Deer season: Be prepared before it arrives

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With Ohio deer hunters tagging tens of thousands of deer this week comes the promise of countless venison meals in the coming months.

Indeed, well-cared for venison makes for tasty and healthy eating. The key is the well-cared for part and that means in the field and at the butcher shop.

A visit with Chris Breauchy, owner and operator of C&C Custom Meats in Ravenna, one of many professional meat processors around the state that welcome hunters during the deer seasons, reminds successful deer hunters that the process begins in the field. He suggests that hunters be prepared to field dress their deer carefully and completely.

Field dressing

Breauchy said that it is important that hunters remove the innards completely and that the carcass be kept as clean as possible. He suggests that if possible field dressed deer be washed out with a hose to clear away any fluids or waste that has been left. Cooling the field dressed deer is just as important and so it getting the deer to a selected meat packer as soon as possible.

Breauchy has been skinning and cutting deer for over 30 years and he is convinced that hanging a deer for several days has little to do with improving taste but, he said, removing the skin is.

How much meat?

The first question most new hunters ask is how much meat to expect. According to Breauchy, it’s about a third of the live weight of a live deer. He said that a third is removed in the field which leaves a third of useable meat. But, he said, damage from wounds can ruin a lot of meat that can drop the final count of roasts, steaks, and other cuts.

Like most processors, Breauchy offers one stop shopping. That is, he skins, cuts, and freezes the meat for one price. And, like most processors, charges for things out of the ordinary. That includes adding a bit of fatty pork or beef to the burger that without the added fat is so lean that it can be hard to grill. Other upcharges are for summer sausage, trail bologna, sticks, etc.

Processing

Hunters are smart to select a processor before they need one. Prices will vary but so can things like special skinning needs to save a skin for tanning or taxidermy. It is important too, to know the days and hours when deer are accepted.

According to Breauchy, most hunters ask for standard cuts which include a selection of grilling steaks and chops, a couple of roasts, and lots of ground meat packages in one pound packs. Breauchy said that he cuts, vacuum packs, and freezes one deer at a time so that hunters can be confident that every piece of meat received is from their deer. They are never mixed in any way, Breauchy said.

Deer expo

The Leetonia Sportsmans Club’s annual Deer Expo is set for Dec.14. The club grounds are located at 311 East High Street, Leetonia, Ohio 44431 and the event opens at 9 a.m.

The club sponsored Expo includes the opportunity to have antlers scored and entered in a three state “Big Buck” contest and door prizes pulled every ten minutes. Go to bharding37@comcast.com for more information.

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Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian.

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