Home meat processing

Discussion in 'Hunting & Fishing' started by gypsysue, May 20, 2011.

  1. gypsysue

    gypsysue The wanderer

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    I'm curious how many people butcher their own animals, either wild (hunted) or domestic?

    If you do cut up your own, are there times when you've had so much that you thought about taking it somewhere to be processed? Or ever actually do so?

    If you always take it in to be processed, do you at least know how to do it yourself? Is that knowledge from a book or have you done it yourself, or at least helped or watched someone?

    We've always cut up and processed our own meat, even when we were doing large amounts such as 3 deer at a time (multiple family members with hunting licenses), but then our climate is cold enough that time isn't as much of an essense!

    I've had a few people lately be totally surprised that we do our own, and indicated that they thought not very many people do these days. I suspect a lot of members of this forum butcher and process their own. So I thought I'd ask.
     
  2. goshengirl

    goshengirl Supporting Member

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    We'd love to know how. Okay, truth be told, I'd love for my husband to know how. ;) There's a spot off our back porch that we call the 'back meadow' - seperate enough from the house that the deer and turkey feel comfortable there. We have plans to attract them even more - but before we take a shot at 'em, we should know what to do with them. It would be fantastic if we knew how to butcher.

    When you don't come from a hunting family, it's hard to break into hunting because there's no one to teach you how. It's the same with butchering. This is a basic, important skill that would be good for everyone to do - but finding someone to teach you is hard.
     

  3. *Andi

    *Andi Supporting Member

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    We have always done our own ... hunted or domestic.

    That was just the way my hubby and I was brought up.

    I think goshengirl hit the nail on its head ... if it was the way your brought up, it comes natural ... because it was a way of life.
     
  4. UncleJoe

    UncleJoe Well-Known Member

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    I tried butchering for the first time with a small deer in '08. It was NOT a pretty sight. We ended up with about 40lbs of burger. The only thing I got whole was the loin. '09 and 10 saw some improvement but still left a lot to be desired so DW bought me a DVD on butchering for Christmas. I haven't watched it yet but I will before fall rolls around.

    I am actually considering trying to get a part time job in the meat dept. of a store to have someone teach me. Don't know if they would do that but hands-on would be much more informative than a video.
     
  5. horseman09

    horseman09 Well-Known Member

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    We do all of our wild game butchering and at one time we also butchered our pigs, lambs, chickens & beefers ('till we got lazy).

    I'd never take our deer to a butcher tho. JMHO, but I think we get a much better end product because we bone-out our deer; some venison tastes "off" when you cut bone and bone marrow as a conventional butcher does. Besides, it saves lots of freezer space with no bone. Well, actually there is a little bone because we freeze the whole front shoulders for use as a roast if they're not shot damaged.
     
  6. The_Blob

    The_Blob performing monkey

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    here's a thread on here with a link to butchering classes...

    http://www.preparedsociety.com/forum/f36/meat-cutting-classes-essex-vt-1097/

    I'm sure there's more, I just haven't found them yet
     
  7. gypsysue

    gypsysue The wanderer

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    Thanks for your comments everyone. I hope to find more on here! Blob, thanks for posting that link.

    goshen, I wish you were close enough to us to mentor about hunting and meat processing. If we (including the people on this forum) can answer questions or help, ask. I know it's hard to do from books, videos, and asking questions. UncleJoe has a good idea, to find someone like a butcher to teach him. With all the rules and cleanliness standards, you might have varying success in getting to observe or help. Knowing someone who butchers their own animals might help, you could ask to be there. (Take a trip to visit andi?)(Take me with you!)
    Horseman, we've also found that leaving too much fat on the venison can cause funky flavors, too, as well as cutting through bones the way they do at burcher stops. My husband is almost surgical at trimming off fat on wild game. Deer fat is NOT tasty! Not that most deer have much fat on them, at least in Montana!

    It helps to have good knives and to keep them sharp. Helps for the meat to be cool, since then it's stiffer and cuts better.
     
  8. Jimmy24

    Jimmy24 Member

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    I learned from an early age how to process meat. From squirrels to deer to wild hogs on the wild side and domestic rabbits, chickens to yearling calf. Been lucky to learn a lot about it and still learn something new everytime.

    Having a designated area and tools makes the process much, much easier. Having proper knives and a meat saw, makes all the difference in the world. And then once you have your meat ready, a place to store it properly and/or do further processing, ie: smoking, aging.

    Not sure everyone is up to the challenge, but it's a very good skill to learn. To me it's as important a skill to learn as anything else we strive to get better at. It's not rocket science, but does take some trial and error practice. Usually there is someone around your area who knows something about it and can help you get started.

    It will help you be more independent. Just saying....

    BTW, this is a great thread.

    Jimmy
     
  9. mosquitomountainman

    mosquitomountainman I invented the internet. :rofl:

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    We have several reasons for doing our own processing. We don't have to pay someone else to do it! It's convenient since we don't have to transport the meat. We get the cuts we want how we want it. We can most of the meat so why take it to a butcher to process and freeze then thaw it out at home to can it? I trim almost every ounce of fat off the meat. One year I got out the book and used a bone saw to cut every section of meat just as they described it. That meat was horrible! The bone marrow and fat of a deer, in our experience at least, taints the meat. I've never done it since then. I bone out all the meat then cut roasts, steaks, stew meat and grind what we want into hamburger. I don't use buthcer shop cuts. YOu'll never eat a T-bone steak at our house but you might have some very tasty tenderlion and backstrap steaks barbecued on the grill. I'm meticulous aobut removing hair, dirt, etc. from the meat. I had a friend who had a moose processed and it was almost inedible due to the hair left on the meat. I'm just glad he gave us the roasts and not the burger. At least we could see the hair and pluck it off. It would have been ground up and mixed into the burgers.

    Finally, most butchers here will not promise that the deer you bring in is the venison you'll get. They usually weigh the deer then process 10-15 at once and divide up the meat according to the weight of each carcass processed. You don't know if the venison you got was yours or some that rode around in the back of a truck for a week before being brought in. If they've added beef or pork suet (fat) to help the burger hold together you'll have no idea where that came from. It might have been from organic meat or it may be loaded with chemicals, hormones or anti-biotics.

    We don't usually get as much meat off a deer as those who take it in for processing report. Mainly because we don't add fat or other things to the meat. Ours is boneless too with all fat trimmed off. The processed weight might be less but the quality is far superior.

    If you're new to butchering start with rabbits, squirrels, grouse, quail, chickens, cats, ... Just kidding!!!! ... and other small animals. You'll get good practice on keeping hair off the meat and learn the anatomy of the critters. Then go to bigger things like sheep, deer, goats, etc. Once you've got those down go on to cattle, hogs, elk, moose, etc.

    Also, don't be enslaved by the "proper" way to butcher an animal. A steak is a thin (1/2 up to 2 inch) chunk of meat, palm size or larger cut across the grain. A roast is a pound or larger chunk of meat cooked as is then cut up. The backstrap and tenderloins are the tenderest meat on the carcass. Everything else gets trimmed off the bones and cut into stew meat (small chunks) or ground into burgers, etc.
     
  10. PamsPride

    PamsPride edirPsmaP

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    We have sent out some of our birds to be processed. Now we do all our own birds. We have also processed our own deer.
     
  11. mosquitomountainman

    mosquitomountainman I invented the internet. :rofl:

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    A quick tip on removing stray hair and feathers on meat ... Use a propane torch and singe it off. It smells a little funny but does a good job and doesn't taint the meat.
     
  12. Jimmy24

    Jimmy24 Member

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    I forgot to mention that all cuts I make with the saw are on frozen meat(venison). Actually the only cuts are steaks off the hind quarters. I found the same thing pretty much about the bone marrow, but that is defeated by freezing the leg and then cutting out your steak. You just brush of the "sawdust" and then when you defrost to use, cut out the little round bone and there ya go. Great cooked down with oinons, peppers in gravey!!! Yummy!!

    I might say that not everyone does the same thing as far as butchering processes go, but if enough attention is not paid to cutting it up, you will end up with inferior meat that is tough and not worth fooling with.

    Been in the hog hunting business (hobby) for about 35 yrs and taken over one thousand hogs. Processed maybe 500-600 of them. Been there and done most of it, as far as processing meat.

    I don't can any of mine but that is up to a person's personal prefernce. Mine is either aged and then frozen or smoked and then frozen.

    I use a cold water soak for 24-36 hrs to remove the blood and tenderize the meat a bit.

    Many ways to do it. You can find someone to help you along if you look.

    Good luck!

    Jimmy
     
  13. mosquitomountainman

    mosquitomountainman I invented the internet. :rofl:

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    How about more info on hog processing? We grew and butchered a couple but the results were less than spectacular. :scratch
     
  14. The_Blob

    The_Blob performing monkey

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    you definitely want to have many knives for the different jobs, they make them different for good reasons

    my overall favorite is a long slim flexible blade thoough if I have to choose just one, like the largest size of 'filleting' knife

    [​IMG]

    rabbits IMHO are an excellent 'beginner' animal to learn to butcher

    do it ASAP (while warm)

    slice throat then put blade in just under skin with sharp side out & pull out lightly while travelling down the belly, cut around genitals & anus (there are many pics of how to do this), putb down knife, grab rabbit by head in one hand and rear legs in the other & with opening in body cavity pointing away from you SNAP carcass away from you rapidly thereby evacuating the entrails & not contaminating the meat (hopefully), IMHO rabbit organs aren't great for food unless you are in hard-core-survival mode due to their small size but can still be tasty
     
  15. neldarez

    neldarez Supporting Member

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    Really interesting info........you said you can most of your meat, do you can it with broth poured over it or do you dry can ? Also, do you dehydrate any meat? I've gutted and cleaned my own deer but I've never cut them up. I think it's like painting a picture, I can do it any way I want. :) Doesn't have to be properly cut..............good thing! :D
     
  16. OldCootHillbilly

    OldCootHillbilly Reverend Coot

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    When the family was larger we used ta cut our own. Beef, pork an wildlife. We got a bandsaw, tenderizer, grinder, hand saws, cleavers an assortment a knives an sausage stuffers. Dad an grandad were both butchers at Deckers packin house.

    The right equipment make the job a fair bit easier. I still use most a the equipment in my small caterin business, but we don't cut sides no more, noway we need that much all at once. I miss it though.

    True butcherin be a diein art, ain't many left. Many stores get theres pre cut er in primal pieces so bout all they do is slab out steaks an maybe a bit a trim.
     
  17. mosquitomountainman

    mosquitomountainman I invented the internet. :rofl:

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    We've made some jerky but it usually gets eaten as it's made. We mostly dry can it.
     
  18. UncleJoe

    UncleJoe Well-Known Member

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    Whereas we always "wet" can. I like having all that broth when I use the canned meat to make soup. I make a mean vegetable beef barley soup if I do say so myself. :D
     
  19. gypsysue

    gypsysue The wanderer

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    We wet-can meat that is headed for things like stew, such as venison chunks.

    But we dry-can ground venison as crumbles and as hamburger patties. Same with sausage meat. Then it's not soggy when we go to use it.

    That vegetable beef barley soup sounds wonderful, UncleJoe! :)
     
  20. Jimmy24

    Jimmy24 Member

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    Pork processing at home is becoming a lost art to tell you the truth. On domesticated pork it's a tad different. What home raised pork I've fooled with, it's a lot of work. Dipping the whole animal in boiling water to make hair removal easier is a big chore. You have to either have a hoist or lots of help. Then just the very size and weight of a home raised hog is sometimes more than people are ready to deal with. Again a good hoist is a godsend. I would say that domesticated pork is one animal you cut up in the traditional way. There is plenty of cut up guides out there to show the specific cuts.

    A 200 lb wild pig is a very rare one indeed around here. 90% or more are in the 50-120 lb range. For me soaking the meat in cold water for 24-36 hrs is REAL important. Wild pork will lots of times taste different from pig to pig. Never know what they are eating. Most of ours are caught and then fed grain for about 30-45 days.

    Wild pork, well we skin 'em all. Their hair is so much thicker and longer that domesticated pigs. They also don't have near as much fat to deal with. Also 95% of the wilds ones are cooked whole in the ground. YUMMIEEEEE!!!

    Jimmy