how to make the best wild hog sausage
- March 11, 2020
- Food Processing
When I was young I was always told that wild hogs were nasty animals and that they didn’t taste good, no…Read More
Everyone has their favorite reason to process game meat themselves. Here are the top five reasons you shouldn’t be dropping your animal off with the butcher. Processing your own game meat isn’t only easier than you think; you can be up and running after a quick trip to Wal-Mart. Here are 5 reasons to process your own game meat.
While hunting in the end is a money pit, I do feel like I should end up with free meat at the end of it. At least once, we’ve all justified a new gun as an investment towards “saving money on meat”. After all, beef is our most expensive grocery expense. Despite all the money we ‘invest’ in hunting equipment, there’s something that just feels wrong about giving a butcher money for my meat. I feel like I’m buying meat at the store all over again. I’ve found that game processing usually costs somewhere around a dollar a pound or about $60-$80 for a deer. There’s nothing like adding insult to injury when you show up with your 1 1/2 year old deer (or younger – I’ll tell that story later) and pay the ‘standard deer’ rate. Especially when the guy who drags in a monster 10-pointer pays the same fee. Also trying to pretend Bambi over there “isn’t yours” is never fun.
If you plan on killing more than one deer the rest of your life, then deer number two will cover your costs to process your game meat. You can get a decent food vacuum sealer for right around $75 and I made due for years with just a meat grinder attachment for our Kitchen-aid mixer. That’s it, that’s your upfront cost. Disclaimer — I wouldn’t recommend investing in a fancy meat grinder until you know processing your own meat is for you. Its not like that time you bought new Beretta semi-auto for pheasants “Just in case you ever got invited to South Dakota”. At least after that you had a beautify gun. As cool as my meat grinder is, I never once offered to show it to my buddies when they came over.
I’ll preface this by saying I know its irrational. Daily I buy and eat meat that didn’t start out as mine. I go to McDonald’s, I eat store bought bacon and turkey. All of which is killed, processed and distributed on a massively scaled level. I don’t know how many different cows are actually in the hamburger I buy at the store but, I know its more than one. This only bothers me when it comes to game meat, I must have a disconnect here. But for some people this is the reason they prefer game meat in the first place. So why would you do this hunting thing and still go to a game processor? This may be the best reason to process game meat yourself.
I know processors will tell you you get all you meat back and, I believe, they believe that. Either you clean your grinder between each deer, or I’ve got part of Stewart’s gut shot deer in my hamburger. Having never worked in a butcher shop, I do know (from not being born yesterday) that ‘batching’ is how you get tasks done. No one cuts one Tenderloin steak from a deer and walks it straight over to the vacuum sealer. A local butcher shop is probably a cleaner and safer environment then whatever process store bought hamburger goes through. However, I still prefer to know that the deer I meticulously removed the bladder from, without rupturing, is the one in the freezer.
If you’ve ever been out west its a whole new game when when whatever you kill has to make it 5 miles back to the truck. In these scenarios I almost always conduct a no gut field dressing. This only works in areas where you don’t need to bring the rib cage out of the field. If you’re unfamiliar with this technique; it’s cutting out the back-straps, neck meat and de-boning the 4 quarters. You do have to sacrifice the tenderloins. This is everything you do while an animal hangs your just doing it in the field. The De-boning is the only step that might not be completely intuitive but, if you know how to skin you’ll figure it out. This technique allows you to reduce your meat carry-out weight by about 30%. This is a great reason to process game meat because you’ve already done 30% of the job by the time you get back home. As long as you know where the good cuts are at and how to handle them this is a great technique.
Process your game meat the same day you harvest your animal. Personally, if the weather allows I like to hang my big game for a week to 10 days to age it. But, if you kill an animal in the morning you can have it all in the freezer by the evening. I haven’t found a butcher yet that can compete with that!
You can process game meat If you can field dress an animal. Now if you want flavored elk sausage, it might take a little time. But, that’s only a 20 minute google to figure out. I have a simple process where I get three kinds of meat: steak, hamburger and stew meat. This covers about 95% of the red meat requirements in my house.
Processing your own game is easier than you might think. I recommend finding a buddy who already does it, help him do it once and, you’ll be ready to do it yourself next time.