Deer Meat: How To Process Your Own (Episode 248 Transcript)

This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.

GRANT: Bow season opens in less than a month here in Missouri and throughout most states in the whitetails’ range but there’s a couple of topics some people may forget to prepare for. One is making sure you’re ready to age deer on the hoof when that shot opportunity occurs.

GRANT: …go in right by the edge of the femur…(Fades out)

GRANT: And the second, and even more important, is you’re prepared to process the venison to provide your family with some great food.

GRANT: I start by removing the ball roast and I…(Fades out)

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GRANT: It’s a very personal choice deciding which deer to pass and which deer to tag. It may depend on the landowner’s objectives or your need for venison to feed you and your family.

GRANT: Broad across here. And some loose skin here.

GRANT: During the past few weeks we’ve shared some examples on how to age bucks. Some of ‘em are pretty easy. Big, mature bucks that anyone would shoot if they stepped out in front of their tree stand. This week, let’s take a look at a little different situation.

GRANT: Adam was going through some trail camera cards and brought this over to show me and I was really excited about it. So, you know you’re in a tree stand – boom – you look down and see a pretty nice set of antlers. About as wide as the ears or so coming through; got some tine length and you get excited. Deer takes a few more steps; you see three sticking up on a side – three tines sticking up – which means a ten-pointer. Typically deer will have a brow tine in the end, so three up instantly means a ten-pointer. A couple more steps, you thinking, “Man, might be a hump on the shoulder, looking pretty good. Maybe this is an older class buck.” Gets out here a little closer to the Trophy Rock and you’re thinking, “Nah, those back legs are awfully long and lanky.” Gets him some more licks of those trace minerals and there’s our magic broadside view. And although it looks like he’s got a swayed belly, you notice his rear legs are higher. This field slopes up steeper than the picture makes it look and that’s making him look like he’s got a swayed belly, swayed back and maybe a hump over the shoulders. But this neck merges with the chest well above the brisket. Gosh, 7, 8 inches above the brisket or more. The face is very narrow and fine and I can clearly tell this is a super yearling or a two and a half year old buck. And on most properties he’s gonna get a pass.

GRANT: Sometimes you have to make a quick decision to shoot or not shoot when you’re sitting in a tree stand. One of the easiest ways to do that is cover up the antlers – so to speak – maybe just shut ‘em out of your mind, and if the body generally looks like a doe, you certainly know that’s an immature buck.

GRANT: The buck we shared with you today appears to have a huge amount of antler growth potential. He could easily add another third or more to his antler size. That’s a lot of inches. You know what? If my youngest daughter, Rae, saw that buck and wanted to put her tag on him, I’d give her the green light but for Adam and I and the rest of our guests, we’ll give that buck a pass and allow him a year or two to express his full genetic potential.

GRANT: Through the years and different hunting camps I’ve been in, I’ve had several people ask me to show them how I take the meat off or de-bone the venison from a deer.

GRANT: Last year after we tagged a doe, we had ample time to get the cameras out and show exactly how we process the meat.

GRANT: You know, when I was young, my family didn’t know any better. We just kind of hacked the meat off and cooked it in hams or big chunks. But there’s a lot better way to remove the meat from a deer. I like to work on a deer hanging up and I start on what’s called the ball roast, the front part of the ham. One thing that makes your job a lot easier is having a sharp knife and keeping it sharp. So you don’t want to be digging into a bone. You’re going to fillet the meat off – not putting the blade of your knife right on the bone.

GRANT: I start by removing the ball roast and I feel where the end of the white connective tissue and the meat starts, and make an incision there just going in deep enough and stopping right before I hit the femur bone because that would dull your knife. I simply go down the edge of the femur bone, but not digging into it with my knife, and muscle groups will just separate themselves. I go down to the end of that muscle – leaving some of the connective tissue on the deer. There’s no need ‘cause I’ll just have to cut it off once I get inside. And with that simple cut, I have a perfect ball roast that Ms. Tracy likes to make barbecue out of.

GRANT: Next, I’m gonna remove what’s called the rump roast and again, I’m gonna follow the layer of the muscle. Right here there’s a bunch of connective tissue. Your family doesn’t want to eat that anyway, so I’m gonna follow the muscle line right through here; cutting down to the femur and then go right in here at the hip joint and free the meat up from the bone.

GRANT: After I free the rump roast down both sides, I simply go in right by the edge of the femur – freeing it right here – so I’ll be able to peel it off.

GRANT: Once I’ve freed the rump roast from the femur and the hip bone, I simply get behind it and pull back and it will kind of separate itself naturally, exposing where I need to make an additional little cut to free it from the bone. And I can just free it up right on the muscle group there; and I’m going right between the connective tissue and another muscle group that comes out with a great big large roast that I’ll just trim up once we get inside and be ready to put in the freezer.

GRANT: Removing the rump roast accomplishes two objectives – first, it exposes this interior muscle that’s as pure as a tenderloin, no connective tissue in it and super tender. It’s actually shaped like a tenderloin. I call it the hidden tenderloin. I simply take my knife; follow the connective tissue very carefully around and fillet it out. When finished, you can see it’s the same shape, same muscle texture as a tenderloin. Getting four tenderloins out of a deer instead of two – well that’s a big bonus in my book.

GRANT: Of course, the lymphatic system collects stuff the deer is trying to get rid of, any infections or bacteria that it wants to get out of the body. So if you cook the whole ham as one piece, you’re going to or your family is going to eat this very large lymph node and the whole lymph system going through there. But by exposing the muscles, it’s easy just to take that out and discard it.

GRANT: The lymph node in the ham is very large and full of ugly stuff you don’t want to put in your body. But it’s easy just to expose it, trim it out and save the best meat for your family. With the lymphatic system removed from the ham, I follow the muscle line once again down to the femur, fillet down the edge of the femur. This muscle will simply come off very easily and you’re wanna go deep because it fits way up in the pelvic socket there – the pelvic girdle – and you can leave some really good meat there. But by simply following the muscle line in. See how it’s peeling off this secondary muscle here? You can see where it separates right here. It comes out as a large, pure roast. And I’ll simply go inside, trim off this sheath of connective tissue and have pure meat to vacuum seal for my family to enjoy this winter.

GRANT: There’s a nice muscle interior to the ham right up against the pelvic girdle that is great for stew meat or to put in the hamburger bowl of all the meat you’re gonna grind up for hamburger.

GRANT: And by following, again, the layers of connective tissue, you’ll come out with pure meat instead of grinding up all that con- all that connective tissue which can give the flavor of wild game, or a tainted taste, that some families don’t enjoy. After I remove the major muscles, I can come back and remove the minor leg muscles, put them in the hamburger bowl for the grinder.

GRANT: Next, I progress down to the back-straps. The big loin on the outside; the tenderloins are on the inside. I simply take my knife right along the edge of the phalanges, or the top of the spine coming up, and hug that bone ‘cause I don’t want to waste any of this loin meat.

GRANT: I do the same process going down all the way to the neck.

GRANT: Then I cut right where I left off from removing the ham muscles and carefully start peeling that back away from the ribs. Once I have made the incision along the spine, I just start filleting the back-strap off of the ribs – careful not to waste any of that great meat.

GRANT: At this point, I often go ahead and remove the large connective tissue, or what the Native Americans call sinew that they would back their bows with. You’ll follow this down to where it simply runs out and gets very small at the end – saving every last inch of that back-strap. A little back-strap goes a long ways when you tell mom you gotta buy that new gun or bow for next bow season ‘cause she’s gonna want more of this in her freezer.

GRANT: So, we removed the loin or the back-strap. Now we want these tenderloins – the prize cut of all deer. You know, if the – if the deer is healthy, there will be some fat on top. Here’s a lymph node right here.

GRANT: These little dark things often cause people to have questions. Those are simply little pools of collected blood that slide out of the system here and there and the lymph system will return it.

GRANT: I’ve simply trimmed this sheath muscle down so I can get better access to the tenderloin. The tenderloin goes much higher than a lot of people realize and they cut it off here, leaving two to three inches of prize meat in the carcass that goes to the gut pile.

GRANT: At this point, I just go ahead and remove some of that fat and lymph nodes from the outside so it never makes it into the cooler or goes into the house. Simply get it started and tug a little bit and it will come right off, exposing pure tenderloin. You can see the bottom of the tenderloin right here and I’m gonna start working it and just peel it out.

GRANT: Pure, hormone-free tenderloin. Probably worth about $5,000 a pound. I think my wife ought to let me get a new four-wheel drive pickup just for that.

GRANT: It’s important to know in the shoulder that there’s not a bone to bone connection. The shoulder is not connected to the rest of the skeleton through a socket. So, you simply can take your knife – once again, follow the major muscle group on the inside – and the whole shoulder will come off in your hand.

GRANT: You can see that I’m just separating the major muscle group here, following up the easy line, right around the top of the shoulder bone because there’s no bone to bone connection here. And you can see where we’ve already removed the tenderloin right here. And there’s the whole shoulder without ever putting my knife blade on a bone.

GRANT: You can cut through here with your knife and find the middle of the socket, but you’ll stand a chance of dulling your knife. I typically just take a meat saw – cut this off right here – and this whole slab can go in a crock pot with some potatoes and onions and make a great venison stew.

GRANT: I hope you have a chance to review some trail camera cards or estimate the age of some bucks this week as you prepare for deer season. But most importantly, take some time to get outside and find a quiet place and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching

GRANT: Through the years in different hunting camps I’ve been in, I’ve had several people ask me to show them how I take the meat off or debone…(Fades out)