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Breaking down deer

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
So this isn't exactly getting "back into the business" or anything. :) But I made a deal with a friend to process their deer this season in return for 1/2 of it. The processor charges about $300.00/deer. Yowza!

Here's my question.

CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease) is now in loose in the deer population. It's a prion disease like Mad Cow except for deer. It can go undetected...According to the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife (where we are located) there have been no incidences of it in Texas yet, although it is just to the north and west of us. My guess is they are gearing up to meet it.

The question is...all the literature I'm reading advises, not cutting into bone except to remove the head. I've done many completely boned out deer. It's a pain in the assp but the result is having almost the whole deer "steaked" or "chopped" which is delicious, tender, and very mild. But it would be cheaper from a time standpoint for me, if I did bone in shoulder roasts, etc.

I don't expect them to want me to do sausage. I haven't done it in so long...I don't have any good recipes I can find. But I do expect them to want burger meat which isn't a problem. I can double grind it.

I was also expecting to use the bones myself to make rich venison stock. Any thoughts about the danger in doing this?

Thoughts and advice please?! :bounce::bounce::beer:
post #2 of 9
wow, no advice.....my brother hunts deer every year, apparently except this year...never have hesitated eating the meat.

Seems like the age of the animal and the spinal column/cord are major parts of Mad Cow (deer).....bet anything KY and/or Shel would know something about what's going on.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #3 of 9
iv always heard if that cwd comes from the fluid in the spinal cord, so as long as you dont cut into the spine and get fluid on the meat you should be fine, iv never butchered deer but know people who do, they dont worry about it. I would think you would be fine, maybe you should contact a local butcher and ask them, i would think they would know.
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
Shroom - I too was hoping KY and shel would see this and offer their opinions!

adamm - I was thinking this too. You know, I still use beef bones to make stock. (Not the backbone of course, but the marrow bones). I know that raising domestic stock has some added insurance over wild, but I would think if one was bad so would the other be bad? Faulty logic? Dunno...

Ok thanks for answerin' you two!!!
post #5 of 9

I don't get into the catering forum very often, not being a caterer and all. Not sure why anyone would think I know much about butchering a deer - I've never done it, I don't hunt (except for wild bagels on Sunday mornings). I'd love to be able to help, but there's not much I can offer except maybe a shmear of good cream cheese ...

shel (pretty much a city boy)
post #6 of 9
well, never figured you as a hunter nor butcher just someone who keeps up with the food system in general and knows all kinds of facts about abhorrant meat/disease connections.....sorry, probably KY would know, he does butcher, hunts and also knows technical meat shtuff.

Made boiled bagels yesterday....PIA, but oh so good when there are only nasty pasty commercial bagels.....gotta have the chew to be good.
Good hunting in SF....figure someone around there has got to be making a decent bagel.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #7 of 9
<LOL> Unfortunately, it's one of two things I know nothing or very little about. However, my interest is piqued, and I'lll probably delve into the subject. Sometimes I eat venison, and so does my cat. Gotta know what's going on ...

As for the bagels, well, there are a couple of good places in the Bay Area to get them, but when I' serious about getting a great bagel, I call NYC and have 'em shipped overnight.

post #8 of 9
First off, let me say that any processor who quoted 300 bucks to break down a deer is smoking something strange. On average, to get a deer processed runs $50-75 through most of the country. That may or may not include skinning. Where my partner and I skin we get $15 for the job, and the processor currently charges $75. Just north of here, on the other hand, is a processor who does his own skinning, and includes it in the $65 fee. Depending on the volume of deer we handle, we might buy his hides as well, for, on average, three bucks a throw.

Second important point: The various DNR's are very concerned about CWD, and have been tracking it since it first appeared. If they say it has not appeared in your state you can take that to the bank. This is one issue they're not fooling around with.

Next point: Processing a deer never includes making sausage as part of the basic fee. The processor butchers it into normally recognizable parts (i.e., roasts, steaks, hamburger, etc.). If you order, say, summer sausage, there is an extra charge. Most processors do not do this themselves, but send it out instead.

Half the deer is a pretty good deal, Blue. When I process for other people I get 25% plus the tenderloins as a bonus. But I process it exactly as I would for myself; which means they get no bones, no fat, and the very minimal amount of connective tissue. All of which, as you know, is very time consuming---which is why I get the tenderloins as a reward.

Unless the hunter wants the head for a mount, I never cut any part of the spine. So CWD hasn't been a concern to me. So far we don't have it in Kentucky anyway. But, in point of fact, I rarely cut any bone at all.

Like so much else in the culinary world, there is no right vs wrong way to butcher a deer. There are only different paths to the same end. So all I can talk about is the way I do it.

What I do, when breaking down a deer is hang it head up. I then skin it out, and hog-dress it, with the component parts getting iced down in large (hundred quart) coolers. Each of the large pieces is then worked on, deboning it and removing as much fat as possible. One problem with venison, and the reason so many people erroneously think it tastes gamey, is that deer fat can turn rancid even when frozen.

For those not familiar with deer anatomy, the reason I don't have to cut bone is because the hams are attached with a ball & socket joint, and the front lets have no shoulder joint at all. The shoulder blades free-float, which is why a deer can make those incredible leaps, twists, sudden stops, and 180 turns without hurting itself.

On my own deer, incidentally, I rip out the loins in one piece. For other people, they either get the loins, as such, or I actually cut the ribs, in sections, and package it as racks of venisen, as they desire. But I push for the loin, frankly, both because it's easier to do, and it really makes more sense for most people.

"Customer" choice comes into play, again, with the hams and front legs. I break down the hams for myself, into the three muscle groups they're composed of. But if the customer wants a larger roast, then I leave it in one piece, complete with the connective tissue and silverskin. Or cut the hams into larger steaks, as they wish.

Front legs can either be boned, and, along with the neck, turned into chop meat. Or I'll cut them into shank pieces, about 1 1/2-2 inches thick. If that's what the people want, it is the only time I cut bone.

Wrapping is done with butcher paper and masking tape, with the cuts clearly marked with waterproof pens. Most of the time, they pick up the venison unfrozen, but I will, on request, freeze it for them.

Blue, to do bone-in shoulder roasts and the like still doesn't require cutting through bone. As described above, they are all either ball & sockets, or merely held in place with tendons and cartilege. So the time savings is there without fear of CWD. From the back end you could offer two bone-in hams; two bone in shanks; and the only cutting would be the bone section below the shanks.

On the front there's really not enough meat on the blades to make a shoulder roast. But the shanks could be offered whole, or cut in pieces.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks KY! Maybe they were including the price of making sausage? Or maybe the guys in Texas have a good game goin? LOL! The reason I was asking about the bone part was cuz I wanted to brown the bones and make a venison stock with them for the freezer. Do you think it's safe to do this with marrow bones? The other reason was cuz of the shanks as you describe as crosscuts and then also for 6" ribs. But it turns out they aren't interested in the ribs anyway and I will just remove the meat from the ribs and grind to burger.

So I will completely bone it all out and remove all fat and as much silver skin as I can get to on it. I agree about gamey-ness. I also was not gonna let it dry age. We used to mainly break it out (everything) as steaks and hamburger (hate chili meat). And we double grind the burger meat. (They will bring it to me skinned and broken down into quarters!) ;)

Thanks for the info about sausage too! The only kind I would be tempted to do is make pan sausage.
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