Who Processes Their Own Game

Hunting Wife

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Nov 18, 2014
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2,176
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Almost North Dakota, not quite Canada
Do all our own. A good quality grinder is worth the investment...the process goes much faster. We cut everything into primals, leave shanks and shoulders whole on anything deer sized or smaller, and freeze bulk ground in 5lb bags until winter when we do sausage. Having full control of the quality and the cuts is nice.
 

David58

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Oct 13, 2020
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120
Location
Northern NM
The cost of alcohol consumed while doing it with family and friends negates the savings of not sending it to the processor 🤣
I'd be too worried about my fingers to have any alcohol factored in...I'm a danger to myself stone cold sober.
 

SO7mm

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Mar 24, 2017
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East SF Bay Area
100% at home. As a chef you will enjoy and appreciate it. You'll also be able to package it exactly how you want to use it.
 

David58

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Oct 13, 2020
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120
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Northern NM
We got "our" first elk this year, been trying to get my wife in the field with me for years, and this was the culmination. We cut and packaged it all ourselves - a cow, so not an huge animal, about 90 pounds in the freezer. Vacuum packed, which we really liked better than paper. Helped that my wife took butchering courses in high school, and that I have processed a bunch of deer.

We'll figure out what we want to do about sausage, but most of the critter went to steaks and roasts. We can grind any of those we want, but we like the meat too much to turn much of it to burger or sausage unless it has to be.

Our motivation, even exhausted after a long trip to Oregon in our trailer, then back in the woods with a one day turn, was really that there isn't a local processor we trust with our meat. I want MY meat, because even if I ain't no Natty Bumpo as a hunter, I do know how to take care of the meat.

Which makes me think of the story told by a coworker and friend back in Oregon. She and her husband each got a muley, and took it in for processing at a local processor of some good repute. While talking to the proprietor, the gent's young son walked up, and grabbed his daddy's hand as he looked over the two deer come to the family's business. Looking at his dad in some awe as five-year-olds are wont to do, he asked "So, backstrap for supper tonite, dad?"
 

npaden

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Feb 3, 2011
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Lubbock, Texas
I’ve had a couple animals processed when I was a in a severe time crunch.

To me it isn’t about the money but about being sure that the animal you shot is the animal you are eating. I prefer the way I make the cuts as well.

I don’t especially enjoy it but do get satisfaction out of doing it. I upgraded to a 3/4 hp Cabelas grinder a couple years ago and that has made things much easier. I think my next upgrade will be a chamber vacuum sealer, that seems to be our current bottle neck, waiting to the food saver vacuum sealer to cool down when you are sealing bags.

Watching the bearded butchers on YouTube has helped my processing a bit. I also switched to a knife and sharpener like they use and think it is better than what I was using.

I would say the % of people on this forum that process their own animals is a lot higher than the general hunting public.

My 2 cents. Nathan
 

ChrisC

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Jul 21, 2016
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243
Location
Massachusetts
My first deer was a backpack trip out west. We cut it up in the garage and vacuum sealed it. Seemed easy enough so I've never tried a processor. I've done them all myself, slowly improving each time. At first, there was no differentiating large cuts of meat - it was just made into a steak - to now being able to tell the rounds apart, sirloin tip, etc. This is in large part to the abundance of butchering videos available online.

I've had enough of the manual grinder though. Will be upgrading to one of those fancy ones with a motor this year.

The only real downside is time, which most people have mentioned. I never seem to shoot a deer on a schedule that is convenient for me...the deer probably thinks the same.
 

jrabq

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Joined
Jul 4, 2014
Messages
505
Location
NM
I do my own processing, it can be a chore doing an elk or moose by yourself, but I do enjoy it. For me it's an important step in the whole game, just before the final steps of cooking and eating it. But to each his own.

I also do burger with a 3/4 hp grinder, but I normally do this throughout the year in 30-40 pound batches. I haven't been real happy with my sausage making attempts, but its been a long time, I should give it another try.
 

nick87

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Dec 12, 2014
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2,274
Location
Northern Illinois
Do everything myself including anywhere from 2 to 6 additional deer for family and friends. Usually a couple deer for myself and we do hundreds of pounds of waterfowl as a big group. I look forward to it just as much as the hunting, but I'm glad when it's all over. We always debone and freeze everything then come january when most of us are off work we process everything. Only times I've hired a processor is if it's hot then I will just have them debone and freeze for me to take home and finish later.
 

HSi-ESi

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Nov 1, 2012
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Corvallis, MT
As a quick followup - I used to be super picky on getting all of the silver-skin, tendons, etc off the meat - which is initially some of the most time-consuming section of learning home butchery. The only thing I've found to not age well in the freezer is chunks of fat and glands. So my clean-up steps have evolved, where I remove anything I think will not age well in the freezer.

The rest I will leave on larger cuts of meat, until I thaw it out for cooking. I always give it a once-over (even if I've trimmed it). Saves time on the initial processing side, gives a bit of protective layer in the freezer - and isn't that tough to clean up prior to cooking.

I may even decide to slow cook, or brine / pastrami something where I will cook it low and slow. In that case, a little membrane helps.
 

huntin24/7

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Jul 25, 2010
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707
Location
Eastern Montana
We do all our own and try to do a good variety of stuff to keep things interesting. Elk and antelope is turned into burger and steaks. Aside from tenderloins and backstraps, we turn deer into, jerkey, snack sticks, Italian sausage, breakfast sausage, salami, etc.
 

Nameless Range

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Jun 6, 2013
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3,586
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Western Montana
I do it myself and have for a decade or so now.

Pros and cons for sure, but I view the work much the same as the work required to pack a critter out, and anymore I honestly couldn’t stand having a blank spot in the chain of custody from timber to table.

My 11 year old and 6 year old help where they can, and they get a sense of pride when I send them out to the garage get some elk sausage they helped package and label.
 

Jbotto

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Joined
Apr 12, 2019
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373
Location
Big Horn Basin, WY
Growing up at deer camp, I always had a part in the processing. It was a group effort and everyone got used to their part in the assembly line. Last year was the first time I did it start to finish by myself on a doe I shot, while hunting alone.

So far this year I’ve done a doe pronghorn and doe whitetail that my wife shot earlier in the season. I’ve helped my brother-in-law during a warm spell, by helping him break a muley buck down to process later. Helped him process a cow elk he shot, and now I have a doe hanging in the garage now, which I’ll do by myself or with help from my wife. I like the process, I enjoy doing it for myself and I like saving a buck. There’s a good bit of satisfaction doing it yourself. I have never dropped a game animal off at a processor but have dropped off trimmings for summer sausage and sticks. Also done that myself. Without ready access to a smoker, I like processors better for sausage for now.
 

MTelkHuntress

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Mar 20, 2019
Messages
347
Location
Missoula, MT
I take my animals to a retired butcher, he cuts while I package. It's amazing how fast he is and one of these days I'll take him up on teaching me. He takes a lot of pride in his work and actually takes the carcass when done and has me inspect it. The hunting stories and conversations are really enjoyable. I take some of the meat in to get made into thuringer, but I tell you what, if I figure out a good recipe and learn how to do it right, that place is gonna be in trouble 😂
 

44hunter45

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Aug 14, 2019
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1,347
Location
North Idaho
After paying a local meat cutter once 25 years ago, I've done all our animals. The local cutter said they would ad "suet" to the grind. It must have been the elk's own fat because all the grind went pasty in your mouth. Never again.

I'm a farm boy, so figuring out the process was NBD. I usually do a little each evening until it's all wrapped up.
 

recon6036

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Jul 11, 2011
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1,521
Location
U.P. of Michigan
I’ve always done it myself. I remember, as a young lad, watching my dad hang deer in the basement and then process them. I do take some grind in to have summer sausage and slim jims made. I’ve tried making it myself but have to admit it never turned out as good.
 

calebuga27

Member
Joined
Nov 18, 2020
Messages
34
Going along with most other people on this thread, I enjoy processing at my game at home. A friend of mine is a chef and in exchange for some bear meat he showed me some basic techniques on cutting up your own game. I bought a grinder for my kitchenaide and if you cut the pieces up small enough it does a great job.
 

ElkFever2

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Joined
Mar 4, 2019
Messages
2,816
Location
Iowa
I hunted with a kid many years ago and we decided to figure out processing on our own and just jumped in and figured it out with deer. Prior to that I had always just had someone else do it and never thought anything of it. I’ve been to 5 different processors and they all did a great job.

Pros:
-Cost savings. I killed 5 big game animals this year and cost would have cut into my hunting funds deeply unless I processed my own
-Personal satisfaction and fun
-Sharpen anatomy knowledge as it pertains to shot placement, tracking, mortality, meat freshness, etc.
-Ready to consume quickly. December wait times in IA can be a couple months.

Cons:
-You sacrifice a day of hunting!
-If you lose meat, you have to handle the pieces and throw them out yourself (sadness)
-Very hot or very cold weather can be a hindrance.
 

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