Processing Deer

Their are a lot of ways to process an animal, in this case deer, but I will just mention a few things I have learned.

I did just get back from a hunt.

Yes it’s a doe, the area I was hunting allows 3 antlerless deer a day during rifle season. Many people turn their nose up at the idea of killing does but the fact of the matter is that there are way to many does to bucks, additionally if all you kill are the biggest and best we are hurting the deer population only leaving the small and weak, the opposite of what nature does. This doe wasn’t small or weak but the doe/buck ratio is way off, naturally it would be close to 50:50 but now it seems to be more like 1 buck to 20 does.

Anyway for those that haven’t developed their own processing techniques here are a few tips. First off people often say deer are gamey tasting, I guess that can be true but that comes down to two ideas: first it’s not getting cooked right and secondly it’s not what we are trained to like.

First, cooking. Cooking the deer well helps get out the gamey taste along with good seasoning but my purpose here is not to give recipes but simple technique for use.

Generally speaking we grind everything, sure we keep a few hams, tenderloin, and back strap but probably 75% is ground. Ground deer can be used in everything that ground beef can be used in; lasagna, chili, tacos, stew, and whatever else you want with nothing additional added with the exception of ham burger patties. We serve ground deer all the time to people and they have no idea it’s not beef. We aren’t trying to trick anyone it’s just what we use. In regards to burger patties deer is too lean so fat has to be added to get it to stick together. I like my burgers cooked medium done which means pink in the middle therefore I don’t like deer burger because of the gamey taste.

As far as being trained to not like deer it’s really the free range taste we aren’t generally used too. We as people like consistency and deer browse here and there and depending on what is available they will taste different. It’s the same with free range or grass fed beef, I could raise a cow on grass at my place and you could raise its twin sister at your place and depending on what’s available they will taste different. If the cows were triplets instead of twins and the third was sent to a stock yard it would taste like any other cow at the grocery store because it was forced to eat corn for several months before slaughter.

The stock yards feed corn so you can buy a steak in California or Florida and they will taste the same. We like consistency, that’s why McDonalds and all the other fast food places are successful, a cheeseburger is a cheeseburger regardless of the location of the restaurant.

Getting to the grinding tips. First have several bowls, in one bowl put the pieces to grind and in another bowl put pieces you want whole.

For grinding cut the deer into small pieces. All your equipment should be easy to access.

We do use a KitchenAid stand mixer with a meat grinder, it’s not the best but it works and is versatile.

Cut as much of the solidified far and connective tissue off as you can, it’s white, it seems like a pain but it’ll save time later.

If you don’t remove the fat and connective tissue it may clog up your blade.

The top is starting to clog up, when I first started I let it get much worse and that’s ineffective and hard on the motor, regular cleanings help a lot.

Another bowl is needed for the ground meat.

After the grinding a scale is handy so everything can be consistent, we normally do 1 lbs bags using a vacuum sealer.

After being sealed the bags are labeled with date, type of meat, and weight. Technically plastic bags or the containers from the grocery store are not the best way to keep meat but they are the easiest. Vacuum sealing is the easiest way if you want to thaw in water later.

In short if your starting out grind almost everything, it’s easier to cook all the way through and it has many uses. Cut it small, cut out the fat(clogs the blade) and connective tissues. Label your packaging. Then enjoy some good chili on a cold day!

Author: millcreekhomestead

Just a stay at home Dad trying to become more self sufficient in a world getting more dependent. It’s easy to get lost in all the things of the world, sometimes the best therapy is getting your hands dirty and growing something good!

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