Author Topic: Meat Cutting Time Again  (Read 1842 times)


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Meat Cutting Time Again
« on: December 02, 2011, 03:02:13 PM »
Well it is that time of year again when a lot of us are practicing the butcher trade again in our garages.  I have been butchering my own wild game for many years now and will never use a butcher's services ever except to make sausage products for me from my deboned and de-sinewed meat.  When I was younger, I tried a butcher a few times and was almost bankrupted by the price for the bandsawed hack job that I got back as a product.  I have always wondered how much time and care other guys take as compared our group as this chore is a bit of a marathon sometimes it seems.  I'm not trying to sound elitest or overly fussy about this but I just don't see any way to speed up the process for a good end product.

We tend to hunt mostly in later October or November now so we generally hang our game in my garage where I can keep the temp aroung 4 degrees or so.  We gut and skin the the animals in the field and depending on the accessibility, either we quarter them and use cloth meat bags or keep them whole (usually the case with deer).  I find it necessary to age them a bit just to firm up the meat for easier cutting.  Four or five days for deer and a week or so for elk or moose.  Whether or or not the aging process aids in tenderness is debatable.  Enzymes do break down protein strands in lean meat; it is is a proven fact.  Hang them too long and the outer skin dryness can get to be an issue.

Okay, so now we are at the cutting stage.  The hunting partners are over and the tables are set up and the beer is cold.  We separate the carcass into quarters (hinds and pans), meticulessly cut out the loins (or backstraps), and saw off the pain in the ass rib cages. Oh, did I mention the rib cages are are a pain in the ass as are the necks but there is a lot of good meat on the necks.  A bit on the rib cages but my 270 usually smacks up the rib cage a bit.  We carefully fillet out the tenderloins from the inside of the carcass.  It amazes me how often hunters call the loins on the outside of ribs along the backbone the tenderloin.  The tenderloins are the strips on the inside.  Some guys also call the tenderloins the backstraps, wrong again.  We choose to cut completely boneless meat so we separate the muscle groups and painstakingly remove all the dry outside layer, sinew, silverskin, and fat.  This is the time consuming stage.  A very sharp filleting knife is very useful.  We take the prime steak and chop cuts, as many good roasts as we can, and the rest is divided into stew meat, hamburger, and sausage meat depending on the quality.  We vacuum pack all our meat with my foodsaver packager.

I know for a fact that a butcher could never do the sinew and grissle or fat removal that we do.  We spend a lot of time.  The cow elk we did took 3 guys (and a fourth guy packaging) two full 6 hour evenings to finish up.  This is where I am wondering if we are too excessive or do you guys take the extra time as well.  When I read that some of these pro guys that swear by the gutless method take all the meat off a carcass in 30 minutes or less, I have to call bull shit.  Maybe they do it but it I would be it would be a mess compared to the care that you can take at home.  I realize that some hunts require deboning of the animal in the field.   Do they spread all the meat out at home out of their pack bags and  go through it all?  Why would you use the gutless method when you can access the animal by quad or truck.  I find gutting the animal cleanly is the easiest of all the tasks.  Get the guts and lung cavity out cleanly.  Do the deboning at home where you can take the time and care.  I split the pelvis and the brisket; I say why piss around reaching and pulling on the asshole or the windpipe when it is so easy to split the tiny bit of bone.  I don't believe you end up keeping the animal any cleaner.

These are a few of my thoughts regarding my game processing.  I would be interested to hear your guys thoughts on your wild game meat processing.  I know a bunch of guys that are just as fussy about their wild game meat as us but I have also witnessed some real gong shows in the bush.  Lets hear your stories.  I saw some guys chopping through the hide and ribs with a hatchet once on a moose to get the guts out, I'm not kidding!  I have seen mud and leaves packed full in the cavity of a moose that was being dragged with the hide on in 25 degree weather.
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Re: Meat Cutting Time Again
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2011, 05:10:20 PM »
Been cutting my own too for many years, and pretty much the same way you described AxeMan. It took me, my nephew and his BIL 12 hours to cut the moose I shot this year. But in the end we ended up with 350 pounds of moose meat the way we wanted, no fat, gristle or silver skin. I have a set of good quality knives dedicated to meat cutting only, a good boning knife is essential for making cutting easier.

I'm the only cutter in the group I hunt with, so I do all the boning and breaking down the whole sale cuts and let the helpers strip the trim and grind.

Last year I cut 12 deer, 2 elk and 1 moose for friends and family.


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Re: Meat Cutting Time Again
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2011, 06:43:09 PM »
Its like I wrote it myself axeman,, good read, its good to know that the wife and I aren't the only ones as particular with our cutting of the meat. Last year I went out and purchased a nice kick ass meat grinder the 3/4 horse model from BP a big upgrade from our little one we played with for years. It has cut down our butcher time by at least a couple hrs. Once we are set up in the new place I plan on setting up a decent system to start doing our own sausage and jerky as well. I have the smoker its just a matter of having the proper place for all the equipment.

Every year on these sites I see pics and read stories of guys kills and see the way they treat their kills and it just erks and sometimes sickens me the way people treat their product. The hunt is over and the butchering starts the minute the animal hits the ground, from then on the mood has to change and its time to think meat. I am with you on the whole gutless method. Why would I use it if I don't have to. There is no way you can get as good of finished product and as clean as I do by quartering up an animal. I am a firm believer in aging and curing the meat. As for myself this isn't even up for discussion I am not an amature at this game I do what works and the old time proven methods are still the best. Now there is a time and place for the gutless method yes, but not on my average moose or deer hunts.

Again good read axeman and keep up the good work..


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Re: Meat Cutting Time Again
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2011, 07:26:41 AM »
Great read. Alot of commonalities with mindset a technique. I typically don't split none though. Only one moose so far I had to.  (and I've gutted more
Than just one). Not sure why I don't split bone... Bone saw is always with me.  Perhaps i just like doing everything with my knife including knuckling legs and poppin the head off   Which by the way does a very nice clean job.

But anyways I have been butchering deer in te garage for 5 years now. Time I did a moose.  Just been practicing I guess.

However I pride myself on field cleanliness.  With moose especially the place it hits the ground is typically the pace it is gutted, skinned an halved. From there we wrap the meat in queen sized sheets to keep mud and debris off. The sheet still breath and are more robust than cheese cloth.  And for a few bucks at a laundry matt u can reuse them.
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Re: Meat Cutting Time Again
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2011, 01:23:44 PM »
You definately get back what you put in when you properly field dress and butcher your animals. It makes the difference between your family enjoying and looking forward to eating wild game and flat out refusing to eat it. That being said I cheated and had a butcher process my moose, it cost me $350.00 for a 400 lb's of moose with 30lb's of sausage. Chris wasn't cutting up a lot of meat just the odd one for friends and did a great job on mine. If I would have tagged a buck I would have cut him up myself.


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Re: Meat Cutting Time Again
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2011, 07:23:59 PM »
I am the same. I spend a lot of time cutting every little piece of skin and fat off my meat, maybe I waste a little bit but I want good quality. When I first started hunting with friends as a teenager we didn't trim anything skin, fat, probably some hair and dirt all went into sausage, grosses me out now. I tried the gutless method for the first time this year. I may need more practice, It took me just as long, had more hair on the carcus and probably didn't get as much meat out of it. Also never got the liver and heart. If I am close to home I always hang then skin and gut, much easier.


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Re: Meat Cutting Time Again
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2011, 03:52:30 PM »
I'm pretty lucky my family has had butchering equipment for as long as I can remeber and there are lots of old pics older then me kicking around. We think nothing of picking up an expensive spotting scope or winch for the truck but a lot of people never think about picking up a grinder, or sausage stuffer, or saw. To me its the last good times related to the hunt getting together with either the family or buddies to butcher. My hunting this year didn't see me bring home much meat but I was in on 6 different deer cuttings and i wouldn't miss it for anything. After that hunting season is truly over.

Get out a few beers and whiskey's start telling lies about how great a hunter you are, pick off a few prime pieces for the fry pan right then and there. Almost as good as being in hunting camp.

As for the processing someone already mentioned you get what you put into it. I've been known to leave a little silver skin because I don't mind doing a little of that when I cook it but you will never be sorry putting in the time to get it right the first time.
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