Processing Trophy Deer is something that you can do yourself. Many successful whitetail deer hunters can, and do all the venison processing them. For some, it’s part of the deer hunting camp rituals of deer hunting in which these activities are done and enjoyed; just like the deer hunting trip itself. Like hunting equipment and certain hunting products, special equipment is needed for processing venison too. A sharp hunting knife and good processing tools are essential. You may want to take a butchering class if available; check the hunting stores where you buy your hunting gear, hunting supplies and licenses. While there, look for a good book or DVD on processing whitetail deer and venison recipes. You could also go talk to the local meat market butcher where you buy your beef from for tips and techniques on processing your whitetail deer. While there, see if he knows any good venison recipes that he might share with you.
Please check out my Venison Recipe Book by clicking on the Shopping Cart at the top of Any Page. For less money than a medium restaurant pizza you too can cook and serve great venison meals. Plan Ahead
If you or your deer hunting camp’s hunters cannot do the processing of your trophy deer that you harvested; then you need to plan ahead as to who will do this, and where you will bring your trophy deer (remember, any deer is a trophy to someone; buck, doe, or fawn) for packaging and freezing. If you have never done this before, and don’t want to, then check your local newspapers. Adds will run for this service as the deer hunting season approaches. You can also talk to other deer hunters, sporting goods retailers, and of course your local meat market butcher. And again, ask for those venison recipes. People love to share their favorite recipes.
Call Your Hunting Guide
If you are doing a guided whitetail deer hunting trip, check with your deer hunting guide about their processing venison service and shipping recommendations. On most guided deer hunts your outfitter will handle these concerns and issues. Make sure you ask about venison processing when you’re planning or booking your guided deer hunt; you don’t want any surprises that may ruin the hunting trip of a lifetime for a trophy deer. Ask if your guide will be cooking any meals with venison in them. If he does, and you enjoy a certain meal, don’t forget to ask for those venison recipes again. If you do that, please share it with me, OK? Thanks, and I’ll give you credit for that venison recipe on my venison recipe page.
Keep in mind that the cut and wrapped weight of your processed venison will be less than half of the weight of the whitetail deer you bring in for processing, especially if have your meat de-boned by your butcher. The cost of processing venison can vary. For the basic service of skinning, de-boning, cutting, wrapping and freezing your venison; plan to spend about seventy five to hundred dollars, give or take a little. The cost can and will go up considerably if you have sausage or other custom venison processing done. But it can be so worth it. Please consider donating some of your venison meat to local food shelves if you don’t think you can, or will, eat up all of your venison within six to eight months. Many states D.N.R.’s and/or Fish & Game departments have information published in their game laws of locations and web addresses, of where you can donate your venison. Many states manage specific hunting areas with extra doe permits. By harvesting more does, the deer herd benefits. This can be very helpful for your deer hunting area if your doe to buck ratio is out of balance; i.e.. to many does, a ratio of more than 3 to 1. Also, some non-profit organizations collect whitetail deer hides for programs that benefit whitetail deer and their habitat. In Minnesota, this program is called “Hides for Habitat”. It is a good program, so please don’t throw out your whitetail deer hides; donate them. Thank you, and good luck deer hunting.
Processing Your Own Venison
You may ask, why process my own meat? Here are a few reasons to consider. It is easy, cost-efficient and rewarding to do it yourself. You have total control of your venison. You can age your venison for peak flavor, while keeping it clean. Speaking of keeping your venison clean, do not do as some hunters do when processing their own venison. Work from a clean table as you cut up your venison.
Here groups of hunter’s don’t seem to care about keeping their venison meat clean and bacteria free. Outdoor picnic tables can be laden with fecal droppings from birds, flies, rodents, and more. It is very difficult to completely sanitize an area like this. And who knows where those fingers have been. They should of at least laid down a piece of plastic from a roll of construction plastic tarp/drop cloth. It is easy to plan ahead and lazy not to.
For about the cost of commercial processing of 4 to 5 whitetail deer, you can invest in your own equipment to do it. Equipment like this Cabela’s game hoist (below), a L.E.M. meat grinder, a Food Saver vacuum packer, and a knife sharpener like this Chefs Choice is a good place to start. This great meat processing equipment will pay for itself in a year or two. Get your hunting partners to help with this investment and share the cost. It’s also part of the comradely experience to process your venison together.
Trophy Deer Field Care
You’re aiming through your rifle scope, that trophy buck is only 80 yards away; you squeeze a round off, he drops, he trashes about a little, and now is motionless. What’s next is the Trophy Deer Field Care your must perform to take care of your dead deer.
Now the work begins. Before you get out of your hunting stand you should make a mental note of exactly where your buck is laying. Because, once on the ground and moving through a hunting area, things have a way looking a little different than they did from the height of a tree stand. Many deer hunters have had to climb back into their hunting stand and take another look in the direction of where they shot their deer to relocate where is was when they shot at it. Now it times to track your deer and recover it.
Field Dressing and Care
As you walk up to your deer or big buck you see that he really is a trophy deer. First thing you need to do before any field care is to make sure this whitetail buck is dead. The eye lids should be open; touch one of the eyes with a stick or barrel of your rifle, arrow if archery hunting, to make sure he’s dead (many deer have been shot and as the hunter approaches they get up and run off). You notice that the buck has a nice shape to his deer antlers, an even spread, and very symmetrical; you say to yourself, “there won’t be much of a point deduction for this big buck”.
Field Dressing Your Deer
Now, your first field care process will be to field dress him, or gut him out. Care must be taken if you plan to have a shoulder-head mount done. Be careful not to do too much cutting with your hunting knife; cut only as far as needed to get most of the wind pipe and entrails out. Roll him over and let the blood drain out while you clean up a little.
You will want to get him back to your hunting camp with as little dragging as possible. This where it is nice to have an A.T.V. (All Terrain Vehicle), some type of game hauler, or a deer sleigh to get your deer out of your hunting land as efficiently as possible. This part of your field care will also help keep your trophy deer clean and undamaged. Once back at camp you may need to clean and rinse out the entrails cavity with cold water if you cut into any organs during the gutting process. After rinsing, dry it out with a dry cloth as much as possible, this will help deep bacteria away. Now you should hang him to cool. Consider removing the hide. Removing the hide while the deer is still warm will be much easier at this point then if the carcass has cooled down. Removing the hide (wrap with cheesecloth to protect from flies), will help cool the deer down and may help keep the meat from being tainted, as some hunters believe.
Help Your Taxidermist
When removing the hide, if you must cut into the neck area cut from the top and cut straight. This will allow the taxidermist the opportunity to sew the hide from the top where it won’t be so visible. If in doubt, leave as much of the neck in place and be prepared to bring it to your taxidermist as soon as possible. It is best to talk to your taxidermist before the hunt for advice. Some will even come to your deer hunting camp and cape it for you. You may want your taxidermist to do this if you are inexperienced or uncomfortable doing the cape yourself. These tips will help insure you will have a quality shoulder mount with the set of trophy deer antlers you’re so proud of, on your deer hunting cabin or game room wall.
Nice Wall Mount Of Antlers
Along with good field care of your trophy whitetail deer, you need to plan ahead for processing. Before you go on your trophy whitetail deer hunting trip, you should know who will do your deer processing. If you are going to bring it to your favorite butcher shop; call ahead to find out if they do wild game and what there procedures are. Most states have specific laws and regulations that require the separation of wild and domestic animals during the butchering process, as well as site sanitation. By planning ahead for the care of your trophy whitetail deer; you will be prepared to take good care of it.
Age Your Venison
Plan to hang your venison for aging; about 10 to 14 days in a cooler (or refrigerate in quarters) at about 35 – 38 degrees. This aging process will help tenderize your venison; marbleize the meat… Then you will be able to enjoy some great venison meals after the hunting season. I you are going to age your deer without the hide on it here is a great tip to help keep the deer venison from drying out on the outside. Wrap your deer in saran wrap. This will help keep the outermost muscle tissue moist and save you trimming time when it comes time to butcher the deer.