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De-Boneing and Butchering. Whats your Process?

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Unread 10-20-2013, 09:33 PM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,132
De-Boneing and Butchering. Whats your Process?

I know that a lot of guys will take their stuff to a meat shop and its a deer in and wrapped meat and sausage out, but for those of you that do it yourselves what is your process? What gear do you use?

I hang the animal on a gamel and strip the skin (like most do). I then debone the next day.
When I go to debone I always take the front shoulders off first, leaving them until last. I put these on a stainless cutting table with a large cutting board.
flanks come off and into the bucket.
I then move to the tenderloins and back-straps. As I strip them off they go straight into a separate plastic bin where they wait processing.
Then I move to the back haunches and forelegs, removing the meat with the tendons still intact. these also go into the bin with the flanks.
Neck roasts and anything else comes off and goes with the haunches.
When I do the shoulders... well, I kind of just try to get all the meat off and its not usually pretty. I have been watching some YouTube stuff to try to get better at it. The fronts go into the haunches bin (I call it the "B" bin for anything not back straps or tenderloin).

Once the carcass is stripped clean I will make the back straps into butterfly steaks and the tenderloin into one big roast. I do this first because these are my favorite cuts and I want them to be the cleanest. If anything is dirty I have a bowl of vinegar water to rinse the hair off. Most other defects get cut out, this includes any meat that has seen to much air and has "skinned over".

Then for the rest I pull all the tendons and nasties off and they go into the sausage/ground bin which get taken to the butcher ASAP. If they need to get frozen they go into airtight bags of some sort.

I use a 6" fillet knife (Henkel) my 4.5" gerber hunting knife for around the joints and bones and a 14" Henkel Ham knife for my cuts. I also always have a meat hook.

if you have a pretty sweet set up SHOW SOME PICS!
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Unread 10-21-2013, 11:43 AM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Tucson Az
Posts: 2,063
Re: De-Boneing and Butchering. Whats your Process?

If you got yourself a meat grinder you could skip the butcher all together! I have a cabelas grinder that takes attachments. I added the cubing attachment. It also comes with the devices for making sausage.

As for butchering I do it pretty much the same way you do it. An assortment of knives and a steel. I have never used vinegar when rinsing meat, just use a clean wet cloth. I do take the time to cut out large chunks of meat from the shoulders to cook whole in a crockpot.

I live in S. Az and keeping meat cool is a real issue. I solved it by using a plastic horse watering trough.(see picture) It came with a drain which I altered for a drain hose. A small pallet is placed into the bottom to keep meat out of any water. All pieces like shoulders/backstraps/hind legs/trim meat etc are double bagged in garbage bags. A layer of bags of ice is laid down then some bags of meat, more bags of ice etc till all meat is in watering trough. I have enough room for an elk with plenty of bags of ice on top. This is covered with an old sleeping bag. The drain hose sticks out the tailgate. I have kept meat cold this way for a week. Once I get home and it is time to butcher I drag out one bag at a time and process it. If I get tired there is no rush as the rest of the meat remains very cold. In fact it comes out so cold I have to warm up my hands as I work.

Other items that help.... I have a roll of freezer paper on a dispenser that I clamp to the work table.(pic)


Usually it is cold enough that I have a fire on the porch where I work. And if it is Christmas time I also have Christmas music playing. Very pleasant butchering under these conditions
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Unread 10-21-2013, 12:55 PM
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Join Date: May 2001
Location: Casper Wy
Posts: 1,387
Re: De-Boneing and Butchering. Whats your Process?

The critter is usually deboned where it drops. I use a skinner/gut hook knife to get at the met and a 6" fillet knife to debone and cut up with. Doing it this way cools the meat faster, is lighter to pack out and leaves lot of the waste out to be recycled. The only real downside is keeping the hair off and meat clean but that is usually manageable.
The meat is packed in 2.5 gallon bags. They fit in the backpacks well and the coolers on ice even better. A goat will fit into 2 bags and a deer three+.....Have yet to fill an elk tag but something tells me I may have to adapt a little
Once I get home the kitchen becomes the butcher shop. The meat is cleaned in the stainless sink and cut up on the counter. I try to steak/roast out as much as Momma will let me with the rest going into a little $2 150W grinder I bought at a garage sale 5 years ago (Momma's Kitchen aid grinder works a little better but heats up).
All antelope goes into the grinder with 1-7 bacon ends per the bosses instructions, she will not cook it otherwise or let me for that matter! What she don't know will not hurt me The meat is vacuum sealed and froze.
Nuthing too fancy but functional. I just got done grinding 105#s of hamburger and quite a few creative steaks/roasts.
"Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler." -Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
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Unread 10-21-2013, 09:57 PM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,132
Re: De-Boneing and Butchering. Whats your Process?

I used to do it in the kitchen too! I just prefer a space where no little hands can get into it, so the garage it is. I like the idea of keeping it on ice, but not frozen so the work can be divided up over several days.
I have boned a few animals in the field, but had a tough time keeping everything clean, so unless its a backpack trip I try to hang it.
Thanks for the responses and pics!
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Unread 10-21-2013, 10:46 PM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: SW Montana
Posts: 5,803
Re: De-Boneing and Butchering. Whats your Process?

I'll have to get some pics of our processing area, we have a decent set up at my dads in the garage that we usually put up 50-60 animals in a year. I ran a wild game processing buisness for a few years and cut at least 2000 head a season, I can take a deer apart fairly fast
"Pain is weakness leaving your body"
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Unread 10-21-2013, 10:46 PM
Gold Member
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 549
Re: De-Boneing and Butchering. Whats your Process?

I backpack hunt exclusively, so it's always deboning on the hill. I bring plastic to lay the cuts on as they are removed. The meat is placed into pillow cases which are then put into garbage bags and into the pack. Once at home I thoroughly rinse the meat and cut off any crud. I pat the meat dry and put it in the fridge on towels to drain for 12 hours. Then it's flipped and another 12 hours to drain, after which it's covered in saran wrap and aged in the fridge for another 5 days or so. At this point I butcher it and vacuum pack it. I would like to get some actual butcher knives at some point but for now most of the work is done with an 8" Puma Bowie knife. I also carry a 4" folding knife for skinning duties and a pocket steel for sharpening.
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Unread 10-21-2013, 10:59 PM
Silver Member
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 121
Re: De-Boneing and Butchering. Whats your Process?

I live in San Diego and its typically warm. I try to get my buck to the truck and always have a cooler of ice.

I skin the deer on a gambrel and hoist under an oak tree. After its skinned I bring a pump sprayer just for spraying water and rinse any hair, dirt, ect. Then I hoist the deer way up and back my truck up under the deer and lower it onto a bed of ice.

When I get home I have two other coolers and fill them with ice(I get ice for free). I debone the meat and put it in one cooler. After the one cooler is emptied I process all the de-boned meat and put it on a bed of ice in the 3rd cooler.

Final step is to fill vacuum seal bags with meal size amounts of cuts.

No expert but it works for me.
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