Contributors to this thread:
deer processing fees
I shot a large buck and transported it 200 back home to be processed The meat cutter charged $125 plus 15 to add fat. Then he charged me $35 for caping because I had cut the head off. Said it was because harder to skin. When I questioned it he proceeded to drop 20 f bombs on me. I've shot 70 deer and never encountered this before. No sense arguing with a guy like that. How would you guys handle it. He never mentioned fee when I dropped it off but had it in small letters on board
I'd find another butcher for the next go around if I were you if doing it yourself wasn't an option .
did he skin out the head for you as well? that was the caping fee I assume? I have always done all that myself so I have no idea on what it costs but I dont see how it would be more difficult to skin out a head not attached. seems it would be easier to me ? i wouldnt go back there I guess.
Our processors charge for caping too, that doesn't include removing hide from the head. They likely sell the hides and get less for half a buck hide, making it a small hide. If price of beef remains high into next year, the ones who process deer will likely raise rates too. Also, when it comes to deer, the processing fee is the same, regardless if the deer is a fawn or 200+ lb buck.
The mere fact he dropped those f-bombs on you, the customer, tells a lot. I wouldn’t send any return business to him.
Ya I wouldn’t be going back. When possible (98% of the time) I do all of my own.
Just another example of how screwed up this country is getting. Made up fees and you get a cussing for questioning it.
Those fees are in line with what processors charge here in Michigan.
I don't think there is a processor around here anymore that will accept an UNSKINNED deer (except for Hunters Sharing the Harvest (food bank) processors). Some will only accept boned out meat.
I just dropped off two deer I shot at a local northern Michigan processor Saturday I think it was for my buddy. Their order sheet has the various charges spelled out so ya know what it costs up front. I remember it said $12 to saw off the antlers. I'm sure caping was on there. Their FB page says processing is $135. Jerkys and sticks are probably an add-on. Glad I do my own. Two of the best tools in the man-room......a LEM grinder and a vacuum sealer.
I started cutting up my own when prices went up to$65, I couldn’t imagine paying $125! Now, that being said, I understand why they charge that amount based off the time I invest to cut one up. So $125 isn’t bad. Just too rich for my blood.
My daughter shot her first deer this year, and I took it to a processor because I wanted to get some good snack sticks and jerky for her. I asked them to sawzall the skull cap off, then noticed they charged me $7.50 for that! I was amazed, never been charged for a 30 second sawzall cut before. Shoot, I've got my own sawzall, but I never dreamed they'd charge for that.
Every year I threaten to buy a smoker and a good big grinder and make my own stuff. I may have to do it for next year
Simple, pay the guy and tell h that you'll no longer use his service and that you will tell other hunters your experience and recommend they use another butcher. Easy, done and over , he'll get the message that his temper caused him business.
Simple, pay the guy and tell h that you'll no longer use his service and that you will tell other hunters your experience and recommend they use another butcher. Easy, done and over , he'll get the message that his temper caused him business.
The f-bombs are uncalled for, so that would be the end of using that processor.
But I am going to go against the tide, anytime you start doing extras, they take time. Removing the hide for a mount does take a little extra skinning time, even if they don't fully cape the head out. Then the hunter comes back in to pick up the skin and head, which takes up more time dealing with a customer the second time. And let's face it, some people just love to talk, and it's tough to get them to move along so you can get back to work.
Our butcher is $100. Includes, skinning, cut how you want, fat added for burger. They will cape for a full mount or just the head for a euro. Doesn't sound too bad compared to others.
When I first got stationed in Michigan in 1994.....you could get a deer processed for $35-$55 depending on where ya went and what ya wanted.
My last year processing WG I went up to $1.25/lb on the hanging weight or unprocessed weight. Skinning a deer went up to $50 and elk went up to $75-$100 depending on the size. Any sausages, jerky, or snack sticks were extra add ons with price varying for each different product. I didn’t charge for beef fat added to hb but I did charge for pork fat. Caping was $75. I didn’t charge for cutting any skull caps off. I charged really high for skinning and caping because I didn’t want to do it and I didn’t have the time. So, if someone really wanted me to skin or cape their animal then they needed to pay for my time. I actually believe it shouldn’t be the processor’s job to skin or cape a WG animal. Hunters should skin their animal and cape the head or let their taxidermist cape the head. The domestic slaughter side is a different story. After the first month of the season in 2020 I went to not accepting any WG that wasn’t skinned. By the end of the 2nd month we were completely done processing WG altogether. I didn’t have the time or space to handle it. Our domestic side grew so much that we have no need to process WG anymore. Should have made the switch years ago instead of putting customers with domestic animals on the back burner just to accept the WG. We will process 10 beef in about 2 days and need to process 30-40 elk to make the same money. Processing the elk would take about a week. No brainer there.
Processor should have never used that kind of language with you and needed to be more professional. On the flip side, I have sent many people packing because of the language they have used with me. I have so many of my own horror stories after over 30 years. Sorry that happened to you. Here’s another hint for everyone, ask up front what other charges are added on above a quick quoted price for processing. Most processor’s will quote a price then someone shows up with animal that needs to be skinned as well. Then they order specialty items which are always charged extra for. Good luck to everyone out there!
BB.....up my ways....I don't know of any processor who charges for a basic skin job. They keep the hides and sell them. I wouldn't bring a skinned deer to a processor unless I knew he was going to hang it immediately and not put it on the ground or stack more carcasses on it. I'd think that would get him a visit from the ag inspector and/or health dept.
I can’t imagine not skinning my game before taking it to the processor. I even half the carcasses, which my butcher seems to appreciate. Unfortunately, he was full when I killed my buck this year, so I cut it up myself. It’s a chore that I’d charge more for than my butcher does.
I got a nice buck in Ohio this year. The guy I take my deer to does a great job. I have the deer turned into burger with beef added. Took the skull plate off, did everything . Price, 75.00 for 65 lbs of burger.
A friend of mine is a retired butcher from a large local grocery chain... his base price starts at 75.00, added suet is 10.00 for burger, sausage etc.
I don't know the going rate in my area currently as I have always done my own. It was $75 for basic cuts & added suet or sausage was extra. I do know the rate is the same regardless of deer size. And a buddy of mine capes out the bucks to be mounted for a local processor & gets $40 a deer.
I feel the charged prices seem about right to me. But I wouldn't go back based on F-bombs, no matter how good the finished product was.
I have a processor that prefers deer brought in whole carcass with hide on. He doesn't like quarters covered with hair and dirt that too many guys bring in. I haven't had a deer skinned there so I don't know what it costs.
Only a fool drops F-bombs like that, and an uneducated one at that. Really doesn't matter if they have a PhD or not. This applies to both service providers and customers alike.
I do have to type in an "LOL" when people question the prices charged. It's the customers job to do their own due diligence to find out what things will cost, it is not the obligation of the business to hold their customer's hand and walk them through everything. All costs of a business are always passed onto the customer, including the profit margin. Just how business works. Everyone who is employed somewhere does the same thing, they may not know it because of what their job role is.
Are there products and services out there that seem to be priced really high? Absolutely. You can thank a free-market economy and capitalism for that. Still the best economic system in the world though, regardless of its pitfalls. But that's not the system's fault, its the one's who drive it...
My biggest issue has been finding a CLEAN processor. Many of them have shops that appear frankly unsanitary. One place smelled like rotting carcass every time I stopped. At another, I recall an employee smoking while feeding meat into a grinder. Should a dog be walking around scouting for nuggets in the cutting area?
The guy I currently use is a gem. His crew is himself, his wife and an adult daughter. Their shop is spotless and neat. All of them are kind and friendly. He's the easiest guy to work with I've ever known. I can drop off a field-dressed deer and he'll process it to my custom order. The cost is $100 which includes skinning (up to the ears), full butchering, vacuum bagging, and freezing. No extra to saw a skull. No extra if you claim the hide. Summer sausage, sticks, brats and so on....definitely extra as they should be.
I'll add this: Most deer processors can tell you countless stories about hunters bringing in game which has been abused or incorrectly handled post-kill. Gut shot and contaminated with no cleanup. Un-gutted kills. Smelly carcasses with bone sour from heat. Grossly dirty and hair-covered meat. And still those hunters expect superior meat and lots of it. As a result, some processors begin to lose respect for hunters.
Plain and simple, they don't want to have to deal with the heads. It is a waste of time. Also, think about the complaints they probably get that they "ruined" somebody's 110" monster. Is it a high price? Yep. I have my deer processed and I think they charge something ridiculous for it too, but I don't blame them for that part of it. Which is why I've done it myself recently, and would continue to do so as needed and time allows. Put yourself in their shoes. What was the $125 for? If straight cut that might be a little high; the cost here is running a little under $100 I think. $15 for addition of fat isn't terrible.
Regarding the F-bombs, it never should've come to that. However, as they say, there's 3 sides to every story.
Frankly, I think typical processing fees are cheap relative to the time and amount of work that goes into it.
Like Kevin, I won't use a processor unless his place is clean. My biggest issue with processors is not knowing whether I'm getting MY meat back, especially the ground or processed meat. I also don't think most butchers take the time to trim the burger meat as clean as I do.
It’s not as much what they charge that is the issue it’s more what your time and convenience is worth
Not charging for skinning is strange to me. It takes the processor away from cutting animals where they will make their money. I view it as charging for shop labor just like a mechanic shop will or even taxidermist’s charge for shop labor for extra things. It’s giving your labor away for free. Selling the hides is worth Pennie’s. Our buyer was at $10-$15 for a full elk hide, $5-$10 for a deer. Now add in the price of salt and labor to pay an employee or myself to skin and salt the hide. Wasting time and money. The hide buyer dropped prices down to only a few dollars for elk and deer hides so we just started throwing them away. Beef hides went from $40 to $10. Those all go into the dumpster now as well.
Another charge we add on now is a carcass disposal fee. Costs us close to 10k a year to get rid of all the processing and slaughter waste. So, as a result, we either raise prices higher and add that in the price/lb or keep the price the same and add in the small fee separately on the invoice. We list it separately from the processing fee.
Another thing to mention is that in my experience, inspectors, ag dept, food and safety or whomever it is, don’t really seem to care much about how the WG is treated or the cleanliness of a processor. What they care about is the cleanliness and humane slaughter on the domestic side. My plant is USDA inspected for sanitation but we fall under USDA custom except for slaughter and processing. That’s going to change in the future to USDA slaughter and processing.
I brought my big Ohio buck to a processor. I knew the price and was ok with paying it which was $125 for caping, 1/2 burger, 1/2 sausage, pork fat added.
I arrived at 8am and they told me to put the buck on the driveway with ten other bucks needed to be caped. They said I could pick up the cape and horns end of day and the meat would be ready in a week.
I came back at 6, nobody was there and all the bucks were still laying on the blacktop. It was 75 degrees all day. Flies were all over the deer.
The next morning they called and said my buck was no good. He didn’t even want to cape it but said he would. I was pissed. I told him I wanted the carcass back for coyote bait.
I showed up an hour later to get my skull and cape. He charged me $50 which was 25 more than the quoted price. I was getting more pissed now. Then he brings me my buck caped with the head still on. I specifically asked the girl taking the order if the caping included removing the entire skin from the skull but apparently it did not.
And they threw away the carcass before I arrived.
I normally do all that work myself but was short on time.
To be Clear. I cut the head off up near the ears so I could get it under truck cover. There was no asking to skin it for mount. Every processor I've ever used hung deer by hind legs. He never mentioned extra caping fee when I gave it to him. To me caping refers to skinning to accommodating mounting.He said it takes alot longer to skin because head is off. I would have been ok if he had just said sorry you did'nt understand our policy. instead he started the f bombs. I've never allowed anyone to talk like that to me in my life but I'm older now and hate fighting. I have since learned a lot of people have had problems with him so now I'll spend lots of time putting the word out on him
Unless he hangs the deer by the neck to skin (vs the legs), how would a headless carcass be harder to skin if it's hung by the legs?
Pat that’s aweful. I don’t think I could have remained to calm in that situation.
Just as an explanation:
I would add that many processors in my area are backyard affairs doing it for extra income. They aren't operating as a professional slaughter/butcher business. As such they aren't looking at every line item expense, nor are they trying to account for the extra minutes spent skinning, sawing or handling a game animal. Those few that do that typically don't last many years as (in this area) lowest price with satisfactory results seems to be the equation that survives. There are very few people who are willing to invest $150 to process a young doe yielding under 50 pounds of meat. It inevitably comes down to money spent processing versus weight in the boxes for most hunters here. I think most backyard processors tend to look at costs from the perspective of their customers, as many processors are themselves sensitive to costs. A lot of them are supplementing their annual income from blue collar employment.
I don’t cuss. When my kids mention someone cussing in front of them my response is usually “did it make them sound smarter”. The only time I use profanity is if I were to hit myself with a hammer or something like that. Even then it’s under my breath, lol.
I’ve only paid to have an elk processed. I took skinned and quartered deer to a commercial processor to be ground and packaged. I was very pleased with what I got. Like others I would worry taking my deer to a WG processor that I wasn’t getting my animal back.
I learned a long time ago to process my own.
Back in 1994 my dad came to WY hunt elk. He shot a really nice 6x6. My dad wanted to go fishing so we dropped it off meat processor in Laramie. We came back 3 days later and the guy brings out little box of burger and a smaller box of steaks. I asked him where the rest of the elk meat was. He states that’s it. Our conservation went south after that. I called the local game warden and he stated they were getting lots of complaints about this outfit. About 2 weeks later they were in the local news they were giving game meat to there buddies. They got shut down. I vowed never to let anybody touch my game meat again. I can cut up a deer in about 1.5hrs and an elk in 3hrs by myself. Also you may not get your own meat when they cut it up.
For me, the first thing I do with an animal is to get the hide off, so I'd never take a carcass to a processor un-skinned anyway. There's also the chance that a busy processor may have points in the processes where meat gets "combined' with others, particularly at the grind stage or sausage stage. I want ONLY my meat back. The only meat I take to a butcher is deboned, trimmed and bagged and that is for meat sticks. My sausage guy does minimum thirty pound batches, so that's the minimum amount I drop off.
Where I live many butchers will not take bone-in meat and they cannot process or hang WG with domestic. I freeze the sausage meat till January till all the game and domestic processing is done, then take it in. Butcher has more time and little chance he's doing other WG at that time, especially poorly field dressed, dirty, half spoiled carcasses that often show up.
Sounds like Pat's processor should be charged with wanton waste.
Pat, if you want, I can get you the number of the guy that does my deer. I know that it will be about 30-60 minute drive for you. But, this guy does a good job. He is up on the CWD regs. also. For you it would be start up Rt. 11 to Rt. 167.
Boris, send me a pm please. I’ll be back late season to kill does. Thanks
I have two different people that I use. I have know both all of their lives. Both charge me $75 for the deer cut the way I want and vacuum sealed. I get all boneless and sausage and burger also. One last year was small and the guy charged me $40. When I take them in they are field dressed and washed out and they go into a walk in as soon as I get them there. Both guys have given me cheese stuffed hot dogs and sausage for nothing. They cut off antlers or the head for no charge.
$125 is the going rate locally now for a whitie. They prefer hide on and I think it stays cleaner that way. I only have so much time off at this stage in my life and I'd rather spend it hunting than processing.
Holy crap Pat! That’s what I would call a bad processor. He should have stayed late and skinned those deer asap and into the cooler. I’m also a taxidermist that’s getting out of the business and I preferred to cape everything with the head off the carcass. I would do my incision on the back of the head and around the antler burrs and down past the ears. I would then hang the head off my hoist and skin around the eyes. I would stick my finger into the eyes socket and feel the edge of the hide so I would cut a hole around the eyes. The other thing I did before hanging the head was to start caping from the front of the chin and nose skinning up the bridge of the nose as far as I could. Made the process a lot faster.
I wouldn’t think a deer would go bad with the hide on that quickly. An elk is a whole other story. Should have been cool enough over to night that it should have been fine but that’s not the issue. Bad, bad, bad processor. I can’t tell you how many times I was skinning deer and elk at 10 or 11 at night just so I could get it in the cooler. The customer of course didn’t drop it off till late. I used to roll the shop phone over to my cell and then meet customers at the shop at a certain time after hours. That got old really fast. My last one was when a guy showed up at 9 pm with 5 deer to be skinned and caped. Guess who was there after 11 getting everything skinned and tagged with customers name? I put the heads in the cooler and caped them the next day. Yes, I charged for skinning and caping.
I never charged for cutting skull caps off or heads off for customers. Everything was always tagged with their name on the carcass before it went into the cooler. All batches of sausage, jerky, snack sticks, etc we’re done in 12 lb batches keeping everyone’s meat separate. Bad ones were done very last. I still make sausages for hunters that want it but it has to come in deboned, clean, ready for the grinder. Or, they can bring in 12 lbs of processed meat or hb with no fat added after the season and I’ll make it for them. I’m just so glad I don’t process WG anymore. It’s not worth the headache. Sorry I have long posts everyone but there is just much info and I try to help where I can. Anyone can ask me questions or pm anytime they want.
Chad.....in Michigan the processors are supposed to track and log each animal that comes in. I believe it's a DNR thing?? I asked the guy a few days ago when I dropped some deer off about that. He said da' man will come in and inspect the books, harvest tags and animals looking for violations. Did you have to do that too?
John, in a way yes. We were supposed to check carcass tags and keep them with the carcass. Everything we did was recorded but mostly for our benefit. The only time Game Wardens game by was when they were specifically looking for a certain persons animal that was suspected of a game law violation. Nothing that I would consider a poaching incident. More like shooting something at the wrong location. Like in a checkerboard area of BLM land or Reservation land. Shooting something unknowingly on private property even though we all know it’s our responsibility to know where we are hunting at. All of these are game law violations and the carcass would have a seizure tag put on it. Then the G&F department would sell it for $10 to anyone who wanted it. We have to keep a lot more info with domestic beef than anything else. I only had to deal with maybe 3-4 of these seizures in all the years I spent processing WG. I had the last one in 2020. The tag was legal but idk where or how the animal was harvested. It’s none of my business unless they want to tell me. A GW showed up a few days later asking about this animal so I showed it to him. Turns out it was shot from BLM but the animal was standing behind a drift fence on private property. At 300 yds it’s hard to know that. The landowner turned him in. Animal had seizure tag put on it and it was sold for $10 to the hunters BIL. I processed it.
Dang Pat, sorry to hear... Usually do our own the past decade or so but there's a couple commercial slaughter/processing plants not far from you... Strasburg Provisioning make the best venison trail bologna and deer sticks (like beef sticks), but I'm not sure they still process deer since they opened a store front in Canton... The store in Canton is not far from my work, I'll try to stop by in the near future to learn more...
Have to have a place that has an actual meat locker to keep flys off and the the meat right temperatures after drop-off, and reason I wont trust flyby night backyard butchers...
Then there are a couple popular ones near Sugarcreek amish country, Farmerstown Meats and Sugar Valley Meats... I've tried both and liked them but haven't a clue of processing pricing these days for of any since it has been years.... Usually costs me a day of vacation, a 30 pack of Busch, and a sore back from a couch sleepover...8^)
20 F-Bombs ? I would of told him where he could go and not in a very nice way.
How about the hunters for the hungry program. The processors in my area that participate get $50 per deer they grind & package & it goes to the food bank. I've always wondered who pays the processing fee's ?
Processors donate their time and some of the cost hunters donate the deer and they seek donations from others as well that’s a great program and there are multiple out there like it
When I did Hunters Helping the Hungry, the state food bank paid for the processing. Hunter filled out the appropriate paperwork. I ground everything and packaged it in 5 lb packages. Sometimes I delivered it to the food bank, sometimes they picked it up. It got to be such a hassle with the extra paperwork and inspections that I stopped doing it in 2019.
My uncle was a butcher and taught me the tricks of the trade on how to process deer. I’ve always done my own since I was a teenager.
I’m not sure how you or Pat controlled yourself.
Learned at 16 from guys i hunted with. Have done my own deer ever since. You can cut it the way you want and you know what your getting. Always considered it part of hunting.
Yeah you'd think after shooting 70 deer a guy would have some skills right?
i charge $60 if they bring the gutted deer and hang it in my butcher shed. aged 2 weeks at controlled 38 degrees F . knife cut chops cut ground and vaccuum sealed with or without pork fat added to the grind their choice. stuffed sausages and bandsaw cuts are extra ....i don't advertise, i don't cape and i don't pick up or deliver. i reserve the right to refuse poorly handled carcasses