Hunting for your own food can be a rewarding experience, but when it comes to actually doing the dirty work of processing the meat, not every hunter is up to it. Proper butchering requires knowledge and experience that not every hunter has at their disposal, but it you’re keen to learn, then it could be a very worthwhile venture.
How much does it cost to process a deer?
The price for deer processing will vary depending on your location, the services provided, and likely the individual processor themselves. However, in general, you can expect to pay $75 – $120 for this service.
If you just get the basics, then it will be cheaper, but if you want things like jerky and sausage, then the costs will obviously go up to account for the extra work involved.
However, some processors offer some really great and affordable packages, and it pays to shop around. You might find a deal so good that it’s almost a waste of time to process your deer meat yourself.
Should you process your deer meat yourself?
This question depends on a lot of factors, but likely the most important one is your patience and desire to learn. Proper butchering is tougher than it looks, and if you don’t do it right, then it could negatively impact the taste of the meat.
The Benefits of going with a professional
- Professionals know how to get you the finest tasting meat, and they have the skills to extract it without wasting anything.
- Meat is prepared in a sterile environment, preventing any health concerns from amateur meat preparation.
- Professional fat trimming enhances the flavor of the meat, because deer fat is pretty disgusting if you don’t get it all.
- Everything will be professionally packaged and frozen, giving you long-lasting stores of venison for the year.
- Meat dry aged in coolers is safer than meat dry aged outdoors, even if you’re careful about your temps.
The Benefits of doing it yourself
- Some processors don’t always give you back your deer. If you’re particular about your meat, then doing it yourself is the only way to make sure that you get back what you brought in.
- If you’re doing it yourself, you can make your own specialty cuts!
- While professional processors are likely more experienced, they can sometimes waste a little meat to save time.
- Most butchers and processors still use paper. Vacuum sealing really is superior for long-term storage.
- You’ll be learning a new skill for self-preparedness. Learning is not difficult, and there are plenty of Youtube videos that can help.
Equipment list for DIY deer meat processing
If you’d like to process your next deer yourself then you’re going to need some equipment. All of this stuff can be picked up online, and you can get some pretty great deals for this stuff on Amazon, particularly around the holidays when everything goes on sale.
- Deer Gambrel
This is a device that’s used to hoist deer up in the air for skinning. They’re pretty cheap, and it’s a worthwhile purchase if you’re going to be skinning and processing your own deer.
Just throw it over a decently strong tree, tie it to the end of something (your trailer hitch works nicely), and then haul the deer into the air for easy skinning.
- Industrial Meat Grinder
If you plan to process a lot of meat, do yourself a favor and get an industrial meat grinder. Cheap ones are not made for bulk meat processing, and you’ll likely burn up the motor before you’re through.
Here’s a high-quality one that won’t up and die on you when it’s sausage making time!
- Meat Saw
A meat saw is essential for breaking down large pieces from your game animals. They’re super affordable, and there’s no reason not to get one.
- Skinning Knife
A good skinning knife is essential. Unless you have a reason for getting a folding one, a fixed blade is the better choice in our opinion. One of these will serve you well here.
- Boning Knife
For tough to cut meats like deer, a stiff boning knife is the way to go. This will help you to get in the carcass and cut away more meat for yourself. Don’t skimp here, and go with a knife that is of good quality and will last you many years. (Also, a small blade will be more flexible and accurate.)
- Vaccum Sealer
You could technically use butcher paper, but vacuum sealing is superior in almost every way. It preserves meat longer, and if you’ve got a lot of venison that you want to stay good all year, this is the way to go. Here’s a really good one.
- Knife Sharpener
Sharp knives make quick work of butchering tasks. If for some reason you don’t already have a knife sharpener, pick one up to keep your blades in tip-top shape.
- Sterile Work Area
Meat can be dangerous if it’s not properly prepared. Having a sterile work area that’s easy to disinfect should be a top priority. Try one of these stainless steel work tables that can easily be disinfected.