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Hunted Deer

I'm splitting a deer harvested in Ohio taken by a hunter friend of mine. I don't have many details other than we are splitting the cost of processing so I'm expecting to get exactly half. I have not done anything like this before, but I do a lot of cooking and have a lot of ideas. I was wondering if anyone who has done this before, or does it regularly might want to share some solutions to problems they have conquered. Fortunatly I do enjoy venison, but have only enjoyed farm raised product in the past. Thanks for your help.

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  1. You mention "processing", so I'm assuming that it is going to be butchered for you. Assuming that's the case, then I don't see the problem - simply freeze the portioned up Bambi.

    If, on the other hand, you are simply half of a deer split down the middle then it will depend on your own butchery skills (or, perhaps, you'll need to enlist the help of your friendly neighbourhood butcher). Make sure you get your fair share of the offal - deer liver is particularly tasty, IMO.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Harters

      you mention offal, and I was already interested in the heart. since this is a wild take should i expect all those bits to be safe?

      1. re: mikey031

        Offal doesnt keep well so it'll all depend on how long since the kill when it gets to you.

        1. re: mikey031

          Wild offal, safe? Depends on a few things, but pay attention mostly to the guidelines set out by the (I'm not 100% familiar with US agencies) *local* fish&game dept and your own level of concern. There are potential hazards in any activity we do and eating wild game (deer, rabbit, moose, etc) has its risks. Unless it is diseased, I think a major offal concern is heavy metals. By your post, tt seems that eating wild deer (and especially offal) is not a regular event, so unless the animal (or its parts) is diseased, I wouldn't worry about it.

        2. re: Harters

          Again, this is all subject to the animal itself and how it was handled. The venison I am cooking my spouse hunted and butchered. I'm happy to cook heart and liver from his hunting. Something else to consider--if the hunter's biggest concern is how many points on the rack?

          Believe me, I'd much rather he bring home young and tender than fancy headgear.

        3. Whatever you get, make sure you get some backstrap (wonderful tenderloin like cut) and some bacon! Wonderful! A nice roast is good too.

          1. Find out how it's being processed, Steaks? Roasts? All boned out? Some bones? How much fat in the grind? (recommend 20%) Size of packages? (2 steaks to a pack, 1 or 2lb on the grind, etc.) Any sausage? With the exception of sausage, are you getting your animal? There are some less than reputable processors out there, (you bring in a nice younger deer that hasn't been abused after the kill but you get back some old stink buck that's been in the back of a pick-up for 3-4 days that was drug behind an ATV for 3 miles. Not to be discouraging, just passing along info from years of experience.

            2 Replies
            1. re: mrbigshotno.1

              as for the fat in the grind/sausage should i cut any pork fat into the mix? I've found the fat of most game cuts to be the source of that somewhat off tasting 'gamey' flavor. I have butchered on deer almost ten years ago and I don't remember there being a lot of fat at all.

              1. re: mikey031

                That or beef suet, I do my own antelope and get suet from Albertsons for .25/lb

            2. Please realise the proportions of a 125 lb deer are different from a 600 lb steer. That being said, some processors grind everything to sausage with a few boneless roasts while others provide more primal cuts. I am especially partial to slow roasted neck roasts.

              As in any new venture, welcome to the learning curve.

              4 Replies
              1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                And as to marinades: whatever else I use, some juniper berries go in it. Before I could buy those, I used gin....

                1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                  IR, Ohio deer can easily get to twice, and sometimes nearly three times, the size of Florida whitetail.

                  1. re: sunshine842

                    Which is why I visit my sister's family in Wisconsin in October and November. Never to old to take up a new sport. I was 53 when I started.

                    1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                      I know sooo many people who grew up "up north" and let fully-grown deer get away the first time they went hunting in FL, thinking they were just yearlings.

                2. Hi, mikey031:

                  If you have a choice in how your half is cut and wrapped, I *strongly* recommend that you not have it treated like beef. Venison fat is very strange stuff, can be gamey (depending on age, hangtime, shot placement, etc.) Even at its best, there is something about the consistency of venison fat that many people (including lifelong hunters like me) find repulsive: it *will* put sweaters on your teeth and it congeals at higher than room temps into a greasy, nasty mess. So if you're having sausage ground, have the maker substitute pork and/or beef fat.

                  Next thing is that venison doesn't cook much like other animal protein. It usually doesn't benefit from slow cooking. In fact IME/O, venison is best when broiled or flash-seared in steaks and larger bits, so that it is crusted on the outside and still rare on the inside. There's almost no intramuscular fat, so overcooking just toughens it up. I once made the mistake one time of trying to kipper a beautiful backstrap, and the interior turned out just like gray toothpaste.

                  After 40 years of hunting, here's how I have my deer cut: Have them do steaks from the backstraps and the hanging tenderloin (if you get more steaks, make sure they're boneless). Then get the remainder boned out, a % for large-chunk stew meat or cubesteak. The remainder of the boned-out meat I get either processed as jerky and/or sausage. I've always been disappointed with how even small roasts have turned out, but then I've never had them larded with beef or pork fat.

                  Hope this helps,

                  Aloha,

                  Kaleo

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: kaleokahu

                    I thought I heard a co-worker who hunts deer regularly say that he gets about 20 lbs of meat from the average animal - does that sound correct?
                    He also told me that there's a fair amount of meat that is not useable which surrounds the area where the bullet/buckshot/arrow hits.
                    I was surprised, based on how large deer seem to be, to find out how much winds up not being useable.

                    1. re: BeeZee

                      "the average animal" depends on what part of the world you are in, but 20lbs of meat sounds low. Maybe he meant steaks and roasts (ie "meat") and the remainder as ground? Usually you can get 40%-50% of the live weight, so this 20lbs of meat would be a live deer of about 40lb-50lb. There are deer out there that small, but shooting them is unusual.
                      Deer hunters mostly take deer >100lbs and more likely about 150lbs. If the "average animal" was 150lbs, you should be getting 60lb-75lbs of meat.
                      (FWIT the ballpark take-home weight of beef is about 50% of live weight as well)
                      Realize that these are generalizations.
                      As for the meat that is ruined by the kill - again, different almost every time. I had some shots going into the chest and abdomen at an angle and yeah, I had to cut away quite a bit of damaged tissue. Just so happens I made a neck shot on my best deer - very little meat loss.
                      Finally, "how large deer seem to be". Again, depending what part of the world you're from, white tail deer are not necessarily huge, but regardless of size, I don't think there is as much waste as you envision.

                    2. re: kaleokahu

                      I generally agree w/ all that, but I think slow-cooking, as in a braise, can be quite nice using venison. Just follow your basic beef burgandy recipe and it can be pretty good.

                      We never get steaks other than loin, we have the rest made into stew chunks or ground. I use the ground mixed w/ other, higher fat grinds to make meatloaf, meatballs, etc.

                      1. re: kaleokahu

                        My spouse does our processing himself, and we turn the fat into dog treats--I render it down in a big cast iron dutch oven and mix in rolled oats and all the meat scrap from processing. How much fat is going to be on an animal is dependent on where it's from. SD pronghorns? Basically no fat. Muledeer? Same. PA whitetail, living around a cornfield? THICK with fat.

                        And yes, you CAN successfully slow-cook venison. I marinade (common elements--cranberry juice and balsamic or apple cider vinegar) fairly commonly, and I will tell you that venison sourbraten is WONDERFUL. Also, most folks don't seem to bother with the ribs, but I'll take venison barbequed ribs anyday. There's not a lot of meat on 'em, but what's there is wonderful.

                        I also love venison liver and bacon and onions--slice, then soak the liver, first in brine, changing it frequently as the water darkens, then in milk to finish.

                        What we DON'T do--and what seems to be the common advice--is cover it with canned cream of mushroom soup. As far as we're concerned, we want it to taste like venison. We do a lot of quick stir-fry meals over rise or pasta--especially pairing the venison with wild rice.

                        1. re: kaleokahu

                          Best thing to do with those roasts is make some deep slits in the meat and load them with some garlic pesto, or sage/butter or a rub w/oil-- let it sit for a couple days in the fridge. Then Season w/ salt-pepper, wrap it with bacon, load a roaster up with veggies, add some stock/water to cover vegg, put a rack over the vegg,put the roast on the rack,cover and bake at 300 'till done.. Searing the roast with the bacon on it before cooking the roast might give better "tooth" to the bacon~