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Thread: Hunting: Processing on your own or going to a butcher?

  1. #1

    Hunting: Processing on your own or going to a butcher?

    I read through this old thread today. A friend and I are going to start hunting this year. How many here butcher their own vs taking it to get processed?

    The idea of doing it myself is appealing because I donít have a truck. If I had a bed to put the deer in Iíd be more inclined to put it there and take it to a butcher. But the transport at least sounds easier if I quarter it out and put it in a cooler. Most processors Iím seeing only take whole deer or boneless trim.

  2. #2
    Site Supporter ccmdfd's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Southeastern NC
    The last few years for me have been no hitters. But when I have harvested I tend to do a bit of a combination

    I take the big cuts like the back straps, inside tenderloins, roasts, Etc by myself. I will then turn in some of the hind quarter that's left as well as the front quarter as well as rib meat and have them turned into sausage, hamburger, Etc by a butcher shop.

  3. #3
    I have done my own meat in Alaska and lower 48, but the finished product is better, and more importantly stays usable longer, with a high quality game processor. My elk and moose last two high quality years from a good processor, and then others tell me they continue to enjoy the meat when I gift what is left after two years. The biggest risk is a freezer problem due to failure of the freezer or power, and as a result I try to squirrel meat around different locations.
    Likes pretty much everything in every caliber.

  4. #4

    I would get one of these if you don't already have one.

    As far as butcher versus DIY, some people really enjoy being a part of the process from field to plate. If you have a climate-controlled space for hanging and the time commitment to get it done go for it. Having a couple of people to spread the cost of processing equipment around is a setup I've seen work well.

    If you don't have any experience processing game, you might see if you can be a free pair of hands to someone before you make your decision. It's a fair amount of work and some people take to it better than others.

  5. #5
    I do it myself. I have taken a few in to pro cutters over the years with mixed results. I prefer to just do it myself. Cut up my first deer 33 years ago. I did it the hard way until about a decade ago when I had the fortune of cutting with a retired butcher. He showed me how to do it much faster with the same quality end result.

    We wrap the meat in plastic wrap, then freezer paper. It keeps two years easily that way.

    I used to rent a grinder. Finally ponied up and bought one this year.

    For knives, I used Victorinox and Russel. It's nice to have three or four boning knives, one large breaking knife, and sharpening steel. Another trick the butcher showed me was to wear a clean apron and to wipe your knife blade off on it frequently. When it feels like the knife is getting dull, a lot of times it is just fat plugging the blade.

  6. #6
    First of all, welcome to the club. There is no better way to enjoy the outdoors in the fall. The woods are a cathedral and you get to walk around with a loaded gun in your hands.

    I've done it both ways. has quite a bit of insight into how to do the actual butchering. The main thing is to get the meat off of the animal. People all over the world cut up animals in different ways depending on their culture. It's all good in my eyes, except for the Asian cultures that cook poultry whole then destroy it with 10-12 parallel cleaver cuts that run perpendicular to the spine. Might as well hit it with a hammer...

    The more cookbooks the better. If you look in bookstores in small towns, you'll find some that were published by the Volunteer Fire Department's Lady's Auxiliary and similar organizations. If nothing else, they can help you see what to avoid.

    Okie John
    ďThe reliability of the 30-06 on most of the worldís non-dangerous game is so well established as to be beyond intelligent dispute.Ē Finn Aagaard
    "Don't fuck with it" seems to prevent the vast majority of reported issues." BehindBlueI's

  7. #7
    Site Supporter
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    In the desert, looking for water.
    I prefer to do it myself, and have a vacuum sealer and a large freezer. I much prefer that to butcher paper.

    It isnít really hard. Keep the quarters on ice in a large cooler as I go, do one quarter at a time, and I donít bother with grinding the small chunks. I just make stew meat out of it.

  8. #8
    Site Supporter
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Canton GA
    I am fortunate that a very good butcher shop near me will process deer meat. They are used to GA Whitetails and perked up when I brought in a WY Mule Deer.

  9. #9
    Site Supporter Matt O's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    I process/butcher the deer myself, but I have taken it to butchers in the past. My primary motivation for originally starting to do it myself was A) the excessive cost to butcher the deer and B) the fact that I could control the entire process and what cuts I wanted since most butchers here just run the hams through a bandsaw a bunch of times and call that "steaks".

    FYI, I have a truck now, but I stuffed deer into the back of a Honda Civic (wrapped in a tarp) for years before I upgraded to a truck, so where there's a will, there's a way.

  10. #10
    Been out of the game for awhile but when I get back to it I'll be doing my own from here on out. In my area all the processors combine all the meat for the day and then package and allocate according to weight. That's no bueno for me. Didn't used to be that way but...

    From past experience I can tell you to get a good meat grinder. The cheapos will just piss you off. The Carnivore line from Cabelas will do. I want to "ice age" my own in a large ice chest next time.

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