Processing Venison

When we put away the venison for later processing, we assumed we would take it out to thaw, and then knock out all the processing in one (long) day. However, as I have (and will continue to) mention, Matt’s job. It’s hellishly demanding. So. In my last two posts, I detailed the thawing process. Wednesday night we sat down to start this whole process.

Deer haunches

Deer haunches

We didn’t realize that the thickest part of the haunches was still frozen solid, on all of them. so, we moved on to separating out the muscles from the shoulders/forelimbs, and trimming a lot of that of the silver skin. We chopped that stuff up to eventually be put through the meat grinder, and made into either sausage, or plain ground venison for burgers, etc. We left the haunches to sit out  little longer. I started on those on my own yesterday afternoon, with the hopes that when Matt got home, we could just do the meat grinding part.


The parts that I did myself, I didn’t get many pictures out of, as my hands were not clean enough to handle a camera. However, in order to get some good steaks and roasts this year, I used this tutorial post by the Deerslayer’s Wife. The little button buck that Matt took last year was small, but we just sort of haphazardly cut. I had small steaks and jerky, but nothing great. Anyhow. After much slicing, dicing, and de-boning, I processed, cleaned, and wrapped all the meat from the haunches.

All this plus all the ground meat and sausage we'll have, for about $30 in permits and maybe $15 in shells and cartridges.

All this plus all the ground meat and sausage we’ll have, for about $30 in permits and maybe $15 in shells and cartridges.

All in all, that’s 4 good sized “football roasts”, 4 of the haunch “tenderloins”, I would say about 20 of what I dubbed “Wisconsin Strip Steak”, cut into medium size, 1-2 inch thick steaks from the large, thick muscle of the haunch, 2-3 steaks that I butterflied out into something much like flank steak or round steak, and a Ziploc quart bag of meat cut up for stew. And I still might even be forgetting something. By the end of hour 5 of processing deer all alone, my hands were sore from the cold water and meat, and I was mighty tired of hunching over the table, slicing and sharpening, over and over.

It was remarkable how fat these deer were, especially my doe. Venison is typically thought of as quite lean, but even when skinning and quartering the doe, we noticed quite a bit of subcutaneous fat. As we butchered up the meat, it became even more noticeable, especially over the haunches and belly. There was basically a fat cap not unlike what you’d find on a beef or pork roast. I guess that’s what happens when you hunt public land full of clover, sandwiched on three sides by cornfields.

This was the best one-handed picture I could get

This was the best one-handed picture I could get

So, my fridge is still literally full to the gills of chopped venison to make into hamburger and sausage, as Matt didn’t get home until well after 9pm last night, and I was just done by the time he showed up. Most of the large leg bones from the deer we have out on the grill to smoke a bit for the dogs. With those leg bones and the lower shank bones+hooves, we will probably have to give some of them away as they might spoil before the dogs can eat them all. I am interested in using one of the femurs to try and make venison stock. For the sausage-making, I bought two good sized pork shoulder roasts to cut the venison slightly, and add in some fat. The only thing I think we may need for that is some more casings. But we’ve got some seasoning mixes to make breakfast sausage, bratwursts, and probably 4 other kinds of sausage. Which is good, as this is my fridge right now:

The large silver bowl, the blue stock pot, the blue plastic container lower left, and the grocery bag in the center are all crammed full of venison, and the pork shoulders are on the bottom shelf.

Both silver bowls, the blue stock pot, the blue plastic container lower left, and the grocery bag in the center are all crammed full of venison, and the pork shoulders are on the bottom shelf.


9 thoughts on “Processing Venison

  1. This reminds me of the days raising our five kids back in Missouri. We always planted a giant garden and shot a lot of whitetails (5-8 a year). It kept our freezer full and my wife could can anything. She would can deer meat and would use it to whip up a meal in a hurry. When the kids all come home their most requested meal is backstraps, gravy, and homemade rolls.

    • Matt and I would be thrilled to get 5-8 white tail a year, but then we’d be giving meat away. It’s just the two of us here. My garden is not super huge, but this year I’m putting in butternut squash, sweet potatoes, red potatoes, and maybe strawberries or red peppers. We just treat the venison like beef, and very rarely buy steak or ground beef. We treat ducks, geese, and grouse when we get them like chicken. Now if I can only get on a hog hunt, I wouldn’t have to buy pork, either.

      • Amber,

        This is a very good post. Sometimes people forget about the excellent food source that is in our local timbers. Somehow it has become about the antlers to so many hunters. As I was growing up and I raised my children it was about the food on the table as it should be. No animal should be taken just for a mount on the wall.


  2. @Dan- Thanks for the comments. While I definitely wouldn’t mind a good sized buck of my own, I am perfectly content to shoot doe. They’re just as much meat, and it also helps with the population control. We get more tags for them up here in the CWD zones anyway. Between gun and bow season, I think we had at least 6 anterless deer tags.

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