AMK Sportsman

Who Processes Their Own Game

Carl 9.3x62

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 4, 2016
Messages
1,087
Location
Laramie, Wyoming
I have always done my own. Grew up doing it that way. The one exception was my moose, because it was so dang big. Didn't get back nearly as much meat as I thought I would. Not sure if was the processor or just my expectations. But I doubt I will ever take another one in. I don't necessarily enjoy it. Time consuming for sure. But that's the way it goes. Good sense of accomplishment though seeing the nicely packaged meat ready for the freezer.
 

CB1

Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2019
Messages
60
Location
Texas
I like to do it myself also. I know I am getting my animal, I know how it was taken care of and I just enjoy the process. not that you can’t trust a processor as there are many good ones. I guess I like the process more and it’s cheaper to do it yourself (depending on the equipment you buy).

This is mainly for deer and small game though. I might be rethinking an elk just based on size. But.. probably not as I would be too excited about getting an elk.
 

Cheater

Active member
Joined
Jan 22, 2013
Messages
259
Pros of doing it myself
  • Consistency
  • Knowing how the meat was cared for from field to table
  • Cost savings
  • I enjoy it
Cons:
  • Takes a lot of time during a time of year when time is scarce. Like Snowy mentioned I usually freeze and complete the finish product later in the year.
 

Dave N

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 20, 2013
Messages
3,453
Location
Illinois
Did my own forever. Gotten better over time, and having a grinder, stuffer, vacuum sealer, etc. really has sped things up. I tell friends that pay to have it done "You already have a knife to gut it with, just keep going!"
 

2rocky

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 23, 2010
Messages
2,734
Limited storage space for carcass pieces before processing has been my biggest limiting factor. I recall arriving home to 100 degree temps from a late September elk hunt. Plus I have been pretty happy with all the work my local butcher has done. That said, I have reserved some deer hams in the past to break down myself to keep up my skills.

If I had freezing temperatures, or a walk in to store a carcass I'd definitely do more home processing
 

HSi-ESi

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 1, 2012
Messages
1,062
Location
Corvallis, MT
I mostly do my own, but will take one in if time limited. I've only taken it in to people I personally know. I really like cutting my own - I can do different cuts for different occasions. I usually have some plan in my head while I am butchering. I'm working through some design's on a walk-in cooler so I can have more control over aging.

Mostly, I'll break down into primals, shanks stay whole and I'll have a grind pile. I haven't cut steaks in 10 or so years (will steak after cooking). It really helps on packaging time and extends the freezer life a bit too, at least I have found that.

I usually save making sausage, cured stuff for later. If I have grind left, I'll use it - but if I don't then I'll go to some primals.
 

Gellar

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 31, 2014
Messages
1,337
Location
The Driftless Area
We do it all. Started with a kitchen aid grinder attachment on my wife’s mixer and are slowly purchasing equipment to make it easier. Now we have 2 grinders, a meat mixer and a stuffer along with a good scale, a stainless table, sealers and food grade tubs to put meat in. We also have an electric hoist and a trolley system to easily hang, skin and quarter deer. If it is cool enough at night I can control the temperature in my garage to be able to hang for a few days to age as well.
 

nrpate05

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 5, 2015
Messages
1,018
I have done my own in the past, and I really enjoy it, but it is time consuming and I don't have the greatest equipment. I find I get too nitpicky about removing silverskin too. I dropped off my deer this year at the processor and was happy to pay to have them do it. I always wonder if I am getting all of my own meat back and what their CWD protocols are and if they're enforced. Best thing to do is enlist some friends for an afternoon of help and then have a big cookout. You supply the meat and beer. Win-win
 

Gellar

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 31, 2014
Messages
1,337
Location
The Driftless Area
Our local processors have been overwhelmed since COVID with most being booked 6 months or more out for butchering. Many are only taking deer for the couple weeks that our Iowa shotgun season is and not taking archery deer or animals from Western hunts. I am guessing more guys will be giving home butchering a try this year.
 

ssmusicman

Active member
Joined
Oct 12, 2020
Messages
65
Location
West Central WI
We've done our own for years, decades I guess. Started with boning them all out ourselves and taking the trim to be processed elsewhere. Now we grind, season, stuff, smoke all our own, or any combination of that. Never really trusted the local butchers with the animals, and the signs on the door "we guarantee you get your own meat back", hum? or what? I know for a fact that they don't clean the grinder between animals. I've been past the locker plant when there are 75 deer stacked up like chord wood, can't tell me that the guy making minimum wage for a few weeks is taking any amount of care in what goes in the grinder or not.

Yes, takes some time, but once you have a few under you belt it does go quicker. My brother and i have a system for deer, we each have our part to do. We skin, he starts on front quarters, I take out tender loins and loins, clean, cut and vacuum pack. Then I debone the hind quarters while the beast is upside down, split them into the perspective 6 muscle groups, cut steaks or cubes and vacuum pack. By the time that's done all that is left in the neck meat and we double team that into the trim bag and done. Trim gets divided into either 5lb (jerky), or 17lb (smoking) batches and froze for a later date. We did 3 deer from opening day WI couple days ago. Start of process to finished and cleaned up in 7 hours. And we are picky, spend a fair amount of time taking out silver skin etc.

We even did a Bison a few years ago, hung it from a loader to debone it and hauled it home in a freezer. Took about 6 hours the next day to get it processed.
 

np307

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 25, 2018
Messages
295
Location
North Carolina
I've done start to finish on every animal I've killed. It really doesn't take that long to take care of a deer. Especially this year since I have a fridge dedicated to aging. If I'm really pressed for time I can just do one quarter and leave the others for later.

One big thing that saves me time though is I don't grind meat. We use way more stew meat than we do ground meat, so it's better to keep stew meat on hand. If I have roasts once I get to the next hunting season, then those can get turned into ground or jerky. I also save a lot of trimming for the final preparation. Fat always gets trimmed off, but silver skin can help protect the meat in the freezer.
 

MTLabrador

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 16, 2020
Messages
1,513
Location
Wyoming, still missing Montana
Honestly I think if I'd just stop being such a cheap ass and ponied up for a $500 grinder, I'd make my money back in 2 seasons, and would do it all myself.
I never needed it when I lived in Montana, because a local butcher shop (not a wild game processor) would do an excellent job for cheap when I brought them ready to grind pieces. Now that I don’t have that option I’ve really begun to hate my little Cabela’s grinder.
 

Jwill

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 7, 2011
Messages
1,295
Location
Virginia
Always do my own. If I don't have time to do it right away I will just put it in the freezer as quarters and thaw to process when I have time. I usually have a couple days in the winter or spring when I thaw a bunch to make burger and sausage.
 

Scarey

Active member
Joined
Sep 22, 2018
Messages
402
Location
Idaho
I lean more toward doing all the cutting myself, but if there is a bunch of grind I have no problem taking that into the butcher.
 

Redman

Active member
Joined
Mar 31, 2017
Messages
703
Location
Indiana
When I first started out 30+ years ago I took it to a processor. The meat always tasted gamey. My grandpa's cousin who we would spend a few weeks a year up in WI cooked some burgers on the grill and I asked if it was his brother's beef we were eating and he said "No that is a old North woods buck I shot." I told him that our IN deer didn't taste that good. He said "Those grain fed deer should be better!" Then he told me how he processed his own removing all fat and silver skin. That fall I butchered my own and hand the best venison ever. Been doing elk, antelope, deer, and even domestic hogs myself ever since.
 

clharr

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 10, 2018
Messages
266
I use to bring to a processor but I noticed quality and quantity varied year to year. I started doing my own years ago and am much happier with the results. I do average 3-7 deer a year though so occasionally one gets dropped off if I’m limited on time.

I have three freezers, grinder, sausage stuffer, meat tenderizer, dehydrater and vacuum sealer. I can pretty much do anything though I’ve still not been happy with my sausage making.
 

peterk1234

Member
Joined
Oct 9, 2019
Messages
70
I enjoy it as much as hunting. For me it is part of the whole experience. I just bought a book twenty years ago and took it from there. One of things I like the best is finding ways to have less and less waste. For example, I used to do nothing with deer ribs. Now they get sawed off and stored for smoked ribs. My deer smoked ribs are my wife's favorite type of ribs. Ya, they are very good. I used to debone a neck. Then one day I just sawed the neck off and slow cooked it whole. Oh my god, the amount of meat on there and it is oh so tender. One of my favorite parts of the animal for a great stew. It is just fun. I bet there is a lot of loss when you take your animal to the butcher. Not much going into the trash once I'm done with it :)

And like others, I make hamburger and sausage as well. Then a bunch of the hamburger is combined with ground bacon and is made into meatballs, which I then pressure can and store in the basement.
 
Top