Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Filling A Freezer - Step 1.1

Dan asked if I would share the skinning and butchering of my recently harvested deeelicious Indiana corn fed whitetail deer. I opted instead to have it processed by a butcher so there are no images of the actual processing.

Instead I offer the skinning photo. Skinning it took place in my neighbor's garage. He is equipped with a suitable hoist. I did not want to trouble him with helping on the butchering work with mine but he allowed me to hang and skin it. I did most of the work while he observed and added direction. He finished the finer details including using a torch to singe any loose hair remaining on the carcass.

The red area behind the shoulder shows the broadhead penetration on the right side of my Bambi. The arrow entered on the left side indicating it was a full pass-thru of the upper lungs. And if I must say so (gush) at 50 yards with a crossbow that is a damn good shot : )

In his expert estimation my deer weighed +/- 140lbs dressed and I trust his guess because he harvested an average of 4 whitetails per year and has been hunting deer every year for the past fifty. He lives and breathes deer season all year long. This doe was about the same size as an average mid size buck.

It was of interest to me to find out how much of the deer goes to waste vs. the amount suitable for consumption after butchering and processing since i never bothered with that before.

I chose a small one-man butcher shop in Michigan City where they sell an assortment of smoked meats and sausages. I wrote about this meat shop in 2009. Pete told me last summer he is now in the business of custom cut processed wild game and asked if I would refer business at my store. His price is very low compared to others in the region. This gave me the opportunity to find out if he was worth endorsing to other hunters at my store. He is.

At my direction he carved out the backstraps whole, the tenderloins whole, the hind quarters were sliced into 1 1/2" steaks and everything else was ground. My intent is to use the ground for chili, burgers and also for some sausage making experimentation. The whole cuts will be grilled as steaks, kabobs or to to coarse grind myself. Backstraps and tenderloins will only see the charcoal grill.

I took the skinned carcass to him Saturday about noon and picked up the butchered meat at 5pm Sunday. All cuts were wrapped and marked. He charged $65 for his work with a 24hr turnaround. Any sausage making or smoking on his end would cost additional $$. Most large game processors will take weeks during the peak season.

When I arrived home each package was weighed here the the bunker garage. This is the final tally.

There was 23lbs. of ground and 37lbs of choice cuts making the meat total 60 lbs. give or take a few ounces. Subtract that from the guesstimate of 140lbs. field dressed I end up with 80.5lbs. of the carcass scrap bone, skin, hair, head, hooves and tail. Everything but the bleat.

80.5 lbs of scrap, 58.5lbs. of pure boneless meat is not a bad ratio. I'm sure if it was done by a larger game processor instead of my smaller butcher I would have ended up with less, paid more and probably would have never known the difference.

The added benefit is to know all the meat now in my freezer came from the deer I shot.


Dan from Madison said...

Outstanding. Did your guy note that the deer was fatter/skinnier then usual? I imagine that alfalfa field in the area of your hunting spot certainly helped.

Gerry from Valpo said...

No mention of fat other than "Would you like me to add pork or beef fat to the grind?" I chose pork. Since he's new to the game processing business that may be a reason.

The alfalfa crop is magic. She grazed on it for her last 75 yard meal, one reason I stopped trying to plant my own food plots. Don't need it. But I would like to plant a small apple orchard of about 8-10 trees.