How To Butcher Deer
If you can harvest and field dress a deer, there is no reason you can not learn how to butcher deer. If you butcher your deer at home, you can save processing costs and have exactly the cuts you want. Butchering a deer takes a little time and patience, but isn't hard to do.
To butcher deer, you will need:
- Sharp knife (or several)
- Sharpening stone (unless you are not good at sharpening knives, in which case you'll need several knives.)
- Cutting board
- Hot water and soap
- Butcher paper
- Masking tape
- Permanent marker
- Large trash can
- Latex gloves (optional except in deer possibly infected with chronic wasting disease)
- Thoroughly clean all surface areas of your butchering area, your equipment, and your hands. A solution of half bleach and half hot water makes an excellent sterilizing solution. Before you butcher a deer, you need to be aware of the incidence of chronic wasting disease(CWD) in the area the deer was harvested. If you are not sure, contact the local game and fish agency. Cutting the meat off of the bone rather than cutting steaks and roasts across the bone may be advisable if CWD may be present. Be very careful in handling spinal fluid and brain tissue and use gloves.
- Remove the back legs of the deer and the joint. Cut round steaks from the upper part of the leg and use the lower part for a roast. Use a hacksaw to cut through the bone as you make the steaks. (In areas with CWD, just cut the meat off the bones.)
- Place the meat on a layer of butcher paper, wrap it tight, and then wrap it with another layer. Using masking tape to seal the packages. Identify the cuts of meat and the date on you butchered the deer on outside of the package.
- Cut off the meat on each side of the spine from the neck to the bottom of the spinal column. Cut as close as you can without nicking the bones. This is the premier piece of meat, called the loin, or the backstraps . Cut these long narrow pieces of meat into two to three pieces. They are cooked or roasted as one piece and then sliced.
- Remove the front legs by cutting along the rounded portion where it meets the chest. Cut them in half for roasts. The neck meat can be used for roasts or stews.
- Ribs and their attached meat may be cut off as whole racks of ribs or cut into smaller sections of individual ribs. If CWD is a concern or you are not a rib fan, just cut the meat off the bones. The small pieces of meat can be used in soups and stews or ground to use like hamburger. Some folks enjoy deer sausage or jerky. There are small tenderloins inside the cavity which make great steaks.
- Wipe down the butchering area and all equipment with hot water and bleach solution. Pay special attention to cleaning the area where the blade meets the handle of your knife and saw, and clean the handles as well. Clean your hands well, including under the nails. Gloves may make your hands less messy but a thorough cleaning is still the best plan.