Home Forums Campfire Forum Meat in the Freezer

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    • Rattlebone
      Post count: 7

      Hello All,

      Hope everyone had a successful season this year. One of the great things about this site, from my perspective, reading through the posted threads the last several months and TBM magazine for years, is that the members here have very reasonable expectations about the definition of “successful” is. Just getting into the field and having fun with your longbow is enough of a success for most of us. However, a major part of my hunting lifestyle and a part of why I truly enjoy hunting, is the whole process of putting up meat. From field dressing and digging through the gut pile for a heart, to smoking sausage and jerky, to grilling venison steaks, this part of the whole hunting experience is as important to me as actually getting to spend time outdoors chasing critters. For my family of 5 we can use about 250 or so lbs of meat per year. Living out west an elk will pretty much take care of this, on the years I’m fortunate enough to get one. Or this might be four or five deer which is possible with B-tags and a couple of (rifle) hunting age kids. My comment and maybe question for the community here is that, I seem to be a minority in my enthusiasm for wild game meat and its’ importance. For a lot of hunters that I know, ethical and competent to be sure, the meat and meat processing seems to be an afterthought if not an outright annoyance for them. For the most part getting the meat out of the woods without spoiling is as far as they take ownership. After that it’s off to some meat packer where they get lots of expensive specialty meat made. That’s the other theme. It’s like, wild game is OK, but it’s better if you cover up the natural flavor as much as possible. For me this would take away a good part of the enjoyment that can be derived from a hunting way of life.

      What say you? Do you fellows process your own meat? Do you really enjoy preparing and eating wild meat? How important in the scheme of things is meat processing and food preparation to you, relative to the actual hunt?

      Finally what’s your favorite wild game meal? I’d like to hear how you eat your game. My personal favorite is pan fried back-strap off of a freshly killed yearling doe. Slice into thin 3/8” steaks. Bread them in flour with some salt and pepper. Fry it in fairly hot vegetable oil until the breading is crisp and the meat is medium. Pull the steaks out and make a milk gravy from the drippings. Pour the gravy on top of the steaks and enjoy. Probably everyone here knows this one but thought that I’d add it in just in case someone’s missing out on one of the best meals available to hunters.

    • snafu72
      Post count: 36

      I am with you man i love the taste of wild game because thats the true flavor

      Alot of folks say caribou taste like crap i like the flavor My favorite is the heart

      also enjoy cutting all the meat myself that way the hunt comes full circle

      i like the heart tongue but not the liver

    • Joseph Miller
      Post count: 43

      I hunt with traditional equipment because I really enjoy the challenge it affords me. But the reason I hunt is because my family and I prefer wild game over any other type of meat. I can assure you that if the meat was not used by us I would not hunt. A few years ago a friend of my son came up during rifle season and shot a nice doe on our property. He then spent the next few hours trying to give it away because he didn’t want to clean it or process it. I wound up taking the animal but I can assure you that man was never invited back!

    • wahoo
      Post count: 415

      I think right off the top my fave is bunny slow cooked with cranberries and french dressing served over pasta .

    • Amoose
      Post count: 80

      I hunt Traditionally (after a few years with a compound) mostly due to listening to stories while hanging around Glenn StCharles’ Archery shop, the fun I was having just playing around with a couple recurves I had picked up, a few “equipment malfunctions” with my compound, and peer pressure from Don “the real Bowdoc” Ward.
      We hunted Elk on the east slope of Washington’s Cascade range in early September, temps in the 80’s, and it was best to get the meat down to a locker in town. They charged us by the day to hang if we did not have them butcher, so with a 2 week trip it made more sense just to have them cut/wrap.
      I have cut a few that I got during late season, but was spoiled by taking the easy route, no muss,no fuss, cut wrapped, labeled, I only do steaks/roasts/burger (beef trimmings in burger) as I like the taste of meat, not pepperoni or any of that, and feel jerky is a waste.
      My favorite is hot seared slices over an open fire, little johnnies, while we stand around and plan tomorrow’s hunt.

    • David Petersen
      Post count: 2749

      Rattlebone — This is an important issue. While meat is rarely the only motivation to hunt, in my eyes it must be at the top of the list or we’re not thinking clearly. And if we ever want the interested nonhunting public to fully accept us, we’ll have to convince the hook-and-bull media to quit focusing on bigger and bigger antlers and focus on the importance and uses and special gift of wild meat. Fat chance! I always cut and wrap my own not only because it’s an important element of the hunt, but also because I couldn’t afford to have it done if I wanted to, and horror stories about butchers mixing up one guy’s well-cared-for meat with another’s filthy abused meat, are all too common. My favorite prep method for all wild red meat plus bunny, is chicken fried, aka country fried. I never deep fry but use just enough olive oil to lubricate a cast-iron skillet, pound the meat pretty flat, bread it and cook it hot and fast. Yum!

    • William Warren
      Post count: 1384

      If I am lucky enough to get a deer I do the butchering myself. As many have so astutely noted, “Shooting is the easy part, now the work begins”
      I often have my Mom or my Wife to help with the wrapping and labeling, but have done it all myself on occasion.
      To me it is not a mundane chore but a job that must be done well to further honor the animal that died to provide sustenance for us.

    • CareyE
      Post count: 111

      I enjoy the butchering almost as much as te hunt. It is not a chore but a labor of love. I know where my meat came from and have some insight into the life it lived.

    • bruc
      Post count: 476

      We do our own butchering as well. It is done in the garage on a weekend or evening. I usually do most of the cutting and my sweetheart does the final trimming, determines how much is going into each package and the actual wrapping. We are also fortunate enough to have a 6 year old granddaughter that is quite interested in “helping”. This past weekend we butchered a pig with friends. It was not one of those factory pigs, but a “real pig from a real farm”. The intent is to make sausage with trim from both the pig and our deer.
      The sausage making is a hobby about the same as arrow making!
      Lots of fun.
      The deer we shot were not archery deer so they will not taste quite as good:wink:

    • Rattlebone
      Post count: 7

      Thanks for the replies everyone. Glad to know I don’t stand alone on this issue. Bruce, you make a good point about bringing your family and kids into the fun. I probably enjoy this as much as I do because I grew up learning how to do this with my family. When I was young, every year we would have a butchering day where the whole family got together to package a couple of elk my dad, uncles and grandpa got. So, while those experiences didn’t seem like much at the time, they did stick with me over the years.

    • jaytbuzzard
      Post count: 80

      Being that I am new to hunting and since I took my first deer this season, I wasn’t so sure about processing her myself. I did field dress her and remove the tenderloins. We ate them that night and they were delicious. I took her to a processor and had them finish her. The question that I have is, do y’all age your venison or do you process it right away? I have read a lot on this and I’m not sure which is correct.

    • Rattlebone
      Post count: 7

      Those fresh meals are always the best:)

      You’re likely to get a variety of answer’s to that question. If its cool to cold out, I do like to hang my deer for a few days maybe up to a week if that’s how it works out. But I’ve processed them the same day and I can’t honestly say it makes much of a difference. If its’ warm outside, it definately does make some difference in taste as to how fast you get it cooled down. Biggest issue in my opinion is cleanliness. Keep it clean from start to finish and you’ll get good meat.

    • Stephen Graf
      Post count: 2371

      I grew up in a farm family too. We had cow butchering days and pig butchering days. The neighbors came over and it was always a festive day.

      I tried to bring this to my deer butchering. But times have changed… Living in the south, we can’t hang deer outside in the early season. So I’d quarter them up and keep them in the fridge for a week. That didn’t go over too well with the wife. Then I started just getting them in the freezer right away. The flavor and tenderness did suffer.

      Then I wised up and started to take the skinned carcass to our local deer butcher. There are several advantages: Better packaging (vacuum packaging), more options (better equipment for making burger, sausage, tenderized cuts, etc…) and good quality aging in a walk in cooler.

      I am serious about feeding my family naturally. If we don’t kill it, catch it, or grow it, we don’t eat it…. except for milk and bread (soon to change)… So part of that is that the meat needs to be easy to use (so my wife cooks with it) and tasty so every one eats it happily.

      If you have the room and budget, for good meat processing equipment, and the time to do it right, then that’s great. But for the majority of people, I think they would be better served by supporting a local good quality butcher.

      That’s the key – to find a local GOOD QUALITY butcher. That means doing a little research (and sacrificing a few deer). Just like there are good and bad doctors, lawyers, and weathermen, there are good and bad butchers. Find a good one. Make friends. There are benefits beyond meat processing including hunting trips, fishing trips, and local lore. A good butcher is a focal point of the community.

    • Brennan Herr
      Post count: 403

      I got lucky and made a great friend 10 years ago (he actually got me started in archery) that has been processing deer for a butcher in rifle season for 25 years now. I skin and quarter them and then we put them into a chest refrigerator for a week or so. He then debones and breaks down the deer into any cuts I want. We ended up buying a LEM meat grinder which works really nice so we get some burger as well. I then freeze the meat on cookie sheets to get firm it up and then I vaccum seal it. Keeps very well and eats better then Kobe beef. I used to use a butcher when I was younger but I found the meat suffered for it in most cases.

    • Amoose
      Post count: 80

      Also, a deer is pretty easy to deal with, but I found that with an Elk, I just did not have the room to handle that size of carcase in my home/fridge/freezer.
      especially attempting to keep it cool while processing, and after cut/wrap, heaven forbid if we had more than one !
      A cut up elk will fill a normal sized fridge/freezer, I usually find I need to share the meat with my hunting buddies, just to have room for anything else.
      I get a lot of fish and seafood also.

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