A Beginner's Guide To Processing Your Own Wild Game Meat
Montana Hunting & Fishing News|October 2019
Originally published at goHUNT.com
Dan Wilde

When I was growing up, the idea of processing my own deer never even occurred to me. As a matter of fact, it was tradition for my mom to get any deer that my family harvested. So while I was the one pulling the trigger and taking an animal’s life, the rest of the process was pretty hands-off for me. But, now, I can’t imagine not doing it all myself. The opportunity to be in control from scouting the animal to eating it—and not missing a single step in between—is a highly rewarding experience that I wouldn’t trade.

While I now think butchering an animal is hard to mess up, it can be a daunting and intimidating task if you’ve never done it before. There is nothing wrong with bringing your meat to a commercial processor, but if you’ve never tried doing it yourself I highly recommend you give it a shot and see if it’s worth the extra effort for you. For this article, I am going to focus strictly on the processing part and assume that the animal has already been skinned, gutted and/or quartered.

TRIMMING AND CLEANING

No matter what part of the animal you are working with, it’s important to start by picking off any stray hairs that may have gotten stuck to the meat along with any pieces of dirt or debris from the field. Then, once you’ve done that you’re going to want to trim away any pieces of fat from the meat. When I was butchering my first deer, I didn’t know this and mixed the deer fat in with my burger. It is a really waxy type of fat that tastes like eating a candle so I definitely don’t recommend it.

So, go ahead and trim away all of the fat and tissue that isn’t meat. Make sure you’re careful not to go too overboard on this step because you can end up wasting a lot of meat if you do. Once it looks like something you are ready to serve to a guest, then it’s probably good. One exception to this rule is the silver skin that you will find on some of the roast pieces. You can fillet it off, but I actually prefer to leave it on as another layer of protection to the meat and then simply remove it before cooking.

THE BIG CUTS

The great thing about processing your own animal is that you have total control of what you want to turn it into so that it is recipe-ready depending on how you prefer to cook. There are numerous different variations of what you could do (and I will cover a few different options), but this is by no means an exhaustive list. For packaging these cuts, I like to wrap them in a layer of plastic wrap followed by a layer of butcher paper. This has worked well for me, but there are definitely other ways to package them like a vacuum-sealer.

LOINS

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM MONTANA HUNTING & FISHING NEWSView All

NWTF Exceeds 1.5 Million Hunters Goal Three Years Early

More than 1.5 million new or formerly lapsed hunters are hitting the woods thanks to the National Wild Turkey Federation and its partners.

2 mins read
Montana Hunting & Fishing News
December 2019

Making The Switch From Rifle To Archery

“More time in the field.” That is something I read years ago over and over again in our local game and fish regulations.

7 mins read
Montana Hunting & Fishing News
December 2019

Public Access Expanded In Southwest Montana

The largest wildlife management area in Montana is now 160 acres larger thanks to a joint effort by a conservation-minded landowner, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP), and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

1 min read
Montana Hunting & Fishing News
December 2019

Land Navigation Vs. Electronics

Each year that goes by, I find myself trying to figure out ways to get farther and farther from the truck come hunting season.

4 mins read
Montana Hunting & Fishing News
December 2019

Do You Really Need A New Bow?

I don’t think I am alone when I say that buying a bow is an exciting time.

6 mins read
Montana Hunting & Fishing News
December 2019

A Beginner's Guide To Processing Your Own Wild Game Meat

Originally published at goHUNT.com

7 mins read
Montana Hunting & Fishing News
October 2019

Madison River Fly Fishing: 5 Tips For The Fall

Madison river fly fishing is possibly at its best in October.

2 mins read
Montana Hunting & Fishing News
October 2019

3 Tips For Overcoming Fear In The Backcountry

Late to the game outdoors

10+ mins read
Montana Hunting & Fishing News
October 2019

Seasons Come & Seasons Go

Fishing 411

2 mins read
Montana Hunting & Fishing News
October 2019

Montana Fishing In November

Many anglers flat out forget about Montana fly fishing in November.

1 min read
Montana Hunting & Fishing News
November 2019
RELATED STORIES

America's Missing Workers

Near-record levels of absenteeism could be hampering the recovery

4 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
January 18, 2021

BENCHMADE MEATCRAFTER

EQUALLY AT HOME IN THE FIELD OR IN THE KITCHEN

5 mins read
Knives Illustrated
September - October 2020

Have a Ball!

Need a crowd-pleasing dinner in a pinch? These convenient meatball recipes inspire you to think outside spaghetti.

2 mins read
Taste of Home
August/September 2020

The Human Cost of Cheap Meat

Working in a processing plant has always been dangerous. With Covid-19, it’s even scarier

8 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
May 04, 2020

Plant Power For Meat-eaters

Next time you’re tempted to reach for a chop consider going for veg instead. It’s better for you – and for the planet

4 mins read
YOU South Africa
23 January 2020

Good For You. Good For The Planet.

Here is how we are eating better for our health and for the environment in the 21 st century

6 mins read
WINE&DINE
November - December 2019

Food Revolutionaries – Pioneer Woman

Ariane Daguin has spent almost 35 years building the artisanal food company D’Artagnan. Along the way, she’s transformed how Americans think about food. And there’s still so much for her to do.

10+ mins read
Inc.
October 2019

High-Tech Veggie Burgers: What's The Beef?

Realistic, plant-based meats are a multi billion-dollar business —but are they good for you?

5 mins read
Better Nutrition
October 2019

Can Vegetarianism Stop Climate Change?

Eating meat is bad for the climate—or at least that was one of the main conclusions highlighted in a flood of news reports based on the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s August report, Climate Change and Land.

1 min read
Reason magazine
November 2019

Where's The Beef?

Impossible foods and beyond meat can’t make fake burgers fast enough

10+ mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
August 26, 2019