Get down and dirty with your bone saw and mallet. Be your own butcher at Feral in Austin, Texas and learn how to quarter your deer.
We made sausage earlier in the day and then I also got to observe a local hunter, Jared, quarter up his last doe of the Texas hunting season.
Jared and Chris Houston, the founder of Feral, already dressed and cleaned the doe in the field so Jared came in ready to quarter up his deer. Chris and Jared had gone hunting the day before in Llano, Texas on private land.
Chris is a great teacher; patient and knowledgeable. He is essentially self-taught in the art of butchery. It took him a lot of reading and trial and error before he started Feral to pass on his knowledge to other hunters looking to process their own game.
Chris teaches Jared the right places to cut his meat and which parts are the best. Jared starts by cutting the deer up in thirds; one cut right behind the shoulder, between the third and fourth rib, and the other right above the thigh. At Feral you also receive a lesson in deer anatomy along with processing instruction. This part took a bone saw and a mallet.
Jared then separates the tenderloins, arguably the best part of the entire deer. He then pursues to clean all the silver skin off which can shrink the meat when cooked. This is probably the more tedious part of cleaning your own meat. You must have the steady hand of a surgeon and the patience of a monk. That silver skin can be frustrating to remove.
Chris then explains to Jared about what parts of meat work best for which recipes. They talk about the benefits of having the bone-in for steaks and whether Jared wants to make sausage or stew meat with the extra trimmings. You almost have to come in ready with an arsenal of recipes because the cuts you make are sometimes synonymous with what you are cooking.
Next, Jared removes the backstrap.
We then seal the meat in FoodSaver vacuum-sealed bags and label the different cuts.
The hunters then try to investigate where the 150-grain bullet had traveled. There was an entry hole in the doe’s chest but the exit hole was in the left thigh. This took some sleuthing but it was finally decided that the bullet must have gone straight through the chest and hit the thigh on its way out. There is also a level of investigation when it comes to quartering your own deer.
There is something essentially special in processing your own meat. Not only is it the literal example of field to table but I think it is important for the hunter to see his hunt all the way through.
To process your own meat is to really appreciate the animal and you are able to be as self-sustaining as possible. Because Chris is conscious about teaching the hunter how to utilize ever edible part of the game, DIY butchering is a lesson in chemistry, anatomy, humility and self-sustainability all rolled in to one.
If you are a hunter in the Austin area and are looking to process your own game, contact Chris Houston at Feral.