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Home Butcher Shop
I have historically had all of my deer processed by a local butcher shop that does an excellent job. They process a lot of deer over the course of a season. I am pretty sure that I get my meat back, but I am not naive enough to believe that my ground meat is not mixed with others. With the discovery of CWD now in PA, I am concerned that I only get my meat. I plan to have all of my deer tested before we consume any of the meat. Not looking for a debate on the topic. I know what the current research shows and I am not willing to take any risks with my family. So I am looking to build a small home butcher shop with a walk in cooler area that I hang 3-4 deer and then have a processing table/area outside the cooler for processing the meat. Has anbody built anything similar or know of any plans? I am aware of the coolbot (sp?) that is used to control a window-type air conditioner that is specifically tailored for these applications and will probably go that route for the cooler.
Not mine but a place I hunt! Great early season and also late season.
How do you get your deer tested ?? How long will it take for the results ?? And how much will it cost.... thanks in advance.
I've done my own since 1978 I use a refrigerator set at 38 degrees. Skin and quarter then put in a bag and leave in frig for 3 days.never a problem takes about an hour and half.
To my knowledge, I have never taken a deer to any commercial processor. I do all my own and have my entire life. If you have a walk-in cooler. That is fine but not usually needed. My setup is simple. I have a refrigerator in which I cool meat, sometimes, usually only if it is hot. I bone out all my meat before butchering. I place the boned meat in the refrigerator, set at 34-degrees for an hour or so. Then trim well and cut using only a knife. I then wrap in clinging wrap and vacuum pack. Then, into the freezer. Here is all the equipment I need: Large table and large cutting board. Selection of quality knives, (and sharpening equipment.), quality vacuum packer, quality grinder. I also have a hanging gambrel however, I now skin most of my deer laying on the tailgate of my truck. My freezer will hold up to four deer and the meat is excellent. A walk-in cooler would be nice but for me, not at all mandatory.
I do the same as Bowriter but don't have the meat grinder.
It's like Bowriter and me are twinsy's. We've never killed more than two deer in the same day, so a walk-in cooler has never been needed for us.
I grind all my trimmings at the end of the season. They grind better when partially frozen anyway. I bought a cheapo grinder from Cabelas ten years ago, and she still works, just gotta keep the meat mostly frozen.
I have a garage and extra fridge - all I need. I hang it from the back legs.
Skin it. Remove tender loins. Take off the front shoulders. Remove the loins. Remove neck meat (roast if I want) & rib meat. Cut the back bone at the front of the hind quarters. Separate (saw) the HQ apart. All while it's hanging. In about an hour it's on 3 shelves of the fridge. -------- 2 front shoulders/2 hind quarters/2 back straps and an ice cream pail or 3 of meat "scraps".
I age the stuff I am not grinding/sausage for 6-10 days. The I can debone it, cut it up at my leisure.
Me and my bro in law break down a deer kinda unorthodox i guess....we hang it on the smaller side of the kids swing set so my sister doesnt see it and have a fit..most of the skinning is done with some plain ole stanley razor blades,a boning knife and a sawzall..as we cut pieces off theyre put in bags and the kids ferry them into the spare fridge..clean up the site,eat,have some coffee...an hour or two later i have cheap table cloths put over the picnic table and start breaking down sections..we dont have a vacum machine so i double wrap in both directions with wax paper then zip loc bags getting as much air out as possible..ive had the meat last as much as two years,steaks, roast and stew...kind of a cheezy way but we wanted to prove it can be done ...lol
I have always been amazed at how many hunters take deer to a processor. It is not hard to do at all, takes minimum equipment and once you learn what to do, very little time. I can do one, start to finish, from skinning to putting in the freezer in about 90-minutes. But just to skin and quarter one, maybe five minutes. To bone out, add another 20-30 minutes. The trimming and wrapping is what takes the time. I save the grinding until I have two or more deer to do. That does not take long, once you get going.
I've done some myself Bowriter.... and have never been happy with the outcome compared to a butcher. Cutting up the backstraps is easy... so is grinding meat. But you have to know how to properly break down a hind quarter .... and I always screw that up. Plus my time is worth something. If I spend a hundred bucks to process a deer then I don't have to spend hours of my time doing it and have to clean up a mess. I can see if a guy kills 5 or more deer a year doing it to save money...... but if I only kill one deer a year I'd gladly spend the hundred bucks.
Combined, I skin, debone, grind, and wrap a whole deer in roughly 1.5 hours. Not in continuous time but, that is about how long it takes to do it between the cooling and such. A good grinder and vacuum sealer really speeds things up. Once the quarters come off, the filet knife comes out and the meat leaves the carcass and bone in a hurry. God Bless men
This video from Grant Woods really helped me. Have done several the last couple of years using this method. Not super fast at it but get faster and more efficient with each one I do.
X-3 what Bowriter said. I do pretty much the same. Most of the time when I kill a deer it's usually cold enough to hang for 3-5+ days. I then skin, quarter and then put the meat either in a large cooler or the basement fridge. I then bone it all and wrap over the course of 2 evenings. Always tender, always good. I've been doing my own this way for so long I'd be really uncomfortable having a butcher shop do it. When I cook it I KNOW how it was handled.
Tom, we hunt in warm weather and debone 99% of the time unless its a bluebone or a small pig you can drive up to or pack out in one trip on your back. Hanging an animal whole is very rare. And seasons are 365, so it's a few of em we deal with.
Used to have a walk in access, lost it and had to start aging in an ice chest. A lot of labor and not dry aged like I want. Like to age for a week to 10 days. Just picked up a dedicated garage fridge and now dry age in it. Awesome. A pig from two weeks ago dry aged perfectly. All deboned already, just use cotton dishtowels (or game bags) and age on the shelves now, turning and rotating. If I get lucky within a day or so apart I think it will handle two decent deer. It's a good size fridge. Set the temps to 34 or so is perfect. Beer works well as a thermal mass for temperature control...... I check the temps frequently..... heheheheh....
Processing I have a 4' x 2' SS table that Costco has for sale from time to time, a couple big cutting boards (roughly 18" x 18"?) several boning knives, steels and a home made hook. The hook is handy for handling hinds and such (especially elk hind cuts). Vacuum sealer is real handy and very efficient. Keeps much better than butcher paper even when saran wrapped first.
Have a good quality 3/4 hp grinder and it will grind anything as fast as I can feed it . Big jump over the #32 manual I used for years. (anything hand operated less than #32..... have fun, it's a good workout....) Some grinds I mix pork belly in with the venison.... depends. For taco and stew type where you want it "crumbly" I use straight ground venison, for burgers and meatloaf when looking for something more "sticky" and moist I like the "bacon" added in.
The latest addition (and would buy it again) is a good stuffer. IMO for ground meat you can't beat the tubular meat bags. The stuffer obviously makes great sausage easy.... but with the big tube stuffs those meat bags perfectly, filling them from the bottom of the bag out, no air in the bag. Stuffing anything from the grinder like I've done for years.... it's a royal pain in comparison, I'd never go back to that....You can get the tape sealer or I like the metal crimps, but the bags IMO have less air in them and keep much better than vacuum packing. Very professional presentation if giving it away as well. To folks not used to eating "home processed" that's a big deal.
Yes, time is worth something. Big Bear. That is one of the reasons I do my own. MY time in the woods is valuable. I don't want to discount it by eating bone meal and silver skin some butcher left on my meat or eating some community, ground meat. The hind quarters are "seamed". I could show you in less than three minutes how to separate the muscles in the hindquarter, trim and cut. A saw, never touches my deer meat and no butcher trims as well as I want mine trimmed. I hope the day never comes when I am too busy to process my own wild game. That would mean, I am also too busy to hunt.
Last year by Buddy and I built a walk in with a coolbot. It's about 8x8x8. We had 6 deer at one point in there and still room for a table for two of us to cut on. It makes processing so much nicer. Aging the meat 14+ days really improves the tenderness and flavor but most importantly, we can take our time and really process the deer correctly. The whole cooler build cost about $1200 but we build a completely free standing building. If it were in a garage or something it could be done for half the price. As for the rest of our butcher shop.... we bought a bigger vacuum sealer and a few nicer knives. I have a grinder for my wife's kitchen aid mixer if we mske ground, but I rarely grind meat. My shoulders, shanks and neck all gets braised.
Here is our cooler from The outside
To each his own... I've butchered deer before and I have always been happier with the job done by a professional butcher.... and it took me a heck of a lot longer than an hour and a half.... Kudos to you guys that do it yourself I think that's awesome but it's not for everyone......Peace.
I have a bone saw, but the only time I use it is to cut the skull cap off. I bone everything else. If I do have to cut a head off, split a pelvis or separate a spine I have an Estwing Camper's Ax just for that purpose.
Now I'm getting hungry!
BIG BEAR: If you're happy with that then I'm happy for you. Some of my deer camp friends do as you do and they are good with it. For me it's how I was raised in deer hunting and it's become a part of the hunt for me. It's all good!
I have an 8x8 shed, a 3/4 hp cabelas grinder, a vacuum sealer, a pressure canner, two Old Hickory cleavers, an assortment of good knives and a couple whetstones. I process everything myself, deer, moose, bear, wild hog, squirrel, groundhog, turkey/birds, fish, turtles, raccoons, as well as domestic beef, goat, sheep, hogs etc.etc. good eats!
"wild hog, squirrel, groundhog, turkey/bird....
How is the taste of groundhog? Oven roasted or grilled what your favorite way to prepare?
young groundhog is good fried like chicken, older ones are good as pulled "pork" barbecue, or in Brunswick stew.
The absolute best bratwurst I ever made was with groundhog meat and chicken thighs 50/50 mix
One thing I would do differently with the hanging deer. I would hang head up, (use a meat hook or make one,), that way it drains much better when still "green". Woods walker, I made a device for splitting the pelvis in the field, when field dressing. Looks kinda like a big guthook but you just tap it couple times with a hammer and it splits the pelvis perfectly. Also works to split the sternum. Unless I am going to have a deer mounted, I open from top of brisket to pelvis when gutting. Cools a lot quicker.
I have one of those "T" handled saw that's made just for sternums/pelvis'. It'll rip through a sternum in short order. But I stopped splitting pelvis' a while back. I find it helps keep the meat cleaner and it doesn't dry out as fast, plus it makes the drag out a little easier.
I'd like to see a pic of that tool you made though......sounds interesting.
I need to make a walk in cooler.
I butcher my own. I like being the only one to handle my meat. You truely don't know if your getting your own meat at a butcher shop
Big Bear - if you have found a butcher who you trust and gets you a reasonable amount of meat back, stick with 'em.
I do my own, but cut a lot of fat off and it takes me a lot longer than most here. We had a butcher in MT once returned 44 lbs off of a weighed/dressed 198 lb mule deer. We usually get 65-75 lbs off of the same sized deer. I am not sure if they were doing a bad job, but you cannot take 8 hours to clean a deer if you are doing 150 in a season (or whatever a butcher can do).
Yes I have a butcher I really like..... I hope he's around for a good long while....... everything deboned and trimmed beautifully and he does some very tasty snack sticks and jerky.... maybe when I retire and move back out into the country I'll set up an outdoor cooler like you guys are doing.... even if I don't cut my own deer it would be nice to have a walk in cooler to hang them. Peace.
I do all my own unless I am on an out of state hunt for whitetail then I bring it to a processor that flash freezes it. I have a 23 cubic foot fridge that I keep set at 36-37 degrees. I have 3 metal rods inside that I hang the hind quarters and front shoulders on and drape the back straps over. I normally skin and quarter right away if warm, if not I let hang a day or two before getting them ready for the fridge. I normally leave them in the fridge for a couple three days, I then bring everything down to the kitchen table and I cut up and my wife wraps and labels. Shawn
Shawn, I have a method for on-site freezing without active refrigeration that works, no matter ambient air temps, if you ever want to try it.
Some of you guys sound pretty picky about who you let handle your meat. As long as it's wrapped properly I'm not to picky. ;) Seriously though I wouldn't mind this cooler thing, I need a good grinder first.