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Do you process your deer or take it to the butcher?

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Do you process your deer or take it to the butcher?

Old 10-08-2013, 05:28 AM
Typical Buck
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Northern WI
Posts: 853

First off, skin while warm - much easier! And it allows the deer to cool that much quicker.

If it is 45 or warmer, I quarter it up and place the large pieces in the freezer. The next day I debone most of the meat, making sure to clean my tools and table with a little diluted bleach solution before using. Other than deboned meat, I will cut steaks off the hind quarters and some loin strips and maybe save some other meat for stew. Also, carefully remove and discard any bloodied up or shot up meat. The rest of the deboned meat is immediately put back into the freezer to chill down and then I take the meat to a (reputable) butcher shop to have made into burger - I have them mix in 20-30% lean beef. I have to spend a little money, but also, I salvage more meat than a butcher would typically salvage since I trim off meat around the ribs, neck, etc. One deer can go a long way. Make sure to weigh the meat before you take it in - last time my (former) butcher tried to short change me on the weight but I caught him. There really is no way you are going to mess things up yourself as long as you keep it all clean and cold.

If it is under 45 degrees, I will let the deer hang for a few days. Then process.

I have also ground up my own meat, but it is a hassle if you do not have a top-notch grinder due to clogging and also it can be very costly to add beef if you buy it yourself.

Last edited by MZS; 10-08-2013 at 05:31 AM.
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Old 10-08-2013, 06:31 AM
Fork Horn
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Michigan
Posts: 269

Originally Posted by ChasinTail View Post
You guys prefer wrapping in paper freezer paper or plastic. Don't have a vaccum sealer.
I store my hamburger in bes-pak containers: http://www.acehardware.com/product/i...ductId=1390293

They are square so they use space efficiently, air/liquid tight so no freezer burn, they stack neatly when not in use, and made of HDPE so they are dishwasher safe.

How easy is it to make jerky?
Not difficult at all but you'll need a food slicer like the type with the rotating blade and you'll need a food dehydrator with a fan and heating element and temperature control.

1 cup soy sauce
1 cup worchester sauce
1 cup water
Everything below is optional but I use it all...
1 to 4 tablespoons liquid smoke.
1 to 4 tablespoons ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 to 10 tablespoons of red-hot Tabasco sauce (don't worry, most of the hotness gets neutralized in the process)
1 or 2 tablespoons mustard
2 to 5 tablespoons A1 Steak Sauce

Put all that stuff into a container and shake the crap out of it until thoroughly mixed.

Slice meat strips 3/16 to 1/4 inch thick.. make a pile and then take each piece and trim off the fat.. The less fat, the longer it will stay in storage. Throw each piece into the magic sauce above.. When the container is full, put it in the fridge for at least over-night so it soaks in.

TIP: Using woodworking terms, cross cutting the meat makes for a tender and easy to eat jerky. Rip cuts makes it chewy and long lasting.

Lay the strips out in dehydrator trays one at a time.. when tray is full, sprinkle on some pepper, any spices you like. Pretty much any type of non-salt steak seasoning is good here. I also like to brush on a final coating of Tabasco sauce.. (when it dries, it gets largely neutralized).

Put trays in dehydrator at 155 degF and let it run for about 12 hours. A few hours less in dry climates.

The jerky is done when you pull out a thick piece, let it cool a bit, then bend it over.. it should crack where it bends but not snap in half.

I turn my whole deer into jerky.. its a healthy wholesome snack that provides lean protein and it keeps for years if you put it in air-tight containers in a freezer.

If you plan to make a lot of jerky, DO NOT throw out the magic sauce.. Put it in a small pan, boil it, then re-use the sauce for the next batch.

Also, make sure that EVERYTHING that meat will touch has been cleaned with bleach or sanitized at high temperature in a dishwasher. Make sure to wash your hands every 15 or 20 minutes and if you touch anything else. Remember that you are not cooking the meat so you don't get the added benefit of using heat to kill bacteria. (although the magic sauce brine mix does a pretty good job of it)

Hope that helps,

Last edited by Murby; 10-08-2013 at 06:39 AM.
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Old 10-08-2013, 07:07 AM
Fork Horn
Thread Starter
ChasinTail's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 108

Sounds easy enough.. But i do worry about the tabasco sauce, i dont think it would be hot enough to my liking lol.

What about using some habanero hot sauce instead? You ever tried that? (the el yucateco kind, green or red). Or would some cayenne and other pepper seasoning work just as well?

How cheap can you get a dehydrator for? Ive got a smoker i could use.
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Old 10-08-2013, 09:03 AM
Fork Horn
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Michigan
Posts: 269

Any spice will work.

Smoker should work fine but you have to control temp and keep it at 155.. any hotter and the meat will cook.. (don't want that).. any cooler and some of the bacteria might survive.

But ya,, a smoker should work fine if you don't let it get too hot.
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Old 10-08-2013, 10:23 AM
Nontypical Buck
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: North Idaho
Posts: 1,071

Originally Posted by ChasinTail View Post
Doesn't sound to bad of a job at all. Youth season is this weekend and I've got a spot set up for my nephew where I've got does on cam at the same time everyday. Should be able to get one pretty easily. And I'm gonna try and see how I do at processing myself. I'll let you all know.

You guys prefer wrapping in paper freezer paper or plastic. Don't have a vaccum sealer.

How easy is it to make jerky?
I have taken meat to the butcher...depends on your area some charge to skin the animal. last year I gutted and skinned and took to the butcher...he made ground and breakfast sausage and tenderloins/backstraps...all was ok but the breakfast sausage had some small bone chips in it...which is annoying. this year I have a friend that has a cooler and we skinned and gutted hung in the cooler for a few days and we processed it to burger. I kept the tenderloins and backstraps separate. Its not a bad job if you have a grinder. meat slicer etc...you don't need a meat slicer but it helps... a grinder is a must! If you don't have that its best to find a processor.

best way to wrap in my opinion...is tightly wrap in plastic wrap then wrap in butcher paper.

Jerky is easy...you can use ground or sliced meat. Find some seasonings you like and follow the instructions. for ground it helps to have a jerky gun.
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Old 10-08-2013, 01:30 PM
Nontypical Buck
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: NE Kansas
Posts: 1,036

I do it all myself. I have access to a walk-in cooler, which is very nice. Otherwise, I'd hang it.

It's not hard to learn how. I had an experienced man do it with me the first time, and done it myself ever since. The biggest thing is the trimming--it takes a while. Normally, I butcher, de-bone, and convert roasts to steaks in an evening, then trim the grinding meat the next day.
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Old 10-08-2013, 02:37 PM
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: SE Mn
Posts: 61

Years ago, when we purchased our current house/farm, I cut the ceiling out in the milk room of the barn, welded a steel 6x6 frame and placed that on the roof of the milk house (it was a hay loft originally). That allows me to hoist the deer up and hang if temps allow. For the past few years though, temps have been warm so I process the same day. Installed a stainless steel work table and use the floor drain that came in the room.

Very seldom have I taken any of my deer to a processor. Only if I'm pressed for time. Personally, and I know not all can do it or have the tools to do it, but processing seems to bring the whole hunt full circle. I enjoy breaking down the carcass, separating the muscles and packaging the animal.
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Old 10-08-2013, 02:42 PM
Fork Horn
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Champaign County, IL
Posts: 345

If its cool we try to let our deer hang for a few days. We then skin it, cut out the back straps and roasts and put them in a tub of water to soak for a little bit. Then we debone all the other meat we can and store it in large bulk ziplock bags and freeze it until we can take it to our butcher who will make the brats, summer sausage and burger. We also have him cut our burger with beef fat as well.

We will plastic wrap our roasts and straps then wrap them in freezer paper. This process works pretty well for us and really isn't to expensive.
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Old 10-08-2013, 06:40 PM
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 41

Originally Posted by FungusFinder
...processing seems to bring the whole hunt full circle.
Well said.

There's so much to hunting beyond...well, hunting. In the process of becoming hunters, many of us also become farmers, animal behaviorists, etc. --as well as butchers. These ancillary jobs can become nearly as rewarding as the actual hunt. I definitely feel that way about skinning/butchering.

Once you do a couple and get the hang of it, you'll never go back to the neighborhood processor. I guarantee that by your third deer or so you'll be genuinely impressed with what a nice job you do with it.
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Old 10-08-2013, 07:01 PM
Fork Horn
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Michigan
Posts: 269

Originally Posted by clydeNY View Post
I guarantee that by your third deer or so you'll be genuinely impressed with what a nice job you do with it.
I must be an idiot then... I've processed about 20 of them myself and still can't figure out where to cut most of the time. I pretty much got the shoulders, backstraps, tenderloins and can remove the ribs and head..
Still can figure out where to cut to get the rears off clean.. I always seem to be cutting thorough good muscle.
I've watched every youtube video on it there is but it just doesn't seem to work the same way in real life.

And don't even get me started on taking the individual groups off the bone itself. Its kind of like a "slice and pray" technique for me.

Not that it matters much.. I make mostly jerky and hamburger. Getting a full muscle just means larger and easier to handle jerky pieces.
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