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game processing near Laramie, WY?
This fall I will be hunting cow elk in the Medicine Bow national forest northwest of Medicine Bow, WY. Where can I get my elk processed in the area? My plans are to leave camp as quickly as possible after shooting and packing an elk and then return in a few days to pick up packaged meat on my way home. I will be driving back through Laramie on I80 so I would prefer to use a reputable processor that will be along my drive back to Iowa. The meat processor in Medicine Bow has very poor reviews so I won't go there. Thanks for your input!
When I lived in Laramie, there was a little butcher shop that did game processing right around the corner from my place that I could steer you to....
But the smart money would be to contact the Meat Science department at the U and ask them for a recommendation. If they don’t know, God don’t either!
I was told of one in Encampment...
We use a guy in Encampment, have always been very pleased with him. Does a nice job, usually pretty prompt, and fair pricing (not cheap). Always clean and helpful and packaged it perfectly for ice chests. Later in the season he stays hooked up and turns some guys away I think. If I’m not mistaken the name is Merrel Meats, he is a little bit east of town. There are 2 in encampment the other one kinda sucks though.
Not exactly on I-80, but if he is within your driving range I would recommend him.
Looks like tidy work by a guy who knows who his customer is!
There are 2 in encampment the other one kinda sucks though. ^^^ I used this 1 twice but no complaints. Think it was $260ish for them to cut and vac seal. This included burger too. I usually take them deboned meat. Pick it up in 3 days on way home frozen. If lucky this year may try Merrels just for a change.
Another that highly recommends Merrill Meats. They’re approx 3-4 miles north of Encampment on the east side of the highway. If you’re talking September archery season, they’ll normally get it processed rather quickly. However, as JTreeman points out, he’s told me things change during rifle season.
Lack of meat cutters in Laramie is concerning, really. I hope there isn’t unnecessary waste when people plan poorly and expect the old spots to be open.
Same goes for Cheyenne, John. Hard to believe the capital of Wyoming basically has zero processors anymore.
Jim beat me to it, that’s the one I’ll use if I get lucky....
So in talking to the Bio the other day, it may be due to the ‘no cross contamination’ issue...If they do wild game, they can’t or are not suppose to do domestic and vis versa...Least that’s how he explained it!
It is certainly possible that I’m mistaken, but I thought that rule was something more along the lines of “can’t do wild game and domestic at the same time”. The way I understood it was they could switch from domestic to game. But not take an elk, then a beef cow from the next customer. But they could do beef cows for 8 months and the wild game only for 4 months or whatever.
Again, I could be way off base. —Jim
G, how it was explained to me was not that it can’t be done, but it’s a complete PITA to go through the cleaning process required when processing both domestic and wild game. Most butchers simply don’t want to mess with it. Either way, there’s not many around anymore. When I moved here in the mid-70’s, there were 4-5 game processors in Cheyenne. The last one closed up shop 2-3 yrs ago.
EDIT: Jim and I must have been typing at the same time...he’s just faster on the “Submit” button! ;-)
Crazy, for a state like Wyoming ...
That cross contamination gig is here in Utah now too.
My guy for years won't do wild game anymore NONE as it has turned onto a circle jerk for the butchers.
To pricey for a separate shop and to pricey to only do big game for 4-5 months.....
Good luck, Robb
Thanks for the responses. Disappointing that a big game destination state like Wyoming has so few butcher shops processing game meat.
In that part of the state there are probably other cross contamination issues that would concern a meat processor. Valid or not, the popular media has brought the CWD issue to the general public and it can't be great for business.
What I am concerned about is the waste. How many guided hunters will think they can “donate” game that they’d shoot? I know most people HERE hunt for the meat, in large part, but MANY guided hunters plan on taking a few prime cuts and a trophy. What is going to happen to those elk? Those pronghorn? I’d like to hear from guides just how much waste is out there ... I think it’d be eye opening.
Dont know what the donation regulations are in WYO but in Colorado there are some detailed laws about donating big game meat - They are on Pg 15 of the Regs.
Well, there is nowhere around here to donate unprocessed meat to, anyway; I have a feeling that those carcasses aren't going to the landfill, either, where they should go in a CWD area. Nope -- they're going to someone's dead livestock pit.
There is a place in Douglass Wyoming which isn't too far from Laramie.
H’s Custom Cuts our of Wheatland is another option. Had good luck there.
Talked to the owner of H’s in Wheatland yesterday. Sounds like he won’t start processing until rifle seasons due to business in beef. Talked to Jeannie Maddox, who recently bought the business from her dad in Medicine Bow. She quoted me $350 for a cow, which seems expensive? Guess I’ll bring it back down and go to Arapahoe Meats.
Had Anyone used this guy?
Found the info on the place in Douglas. Tom's Wild Game Processing 307-358-4377 or 307-359-9458 It isn't too far from Medicine Bow because we went there for a hike and fishing after tagging out on pronghorn a couple years ago. Good luck!
It’s actually not hard to process domestic and wildgame in the same place. Cleaning equipment shouldn’t be an issue if the plant is using properly designated cleaners, disinfectant, and sanitizers. The equipment should be cleaned spotless regardless of what animal is being processed. A processor can’t cut wildgame and then switch to domestic in the same day but we can go from domestic to wildgame.
For those that think $350 is too high what do you think is reasonable? Figure in cleaning fees, carcass disposal, electricity, water, supplies, wages, insurance, workman’s comp, gross receipt taxes, and finally profit. It all has to be figured in for each animal. What does it cost to process each animal and try to make a profit?
If I had to pay $350, I’d take the prime and easy cuts to package myself and donate the rest.
Do those who "donate" unprocessed meat not pay anything for the basic processing? Do processors just eat the costs? I've donated packaged meat but I've never understood just dropping off some quarters.
Learn to process your own meat. Wild game butchers are a dying breed.
Tom's in Douglas is $165 for basic cuts plus $30 caping fee.....for antelope!
You have to pay for processing if you donate the meat. An elk with steaks and burger or sausage will run about $300+ anywhere. Sausage is time consuming to make and ingredients are not free. They also take up more space in a cooler.
I’m my State those who donate their meat have to fill out some paperwork and then the State run food bank pays us for the processing. The paperwork states that the game was harvested legally, cooled down properly and brought in to a cold storage facility within the proper time frame. License number is written down and the paper is signed and dated. Paperwork is turned in to the state.
Wildgame processors are not a dying breed. Some fade away because they try to keep prices so low no one will complain and realize they didn’t make any money. Some are just plain bad. I see guys open up shops all over the area thinking they can do it for cheaper. They close down within a few years. You guys have no idea what it takes to even keep the doors open. Everyone asks where so and so processor went but aren’t willing to pay a little more for better service to keep a local butcher open? I’ve been processing for 28 years and will still be doing it for at least another 15-20. There will always be a need for good local butchers.
Yeah. It’s that time of year for the complainants to start against wild game processors.
1- It costs too much 2- they stole my meat 3- I only got a few pounds of meat back...
Start processing your own meat and then tally up your time and materials. Be sure to weigh all the trimmings so you get a real taste of what a processor does.
I never understood why some people think game processing is some mystical skill. A few cutting boards, knives, steel tubs, a grinder, paper, tape and you’re in business. You want the sausages etc... take some grind and have it done. But for the basics... yeah $350 is rape
I have no problem paying for $350 if the value is there. Compared to other folks in the area I’ve spoken with it seems to be the highest quote. At the same time the place charging that price has received unfavorable reviews from past customers. I have started to butcher my own meat but do not have the skills to make the variety of sausages and sticks, etc. With 2 kids under 3 time is at a premium, so in the end I’d prefer to pay $350 and have more time to hunt. Not trying to undervalue anyone’s craft or service. If the market says the value of an elk is $350 then that is the value.
You would think there would be more around these parts, but for some reason there just isn't. Must be the cost of doing business and the hassle of that type if work. Rainbow meats was darn convenient and mostly did good work. Anymore I just do my own meat and have resigned myself to the fact that it is the best route, even when occasionally inconvenient.
The stuff the professional butchers use isn't the run of the mill LEM brand we buy. Their costs are much higher due to that. But, no one is dumb enough to think that the LEM stuff we homeowners buy would last very long doing the volume they do either. But, there is always people who do things for themselves. And, I am one of them. But, I also understand there are people out there that like to save money at others expense.
I'd imagine during hunting season, overtime comes into play for employees in order to get the meat back to the hunter and, the regular customer timely. As do increased over head due to the extra work needed to change back and forth. Vacuum bags aren't cheap. Quality cutlery isn't either. If it takes an employee 2 hours to cut and wrap an elk; once you add in all the other costs,all of a sudden, $350 isn't rape at all. It is what it takes to do it and make money. And, as all business owners know, if you can't make money there is no sense in doing it.
I’m glad to hear that there are actually people out there that get it and what it takes to operate a slaughter and meat processing plant, especially during wildgame season. I get the fact that some like to cut their own animals and I’m glad they do and know how. I just get tired of all the allegations that all processors are bad and thieves. Overhead and overtime are killers for sure. Hell, it costs close to 10k every year just to dispose of all the bone, fat, carcass’s, and ofal.
We are getting ready to expand again in the next year going full USDA offering all our specialty products to customers and restaurants. Adding more headache and cost to squeak out a living! Lol
I don't complain, I tip them. My whitetail processor charges $75 for a standard cut, (burger, roast and steaks). I usually give him $100. I value him and his wife's hard work!
Know why divorce is so expensive? Because it’s worth it.
Having your meat processed falls under the same category
$75 is a good price on deer esp considering skinning... and no telling what some people bring to the butcher. I’m sure the stories are endless.
I agree Embry. I pay $300 and tip to a husband and wife that do an exceptional job and take great pride in it. Wrapped in freezer bag and then wrapped in paper. Plus they hold it in their freezer till whenever I head home as I stay till the end of the month. It's a special piece of meat and well worth the cost.
I took my bull in to get processed last week. 4 quarters - 200lbs with bone in.
I told them I would like 15lbs of steaks and put the rest into burger. Half of it twice ground in 1lb packages, the other half once ground in 2lb packages.
I can pick it up today - $190. DEAL!
Last time I paid to have an animal processed it was 190 for a deer. Iv been told that’s gone up substantially since then. If I could get an elk done for that I’d probably never cut one myself again.
Haven't read the total thread, but Sinclair near Rawlins used to have a processor.