Before you bag that deer this season, you may want to explore nearby options for deer processing. It is important to know before hand because you don’t want to make this important decision once your deer is tagged and ready to deliver.
Although there are still some small-town processors without websites that you would need to look up in the yellow pages, many have online information and reviews. How your wild game is handled and processed is of the utmost importance to ensure that it has a good flavor and the right cuts.
Do I Get My Own Deer Back?
The first question in the mind of many hunters is whether or not they will actually get their own deer back. Be sure to ask the processor what kind of system he uses for identifying and tracking each hunter’s deer carcass through the process. If you can’t get a clear answer, you should probably rule him out. It would be a pity to take great care and precautions when field dressing and handling the deer on your end and then get back someone else’s deer who wasn’t so careful.
Next, you should ask how much your deer should yield once processed. It should probably be 35% or more. How long does he age the deer? Does he have adequate cooler space to age the deer sufficiently? Also ask about the processor’s methods. Not all commercial processors are alike in their preferences as to what they want done to the deer before it is delivered to them. Some prefer to skin it themselves. Others will accept the deer quartered. Many hunters like to fry up the backstrap or tenderloins at the deer camp and just want to take hindquarters to the processor.
What Cuts Do They Have?
It is also important to know what kinds of products the processor offers. Some are limited to ground venison for burgers or that they mix in with pork for a breakfast sausage. Be sure to ask the source of fat he adds, whether it is from quality animals or cheaper sources, because it can dramatically impact flavor. Find out if the processor provides roasts, steaks, chops, stew meat and other cuts, along with specialty items, like summer sausage, snack sticks and jerky. Some of these products are really tasty and allow you to really utilize all the meat from the carcass.
A lot of people who hunt on government land, or family property, not only hunt for enjoyment, but hunt for food and the price of processing is an important factor. You may want to do some price comparisons on ground deer as opposed to ground beef to see if it makes economic sense. If not, you may want to learn to process game yourself if you intend to continue hunting as a means of providing food for your family.
In some instances, you may want to freeze hindquarters and take in later for processing. You might want to find out if the processor is open year round or only for the season.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions
It is important to have confidence in your processor. Ask a lot of questions. If the answers are not satisfactory, move on to another processor or consider learning to do it yourself. If you go the latter route, be sure you have a place big enough to do it and the proper tools, such as a cutting board and sharp knives. You can find online instructions and books that demonstrate the proper way to butcher the carcass so the result yields the proper cuts of meat. You can experiment until you get the hang of it. Processing the deer is about a two-hour project. Also, Amazon and several online retailers, as well as Wal-Mart and some brick and mortar stores also offer a selection of meat grinders if you want ground venison to substitute for ground beef in your favorite recipes or plan to make sausage.
Here are couple of interesting links: