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Thread: Home Game Processing

  1. #1
    Fuzzy Boolit


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    Home Game Processing

    I'm no expert on the subject, just want to share what I've learned and encourage others to try it-safely. There's no way I can cover it in detail here, just want to encourage folks to think about the DIY possibilities.
    First step is preparation. I take a 100 qt Igloo on most hunts here in TX, the weather and geography make that part of a good plan. A 54 qt will hold one S TX deer, my 100 qt cooler will hold two (or a big hog!) easily. Inside I'll put at least 4 bags of ice at my last fuel stop. Next step comes after the critter is dressed and cooled a bit, if possible. Skinning is pretty straightforward, many good videos on the subject on youtube. Quartering pretty straightforward as well, with S. TX whitetail the leg quarters, loin, tenderloin, heart and liver go in the ice chest and get covered with ice. Takes no more equipment than proper field dressing! I generally trim all the good meat off the ribcage and discard it or use it for coyote bait. Keep the meat covered in ice until you get home, draining off water and adding ice as needed.
    Converting your kitchen to a butcher shop is no big deal, a good scrubbing before and after are important steps that can't be overlooked. Efficient butchering involves sharp knives, cold meat, and a good cutting board or two. I keep the meat in the cooler until it goes on the cutting board. I generally just debone the meat and package it as roasts or 1" chunks. Chunks are used for stew or sausage. I like to package the meat in vacuum or ziploc freezer bags, labeling is important. I try to spread the bags of meat around in the freezer so they freeze quickly. Once everything is in the freezer you can scrub the kitchen and start planning menus!
    I've only hit the high points here, please share your tips or feel free to ask questions! Nothing against commercial processors but they aren't always the best way to get wild game into the freezer.
    Last edited by TXGunNut; 10-22-2012 at 01:14 AM.
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  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    I do all of my own processing. I try to get as many steaks as possible since I like to marinate them and grill them. So the backstraps, "hams" on the upper rear legs, and a few from the front shoulder blades. The meat left on the pelvis is usually cut into roasts. Tenderloins are cut as small steaks. The rest is burger or stew meat.
    If cutting up deer or antelope the ribs are good for grilling so have a meat saw or a dedicated hacksaw to cut these.
    If you want to vacuum seal your meat but have too much liquid in the bag put paper towel on top of the meat. This prevents the liquid from getting into the machine works.
    Plan how much burger you want to put in a bag. I usually make some #1 bags for putting in spaghetti and such. Larger bags are good for making chili, jerky, sausages, brats, etc.

    I have been making jerky but am going to branch out into making sausage this year from the antelope I got in Wyoming.

    Block ice will last much longer in your coolers.

    I buy the 2 gallon Zip-lock bags and they are great for keeping the big chunks of meat clean and dry when you cut it off the carcaus. If you don't have bags put your meat on top of the ice so it doesn't lay in the water, which you will have to drain periodically.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master


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    62 deer butchered this year so far. If i had to pay someone to do it id have to sell my house!!! One hint ill give you guys is to not cut up steaks. Cut your meat like back straps into blocks and freeze it like that and when you want steaks take it out and cut them right before you cook. Doing it that way you will have less freezer burn if you store for a long time. Its especially important if you dont vacuum pack your meat.
    sixgun junky

  4. #4
    Boolit Master

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    The processing fee here last year at a professional shop was $80. Too expensive for me but the past couple of years the temperatures here have been too warm. So to avoid the risk of spoiled meat I have paid the high fees a couple of times. My problem is that I am so slow in the process. I need to learn to do it faster. I have a big ice chest on my Christmas list this year. That and plenty of ice should help avoid the spoilage. I would like to see some good pictures or video on the subject of deboning showing the various cuts that should be "hams", "steaks", etc. Thanks for this interesting and needed thread for those of us who really want to do it from casting the boolit to putting it into the freezer.
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  5. #5
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lloyd Smale View Post
    62 deer butchered this year so far. If i had to pay someone to do it id have to sell my house!!! One hint ill give you guys is to not cut up steaks. Cut your meat like back straps into blocks and freeze it like that and when you want steaks take it out and cut them right before you cook. Doing it that way you will have less freezer burn if you store for a long time. Its especially important if you dont vacuum pack your meat.
    Best tip!
    That is what I have always done.
    Then with back straps in chunks you can butterfly and stuff them.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master

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    I'm located in Phoenix so it is always to hot to hang meat. I have a refrigerator in the garage dedicated to game meat.
    I did start out with coolers and ice but the fridge works better.

    The vacuum seal machine was the best investment I made. I can keep fish and game meat for at least 3 years with no freezer burn. I recheck my bags about a week or so after sealing them to ensure they haven't leaked. They will leak if there is any debris or moisture where the bag is sealed.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master



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    It certainly varies from one state to the next.

    Here in Wisconsin, you HAVE TO register a whole deer. Once registered, you can then skin, quarter, or completely butcher the deer.

    The annual deer season opens the weekend before thanksgiving. Up here in the frozen tundra region, it's usually quite cold on opening day. In fact one of our concerns is preventing the carcass from freezing! There have been butterfly days that late in November, but a day in the 50's won't rot a dead deer.

    My brother was an apprentice butcher for a while,(decided to become a cop instead). So he knows the cuts and trained the entire family on how to cut up a deer. Dad had a bandsaw that he converted to be able to cut meat. It was as simple as a guide for the steaks, and careful clean up to keep sawdust out of the meat. Now-a-days we simply bone the meat off the back, resulting in back strap steaks and loins.

    A saws-all with a demolition blade works well to create roasts of the front legs and rump. The neck is boned out as well as the ribs destined for the meat grinder.

    The main problem with meat processors locally, is you have no guarantee you're getting your own meat back. Another problem is IF you just might have one of your boolits that did NOT pass through, you have the possibility to find it! That makes for great pics here on cast boolits, along with the story that goes with it.
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  8. #8
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    It is my opinion, the fastest way to ruin venison is using a meat saw on the bones, and dragging the marrow through the meat. You need to get an animal as big as moose or bison before the marrow is good enough to not harm the meat.
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  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    I learned something today about deer marrow. Thanks.

    I only ever put one deer in the freezer per year. Living alone, it takes me about 6 months to eat one. (Not a big meat eater) If I shoot a second one, and have no one to give it to, I go the baloney route, and give most of it away anyhow. My butcher charges $70 to cut up a deer which is ok by me since I only do the one and it won't break the bank, and saves me the hassle.

    Actually, I have often threatened to take some cutlery and a couple loaves of bread into the woods with me, and cook him and eat him right there on the spot. Pitch a tent, build a fire, stay there 'til he's gone. Saves dragging too.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master

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    I also debone all meat I never saw a bone as the marrow and the bone meal do not taste good another thing on a white tail that tastes bad is the fat* remove as much as you can. I cut the rear legs into what i call round steaks (Cutting with a long sharp knife around the bone) and the back straps into steaks some of the rest is cut into cubes for stew or fajitas**. I have a hand operated meat grinder which all the other meat goes though for burger . Some add fat or pork sausage to venison burger i quit years ago and just use some oil in the pan when frying it up .

    *Deer fat (tallow) makes great suet for the birds
    ** cut venison into pieces cover bottom of container with taco seasoning on top a light sprinkling of garlic powder & chili powder reverse order of seasoning as you layer meat leave in fridge overnight up to a day. Cook meat in hot oil till just done remove from pan add butter stir fry strips of bell peppers and onions . Put of warm tortilla shells serve with sour cream and salsa i like oven heated corn chips and refried beans as sides. I also use hot peppers but sometimes i just ain't right in the head!
    When I think back on all the **** I learned in high school it's a wonder I can think at all ! And then my lack of education hasn't hurt me none I can read the writing on the wall.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    couple of things nobody mentioned. Aging an animal for a week or so makes the meat more tender and taste better. You can section up a deer by cutting the front shoulders off, tenderloins, removed, neck, ribs, cut hind quarters off at hip joints, roast from pelvic area. no saw needed unless to cut ribs off backbone. Lay the sections on the racks in a refrigerator for a few days and the surface will dry and you can wipe off any hair and trim the bloodshot meat. If you bag it, the blood will collect in the bag and you won't get rid of any objectional smell. A rutting buck is a different animal if you refrigerate him a week , unwrapped. Meat should never be frozen until it is totally cooled out. If you don't have a grinder, get one. burgers are not tough no matter how old the deer was and you can use most of the deer. ageing the meat makes a world of difference and I try to keep water away from it.

  12. #12
    I'm A Honcho! SPRINGFIELDM141972's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flounderman View Post
    I try to keep water away from it.
    I am the same way. I have found that if you attempt to age meat that has come into contact with water it will spoil at any temp above 38 deg. before it ages. I try to age game until it has the distinct smell of aged meat. That sometimes takes more time than other times and I've lost two animals because of that. I have'nt seen a problem arise if you don't age the meat.

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  13. #13
    Boolit Master deerslayer's Avatar
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    We always skin them ASAP and leave hang and cool out if the temp is right, otherwise we qaurter them and we have a fridge dedicated for deer. Before we cut it it has to be cool almost frozen makes it cut easy! We then debone completely, saving the back straps, tenderloins, and any roasts wanted. Then we chunk it into 1" chunks if it is good cuts for canning! Everything else gets ground through the homemade grinder, if you don't have a bagger funnel for your grinder I highly recomend them http://www.lemproducts.com/product/g...stem/bags_tape
    they are a little bit of a learning curve, and you will screw up a bag or 2 but once you get the hang of it you will never freezer wrap it again. When I leave our processing room (converted milkhouse) at the farm all the ground meat is ready to go in the freezer and in perfectly portioned and sized packages!
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  14. #14
    Boolit Master

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    Long ago I wanted to see what deer fat would do for a boolit lube. It was like candle wax.
    I had huge hunks rendered so I put them out for birds. Best thing I ever did for the feathered friends. I never seen anything go so fast.
    Strip off the fat and hang it for the birds.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master




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    Hundreds of deer killed over the decades and i've had 5 processed over the decades.

    I don't like the meat to age, and esp to have a processor take care of it. The last one was so rank, we couldn't eat it and gave it away. When i butcher it takes me about 1 1/2hrs from skinning to putting wrapped and vaccuumed meat in the freezer.

    I like to qtr up and put in freezer till it's almost frozen then butcher, makes it lots easier for me

  16. #16
    Boolit Master


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    I only had one deer processed by a processing/butcher shop and that was the first one I killed. Thought my dad was going to have a fit. Cost $25.00. That was back in 1972. After that, every deer was processed at my dad's or my house. My friend (34) has his processed and cut into chops/steaks/sausage. $165/deer. I basically do the same as TxGunNut. My cooler sits on the deck behind my house with the drain open. I check it daily for ice coverage, and let the meat sit for a week. Like flounderman says, and, the way my dad taught me. Being retired, after that week wait, I can take a day and cut the meat off the bone. I do not care for venison chops/steaks. We love ground venison and sausage which I prepare in our kitchen. Lloyd Smale and waksupi both make wise and good recommendations IMHO.
    Last edited by gbrown; 10-23-2012 at 10:09 AM.
    One of my father's favorite statements: "If I say a chicken dips snuff, look under his wing for the snuffbox" How I was raised, who I am.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master mtnman31's Avatar
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    My wife and I spent most of yesterday butchering the deer I got.
    Sunday I got a nice 3x3 mule deer - not a large rack but pretty big body. I was at 10000ft and had just walked out of my camp. I was still munching on breakfast when I spotted him through some brush. It was an 85 yard shot through the lungs with my trusty Rem 788 (.308Win).

    First time I've shot a deer since I was a kid (maybe 22 years ago?). It had been so long that I wasn't even sure on how to field dress him. Took me over an hour to get him dressed. Got him home and let it sit in the garage overnight. I couldn't hang it since there isn't anything in the garage to hang him from and he was too heavy to hang from the garage door tracks. I didn't want to let it sit any longer since it has been pretty warm. It's been so warm that Saturday I hunted in shorts. Anyway, we spent the better part of the day fumbling through the butchering process. Butchering is no fun when you don't know what you are doing. Youtube had a few videos that were helpful. Being that we are amateurs, we took the time to trim fat and gristle that processors often leave and I'm sure that added to how long it took us. We now have a freezer full of steaks, roasts, some cuts for jerky, and a pot full of cuts for burger. Yes, the vacuum sealer was a fantastic investment.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master

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    I was a grown ,but still young, man before I even knew there was such a thing as takeing meat to a processer. I have still never taken one there tho. Dennis

  19. #19
    Boolit Master

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    I have aged deer and not aged deer and in my case i have noticed no difference. Really important thing is to field dress the deer well at once to keep meat from being ruined.
    When I think back on all the **** I learned in high school it's a wonder I can think at all ! And then my lack of education hasn't hurt me none I can read the writing on the wall.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by firefly1957 View Post
    I have aged deer and not aged deer and in my case i have noticed no difference. Really important thing is to field dress the deer well at once to keep meat from being ruined.
    This post reminded me of a time when I had taken some evidence to the State crime laboratory in Austin, sometime between '80 and '82. I was looking for a place to eat and I was on Burnet St or Ln? and I come up behind this big, old '76 olds or pontiac. Well used and rusted. On the trunk area is a white tail buck, an 8 point as I remember, and apparently the fellow had the legs tied by rope through the back windows. No blood or anything to indicate it was gutted. You could see the pelvis bones through the skin. Temperature about 75. Never could get beside him, because of heavy traffic to see. All I could think of was "I bet that'll taste yummy."
    One of my father's favorite statements: "If I say a chicken dips snuff, look under his wing for the snuffbox" How I was raised, who I am.

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