Deer on the ground! Now the fun’s over and the work is just beginning.
How the work is done is key to a nice batch of prime venison, a meat so lean, so tasty, and so well earned, that it deserves to be treated with care.
Indeed, venison is the primary meat for many families, and all it takes to make sure it stays at the top of the list is to follow a few important steps said Duma Meat’s Deer Processing Manager Jake Cramer, a young but very experienced skinner-cutter-packer at this busy Mogadore, Ohio business.
Like most venison processing workers, Cramer has other business interests, but when deer season kicks off, it’s all about deer — as in early morning to late-thirty, or simply until all the work is done.
Cramer said that all hunters field dress their deer as soon as possible but not always as well as they should.
He said it is very important to completely empty the body cavity of all organs. Too often, he said, hunters fail get everything out right up to the neck.
“And hunters spend too much time attempting to remove non-vitals like the rectum,” he said, adding that it is easy for the processor to clean everything up with minimal damage to the meat.
Cramer said to get the best tasting meat, hunters should get their deer to a processor as soon as possible. And if it’s not possible, it’s a good idea to rinse the deer’s body cavity and keep it as cool and clean as possible.
Early season hunters seem most intent on filling their freezer. That practice is evident in their requested meat cutting and packaging instructions Cramer said, listing standard cuts as the most popular.
Later in the season customers increasingly order special cuts and more venison treats such as a variety of sausages, hot dogs, smoked sticks and more.
Although straight venison burger is the mainstay of many families, others like to add pork or beef to their burger meat, with pork being the most popular. Cramer said the mixes add flavor and aid in cooking.
When asked how a hunter knows that the meat he receives is from his deer, Cramer said Duma guarantees it.
“We attach the owner’s order and cut selection sheet to the carcass and it never leaves it until we have it on the cutting table,” he said. They cut one deer at a time to be sure no mistakes are made.
How much meat should a lucky hunter expect to take home? Cramer said rule of thumb is 40 percent of the live weight but damages can take a toll on the overall quantity of usable meat.
Duma is middle of the road with a fee of $65 per deer which includes skinning, vacuum packaging, and freezing.
Other processors may charge less or more but all charge extra for special cuts, tenderizing and treats like jerky, snack sticks, trail bologna, and smoked meats.
It’s recommended that hunters identify a processor prior to needing one. That way it’s a quick process to order the right cuts and any special meats he or she might want.
And while you are at it, ask about butterflying the chops, tenderizing a few cube steaks, and packaging some stew meat.