by Jack Payne
As daylight finally arrived, the sound of crunching leaves were heard. After much anticipation, a nice deer appeared in the firing lane. Quickly the Ruger M-77 was shouldered and the Leopold scope centered behind the deer shoulder.
That quickly and the season was over. Now the next phase of the work begins. What is the best way to get the deer out of the woods? What needs to be done to protect the great taste?
Starting in the field right after the tagging of your deer becomes the critical time to insure a quality meal. Take your time when gutting the deer to avoid punching a hole into the intestines.
A toboggan works well but a deer cart is much better. We hauled ours through a river, into a swamp, over logs and it always worked great. Center the weight towards the front of the cart for the least amount of work.
Once the deer is home or in camp it is important to clean the cavity thoroughly. A hose or a pail of water to wash out the blood and dirt will pay dividends when the deer hits the frying pan.
If the weather is warm then a couple of ice bags stuffed inside of the cavity will quickly cool down and protect the meat.
Skinning the deer and boning it out helps a lot if it’s warm. Skinning a deer only takes maybe fifteen minutes when the hide is still warm. Quartering the deer or better yet, boning it out and placing it on ice in a cooler will preserve the meat until you are ready to process it.
“Care must be taken with the hide and cape if a mount is desired,” said award-winning taxidermist Charlie Walker. After a deer is shot care must be taken with the head.
“Don’t cut the hide short if a shoulder mount is desired,” said Walker. If not sure then leave it for the processor or for the taxidermist.
Don’t drag the head across the dirt because it’s easy to damage the nose, ears and facial hair. Forget the rope tied around the neck when you hang it up. Hang it from the hind legs will preserve the mount and helps bleed the deer out.
You can butcher your own deer or bring it away. Most places charge around $75 bucks and the meat is frozen and ready for the freezer when you pick it up.
Adding marinade to your meat prior to freezing is the best way to ensure that special taste. This is the best reason for cutting up your own deer. Marinade your meat before freezing will enhance the taste like never before.
Vacuum packing your meat really helps on the shelf life. The bags are reusable and this is a fast way to package your meat as compared to the old way of double wrapping the meat.
Sausage and jerky making is really easy but time consuming. We used to do our own but now we bring it away. Some of the local folks do a fantastic job plus you can get half dozen flavors.
Speaking of fresh venison, nothing tastes better than fresh venison in deer camp.
The sweet aroma of onions and the sound of the mushroom gravy sizzling in the frying pan were welcomed by the entire hunting party.
Fresh as in never frozen is the best. Marinade the tenderloins in Italian salad dressing or use one of the commercial products like the Lowery or Mountain Man marinades. Let it sit over night and sprinkle with Lowery seasoning salt and pepper. Slice up a few onions and sauté’ with butter in a frying pan.
Place the tenderloins in the pan with the onions and sear both sides. Turn down the heat, add two cans of mushroom gravy and let simmer. If fresh mushrooms are available, then throw in a handful.
Fresh K-Bobs is another stand-by meal each season. The best meat comes from the hindquarter. Bone off a few pounds and cut into 1-inch cubes. A marinade of soy sauce or a sweat and sour marinade adds zest to the K-Bob.
A venison stir-fry is fast and very simple to make. Back straps or a chunk of the hindquarter will suffice. Cut into 1 inches wide, three or four inch long strips, an estimated half-inch thick.
Keep you deer cool and clean, marinade your meat prior to vacuum packing and use a few spices. Venison will never taste the same.