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Hey guys. im gonna shoot two deer this year and so far my dad has taken care of processing what i shoot. this year its "alll up to me" and i was just wondering what you guys do with your deer. do you grind it all into hamburger, or keep some steaks? any help is appreciated.
 

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After you skin it out do a nice job getting out the loins and backstraps. Take out a roast if you want. After that do yourself a favor and just get the rest off the bone as quick/easy as possible and grind it up.
 

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First of all, good luck to you this season. If you do get two deer, you will have a lot of good eats. With my deer, I wind up making steaks, roasts, liver pate', a few pound bags of bite size chunks for chilli, and rest is ground up to make country sausage. With two deer, you should have a good lot left to make some jerky. Have fun.:)
 

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Mostly steaks and jerky for me... I use the grind for sausage (summer, salami, breakfast) as I don't really like deer burger. I chop up the steaks if I want a ground meat in my recipe. I generally do all my own processing, the last few years I've had to pay for cutting due to limited space, this year I'll be doing my own again.

I've got 7 deer tags to fill!
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Pretty good advice. Definitely get a grinder, helps make up for the "mistakes!" Not that I've ever made any.... :rolleyes:

I think I cut up 8 deer last year and don't recall how many hogs, 4 or 5 I guess. Backstraps and tenders are ready to go, make steaks out of the hams, and bone out & grind the rest ....
 

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Wow, I must be in the minority, here! We process all our own deer, which is typically between 3 and 8 each season. The tenderloins (small strips inside the body cavity, aft of the rib cage and just forward of the pelvis) are easily the most precious cuts on a deer and should be removed as soon as possible after eviscerating the deer. I see guys leave these in while the deer hangs and when they finally cut them out, days later, they're basically ruined. Terrible thing to do to an incredibly tender piece of meat! :mad:

The back-straps are the long, tubular shaped muscles which start at the base of the neck and go along the spine, ending just forward of the hind quarters. These are nearly as delicious as the tenderloins and are frequently removed in one long roll of meat. In my family, these are reserved for special occasions or for introducing "finicky" eaters to the joys of venison!

As for the rest, there are different ways to go about it, but IMHO, the guys above are WAAAYYY too liberal with the grinding! The hind quarters have one rather large muscle that makes an excellent roast, as well as a couple others that are oblong in shape, perfect for fajitas. What you don't keep as large pieces of meat is better cut into chunks, for stew, which saves a lot of time and gives you a good deal more versatility, because you can always grind that meat later, for other purposes.

One excellent recipe is to take 2lbs of stew meat and throw it in a crock pot for 8 hours with a large jar of picante sauce or salsa. Shred meat and get the other fixin's for tacos or burritos!

Some people like to age their venison by letting it hang for days, and in some colder climates, up to a week. In my experience, temperatures are simply not constant enough to do this, unless your deer is in a meat locker at a controlled temp. What we have found is best for more tender meat is to process within a day or two, and then let your refrigerator do the aging for you. You take the meat from the freezer, place it on a plate or tray, then leave it there for as many as 5-7 days, before cooking. This allows for the same biological breakdown of the meat that aging before processing would allow, but does it in a perfectly controlled environment, and doesn't cause the meat to dry out any, in the process. You will know the meat is ready where there is a noticeable amount of blood on the plate or tray...this is a natural by-product of the meat breaking down. This process of cutting the deer up ASAP and using the fridge to do the "aging" helps a LOT with the toughness and gamey taste that some people report with venison. The gaminess is usually from deer hanging too long in temps that got too warm. :(

We do usually wind up with ~5lbs of grind from each deer and will use this for various types of sausage or other traditional burger uses. We almost always mix this ground venison with the fattiest ground beef, or for sausage, a pork roast with the fat trimmed somewhat. My favorite use of ground venison is in a slow-cooked chili. We frequently double-grind any deer that will be used for regular ol' hamburgers, since it tends to be stringy, if you don't.

All of this processing of venison started because a commercial processor ripped us off. We went out and bought a VHS video (this was years ago) and some quality knives. We used to double-wrap the meat in butcher paper but once we found out how much faster and easier the vacuum packers are to use, and how much longer they will preserve the meat, we stopped using paper. All told, we've spent about as much as it would cost to pay for two deer to be processed, but now save probably $50/deer, even after the cost of the rolls of plastic sleeves used to pack them up. My wife and I can turn a quartered deer into packaged meat in about 2 hours, not counting clean-up. If other family members are around, like my teenage daughter, it takes maybe 90 minutes.

So, long story, short (too late!) don't just grind up your deer...take some time to learn how to actually process the various cuts and what options you have. Venison is delicious meat and deserves the same respect, or more, than a side of beef. It isn't difficult, it just takes a little knowledge and then you can get the exact cuts you want, instead of having a freezer full of non-descript ground meat. :D
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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I forgot about roasts. Thanks for the reminder.

OK... if you have time.... and sometimes that's an issue when it's the first deer and you haven't had practice.... then you can make some roasts. Just set one hindquarter aside while you finish up. If you have the time and ambition, then get that hindquarter back out.

Lay it on the cutting board and study it a bit. Realize that it is made up of quite a few individual muscles. If you can separate these out then you can make a roast, or several. Find a spot where you can start working a thumb or knife point in between a couple of muscles, and start "peeling" them away from the bone. Mostly you can do this with a thumb or blunt instrument and only cut them away on the ends where they attach.

The key is to separate them so that the individual piece does not have connective tissue running through it.

The larger ones are the ones you want for a roast. Depends on the size of the deer and how big of a roast you want, but there are 3, maybe 4 candidates. They will be small but good. Trim off the tendons on the end and done.

We have little deer here and get little roasts, maybe 2-3 pounds for a big one. No problem if all the in-laws are coming over; just put several of them in the oven or crock pot at once!

Speaking of recipes.... what we came up with is putting them in a crock pot on low for about 8 hours. We actually drop them in completely frozen, it doesn't seem to hurt. Anyway, for sauce.... what works REALLY well is the cheap, very dark, very tart red wine that you get in a box. No kidding. Cover about 2/3 of the meat, add some seasoning on top, and fill with vegetables as you see fit (onions, celery, carrots, potatoes, etc.).

Comes out very nice and even the non-Bambi consumers seem to enjoy it. As a rule, the "larger" (relative term here) deer get the hindquarters made into roasts, and the "smaller" (ie. younger) ones get the hindquarters cut into steaks.

Thanks for the reminder!
 

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I hate this part of the shooters forum. Allways makes me hungry. And yet,I keep reading.

I wonder if any of you all have cooked a whole deer?

I was at a party once where a whole one was cooked under the coals of most of a tree. Buryied under wet feed sacks and lit er up!

About a half barrel of beer later, the coals were pushed aside and meat sliced off. Made sanwiches and served with beans. It was wonderfull! I have no idea what cut of meat I had?

Old cowboy movies where a whole steer goes round and round on a spit. Anyone ever do a deer that way?

Not enough friends for me to do much more than a rabbit that way. I'd have leftovers for years with steer!

This thread is a good read.

Thanks for starting it MC Cowboys!

Cheezywan
 

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OK, now where did I hide that last vacuum-packed pound of venison jerky so the kids wouldn't gobble it all up like they do every time we make it?? :D
 

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We process it all ourselves. I have always said that if those CSI people got into my garage or basement, they would be taking me for a mass murderer.

De-bone everything. Backstraps and tenderloins for roasts and BBQ steaks. Major rear quarter muscles, separated, as has been suggested, for roasts. We often cut a roast into steaks to BBQ if we decide to at the last minute.

All the big chunks of "scrap" go to stew meat or into the sausage if we are short. We make our own sausage with a 45 year old recipe that never quite comes out exactly the same twice due to slightly different deer and pork proportions. It is always a good day of wine, taste testing and friends when we do the sausage.
 

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I'm getting ready to make a batch of jerky tomorrow from last year's leftover steaks.
 

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Oh.... jerky... forgot about that too. Marshall posted a recipe a long time ago that works great. Make at least one batch a year.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
thanks guys! i fwas planning on making lots of jerky and sausage, casue i didnt know what to cut out. sounds like i woulda wasted a lot of great meat. does being a doe or buck change the best cuts? and it seems like vaccum packing the steaks is best am i right? thanks again
 

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If you get a 45-minute video, or a book on processing, you'll know more about how to do it than most guys ever know, and find out it isn't all that hard, it's just a little work. The quality of the meat and the best cuts are determined mostly by the diet, health and age of a given deer. Generally, younger deer taste better than older deer, does taste better than bucks and deer with an ample diet of natural and agricultural food sources taste better than deep forest or swamp deer. Also, the time of year you harvest a deer can impact how it tastes and an emaciated, unhealthy deer (common during early seasons) can taste downright nasty! :mad:

Presuming the deer is healthy and has had the benefit of a good diet, the 2 things that I find most important are, in this order:

1) Get the deer eviscerated and cooled (with bags of ice, if necessary) to around 40 degrees, ASAP. Take the time to get really good pictures, before gutting, but then get that job done and the meat cooled in as little time as possible. In moderate climates you can put one 7lb bag of ice in the gastrointestinal cavity (where the guts were) and one in the cardiothoracic cavity (where the lungs were). If it's really warm, the best thing is to skin and quarter the deer, putting everything you will later process into a large (100 quart) cooler with bagged ice to bring the temperature of the meat down. Leave the ice in the bag to minimize moisture and if the air temps are cool enough, skip this step. (If using a cooler, you must use at least some ice to get the meat chilled...don't put warm meat into a cooler and close it up w/o ice! :eek: ) Failure to get the carcass cooled quickly enough is the cause of most "gamey" tasting venison.

2) Process into clean, packaged meat within a day or two, although if the meat is 40 degree or less, this can wait 3-4 days. Remember, it's best to let your fridge do the "aging" and try to get the deer cut up and packaged as quickly as possible. Make no mistake about it, processing a deer is a chore, but it's one of those things where the sooner you get it done, and done right, the more worthwhile the effort truly is.
 

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No need to spend money on a video or book with Youtube.

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=deer+processing&aq=f

I can't remember which is the best one, but there is a good list to get you well acquainted with a deer. I prefer does, but I haven't noticed a difference between whitetail or mule, and with Pronghorns it doesn't matter, they are both good eating.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Some good advice. I have used several vacuum sealers. Make sure it's a good one with an actual vacuum pump, the cheap ones are just a fan and don't really get the air out.

Freezer bags work OK but I find that you have to double them up or stuff does get freezer burnt through them. Cheap grocery store bags doubled up seem to work reasonably well.

Get it clean, cool it down, and you can't go wrong. One thing about the bow season here (Texas) is that it can be downright hot and you really have to be prepared to cool the meat out in the field. I skin and quarter them as soon as I can. Check your game laws, some states may require you to take the carcass (field dressed) to a check station.

If things get a little "messy" during the field dressing or if it was gutshot (hey we've all had that happen), wash the pieces off the best you can, then pack the meat in ice, in a cooler. Dump an entire can of salt on top of the ice and drain it out a day or two later. The salt gets the blood out and helps get rid of any bacteria.
 

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I learned to butcher my own game by myself. Always lived to far away from my grandfather who was a butcher in Brooklyn (I do miss his fresh kielbsa). After field dressing, when I get home (usually in the south) I immediately hang it in the backyard and skin it. Then its quartered and brought into the house where I'll butcher it. I've never ground any of it and all scraps are used as stew meat. I'll take me about 2 hours to do a 100 lb deer.

CD
 

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The first ten or so deer I processed there was no grind, but I like making sausage and stuff now. Plus, I pack my lunch and there is nothing better than homemade summer sausage sammiches.
 

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Something as simple as some sticks can be used to open the body cavity to air (to help cool things down quickly).

Important to get the guts out soon. They tend to hold the heat (More than air will).

Rinse well with cold water, if it's there?

Cook NOW for best table fare. Won't get any "freasher" than this!

Prosess further if your intention is to store your harvest (thinking that is what this thread is about)?

BANG! FLOP! SPLATT! (wash),SIZZLE and eat is the way to go!

Hungry now thinking about it!

Cheezywan
 
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