We had a good bit of discussion this year about the merits of DIY processing, so who is going to pledge to starte handling their own deer in the 2013 season?

Reasons for DIY butchering:

1. Saves money. If you are killing more than 2 or 3 deer season, DIY butchering will save you in the long run. If you cannot afford a meat grinder, you can always take your trimmings in to a commercial processor and have them ground for a fraction of the cost of a processing job. Furthermore, knowledge of butchering will help ensure that you get quality work done by a commercial processor.

2. Satisfaction. I taught a friend how to butcher his own deer this season and he said that he now feels like that the hunt is not complete until he butchers the deer. There is much satisfaction and personal gratification to be found in a well executed butchering job.

3. Customization and yield. Butcher the deer exactly the way you want it. Maximize your yields by knowing for a fact that you are using all the meat and getting your deer back.

4. Tradition. Every hunter should have basic butchering skills.

What you need:

-A quality boning knife and sharpening apparatus.
-Cutting board (though any clean surface will work)
-freezer packaging (this could be ziplock bags and newspaper, butcher paper or a vacuum sealer)

Other items that you might consider:

-hanging apparatus such as a gambrel, though a rope and a branch will work fine. Also, you can easily butcher a deer laying on the ground, floor, or on a table.

-meat grinder. this is probably the most expensive piece of equipment. As stated, you can still take your trimmings to a commercial processor. Another thing you might consider is splitting a purchase with one of your hunting partners.

-work bench/table that is at a comfortable height. Bending over for hours sucks.

-bonesaw. A (clean) hacksaw will work just fine, though.


Suggested reading:
Afield: A Chef's Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game
This book has some of the best butchering pics that I have seen.

Basic Butchering of Livestock and Game
This book is written by a Vet and is a great introduction.

Flexible Boning knives. I prefer German steel. Henckle and Wushoff are two of my personal favorites. Get a shorter knife in the 6 inch range. Many guys use longer knives, but they are not necessary for Whitetails and the shorter knife will give you more precision and control. I suggest not skimping on quality when it comes to a boning knife. You need a surgically sharp blade to remove silverskin while not wasting meat. You also need to be able to work femur bones and spines in a tight and precise manner.

Henckle http://www.amazon.com/Basic-Butchering-L...estock+and+game

Wushoff: http://www.amazon.com/Wusthof-Classic-6-...of+boning+knife

Global: http://www.amazon.com/Global-G-21-Flexib...al+boning+knife
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Keep your knife sharp and your skillet greasy.