View Full Version : To deer or not to deer?

03-17-2006, 12:00 PM
I am deffinately interested in deer hunting this year. It's been a while. My situation is this; We live in the city, in a 2bdrm condo. Although I have options pertaining to where I can butcher everything down and people that would be happy to take some meat I can't help but feel that a deer is beyond my means. I would almost feel irresponsible taking a deer that I couldn't fully utilize/be responsible for. I don't mean to say that I would kepp every ounce of meat for myself but at the point that I found myself Googling meat processors in my area I had to take a step back and ask you guys.

Do you keep what you hunt? Varmint hunting would be the extreme opposite because you may leave them where they lay, I do sometimes. I feel a little romantic about the whole thing. No waste and no trophy necissarily. Is there a market for deer? Do hunters donate or sell 1/2 or 1/4 deer, deer busts? I'd like to make sure the hide got into goods hands as well as the meat one way or the other. I don't mind sharing at all. For my lifestyle a smaller harvest might be better but most folks seem to pursue big does for meat. Are youngins out of bounds?

Thanx everyone!:)

L. Cooper
03-17-2006, 02:04 PM
I and my hunting partners are meat hunters first, trophy hunters second. We always try to "hold out" as long as we can into the season hoping to connect with a trophy buck, but in the end we make sure we have meat in the freezer.

Saskatchewan is divided into zones with different limits and tag requirements for many. A single hunter can have (by straight purchase or by draw if you're lucky) either sex tags for both mule deer and white tails as well as "non-trophy" tags for both species. When I and my most frequent partner had our kids hunting with us, we often had tags for many more deer than we could possibly eat. We won't shoot deer we aren't willing to eat ourselves.

We often deliberately plan what we want at the start of the season. If we have multiple tags (almost always) we will all discuss our meat requirements and make sure they are filled while preserving tags for as many of us as we can to prolong the season and enhance the chances of finding some good antlers. Often our plan will include a fawn or two to use tags, but keep the meat pile appropriate. I see no problem with selecting any legal animal that is suitable for your meat requirements. Hunting is supposed to be about food.

Once our meat is secure, we become trophy hunters and often end the season with unfilled trophy tags. We donate or sell all our hides. We do all the processing (including making our own special sausage and jerky) ourselves.

If the CSI crews were to examine my house they would freak. I bet there is blood trace all over my basement and my garage would look like a mass murderer's home base. Many deer have been processed here over the years. You are right to consider the problem carefully.

There is no way to cut up a deer without making a mess. If you have no suitable place to do it, I think the only solution is to take the carcass to a processor and pay the price. There are some around here that will even skin the animal for a price. I suspect you could pay for a lot of deer processing before you would have paid for a garage like mine to do it yourself.

There are organizations around here that take deer meat for charitable causes, but I know of none that will process the deer themselves; they all want just the meat. Some meat processors will take wild game, some refuse. You will need to do some research for your area.

We believe in using everything suitable from game animals. There is something important to be learned by experiencing the whole food process from the actual killing to the dining room table. It makes food real in a way many people don't understand. I hope you can manage a method that will work for you from where you are.

03-17-2006, 06:59 PM
We understand each other clearly. Also, on average the rendered deer bounty weighs around 30lbs of meat, correct? When it comes down to facts like that my wheels can start turning. I think in terms. The next level beyond that is I'm a Chicago fan. I like my RIBS!! I'll chalk it all up on the high side at 50lb because of bones. My tool box is practically a mobile meat shop. A saws-all or band saw, hand saw, good knife, tarp?, zipper bags, water, towels, vineger?salt=keep it compact in the truck and I could more or less pack it before I even get home. Is it ok as long as the head and proof of gender+tag...I can't remeber. How soon does all of that need to be on the rocks? :) Is it ok to leave a pile of deerparts that i don't want?

L. Cooper
03-17-2006, 08:56 PM
When I cut up an animal I debone it completely. For a typical Sask. deer that means about 30-50 pounds of prime, boneless, lean meat. We have come to believe deer fat "spoils" very quickly in the freezer and is the source of much of what people think is the "gamey taste", so we remove it.

My experiments with deer ribs have been relatively unsuccessful. They're just not big enough animals to provide much good meat on those parts.

If you could get set up in the field to do it, it can certainly be done. A good tree to hang it; lots of plastic to protect stuff; maybe a portable table in the truck or even just a board of some sort (flat surfaces are tough to find); a couple of coolers to store it; I don't see any reason to stop you except darkness, and there are ways around that too. A good friend would be a big help, but you can end up with a very manageable package if you debone everything.

The rules here require certain identification parts and tags to remain on the animal, and since we have never tried to do it all in the field, I'm not sure of the legalities required. You must take all the edible parts. Hearts and livers can be left without problems, but we have usually kept them unless shot damaged. The rules where you are will undoubtedly be a little different, but I would expect there is a way to pull it off. I know some back country sheep and elk hunters regularly debone all the meat and pack it out. They could likely give you good advice if you can find some of them.

(Any of you reading this? Advice?)

We try to do our gutting in bushes just to keep the mess out of sight, but between coyotes, foxes, and scavenging birds, gut piles seldom last the night around here. I doubt your left overs would be a problem as long as they weren't in someone's back yard.

Go for it! If I didn't have the convenience of a good set up at home to process my animals, I would be doing what you are planning. It will make for a long day for you at times, but a long exhausting day of hunting and butchering your deer is way better than a good day at work.

03-18-2006, 09:41 AM
I debone when ever possible in the field, especially with big critters like elk, moose and caribou, if I am packing them out on my back. Sheep and goat are a given.

As to advice on tagging and the requirements....that is hard to do. Every single province is different and there are a lot of variables from state to state.

Just as a quick example......in British Columbia you do not put a tag on an animal. You cut out the notches and it has to 'accompany' the animal...no tag pysically attached. You also need to leave evidence of species and sex attached to a portion of the carcass. With some animals the head and or antlers have accompany the animal and there may be a compulsory inspection (sheep, grizzly etc).

In Alberta we had a tag that you attached to the carcass though the rear leg tendon. In Manitoba you have seperate tags for the hide, head, meat, one that needs the date cancelled (it's a bloody mess in my opinion).

In the Northwest Territories you still have a metal snap tag that you attach around the antlers, around a rear tendon or to the hide.

Because of CWD concerns many jurisdictions require that ungulates have the spinal column removed before transporting out of province or before import, and the skull plate cleaned of all meat and tissue and dipped in a solution with bleach. So in that case at the very least you have to lift the 4 quarters and bone the rest. This is the situation, for example, if i shot a deer in Saskatchewan and wanted to take it home to Manitoba. It also the case for US citizens if they want to kill a deer in Saskatchewan and take the meat home to the US.

No easy way to give advice on this....hunters need to carefully read and understand the regulations in the state or province they are going to hunt in and need to know what the export/import requirements are for their home state/province.

03-18-2006, 10:20 AM
Okay, there are issues here dealing with laws and then issues dealing with practicality.

In Maryland, you have to tag a deer before you can start butchering it, but the tagging stations are all around. They are even talking about registering deer over the internet now which would make life a lot easier.

Maryland also has a program where you can donate the deer to feed the hungry. We have the option of donating money to the program when we buy a license and that money is used to pay butchers to process the deer for the hungry. I have killed several deer over the year, and most end up going to other people either via the feed the hungry program or to friends that want the deer. I have never had a problem getting rid of deer. Geese on the other hand have been somewhat tough a couple of times.

If you want to process the deer in the truck before bringing it home, think about getting or making some type of hoist that you can put into the rear trailer hitch to hang the deer on. That will make the process a lot simpler. I know they sell things that work like a crane on the trailer hitch so that a single person can load large game into the truck. Such a contraption would be able to hold the deer up while you butcher it.

As far as the hide is concerned, I usually throw it away.

03-18-2006, 12:00 PM
I re-read my post and I wasn't very clear....missed mentioning that the tagging and species/sex identification regulations in different provinces and states has a lot to do with how far you can process an animal in the field and what NEEDS to be brought out.

What is considered as the 'edible portions' has different meanings and is interpreted differently from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In some places the 4 quarters are considered all the edible meat, in others it specifically states rib meat, neck meat, etc.

Then there are the disease concerns that impact what can be transported, etc.

The bottom line is......just cause we "do it like this where I live" doesn't mean it is practical or even legal to do it like that somewhere else.

Practicality comes into play as well. I throw my deer hides away. In order to give it to one of the hide collection agencies I'd have to drive for two hours each way to do it. Ain't gonna happen, and I am not storing it for months until I might be going that way. The local indians don't want the hides cause none of them do anything tradional with them any more. No one comes around to pick them up............so am I going to burn $100 worth of fuel to drive the hide womewhere and give it to a collection depot.


Many of the meat collection programs are going down the tubes as well in lots of jurisdictions, as they are requiring donated meat to be inspected...............well that isn't going to happen unless they are farm raised game animals. Everyone is getting so panicked about mad cow, CWD, bovine TB and what have you that they are refusing the uninspected hunter killed meat.

03-18-2006, 12:56 PM
That brings me to another question regarding CWD. Don't you have to get some of the spinal column in the meat to end up contracting CWD or some of the brain matter, or can you contract CWD just from eating meat of an animal with CWD?

Like Skyline with the hides, when they first started the feed the hungry program here in Maryland, the drive to the closest butcher participating in the program was an hour each way for me. That rarely happened, especially after a long day hunting. Now, I can leave the deer hanging at a farm I hunt at and the guys there take a load of deer at the time to the local butcher participating in the feed the hungry program. It makes life a lot easier.

03-18-2006, 03:17 PM
I don't have the flow to purchase a lift for the truck but I could fab a rig/line from a limb or something. I figure that's my best course of action. I don't know why I didn't think of that before mentioning my living situation. Thanks for helping me work the bugs out. I'll nail down the gender and species protocols. This is all so that I can wrap my brain around the scope of techniques and methods that are used in the field. I have been making rapid leaps in this pursuit because you all are so informative. Thank you.

I'll be keeping the ribs sometimes. Its in my blood. BBQ! You leave the hide with the gut pile? What brand garbage bags don't have chemicals added to them? After the kill you want the meat to achieve and maintain around 40 degrees as soon as possible, correct?

03-18-2006, 08:34 PM
Best of luck this year. If we just didn't have to wait so long :D Good hunting, grayghost

03-18-2006, 10:31 PM
Fabs............yes it is the central nervous system that has the CWD.....as you said, spinal column tissue and brain. So by cutting that out of the equation you have nothing to worry about. When boning out a carcass, do not cut down the back bone...........hang it whole and bone out the meat from either side. The meat is safe.

Bru......you will find that the ribs from deer are best if you cook them relatively soon in camp. We do that on a regular basis with deer, moose or caribou, etc........we make a big fire and let the coals settle then cook the ribs. It is a great camp feast. They are a little chewy but good.

03-19-2006, 12:05 AM
Thanks Skyline. That is pretty much the way I cut out my back straps.

I have had cooked ribs a couple of times and they were pretty good. However, I have no idea how the guy cooked them.

03-19-2006, 12:28 AM
We make the ribs a camp delicacy. Every hunter contributes the ribs to the greater good. :D

Take the ribs and cut them into bbq size chunks ...as with pork ribs. Boil them in a pot for a while with garlic, pepper and onions, until most of the fat has cooked off, drain and then broil them over the fire.

You'll like em.;)

03-19-2006, 01:20 AM
I heard a guy who insisited that the fat on his meat caused it to taste gamier out of his freezer than leaner cuts from the same deer also out of his freezer. I guess I could see a little truth in that. Fat cells contain a lot of impurities. What do you say? Alos, if you cut off thr ribs where they meet the spinal column are you still safe safe from CWD? I'd think so. Its in the cord isn't it?

03-19-2006, 01:40 AM
Yes....cut off the ribs just back of the spine....you are OK.

Game fat does contribute to the gamey smell and taste. No question about it. Trim it off.

However, with deer ribs, good luck. the way it mixes with the meat over the rib cage makes it tough to trim. So, with newly killed deer you and your friends are best off if you boil them and then cook them over the fire.

they taste really good then and you do not have to worry about trimming them down later.

05-26-2006, 01:27 PM
No doubt; game fat equals gamey meat. I not only trim all fat, but I only bone out my big game. CWD can infect not only the spinal cord/fluid, but there's a possibility that the lymph nodes and bone marrow may harbor the disease. I avoid all of it...period. Once boned, I then remove all fat, lymph nodes (in the neck and hindquarters), sinew and membrane before cutting or grinding. Most meat is tightly wrapped in Saran wrap, removing as much air as possible, then wrapped in freezer paper. This does a good job for about one year. Finer cuts are vaccum sealed. grayghost