to help air circulate freely. When I have killed a late season deer I have let them hang as long as a month if the weather is not getting much above freezing. Once they are cold it takes a lot of heat to bother them. A deer will not spoil as quickly as domesticated animals because of the lack of marbling in the meat. I leave the carcass hanging to process. I cut one hind leg off at a time and separate each of the muscle groups, cutting them from the bone and laying them aside. I next lower the animal to where I can take out the loin which lays along side the back bone from the front legs to the pelvis. This is what is known as the "backstrap" and is a choice piece on the deer. I next do the front legs. When all this has been boned I start on the remaining carcass. I cut as much of the meat as practical, even cutting the meat between the ribs. All this and most of the meat on the front legs are best used to process for either burger, jerky or summer sausage. I take the large muscle groups and slice them across the grain and run them through a tenderizer, some folks prefer to use them with out doing this though. I thow all the trimmings in with the meat to be processed. A deer carcass is just like a rabbit, just a lot bigger. By processing them yourself you have the satisfaction of knowing that you get the meat you harvested. Some, less the honest,processors don't really keep track of who's deer goes where. Plus! You save a lot of money that can go on fishing tackle or new hunting equipment. If you have any questions just PM me and I will try to help you out. whiteriver Good Luck!
Every year I process 6 to 8 deer. I do all my own butcher work. Being I dont have a meat saw and am to cheap to buy one. I use my old electric fillet knife same one I clean fish with to cut steaks. I also found putting the meat in the freezer for 30 min super chills it and makes it cut better. I also if I want deer ribs use a elec zaw-saw and use the same to take off the lower legs @ the joint in 2 seconds. A genenral metal-woodcutting blade 6 inchs long is perfect. I also like to hang my deer 2 to 5 days gutted rinsed but hide on weather temp permiting. As long as it dont get above 60 I am fine. If you hang a deer do so where it is out of the sun as being it will heat the carcass up and can spoil some of the meat. Ya know if ya hung a deer and aged it right cause the meat has a slight sheen to it as you cut it and a nice dark red color.
Find someone who knows how to feild dress a deer to show you how to do it right and what precations you have to take dressing a buck verses a doe. 90% of the qaulity of venison is determaned by proper feild dressing.
spliting the pevis is not the best Idea in intial feild dressing its a easy way to pop the anal tube or in some cases the bladder. With practice and someone to show you you can remove the anal vent with a sharp knife and tie off with a lil trot line string. Then when you gut a gentel tug pops the whole anal canal out back into the body cavity with the rest of guts being pulled out and it comes out clean no fuss no deer poo on meat. Be very carfule of the bladder and dont pop it it tends to come out with the anal tube to. With bucks first thing grab his pee tube and ( how best to say this) milk it like a cows udder a few times to clear it of urin. Then cut it back to where it goes into his body and tie it off into a knot to prevent further urin leakage. after the deer is gutted and home then split the pevic bone but truth be told you dont even need to and I havent for years. Also feild dress a deer within 30 min to a hr of being shot. Carry 5 gallons of clean water with you just in case you busted a gut or get urin or feces on your hands dressing one. Some use surgical gloves and change if the get soild by the above. In case of busted guts field dress as fast as posible and get the body cavity rinsed out fast and give it a good hose down as soon as you get home and get it hung.
There's not much left to add to these post follow them close and you should be just fine and have some good venison:wink: great advise guys. reps to ya.:wink:
Time is a huge factor in all of this. And when hunting meat, setting up in advance with time in mind can be a huge payoff at the table.
When you make a kill, get to the deer asap and get it to a place where you can work it up. Hang it by the back legs. Make a circle around the tarsal glands on the rear legs of a buck and try not to even touch them ! and make a cut in the hide along the inside of the legs that joins in the center. Now split the hide up across the chest and do the same for the front legs and continue the split up the neck. Peel the hide from the back legs and carefully cut it from around the anal opening and remove sex organs etc. Once the hide is back to the tail reach under and slice between the bones.
Place a rock under the hide and tie a rope around it. Tie the other end to a 4 wheeler or hitch on your truck and pull the hide till its over the head.
Now. You have a deer with the guts still in it and no hide. Spread the front legs and slip a knife between a leg and the ribs and follow it up till you have the leg free from the body. LOts of people have good ways to cut the lower leg from the hams and shoulders but nothing works better or faster than a big heavy pair of pruning shears. THe ones with the curved jaw and blade that will cut a 2 inch limb.
Now the shoulder goes into a clean plastic bag ( assuming that your doing this in the woods and not home ) Now do the same for the second shoulder and then turn the deer and remove the back straps. taking your time and following the bones. Place those in bags also. Now remove whats left on the neck.
Now you need to lower the deer and from here you can go one of two ways. Either remove the meat from the hams where it hangs or cut around them and into the hip joint. If your going to take out bone and all remember that the rest of the body is going to fall if hanging from a single tree etc.
Once the hams are removed you now have a choice. You have a suitcase full of guts still fully self contained. There are the two tenderloin muscles under all those guts and what little meat is between the ribs. I myself have never had use for the heart and liver or the ribs so unless I really really want the tenderloins I don't open the body. But the whole deal from the shot to where we're standing now took less than an hour.
If you had to blood trail your deer etc and an hour or more has passed, it would likely be best to go ahead and field dress it. Its all about time.
Thaanks for the post Marty. A different approach. Always field dressed mine first. May have to try this. Reps to ya.
I like that Marty. Gonna give that a try, clean simple and straightforward.
I personally don't use the neck or chest and I could care less for the tenderloin with all the mess involved. I bone all my deer when processing and this makes it practically done by the time you hit the cutting table with it.
I have used the pruners (Loppers) on the legs and they work slick.
I save the liver and hearts for fish bait. It can be very productive at time for channels and blues.
BTW, I forgot to add. If you have a nose like mine, venison has a scent all to its self. Place the meat as other said before in a refridg and let it age. You will know its right when it smells like a piece of good beef.
Check out youtube and type in "how to butcher a deer at home" There are several videos from beginning to end. It is posted by willies country meats. Willie shows you all of the ends and outs, and you will save meat you didnt even know you were throwing away. These videos helped me alot, and I hope it does the same for you!
Also make sure the video is of a gentleman wearing a red apron with glasses, and the date is Sep 1 2008. That will be the right set of videos.
I saved the liver a few years ago thinking it would be great catfish bait. I didn't get a single bite on it in three outings! Not even a turtle! I was very surprised. People around here swear by ground hog liver.
Field dressing is best learned with hands on or last resort a video. A good knife(guthook for me), 10' of good rope and several pair of disposable gloves will get you started. Rope is good for dragging and also to tie up a leg or two to help field dressing, espescialy if your alone. We do alot of deer every year. As a tradition we cut the tarsal glands off but most times its best to leave them alone. We dont split the pelvis ever and its discarded with the rest of the offal/bones when we're done butchering. DO try and remove all "guts", tissue's etc inside the body cavity before transporting. We dont cut the legs off either as they make good handles for moving the carcass and when butchering. Front legs of a deer are connected to the body by tendons/muscle. As was said before the inside tenders/tenderloin is excellent eating. They are usually about 2" wide and 1' long, makes great deer camp supper, they sit along the inside of the cavity along the spine. I love deer liver and heart, with CWD We've been leery of saving any but started again this year. Liver is best cut a little thinner then beef or pork liver. Washed and floured dropped into medium heat oil, just before its done drop in 2 or 3 handfuls of sliced onions. Along with fried taters you'll keep every one. Heart is good cleaned up with all the tough tissue removed. Heart sits in a sack that is easily removed. Easiest way to cook it is to slice it across/sideways and flour and fry, looks like onion rings cut that way but man its good. When processing this is the steps we take. Assuming the deer is skinned and hung up by the back legs. We cut off the tenderloins, front legs, trim up neck, briskit, ribs and back until theres no meat left front of the back legs. We remove one back leg at a time and slice along the inside down to the bone and "roll" the meat off of it and seperate each muslce group. We no longer cut individual steaks until the meat is thawed and we're cooking it. We thaw the muscles out, cut our steaks and then keep a ice cream bucket in the freezer for scraps off of each muscle group as steaks are cut. Once or twice a year we grind all of the "leftovers"/scrap for burger. You save alot of money by butchering yourself, good knife or two and a whetstone/sharpener is about all the equipment you need initialy. Electric grinder is a heaven send if you do more then 1 or 2 deer a year. Ive got a mid size LEM and I know its done over 200 deer with nothing but a good cleaning before putting it up. Pm or email me if I can a be a help.