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To butcher or not to butcher? that is the question?

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To butcher or not to butcher? that is the question?

Old 10-21-2017, 10:49 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Norther IL, but want to leave
Posts: 38
Default To butcher or not to butcher? that is the question?

There is just so much crap to bring to deer camp so I can butcher deer. I'm torn weather it's worth all the time and effort?
A propane lantern (that you know I'm going to break)
Knives (that will walk off during the week)
coolers with frozen jugs (so I have no space in my car)
Trash cans and bags, (who dose'nt love, leaky, bloody trash bags)
IDK is it worth all this hassle to save $90 (minimum charge per deer), OR have it professional butchered? The butcher does a really nice job. It's not uncommon for my deer camp to shoot 10 deer, that's like a $1000 in butchering costs. IDK?
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Old 10-22-2017, 05:20 AM
Giant Nontypical
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 9,227

Yes. You don't need a bunch of fancy gear to butcher. Everything I shoot is butchered by me. If you have a box of 2 1/2 gallon ziploc bags, a black marker and a flat surface you can butcher a deer in the field. You also don't need a bunch if fancy knives. I use the same knife I field dress with to butcher. Since it is a Havalon all I do is switch out the blade which takes maybe 5 seconds to do.

I bone out the hind qtrs into roasts, which I can later cut into steaks, and put a boned qtr into a ziploc bag and toss the trimming into a separate bag. Repeat with the other qtr. Pull the chuck steaks off the front qtrs and bag them and put the rest in the trimming bag. Pull the loins and the straps and bag them. Put both the heart and liver in a bag. Bone the rest of the meat and put in the trimming bag. Label the bags with the marker so you know what is in each bag. An average deer will fit in 6 bags (1 for each hind qtr, 1 for the chuck, 1 for the loins ans straps, 1 for the heart and liver and one for grind) and will fit in one cooler.

I finish the job at home and grind my own burger and make my own sausage. I vacuum pack everything. I leave the roast whole because that way I have the option of roast or steak. Pretty easy to make a roast into steaks but impossible to make steaks into a roast. By doing it myself I know I get the meat from the animal I took and I know how the meat was handled. Everything for butchering fits in a daypack and an extra cooler with ice is easy to pack.

If I am backpack hunting, which I do as well I pretty much follow the same pattern except everything goes into a single canvas bag until I get to the truck. There I will have a cooler that holds ice for a week and I then get the animal on ice.

I have never paid to have an animal butchered. I would rather do it myself but as always, feel free to disagree.
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Old 10-22-2017, 05:49 AM
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 36

Good post Flags! I really enjoy doing my own deer, it's a extension of the hunt. I do most of my deer but I occasionally take a one into the locker in the town I hunt by. This year the locker closed and I'm glad. Now it forces me to do it and not to sometimes take the "easy" road and drop it off.

I quarter them on my tailgate or in the field using the gutless method and ice age them in a cooler for about a week. If your not familiar with the method just google it. Works really well.
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Old 10-22-2017, 07:39 AM
Typical Buck
Join Date: Apr 2017
Posts: 850

I used to go to camp in PA with a few guys. We had a hanging rig out back that we could hang 20 deer on. We would usually go up for 4 days. We didn't butcher them at camp, one of us hauled what we called the meat wagon. Get all the deer home from up state and we would all gather at the old mans place, which had everything a butcher could ask for in his meat shed, and have a few hours of a processing party. If it took us more than 20 minutes from skinning to finish wrap per deer, someone was slacking. We would go up for rifle then late muzzleloader season so the temps were almost always agreeable with doing this. There was one season that the temps were unusually warm so we had to butcher them at camp but we did pretty much what Flags laid out and was
fairly simple.
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Old 10-22-2017, 10:20 AM
Nontypical Buck
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Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 1,780

Sometimes I butcher and sometimes I find it much more practical to hand the carcass off to a good meat processor. Chill, cut, grind with beef, wrap, and freeze takes a good bit of time and effort if it is done properly. $90 is a good deal when compared to the value of my time, and butchering is not a fun job.

Game I take on my property is butchered by me. Game I take while traveling is normally done professionally. The exception to this is elk. Most of my elk were taken while backpack hunting and the meat had to be cut into manageable size pieces in the field.

Last edited by Big Uncle; 10-22-2017 at 10:23 AM.
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Old 10-22-2017, 11:55 AM
Nontypical Buck
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Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 3,359

I skin and quarter my deer, put them in a cooler and take them home and process the meat and process the meat over the next week or so as my schedule allows. My wife and daughter join in and we enjoy it.

I don't lose knives, break lanterns, or leak blood everywhere. For us its part of it, Ive never taken a deer to a processor and likely never will. I will take some meat in for summer sausage,sticks,or jerky on occasion which I also do myself but sometimes I want a specific summer sausage,sticks, or jerky from a specific place.

We strive to process more of our own food rather than less.
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Old 10-22-2017, 05:19 PM
Nontypical Buck
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Kerrville, Tx. USA
Posts: 2,722

"I skin and quarter my deer, put them in a cooler and take them home and process the meat and process the meat over the next week or so as my schedule allows. My wife and daughter join in and we enjoy it. "

Dittos. I think that is what most people do including me.

In Texas, it is not legal to process beyond quartering in camp. I take it home in coolers, let it "age" for a couple of days, and then the family all pitches in to process. Takes a couple of hours. Need a grinder and a seal a meal and a couple of knives. We know we handle the meat property and our meat is not mixed with others meat, so we know we only consume the meat we bring home.
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Old 10-23-2017, 08:28 AM
Nontypical Buck
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,358

Butchering really isn't bloody, assuming you already field dressed it somewhere else.

The space you need, well you need most of that to bring home professionally butchered meat as well.
Bob H in NH is offline  
Old 10-23-2017, 01:50 PM
SilverbulletM70's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: CO
Posts: 79

I used to pay a butcher simply for the convenience of it. Then started hearing all the horror stories of people getting someone else's gut shot swamp buck or other poorly handled meat and decided to make the time to do it myself. It's now something everyone in the family enjoys doing together and as others have mentioned, you know exactly what you're getting. To me, that's nearly priceless....
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Old 10-23-2017, 03:14 PM
Typical Buck
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: SW Montana
Posts: 550

I've always field dressed my animals where they fall. I leave the hide on them to help keep the meat clean until I get the animal home. If its cool enough, I like to hang my animals for a week or so (with the hide on) to let them age. As long as the animal doesn't freeze, leaving the hide on also reduces the amount of dried meat to trim off.

If its hot weather, like some of my pronghorn hunts, I'll bone out the meat and pack it in ice in a cooler.

Except for my American buffalo, I've butchered all of my animals myself. That includes dozens of elk, two moose, and a Herford cow that I had to put down for my ex-mother in law . I'm very picky about trimming off all of the fat and tendons (gristle), even for my burger, and butcher shops don't do that.

I also cut all of the meat off of the bones, and the only time I saw a bone is if I split the spine at home. Fat, bloodshot meat, and bone saw dust contribute to the strong gamey taste.

Like Flags, I package my meat as roasts or 1# and 1.5# packages of burger. I double wrap the roasts, first in a plastic produce bag, then in freezer paper, squeezing as much air out as I can. I mix 10% beef fat with the burger and double grind it.
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