Black Gold Sights - Pure Gold
DIY Butchering
Elk
Contributors to this thread:
Ucsdryder 05-Mar-19
Russell 05-Mar-19
otcWill 05-Mar-19
HUNT MAN 05-Mar-19
Vids 05-Mar-19
Franklin 05-Mar-19
nvgoat 05-Mar-19
WapitiBob 05-Mar-19
N-idaho 05-Mar-19
Bowboy 05-Mar-19
Royboy 05-Mar-19
Ski-Skin 05-Mar-19
Amoebus 05-Mar-19
JTV 05-Mar-19
Beendare 05-Mar-19
grizzly 06-Mar-19
jdee 06-Mar-19
Cornpone 06-Mar-19
ohiohunter 06-Mar-19
Ermine 06-Mar-19
timex 06-Mar-19
relliK reeD 06-Mar-19
midwest 06-Mar-19
NoWiser 06-Mar-19
cnelk 06-Mar-19
midwest 06-Mar-19
MjMorrow 06-Mar-19
320 bull 06-Mar-19
Treeline 06-Mar-19
Feedjake 06-Mar-19
elkmtngear 06-Mar-19
Jaquomo 06-Mar-19
ElkNut1 06-Mar-19
keepemsharp 06-Mar-19
Z Barebow 06-Mar-19
craig@work 06-Mar-19
nvgoat 06-Mar-19
Ucsdryder 06-Mar-19
elkmtngear 06-Mar-19
Darrell 06-Mar-19
Treeline 06-Mar-19
axle2axle 06-Mar-19
axle2axle 06-Mar-19
Darrell 06-Mar-19
axle2axle 06-Mar-19
axle2axle 06-Mar-19
Shiras42 06-Mar-19
cnelk 06-Mar-19
Beav 06-Mar-19
tobywon 06-Mar-19
JTV 06-Mar-19
ghost stalker 06-Mar-19
Ermine 06-Mar-19
cnelk 06-Mar-19
cnelk 06-Mar-19
cnelk 06-Mar-19
APauls 06-Mar-19
tobywon 06-Mar-19
patience2spare 06-Mar-19
ahunter76 06-Mar-19
LBshooter 06-Mar-19
grossklw 06-Mar-19
Ziek 06-Mar-19
Diesel 07-Mar-19
elkstabber 07-Mar-19
elkstabber 07-Mar-19
relliK reeD 07-Mar-19
Lark Bunting 29-Apr-19
stagetek 29-Apr-19
Tdvorak 30-Apr-19
Outdoorsdude 30-Apr-19
SmokedTrout 01-May-19
WV Mountaineer 01-May-19
Woods Walker 01-May-19
midwest 01-May-19
WV Mountaineer 01-May-19
Woods Walker 01-May-19
Adventurewriter 02-May-19
Adventurewriter 02-May-19
Newhunter1 06-May-19
orionsbrother 06-May-19
Dyjack 06-May-19
Empty Freezer 06-May-19
Ucsdryder 06-May-19
Aspen Ghost 06-May-19
HDE 06-May-19
Darrell 07-May-19
Empty Freezer 07-May-19
Darrell 07-May-19
thecanadian 07-May-19
From: Ucsdryder
05-Mar-19
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.

From: Russell
05-Mar-19
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.

From: otcWill
05-Mar-19
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.

From: HUNT MAN
05-Mar-19

HUNT MAN's embedded Photo
HUNT MAN's embedded Photo
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

From: Vids
05-Mar-19
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.

From: Franklin
05-Mar-19
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.

From: nvgoat
05-Mar-19
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.

From: WapitiBob
05-Mar-19
Same as HuntMan, separate every muscle and go from there.

From: N-idaho
05-Mar-19
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.

From: Bowboy
05-Mar-19
Yep, agree with Huntman's method.

From: Royboy
05-Mar-19
It all starts in the field- keep it clean and cold

From: Ski-Skin
05-Mar-19
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.

From: Amoebus
05-Mar-19
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.

From: JTV
05-Mar-19
I do both, have a processor do it and I do it my self .... there are times, esp. in warmer weather and with work obligations I just cant get to the deer to do it myself, so it has to go to a processor... later in the season, once the temps drop, I can hang it and get to it sometimes 5-10 days later ... I dont mind saving some money and do it myself.. .. as said, it all starts in the field, and I will if needed wash out the deer with a hose and wipe the inside down so it is clean, esp if I puncture the stomach or intestines, some times it is the BH doing that, sometimes, I screw up the field dressing, it happens ... the tender loins are the first to come out and get ate ..... I'm a burger guy, so I'll utilize as much as I can for burger, I dont mix anything in it...... both deer this season were taken to a processor because of time (lack there of)... my big Doe was done all burger, the buck was regular cuts and burger .... the most I kill now is only two deer a season (sometimes only one), that does us fine ... two bow killed deer is good for me, one nice buck/one big Doe ... btw, I always use the shoulder length gloves and blue Nitrile gloves over the hands when field dressing and rubber palmed cotton gloves when butchering and pulling the hide off, switching to clean gloves if needed ..

From: Beendare
05-Mar-19
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.

From: grizzly
06-Mar-19
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.

From: jdee
06-Mar-19

jdee's embedded Photo
jdee's embedded Photo
Once you do a few it gets pretty easy. Steaks, roast, stew meat, burger and jerky. +1 on keeping it clean and cold .

From: Cornpone
06-Mar-19
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.

From: ohiohunter
06-Mar-19
Garbage in is garbage out. Trim and trim, especially all silver skin.

Get some tubs, large cutting boards, and good knives. Cry once and buy a good grinder and mixer if you cut your ground or make sausages. Decide if you want to stuff your ground or wrap it. If you have a smoker, def get a stuffer for summer sausage. While you’re at it get a slicer for jerky.

Before you know it everyone will be processing at your place, makes quick work and good times when everyone jumps in.

From: Ermine
06-Mar-19

Ermine's embedded Photo
Helping Dad and practicing writing letter E L K!
Ermine's embedded Photo
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.

From: timex
06-Mar-19
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

good luck

From: relliK reeD
06-Mar-19
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!

From: midwest
06-Mar-19

midwest's embedded Photo
midwest's embedded Photo
A labor of love...

Tons of YouTube videos out there on how to butcher.

From: NoWiser
06-Mar-19
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.

From: cnelk
06-Mar-19
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

From: midwest
06-Mar-19
Agree, no problem getting the tenderloins out using gutless.

From: MjMorrow
06-Mar-19
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!

From: 320 bull
06-Mar-19
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.

From: Treeline
06-Mar-19
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.

Some Nice-to-Haves:

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!

From: Feedjake
06-Mar-19
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".

From: elkmtngear
06-Mar-19
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.

From: Jaquomo
06-Mar-19
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.

From: ElkNut1
06-Mar-19
Yes sir, we've cut up all our own for years!

ElkNut/Paul

From: keepemsharp
06-Mar-19
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.

From: Z Barebow
06-Mar-19

Z Barebow's embedded Photo
Z Barebow's embedded Photo
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.

From: craig@work
06-Mar-19
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.

Craig

From: nvgoat
06-Mar-19
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".

From: Ucsdryder
06-Mar-19
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.

From: elkmtngear
06-Mar-19
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.

From: Darrell
06-Mar-19
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.

From: Treeline
06-Mar-19
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.

From: axle2axle
06-Mar-19

axle2axle's embedded Photo
axle2axle's embedded Photo
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

From: axle2axle
06-Mar-19

axle2axle's embedded Photo
axle2axle's embedded Photo
Here's the vacuum sealed finished product...RV style! Kevin

From: Darrell
06-Mar-19
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.

From: axle2axle
06-Mar-19

axle2axle's embedded Photo
axle2axle's embedded Photo
And of course, the reward !!! Kevin

From: axle2axle
06-Mar-19

axle2axle's embedded Photo
axle2axle's embedded Photo
Get some! Kevin

From: Shiras42
06-Mar-19
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.

From: cnelk
06-Mar-19
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

From: Beav
06-Mar-19
Do all of our own! We processed 19 animals this year in my buddy’s garage. Full freezer!

From: tobywon
06-Mar-19

tobywon's embedded Photo
tobywon's embedded Photo
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

From: JTV
06-Mar-19
as some have said here, a propane torch to singe off hair is a must ......

06-Mar-19
What tobywon said. Bearded Butchers youtube channel is great

From: Ermine
06-Mar-19

Ermine's embedded Photo
Ermine's embedded Photo
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.

From: cnelk
06-Mar-19

cnelk's embedded Photo
cnelk's embedded Photo
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

From: cnelk
06-Mar-19

cnelk's embedded Photo
cnelk's embedded Photo

From: cnelk
06-Mar-19

cnelk's embedded Photo
cnelk's embedded Photo

From: APauls
06-Mar-19
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.

From: tobywon
06-Mar-19
Ermine, I like those bags too for grinds. I just don't like the tape dispenser. I started using small zip ties to seal.

06-Mar-19
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

From: ahunter76
06-Mar-19

ahunter76's embedded Photo
ahunter76's embedded Photo
1 Cow Elk ready for the freezer. Dad, Son & G-son from field to freezer on all our wild game.

From: LBshooter
06-Mar-19
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.

From: grossklw
06-Mar-19
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.

From: Ziek
06-Mar-19
"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.

From: Diesel
07-Mar-19
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?

From: elkstabber
07-Mar-19
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.

From: elkstabber
07-Mar-19

elkstabber's Link
Here's the link:

From: relliK reeD
07-Mar-19
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.

From: Lark Bunting
29-Apr-19
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.

From: stagetek
29-Apr-19

stagetek's embedded Photo
stagetek's embedded Photo
We've been doing it since the late 60's. My dad and brother helping here.

From: Tdvorak
30-Apr-19
Awesome pics and posts.

From: Outdoorsdude
30-Apr-19
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.

From: SmokedTrout
01-May-19

SmokedTrout's Link
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...

01-May-19
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.

From: Woods Walker
01-May-19
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.

From: midwest
01-May-19
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.

01-May-19
Nick, if I'm eating deer roasts that aren't shoulder, its going to be the neck.

From: Woods Walker
01-May-19
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!

02-May-19
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!!!!

02-May-19
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

From: Newhunter1
06-May-19
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.

06-May-19
I'm with Huntman and Ermine.

Child labor is the key.

From: Dyjack
06-May-19
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.

06-May-19
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

From: Ucsdryder
06-May-19
Most butchers will let you hang it for a fee. It’s 5 bucks a day here.

From: Aspen Ghost
06-May-19
Empty Freezer, You can quarter it up and put it in a regular refrigerator.

From: HDE
06-May-19
"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...

From: Darrell
07-May-19
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.

07-May-19
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.

From: Darrell
07-May-19
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. :)

From: thecanadian
07-May-19
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.

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