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After last years butcher bill I’m thinking about doing it myself next year. Who does their own butchering? Any tips or tricks? I have the basics down from watching YouTube videos but I’m unsure about some cuts, ie, sirloin steak vs round.
Suggest buying one of those cut proof gloves for your non-knife hand.
I have a nice scar on my left hand from an accident a few months ago.
I just label steaks, loins, and grind. I don’t sweat discriminating between round and sirloin. But I’m just a redneck who likes meat just the way it is. Big pieces are steaks. Little pieces are stew,fajita, or grind.
We do 10-15 animals a year in my garage . I like to roll out each muscle . The large ones I cut steaks and some roasts . Stew Meat the small muscles and burger the rest. I also will leave my back straps in 10-12 inch pieces and cook whole or cut into steaks . Saves us a ton of money each year and you know your getting a clean product. Hunt
I do all my own. I have a book called Gut It, Cut It, Cook It which is pretty good at showing cuts. Also YouTube videos help me since I usually forget everything after a year. Get a good butchering kit. I just have a basic field dressing kit and they aren't the best blades, but having a filet knife, caper, skinner, etc makes it easier than using kitchen knives. Also get a good grinder. I have a LEM (I believe a #12) and it grinds faster than I can feed it. I've invested in the grinder, a sausage stuffer, smoker, and vacuum sealer and I think it only took two elk to come out ahead versus paying a butcher. Plus it's very satisfying to know all my meat is from my own animal.
It`s the only way to go.....it brings a whole another level of involvement in the taking of the animal. I actually enjoy it.... it leads to sausage making....curing...smoking etc.
Pretty much like otcWill. Have cut my own animals all my life.
Western Hunter magazine has a book out Meat Processing for Western Hunting which looks like it might help if you haven't done it before. $15 or so.
Same as HuntMan, separate every muscle and go from there.
I debone the quarters separate the big muscle groups ( which is very easy just follow the line between muscle groups by cutting and gently pulling) cut large pieces cross grain label steak small pieces stew meat the rest is smokie meat or burger. Been doing it since I was a kid helping parents butcher.
Yep, agree with Huntman's method.
It all starts in the field- keep it clean and cold
Its not that hard. However i only have Backstraps, tenderloin, ground and roasts. The roasts are big chunks that could be steaks, fajitas, stew meat whatever. My grind is very clean and no fat added. I have no idea what the cuts are, but its not that hard, i started after my first cow i shot. $300 for 4 quarters, the next year i bought paper, a holder, grinder for less than $300. I does take some time, but worth it.
We had a hand grinder for the first 5 years. That ended after a double grind on a MN moose. 200 lbs of hamburger using only one arm. Never again. Got a smallc grinder and it has worked for 15 years.
Now I have been eyeballing a LEM #12 and a sausage stuffed.
It gets tedious when doing it alone. Takes me most of a week for a deer because I do it after work.
For me it starts when taking it off the animal.
I re-glove multiple times to keep the funk on the hide off the meat.
I trim like crazy...silver skin, dried meat, bubbly fat all comes off [heck, I'm eating it!] ....even if I just grind. I prefer a rough grind....not a double grind like most burger.
Vaccuum sealer is the only way to go.
After the processing cost hit over 200 for a deer with sticks, I decided to buy my own equipment and see what I could do. I have around 1000 tied up into a grinder, smoker,stuffer and dehydrators and all the other little things that go with it but it was money well spent and you know its your deer and what is in it. Making new products or different recipes is fun and I never run out of people willing to help eat it.
Once you do a few it gets pretty easy. Steaks, roast, stew meat, burger and jerky. +1 on keeping it clean and cold .
I've butchered at least a hundred deer. If you can skin and cut up a rabbit, you can do a deer...it's just bigger! I'm meticulous with the fat, silver skin, cartilage etc. so it takes a while, and I'm pretty well set up. Although I know the various cuts e.g. top and bottom round, eye of the round, rump etc. I don't get fancy. We use far more burger than anything else so, for me, it tends to be loin, tenderloin, several steaks, a few roasts and everything else burger. So my burger ends up being more ground round than anything else. As far as wrapping, vacuum sealers are hard to beat. My vacuum sealer is a Weston which pulls 28" Hg. However, I have a roll of 18" wide fairly thick plastic wrap (not like saran wrap, and intended for meat) which I'm using up. My wife is the wrapper and does well. Absolutely no freezer burn regardless of how long it's in the freezer...certainly as good as any which we vacuum.
Helping Dad and practicing writing letter E L K!
Helping Dad and practicing writing letter E L K!
Oh yea! Wouldn’t let anyone else handle my prized meat!
It’s easy to do and rewarding
My daughter has been helping since she was tiny.
have the inner loins for dinner that night unless you use the gutless method then forget about that & the ribs. front shoulders debone for stew meat or burger backstraps cut in meal size portions seperate the muscle formations in the hams keep the two flat peices & the round & stew meat or grind the rest. buy a good quality grinder 1 time or wear out cheap ones every 2 or 3 years & perhaps not nessary but I prefer a vacuum sealer
agree with lots of the above but prefer paper over vac seal. Use the drug store wrap method and is much cheaper. I probably have cut up 800 plus deer over the last 50 years. The reason I prefer paper as it stacks much better in a upright freezer. Note take the tenderloins out the same day as you shoot it or they will turn black!
A labor of love...
Tons of YouTube videos out there on how to butcher.
Why wouldn’t you eat the inner loins when you use the gutless method? I do it all the time. It takes about a minute per side to pop them out and they are way cleaner than if you gut the animal.
A couple tips -
Use a small propane torch to singe the outside of the meat prior to handling. It will 'pop' any hairs and make wiping down much easier
Vinegar is a natural disinfectant. Use that to wipe down the meat prior to cutting it up
Agree, no problem getting the tenderloins out using gutless.
We do about 6-8 deer a year depending on the success of our family hunts. My kids have been in on it since about age 3 and now at 4,7,7, and 12 (one more but hes only 1) they're all old pros and it takes us a couple hours to go from hanging to packaged in in the deep freeze. I figure by the time theyre in their teens we could get it down to 30 minutes per deer or so. IT IS 100% worth it!
Paper is the way to go for me. I buy the large rolls at the butcher supply. I double wrap everything and have zero issues. I think the current roll has done 3 elk and who knows how many deer. Like others have said trim trim trim.
Been butchering my game for many years. It is a very enjoyable, and to me, necessary part of the hunt. I end up making burger, steaks, roasts, sausage, jerky, pastrami, etc. Most folks are amazed at how good game meat can taste when done right.
Some of the tools that I consider to be necessary:
Knives. I like a filet knife for removing the fat and tendons and a butcher knife for cutting steaks. I am not overly picky about brands but want one that takes a good edge and re-sharpens fast. We have a good set of kitchen knives that work pretty well and I have an Outdoor Edge butcher kit that someone gave me that has some decent knives in it as well.
Cutting boards. I typically bone and trim meat on the table but use a cutting board for cutting steaks. The big plastic ones are good but they do slip around on the plastic tables. You can put some of that rubber stuff they sell in rolls in Walmart under your cutting board and it will stay put.
Meat Tubs. You can use any big pans to put meat in through different stages. Works better than just making piles on the table. I do like the 7" plastic tubs they sell for butchering and have 6 or so. I will put my grind meat in one, cube steaks in another, use them for mixing sausage, curing sausage and jerky, etc. They are very handy.
Wrapping paper. You can get rolls of the white wrapping paper at the grocery store or order a big roll and cutter from Cabelas. If you use the white butcher paper, it is good to pre-wrap with cellophane and get all the air out first. Your meat will last longer in the freezer with the double wrapping. I used to use the big roll and cutter until I went to a vacuum sealer and now much prefer the vacuum sealer.
Trash Can and trash bags. You generate a lot of waste boning and trimming. You will want some heavy duty trash bags and a smaller trash can. The bags will get surprisingly heavy, especially for an elk or moose so you don't want them to rip when you change out. I will toss out the leg bones and a lot of the trimmings to feed the local foxes but sometimes the neighbor's dogs get into it so I don't just make one big pile any more. Used to be a lot of fun to see what would come by when I lived in a less populated area.
Grinder. Get a good one, it makes a huge difference. I bought a 3/4 Hp one from Cabelas over 20 years ago. Not sure how much meat has gone through it, but it has to be in the tons by now. Still going strong. You can get a good grinder that will last you a very long time and that you can add attachments to for around $500. Get one with coarse and fine plates and the sausage stuffing tubes and you are set. On the good ones, you can add extra tools that are very useful.
Tenderizer. Some might call it a cuber. This one almost makes it to the "Required" category. You can use this for a lot of the tougher cuts with tendons inside to make great tenderized/cube steak. I love me some chicken fried steaks! I bought a hand crank tenderizer probably 15 or more years ago and it works great. You can get an attachment for a grinder, but they cost more.
Folding tables. I started cutting up meat in my kitchen. It works, but can get a bit messy and difficult to keep clean trucking in and out with meat and waste. Since I got married, I do it in the garage to minimize the conflicts... Those lightweight plastic folding tables are really useful. I just got some last year that have extendable legs to go higher and they really help your back!
Vacuum sealer. This will really make a difference in how long you can store your meat and many, many other uses. It is an amazing tool. I just got one from Walmart for around $100 about 5 years ago and am surprised that it is still working after quite a few elk and deer.
Sausage stuffer. Finally broke down and bought one last year. Had been just using the grinder to stuff sausage for many years but didn't like how it would tend to re-grind the meat. A stuffer will not regrind the meat like the grinder so you can get a better texture on your sausages. It definitely works better than a grinder to make better sausage.
Sausage Mixer. I do not have one, yet. That will be a purchase for this year. After mixing over 100 pounds of sausage by hand last year, I decided I really need one! My brother and cousin bought one and made up over 200 pounds of sausage last year and said having a mixer was much easier than the old hand mixing that we had been doing. Enjoy!
I do all my own deer. Last year was the most yet at 5. My wife helps with the packaging but I do pretty much all of the cutting myself. Trim the hang out of the meat, no fat or silverskin, and you will have the cleanest, leanest grind you can imagine. I like bone-in shoulder roasts, keep the shanks for braising recipes, ect. Since I've started cooking quite a bit, it's put a whole new love into hunting. There's nothing like putting hours into a complicated dish based on meat you've killed and butchered and having it come out right. More of you guys need to get into it. Makes a turkey look totally different when you've got about 15 different things you want to do with it. Meat is amazing. Check out Scott Rea on Youtube. He's a British butcher by trade who loves teaching. He's got a new book coming out "Merchant of Venison".
I do my deer as well, trimming everything that's not clean meat, rolling out the muscles like Hunt, etc. Several hours of labor, but I enjoy it.
Elk is another story...you can just about multiply the labor by 4. Did half an elk last Season, took me a good 8 hours to get it all trimmed up, vacuum packed, and in the freezer.
Doing an entire elk, is a good long Day for me, which is why I usually drop it off with the Butcher, and trim it up after I thaw it out for cooking.
I prefer vacuum seal but if you do paper try putting each cut of meat or burger into a thin plastic butcher bag first and rolling the air out before papering. You can buy them online by the roll and they are cheap. Takes about five seconds more per package but has a similar effect as vacuum sealing for preventing freezer burn.
This is really important if you use a self-defrosting freezer. Personally I would never store game meat or fish in one of those.
Yes sir, we've cut up all our own for years!
We have started saving all the trimmings and silver skin and making it into one pound packages wrapping and freezing. The dogs just love having one of these frozen chunks thrown out in the yard.
Like others I process my own. From cutting it up, trimming it out, packing it for freezer and making other products (Jerky, sausage, bacon, pastrami, etc). I am likely repeating what others have said. I break down the critter by muscle group. The hind quarter roast (the muscle group has a coarse grain to it) I label as crockpot roast. Backstraps are cut into ~ 12" chunks and lableled. Most of the other stuff is labeled for grind. (Exceptions. Cook tenderloin ASAP. Lower legs-Google Hank Shaw Osso Buco) When trimming, if it is white it has to go. Fat, tendons and no bone (Except Osso Buco makings)
I package all meat the same. I wrap all cuts the same. Wrap in cellophane to remove all air and wrap again with freezer paper. (Thanks Bowsite nijamsu! [sp?]) I like leaving all cuts whole, even if I plan on steaks. Saves on exposing cuts to extra air. I also make my burger "fresh". I do not like freezing meat with livestock fat as it seems to affect taste after a few months. When I thaw meat labeled "grind", I allow it to thaw for several days in a bed of paper towels which allow blood/water to be absorbed. I then grind it for burger or jerky. (For jerky gun) Burger is cooked fresh, no fat added. Add a little olive oil and that is it.
Pic is from my 2009 elk hunt. Pic is at trailhead. Yes it takes time, but it is worth it.
I cut 20-30 deer a year for myself and family. Agree with a lot of points above but think the tenderizer is definitely optional. I have a large handcrank one that I got about 15 years ago. Used 1 time and never again. If I think it’s going to be a tough cut I just make it stew meat, grind it, or plan on using the slow cooker. It’s a nice piece of equipment but for me is useless. Now for an elk or moose, maybe useful.... Cutting your own meat is part of the process/journey.
Ermine- love the picture of your daughter helping. Had a buddy's son helping one year by writing on the packages. We laughed every time we thawed a pack of "booger".
I’m all fired up to do this now.
Question...do you guys hang? If so, how long? Butcher recommended 4-7 days. At 5 dollars a day to use the butcher locker it seemed like a good option.
I hang for a week...might be a "short week", depending on my "Free Day" to cut it all up.
I converted a small bathroom in my workshop, into a cold room/meat locker.
If you ever do it yourself, you will never pay to have it done again. It is work, but it's very satisfying and you will never wonder if you actually got your meat back from the processor or not. It also allows you to be as picky as you want getting fat, sinew, etc. out before grinding the burger. I bought a low end $79 grinder from Cabelas 10 years ago and have used it every year without a problem. You might use some of what you would spend at the processor to buy one and then you're good for years to come.
If the temperatures are right I prefer to hang the quarters at least a week. Hard to get it just right at 7K where I live now. Always seems to be either too hot or too cold.
Used to hang meat for up to 4 weeks when I had access to a mine tunnel at 11K. That mine had the perfect temperature and humidity to make for the best meat ever!
I will cut backstraps and wrap tenderloins the first day.
Absolutely! Do all my own game meat processing...except September elk. Simply too hot during an out-of-state elk hunt to risk meat spoilage...and need lots of freezer space immediately after butchering. For deer sized animals, however, I started off small years ago...using a meat grinding attachment on my wife's Kitchenaid mixer...but now own a stand-alone meat grinder. Once I upgraded my hunting trailer with 320 watts of solar power on the roof and installed a 1,000 watt inverter, I take the meat processing show on the road...and process and vacuum seal everything while still in camp. The RV freezer is big enough to store an entire ground javeliana along with the backstraps and tenderloins of a mule deer (typical second animal on these hunts). The remaining muley venison round steaks and burger are stored in the RV refrigerator until I get home and drop it in my chest freezer. It's a great set up for deer sized game animals for sure. Certainly works for me and the type of hunting I do most of the time...and allows me to stay in the field longer enjoying what I like to do! Kevin
Here's the vacuum sealed finished product...RV style! Kevin
Also, as far as "hanging," I never cut meat that was killed less than 7 days earlier. However, I usually keep it in our garage fridge or often in ice chests. I always freeze several cases of water bottles so I can put them in and on top of the meat. They chill it and keep it cold without adding water like ice does. I drain the blood every few days and have kept elk for as long as 10 days this way in very warm weather.
And of course, the reward !!! Kevin
I too do most of my own. One thing that is a big time saver is to get online and buy the premade vacuum bags rather than a roll and making your own.
Something I run into - I would rather be hunting than cutting meat. By the time I shoot an August pronghorn, a Sept Elk, Oct/Nov WT or another pronghorn or elk, its a good thing to have an empty freezer or two to freeze the quarters and then start my butchering when my seasons are done - like December. YMMV
Do all of our own! We processed 19 animals this year in my buddy’s garage. Full freezer!
I do all of mine and have done so for years. The biggest tip beside keeping everything clean and trim well, is don't let making a mistake on a cut worry you. If it is a usable piece of meat, it can be consumed in some manner. Say you take a roast and butcher the hell out of it your first time, make steaks, stew meat, or even grind if needed. The more you do it the easier it becomes. As others have said, just separate muscle groups like the rear leg shown here. They are all seams. I also recommend that you YouTube the bearded butchers. They are good, knowledgeable guys. Good luck
What tobywon said. Bearded Butchers youtube channel is great
I really like this plastic bags like these cabelas ones I have. They make it easy for burger
I don’t add fat to my burgers. Prefer strait
I wrap steaks and roasts etc in Saran Wrap and then paper. Works better for me than vacuum sealing.
I put my burger in 1 gallon baggies, get all air out, twist and then wrap with freezer paper. No freezer burn even after 2 yrs
I do same as HUNTMAN.
Get yourself a vacuum sealer. I used other methods for many years, then I got a vacuum sealer and wished I could have the years back. One of the biggest advantages is having your ground frozen in thin packages that thaw in 10 minutes in warm water. Great for those days you forgot to take something out for supper.
Ermine, I like those bags too for grinds. I just don't like the tape dispenser. I started using small zip ties to seal.
Have been doing our own for 30+ years. The only thing that I have to add is to point out axle2axle's pic of the finished product. We vacuum seal all of ours and flatten all burger packages. Stacks very easily and does not break the vacuum seal. Having done both, vacuum seal is definitely superior to paper for freezer shelf life and freshness. Pete
1 Cow Elk ready for the freezer. Dad, Son & G-son from field to freezer on all our wild game.
Shot a small doe and decided to do it myself and it was easy.also saved 100 dollars, bigger deer cost 150. I'm done with butchers, like to know that what I kill it what I'll be eating.
We also use the plastic cabela's bags for stuffing, works like a charm and you burn through them quick. I've never brought anything to the processor. One of my favorite things to do on a lazy Sunday is cut/vacuum seal a deer with a beer in my hand. Just start doing it yourself, you'll never go back.
"have the inner loins for dinner that night unless you use the gutless method then forget about that & the ribs."
Don't get caught in Colorado leaving the tenderloins. By law, edible meat needs to be prepared for human consumption. "At a minimum, the four quarters, tenderloins and backstraps are edible meat"
We've been doing our own for over 40 years. Like others, we separate the individual muscle groups, trim well. Keep some as roasts, cut most into steaks if big enough, then stew meat, then ground. Sometimes adjusting to more stew or ground as needed. We only worry about labeling cuts as tenderloin, loin, shoulder, or round. We don't grind trimmings, just pure meat. There's no difference in quality between a steak and burger. Trimmings get made into dog food. One other note; For years we used the shanks for dog food. Big mistake! We don't keep the bone in, but save the shank meat as one piece. In various braising recipes like osso buco , they're great.
After I started doing my own I am no longer happy with most processors. I do have one who does our elk when I go to elk camp and I am very happy with their work. I do several deer a year. I butcher a couple into different cuts and do a can a couple deer. Canned venison has become a favorite in our household and several relatives who are asking for it now. Anyone else can any of theirs?
Like many here I taught myself years ago and now don't even know where to find a processor. When I hunt of state, however, I usually hang the meat at a processor if I'm going to keep hunting (have more tags). Then, to travel home I'll cut the meat into great big hunks and vacuum pack them. This keeps excessive moisture off of the meat - like would be a cooler. And, it makes it easy to fly.
Then, when I get home I can butcher it with all of my regular equipment. All that is needed is to bring a small Foodsaver and some big bags on the trip. Here is a source I just found for big bags - see the link.
One other thing to remember do not hang your animal outdoors, temperature swings are way too much and don't allow the meat to tenderize correctly. If you have no choice then cover tightly with a reflective tarp.
I have done all our animals. This year I did half a cow elk, a whitetail deer and two wild hogs.
I have done a full bull elk and a mule deer in the past.
I'll admit, it's not a complicated task but it is very time consuming. I usually make sure I have many hours planned out before I begin. I do the saran wrap and butcher paper and cut everything into roasts or steaks. I don't have a grinder yet but we mostly eat steaks and jerky so I just slice jerky cuts from the roasts.
Check out some different youtube videos. I pick up different tips from various folks.
We've been doing it since the late 60's. My dad and brother helping here.
Ageing without a walk-in is a lot harder. I leave everything in the game bags, pile them on planks (so the quarters have drain space under them) in the bottom of the bathtub, pour on about 120lb of ice and keep it well iced for 7 -10 days, checking the temperature twice a day.
Elkstabber try Walton's meats, better prices on the bags or rolls.
I buy a lot of supplies from Waltons. Last purchase was some new butchering gloves which I seem to require anymore...
Same as everyone here. I do my own. I do as most here and separate the rear quarter groups, cut into steaks, run the cuts through a cuber, wrap and smack my momma if she tries to take them. What is left of the rear quarters goes into the mass burger pile after I cut the shanks off.
I then trim out the rest of the animal. Backstraps get cut into hunks and frozen. Inner loin get eaten that night or the next with the heart. Cook the loins whole in a hot cast iron skillet with olive oil and proper seasoning. Then remove and let stand for 10 minutes. Then I smack anyone who tries to take my share. While letting it rest, I fry the heart in butter and appetize myself awaiting the tenderloins.
I break the shoulders down into two sections. Upper blade and lower "shank". I cut it at the front joints and cook them whole in a slow cooker after hot searing them. Best eats on any animal as far as I'm concerned. I'll shoot somebody over these cuts. I used to cut off and grind these but, the loss of meat due to silver skin, bitter fat and such was too great in comparison to having it melt in your mouth after being cooked properly.
I then get every single piece of meat I can off the bone and put it into the burger bag.
This process has changed over the years to my liking but, this is definitely the way I prefer over all the roasts and such. It starts in the woods where the animal dies. I quarter it, bag it by cuts on the spot, pack it out, then hang it for as long as I can expect the burger. I get it into gallon zip lock bags, freeze it until the end of the season and grind it all at once after season. It doesn't take long to process once home and doing so.
I was taught how to do it when I was 13, and have been doing my own for the past 54 years. I bone everything, and like others have said you don't need to get fancy and specific about particular cuts.
Another tip that saves time and extends storage is to not cut steaks when you first butcher unless you're going to eat them soon and not freeze them. I cut the loinstraps into large roasts, and then I have the option to either cook them whole as a roast, or to thaw them and then cut the chops/steaks from them as it suits my particular recipe.
This is also how I do scrap. I freeze the scrap un-ground and then grind it as I need it after it's thawed. I make ground jerky out of most of mine.
And as already stated......GET A VACUUM SEALER!!!
Once you start doing your own meat you'll never want to go back to a processor. You will KNOW what you have, and it'll be done how YOU want it.
Just made my first ever neck roast yesterday. I did it in the crockpot Mississippi style. Phenomenal!
Kicking myself for grinding that meat up all these years.
Nick, if I'm eating deer roasts that aren't shoulder, its going to be the neck.
I saved a neck roast recipe that was posted here a while back, and I will definitely try it with the next deer I get. Cooking it sounds a hell of a lot easier than boning it, and better eating too!
I don't; enjoy it cause usually I have just gone through the meat grinder myself on the hunt ..... want to get it done quick and good ZIPLOCK and air burp!!!...black sharpie telling me what kind of game and year and part... SIMPLE!!!!! I got a kick ass Caleba 1 1/2 grinder if it doesn't look like it might make a steak it goes into the beast.... I use to cut up the "steaky" looking parts and the back straps and now keep them in chunks and cut them when they thaw and eat that piece over the course of 4 -5 days or so... ZIPLOCK AIR BURP!!!!
Plus I will add I don't know what all the butcher paper..as I say above zip lock mark with a sharpie and DOOOOOOONNNNEEEEE
I have done all of my own processing from my first year...especially after I brought my clean chunks of meat to the processor to grind into burger (prior to getting a grinder) and had to throw it away. I would recommend getting the video...from field to table. It was a two vcr set that broke down the animal from the field to the table. My first deer took me literally 14 hours...cause I would watch a section and then go and do that section. It now only takes me from start to finish about 6 hours to do several deer. I'm by myself and can do the deer (1 or 3) in that short amount of time. I will cut all the meat into steaks and roasts...mainly I leave all the big cuts as roasts and then when we want to have deer I thaw it out and cut into steaks.
I'm with Huntman and Ermine.
Child labor is the key.
You'll learn to enjoy processing your own meat. Turn it into a fun thing. The reason I could see having someone else do it is if I had no cooler or ice. But who's to say what kind of meat they're giving you back.
So lets say its 85 outside in late summer, So Cal, and I arrow a deer. How do I hang the deer for 4 days if I don't have access to a refrigerated cooler?? Could I make a portable unit with a window AC unit and some visquine in my garage?? I know very ghetto, redneck etc etc
Most butchers will let you hang it for a fee. It’s 5 bucks a day here.
Empty Freezer, You can quarter it up and put it in a regular refrigerator.
"Most butchers will let you hang it for a fee"
Yeah, if they have the room and patience to stop what they're doing to accomodate a non-customer...
Empty Freezer, frozen water bottles are the best. Freeze a case and then put a layer on the bottom of a large ice chest (which also serves to let the blood drain so the meat doesn't sit in it), then the rest on the topand you are good for many days. Have another half case in your freezer and swap melty bottles with hard frozen every day or two and you can keep meet for weeks even in warm temps. I've been doing elk this way for 20+ years. Hunting in NM and then driving to KS where it is still hot, especially in my garage and I've never lost any meat or had any bad flavors.
Thanks for the ideas guys. I was afraid the meat wouldn't age good in a cooler. That seems like the best way for me to go. I always have gallon jugs of ice with me wherever I go, local or out of state.
Gallon jugs work well also. I just prefer the small water bottles once I'm home as they get the meat off the bottom and the top ones that thaw are easy to replace with a new layer of frozen ones. At camp we use the gallon jugs as well. What causes the aging is time allowing the muscles to go completely through the rigor stage as well as some breaking down. I've also "aged" meat in an extra refrigerator but I prefer the ice chest as it is easier to clean once done and I don't have to convince my wife its clean as its my hunting cooler that she never uses. :)
A couple of tips: 1) Wipe everything down with red wine vinegar.
2)If you are going to make sausage, make sure that your fat content is between 25-30 percent. Use a sausage stuffer and no you dont have to double grind. On that note, if are like me and process 5-10 deer a year buying (and butchering) a pig is not a bad idea. 3) Get a vacuum sealer if you dont already have one. 4) Have a plan for what you are going to do with the meat, e.g. how many pounds of grind, Lbs of Sausage, how many roasts. There is nothing worse then getting half way through and realizing that you are out of sausage casings or vacuum bags. 5) One last thing, and this is non-negotiable. Get a 6-pack or two of what ever beer you like. As you are butchering it is important that you take frequent rests to rehydrate your body.
I really enjoy sirloin steaks. They eat as well as the loins, tender with great flavor. I am not completely clear what part of the hind quarter they come from. Can someone enlighten me? The rest seems pretty straightforward.
I used to do my own. The last 20 or so big game animals, I gutted, took a back strap and gave the rest to people that wanted and needed the meat.
"I am not completely clear what part of the hind quarter they come from"
If it was a Woman...it would be the "Tramp Stamp" region ;^)
Hahahahaha. Ok where’s that? Jk!
So does it come off with the hind quarter when doing the gutless?
I used the ice chest method last year after mule deer hunt in Arizona. I put some racks inside to keep the meat off the bottom. Put in the meat and as much bagged ice as I could to complete fill the cooler. I opened the drain plug each day. Kept the cooler in the shade for a week. I checked it every few days and never had to add ice. Everything aged very nicely.
Been processing my own since I started hunting. Roasts, stew meat, steaks, chunks and burger. Solo in the woods and at the butcher block. It's a lot of work trimming all the junk off, but well worth it every bite.
The sirloin is the piece in front of the hindquarter in this pic. On the hindquarter it is on the left side,it is attached to the femur.
Sirloin Tip is the "quad" muscle attached to the femur on the front of the hind quarter above the knee cap. The Sirloin is located on the backside of the pelvis just ahead of the "rump roast".
Yes, the sirloin comes off with the "gutless method". To what degree of shape it's in or even recognizable as to what it is depends on the guy taking it off the pelvis in the field...
Now we’re talking! I just need to kill something now. Haha
How do you guys age your animals in September? I was planning on having a locker hang it for me but they closed up shop! I’ll keep an eye out for another lock but what’s another option?
I use a 120 QT cooler and laid some 2x4's cut to length on the bottom of my cooler. I put frozen jugs in between the boards. I laid one quarter in there, then did another layer of boards, ice and another quarter. I had a digital thermometer in there and just kept an eye on it. I kept this in my garage with an old sleeping bag wrapped tightly around the cooler and left it sit for a few days. When I was ready to process and had my table in the basement completely set up I would grab a quarter and put it in a second cooler with ice jugs and would carry it to my basement. I'd take off a large muscle group and leave the quarter in the cooler until I was ready for another piece. This kept everything below 40 degrees and allowed for some aging...which I've never done before. I usually just butcher as soon as I get home. I can't really tell the difference as age of animal, bull/cow, elk/deer/wild pig have all factored into the end result.
Last year I started Meateater on Youtube on my laptop and casually processed while listening/watching that. Made time go by and I had some great results from all the different animals I did.
My buddy is building a walk-in cooler next week in his shed. Lucky bastid!
http://www.outdoornews.com/2014/09/12/aging-cutting-game-meat/ ? What Makes Wild Meat Tough? There are two factors: the animal itself and the hunter. There’s nothing you, the hunter, can do about the animal – what it ate all summer, how hard life had been before you met in the woods some frozen evening. Even who its parents were determine the quality of the meat. But you can control what happens after the shot, and aging can do a lot to improve the hand nature dealt you.
The First 48 Hours After Your Harvest: This is when rigor mortis is going in, and then out again. When it’s in, the carcass that was once loosey-goosey is now as stiff as a board. If you let the carcass freeze now, your steaks and roasts will be tough – even if you started out with a tender, little forkhorn. And it doesn’t matter if it froze on the meat pole, by accident, or in your freezer. It’s what meat scientists call “thaw rigor.” It’s permanent, so no amount of moist cooking will cure it. So be patient. Let the rigor run its course. The animal will get stiff, then less stiff. Then you can freeze it.
The Next 48 hours: Rigor should be out now, and it’s time to make a decision. Cut a piece of shoulder steak off and cook it. If it’s not as tender as you’d like (and it didn’t suffer ‘thaw rigor’) now is the time to tenderize by aging.
Tenderize By Aging: But How Long? Temperature effects aging. At 80 degrees, it gallops. At 20 degrees, it crawls. In a perfect world, you’d age the meat at 33 to 36 degrees, until it’s as tender as it can get. We aged a tough, old elk tenderloin in the fridge one year to test time and temperature (a constant 36). Two to 3 days did almost nothing; 7-10 days saw a tremendous difference. After that, there was improvement, but it was minimal. It was time to put him in the freezer.
After Aging, How Can You Tell If Your Animal Is Tender Enough? Cut a steak from the shoulder, quick-fry it, or put it on the grill – but only to medium-rare, at most. (Dry-cooking steaks beyond medium-rare toughens them, too.)
If they are tender enough, wrap each skinned quarter in a layer of freezer paper, then let them sit in the freezer 6 to 8 hours. By then they’ll be firmed up and ready to cut.
Cutting while the carcass is pretty frozen is the easiest way to do that. Plus, frozen meat is much easier to control, so you can cut uniform pieces. Later you’ll find it’s easier to cook steaks to the exact temperature if they’re all the same thickness
TIPS FROM THE CHEF ON CUTTING STEAKS There are only two tricks to cutting good-looking steaks: one is to partially freeze the quarter so the meat doesn’t slide around under your knife, and the second is to cut across the grain.
(Oh, and it pays to have the right knife. A 6-inch boning knife is great for deer, but to cut bigger elk or moose steaks, a longer knife saves time, and cuts more neatly.)
TIPS FROM THE CHEF ON CUTTING ACROSS THE GRAIN Cut across the grain. You’ve heard that before, but here’s the principle for getting oriented. Muscles run the length of the bone, and attach at either end of the bone. So to cut across the grain, lay your knife at a 90-degree angle across the bone. Like a ‘T.’
Find Chef Eileen’s Venison Fajita Kabob recipe online: www.OutdoorNews.com/ Cooking
Categories: Big Game, Cooking, Featured
We butcher cows, chickens, quail, deer, turkey....pretty much anything we wanna eat. For larger game, i just separate the muscle groups and then break them down for what im after. All the scraps become burger.
I age them in a fridge if out side doesn’t cooperate. It’s harder because you’ve got to put it into a garbage bag. And, I don’t let it lay in blood so, you gotta get it on a rack in there too. But, it works well as long as you do this.
This is for deer. It’d take a might bigvfridge for an elk.
Is it better to grind meat that is partially frozen? Are there any negatives to not aging a deer and cutting the same day as killed?
Meat grinds easier partially frozen or at least well chilled. If you're mixing pork or beef fat both should be well chilled to combine better.
The meat will be much better if you properly age it before freezing. I go anywhere from 5-10 days.
High Quality Filet knives! Grinder and sausage mixer! Don't know what processing costs are where you live, but where I live you can pretty much by all this plus a sausage stuffer for what processing costs are for a large animal! I package roasts for the most part, I do steak out the back straps, but otherwise it's roasts and if you want steaks you can cut them when you thaw out the roast, saves a lot of time processing like that! I just did my moose, trimmed up all the grind, bagged it and froze it, will thaw and grind later!
Bind this up in a book -- great stuff.
Old goat, for elk you can expect to pay 1.19-1.49 a pound for semi boneless. That’s cut and wrapped.
Never really thought of not doing it. UP until a few years ago it really made you think before pulling the trigger on a warm day with warm forecasts for the next week. 3 years ago finally sprung for a $50 chest freezer and my brother in law set me up with a controller/temp regulator that I can keep the freezer at 38degrees so early season deer go in there.
I do not have a good place to hang quarters so I have never aged them. Last year I read an article on Meateater blog where they talked about "wet aging". Basically you vacuum seal your meat, keep it in the fridge, re-seal it weekly to remove the blood and then freeze it after 2-3 weeks. Did it on an antelope and in rut whitetail and the meat was fantastic. Deer was very tender considering it was near the end of the rut. I will definitely do that from now on.
Go big, or go home. Taught the boys on small game and deer, now they get recruited by friends to help out with much bigger game. Teaches them awesome values, and how to process their own when they get older.
Dmann, just saw your question. If you cut up your meat right away, while rigor mortis is still underway, it might be the toughest meat you've ever chewed on. Conversely, if you give the enzymes time to break down the connective tissue, it might be the most tender meat you've ever had.
Either way, a Jaccard tenderizer should be a staple for every hunter. Tenderize it with the Jaccard, marinate in a ziplok freezer bag for a few hours to overnight, drop the bag in a Sous Vide for an hour to 1 1/2 hours at 129 degrees, do a quick sear in a cast iron skillet, and you'll have the best venison steak you've ever eaten, perfectly medium rare.
Thanks for the reply, just worried about not having cold enough temps to age. Been thinking I might try cooler aging
My antelope hang for 48 hours. I put it in a cooler yesterday and then hung again last night. Hopefully he’ll be tender!
Double or single grind? I went for the single grind and the burgers came out great. What’s the advantage of a double grind?
Double grind will be sure to take care of any silver skin that maybe on muscle groups
This is from the Alaska Fish &Game
“ If participating in a winter hunt, a phenomenon called cold shortening may affect the quality of your meat. If the meat is allowed to freeze too quickly, before the rigor-relaxation process can occur, the muscle can shrink due to loss of water, vitamins, minerals, and water soluble proteins. Cold shortening also results in tough meat. Depending on the temperature, you may want to leave the skin on the meat or pack it with snow to prevent it from chilling too quickly until you are ready to process it”
I figured I would bring this to the top. It’s been a great year so far and I’ve got a lot of butchering experience. I’ve come to the realization that butchering sucks!!! Maybe I’m too picky and being too meticulous on getting the fat and silver skin but dang it takes forever to butcher an elk!
I’ve done an antelope buck, mule deer buck, and 3 bull elk already this year. The freezers are overflowing and I think I’ve saved myself around 1100 dollars in butchering fees. Everything has turned out great and my rookie quality is substantially better than the professional butcher shops I used last year.
Butchering is ridiculously easy. It seemed daunting, but it’s really quite simple.
If anybody is thinking about getting going and has any questions for someone that probably just went through the same question, ask away!
Here are the tools I ended up with.
Cabelas $199 grinder. Works great. Almost as good as my buddies .75hp LEM grinder. As long as the chunks were small it did great!
7” victorinox semi stiff knife. Works great. Keep it sharp and it is an awesome knife.
2 meat bins from cabelas. They were 10 bucks each. Super strong, held up to 50lbs of meat no problem. I need a couple more.
LEM wax paper. I got the big pack of paper, I want to say 3k feet? So far, 3 elk, a muley and antelope and it barely looks touched.
Heavy duty plastic wrap from LEM. It’s also 3k feet I believe. Super thick, easy to handle and sticks to itself well.
Garage refrigerator was clutch. I was able to take all the racks out and it fit an entire quartered our elk.
8 dollar scale from amazon. I packaged half my burger in 1lb and half in 2lb. The 2lb cut the work tremendously and sped up the process.
That’s about it. Call it 250 dollars worth of equipment. My last bull cost 300 at the butcher to cut and wrap.
Simple just cut up each muscle group into steaks and you can identify them easy when comparing to a cow. One walk through the meat dept at a grocery store and identification is obvious. I worked in one for 7 years.
Well worth it in my opinion to butcher your own game. You know what your getting and can cut it up as you want. Has always been part of hunting for me.
Forgot to mention always cut against the grain and not with it. You will see the lines in the meat just cut perpendicular through them.
The impact your having on those kids help is substantial. Mine have all been helping since that age and now my youngest (16) can butcher his own in his sleep.
Man, this thread seems like a lifetime ago.
2019 - bull elk, cow elk, antelope
2020 - 2 bull elk, buck deer, antelope
2021 - bull elk, cow elk, antelope
All of these animals were processed myself, that butcher bill would add up to aeound 2000 dollars, just to cut and wrap! Not to mention all the sausage I’ve made!
Thanks for pushing me over the edge, it’s amazing how easy it is once you get your hands dirty!
30 years ago I was also breaking child labor laws lol The kids look around my daughters age when I introduced them to the wonderful world butchering. We got to where we could break down and package up a deer in a few hours ( with moms help) great times with the family
Awesome , love to see kids involved.
Love those smiles on those kid’s faces! They are having fun!
Too bad more kids don't know where food comes from! Thanks for passing it on.
Here’s my boy helping out with a beef I cut for our family.
Yes sir! I have another one same size, different brand that sits directly across from it. It does the first grind and the one my son is on does the second fine grind. Then it goes into our stuffer. I can have half a beef ground twice in about 10 minutes.
Grinders behind my daughters new recurve. A load of hams behind the grinders getting ready to cure them.