You’ve bagged your deer for the season and now its time to cut up the venison for your freezer. This is not an easy prospect for the beginner but it is something that gets easier the more times you do it.
Start by skinning your deer. You will find it easier to hang your deer by the hind legs and skin the hide down to the neck and head. To get the hide started off the flesh, cut around the hind legs where the calf muscles start and slowly work your way down. Use your knife to slice it away from the flesh and pull down on the hide at the same time. It is good to have two people working on this. Try to keep any hide or hair from getting on the meat as you skin the deer. Once the hide is down to the neck pull the hide down as far as you can get it towards the head and then cut through the neck and vertebrae with a meat saw. The hide and head are now off and can be moved aside. You now can begin cutting and quartering the deer meat. Have a butcher table set up so you can set the venison meat down as you work. Make sure the table and knives are clean and sanitary. Use Ziploc bags or freezer paper to wrap your meat. Or if available use a vacuum sealer. The more helpers you have, the easier and faster the process is.
At this point I like to cut out what are considered the choicest cuts of venison. The tenderloins are two slivers of meat located inside the ribcage along the back of the deer. You will cut them out with your knife. Next I cut out the back straps which are on the outside of the deer, one on each side of the backbone. These are two, long cuts of prime venison, so be careful as you cut them away from the bone so you don’t waste any.
Next, cut the front shoulders off of the ribcage. This is done by cutting behind the shoulder, following the bone until it becomes separated from the carcass. The shoulders are good solid venison that can be cut into roasts or sliced into fry meat. Remove both front shoulders and set them on your table to be cut up.
To cut the hind quarters away, I like to use my meat saw and simply cut through the backbone and let the ribcage fall off. If you want to try and save some neck meat, make sure it doesn’t fall on the floor without first laying down some cardboard, or have someone hold it as you cut the hind quarters away from the ribcage and neck. After this you will separate the two hind quarters by cutting through the center with the meat saw. These can now be set on your table for butchering.
You now have your deer quartered and can begin butchering the meat. This process takes patience and is really a matter of just cutting the meat away from the bone. Take your time so you don’t cut yourself. Have some clean water and rags nearby to keep your hands clean. Always butcher in a cool temperature if possible. Keep your workspace and knives clean and have someone wrap the meat as you cut. Get the venison into a freezer as soon as possible, especially if weather is warmer than normal. Even if you are not experienced, you should be able to get some good venison cut up and froze. And soon you will be enjoying some great tasting venison.