Never entirely sure what to do with your deer once you have it field dressed and brought it to the processor? Here is a quick guide.
You just bagged your deer, you’re excited, your mind is a scramble, but this guide will keep you from standing in front of the counter at the deer processing plant for twenty minutes deciding whether or not you want chili meat or hamburger and get you on your way.
To skin or not to skin…
Some processors prefer you leave your deer whole and with the skin on due to cleanliness issues. Debris, mostly hair, is very hard to get off your deer once it has dug its nails in, and deer processors do not want hair anywhere near your meat. When it is cleaned in-house, it is cleaned correctly.
Other businesses would rather you bring in your meat already skinned and quartered. This may be because of storage or other types of meat being processed on site. There is no way of knowing which way they prefer (and how they may charge you otherwise) unless you call ahead and ask.
Get your backstraps whole.
The best part of the deer should be reserved for your deciding. When you leave your backstraps whole, you get to make the call allowing for different recipes. For breakfast you can make super thin steaks with eggs and later in the week make thicker ones in gravy. Also larger chunks of meat stay fresher than individual steaks.
Know what kind of roasts you like, if any.
Do you prefer a neck roast? A shoulder roast, or a hindquarter? If you want a bone-in roast, ask for shoulder or neck. A hindquarter roast does not necessarily have a bone. A processor can take as many or as little roasts as you want from a deer, and you can request which ones you want from where and how many. And like the backstrap, from a roast you can later decide to slice it up following the flow of the muscle membrane.
If you get hindquarter steaks, have them tenderized.
There may be an up-charge for sending your steaks through the tenderizer, but it’s quicker and easier than you hammering at meat for thirty minutes in your kitchen.
Basic processing involves prime cuts of meat and ground trim. This is the cheapest version of a professionally processed deer. Going into the establishment, you need to be ready to know what you want to spend, if any, on extras.
We all love our jalapeño and cheese summer sausage, but having your entire deer put into sausage or jerky can run you an arm an a leg. FAST. Know what you want and don’t get carried away. Unless of course, money is no object.
Know what flavors you want.
If you are ordering sausage, there is most likely a flavor scale: mild, medium, hot; cheese, no cheese; jalapeños, plain; etc. Be familiar with what you and your family want. And if you are not sure…
Ask for samples.
If you are unfamiliar with a new flavor of polish sausage or strange new recipe on the menu, don’t hesitate to ask if they have samples. It’s possible that if this is a new thing the business is trying, they have some lying around just waiting for your input.
Know what to do with your leftover meat.
If you are not getting your trim made into sausage or other, you will need to know what to do with it. Your grind options for basic processing will more than likely be hamburger or chili meat. A chili grind is simply a thicker grind than hamburger.
Be prepared to pay a deposit.
And carry cash. It is likely your deer processor is smack in the middle of the country and may not even have a credit card machine. Never expect to drop off your deer without leaving a guarantee you will come back to pick it up.
Bring a cooler when you pick your deer up.
Be a friend to the environment. Let’s not waste boxes.
Enjoy your kill!