One of the best resources for emergency preparedness is meat that you can hunt yourself. Since most areas of the country have a plentiful deer population, deer meat may be your best bet for feeding your family. Learning to process the meat is not complicated if you understand a few things.
Processing a deer can be easily done at home if you have a good, sharp knife. Once the deer has been skinned, gutted, and cooled you are ready to begin butchering the meat. Use a gambrel to hang the deer from its hide legs. This will help to hold and separate the legs making it easier to work.
A small sharp knife will get the job done carefully without cutting into the bone or yourself while working front to back on the deer. It is important to remove as much connective tissue as possible. The connective tissue is what gives the deer the gamey wild taste that not everyone enjoys. The meat will separate nicely on its own if you just follow the muscle lines and simply cut along them as a guide. Careful to remove the white lymph nodes as the lymphatic system collects bacteria for the deer and it is best not to eat that.
- Small sharp knife
- Hang the deer by the hind legs using a gambrel, after it has been skinned and gutted.
- Fillet the meat off the bone, do not cut the bone as this will dull your knife
- Cut a ball roast by making a cut at the knee, gently cut along the bone to remove the meat
- Cut the connective tissue off the meat
- Follow and cut through the muscle tissue towards the back of the leg to create a rump roast
- Free the rump roast from the femur by bending it backward and remove the connective tissue
- Fillet the meat away from the hip bone. This part will be juicy like a tender lion, some call it the hidden tenderloin.
- The lymphatic system helps the deer get rid of bacteria. Cut the large white lymph node out of the meat and do not eat.
- Follow the muscle line and fillet down the femur.
- Cut along the pelvic bone to get some good hamburger meat
- Cut along the spine all the way from the ham muscles to the neck to separate the loin or back strap
- Peel the loin away from the ribs and fillet as you go
- A little discoloration is normal, the lymphatic system collects blood and returns in. Remove the lymph nodes.
- Remove the tenderloin
- Follow the major muscle groups and the shoulder should just fall right off. The shoulder doesn’t don’t have a bone-to-bone connection so you can cut straight through.
- Trim the rest of the off the bones for the stew pot.
HOW TO GUT A DEER
- Large 4-inch blade with a handle and guard
- Gut hook
- Gloves or disinfectant wipes
- Butt out tool
- Lay the deer on its back on an incline with the head pointing downhill to allow proper drainage.
- Make a cut all the way up the belly starting at the pelvis. Careful not to cut too deep. Only cut through the skin and membrane, don’t cut through the meat or intestines.
- Place one finger on either side of the knife. Pull the skin up and way as you cut. A gut hook will help here.
- Try not to puncture the stomach, use water to clean the meat if stomach juices leak out. Stomach juices can taint the meat.
- Remove the genitals.
- Cut through the ribcage moving towards the head. Use a prying motion as this will take some effort.
- Open the chest to cut the diaphragm, a thin but strong membrane that holds the heart and lungs. Cut away from both sides of the ribcage.
- Locate the esophagus using one hand. Grasp firmly and cut it out with your free hand. Leaving the esophagus can taint the meat.
- The guts should be easy to remove at this point.
- A butt out can be used to pull the rear inside out. Cut this off and carefully dispose of to prevent contamination.
- Use a hatch or bone saw to cut through the pelvis. Clean out anything that remains.
- Prop the carcass open to promote cooling
HOW TO SKIN A DEER
Skin the deer within the first 2 hours after the kill. The deer will still be warm, making the skinning process much easier.
- Start by hanging the deer from a tree by either the back legs or the antlers
- Cut around the neck, this will allow you to mount the head later if desired
- Make a cut down the belly
- Cut down the middle of each leg
- Slowly separate the skin from the meat
- Peel the skin away from the meat and use a knife to cut as you go
- Keep the hair away from the meat
- Keep the meat clean
- Skinning can be done quickly, but it will take some practice