*****Warning: The following post shows pictures of a deer carcass. Please do not read this post if that will bother you.*******
Every year a friend gets a deer for us. This year we waited until the last minute so I asked around to some of the farmers I know, and luckily one was able to get a deer for us with just a few days left of the hunting season. We prefer deer meat to beef simply because beef is so expensive. Deer is also a great source of local meat, although David calls deer "speed beef" since there's so much corn grown around here some of the deer are practically corn-fed. :-) We usually pay to have the deer processed, which costs around $60-$70 depending on how you want it cut. This year we decided to process the deer ourselves since it would save money. We had to buy a grinder, but that was a one-time fee and that meant all the deer meat would be free after purchasing the grinder.
I brought the deer home in my car (wagons are great) and we hung it in the garage. It was a nice sized doe. I have helped a few former coworkers process deer, and David grew up helping his uncle process them, so we were fairly sure we could do a decent job, even though it had been a while since either of us had done it.
We skinned it, pulled the fat off, and then started removing the meat. We were very careful with the tenderloins (or "backstraps") since they're the best part of the whole deer. The rest we weren't too picky with, we were just trying to get the meat off since it was a school night and we didn't have a ton of time. The kids helped out, Devin by holding bags and Kylee by jumping in and pulling off meat with us.
We really got a lot of meat off, and it's surprising how small the carcass looks afterwards.
We bought the $30 grinder from Tractor Supply, which surprise, wasn't the greatest quality. We ground for an hour or two and then the grinder broke.
We did manage to get about 10 lbs ground before that. We also had several pounds of tenderloin (we like it in medallions), and I sliced a few packages into "minute steaks" (think Steak-Ums) for sandwiches. After the grinder broke we just stuck the rest of the cut up meat into bags and froze them. They'll be saved for stew meat, ground later if we get a better grinder, or canned.
The picture above is just a sampling of what we got. All in all it was pretty easy, though we'll definitely get a better grinder before we do another one! It's satisfying to know we've got meat in our freezer and it didn't cost us anything besides a grinder. Next year's venison will be free!