I am not a hunter (though I hope to change that). The most I've ever done was picking off troublesome squirrels at a friend's farm. As such, I haven't the foggiest clue how to prepare any game (other than fish) for consumption after the kill.
So, I'd like to propose a thread to collect detailed descriptions of how everyone prepares their game after the kill. Techniques, tools, tricks of the trade, etc. It might be nice to add this to the FTF SHTF manual that JD is diligently working on.
So, what say you?
Squirrels: There are many ways to clean squirrels and everyone has their preferences.
I like to make an incision at the base of the tail down through the skin, then pull toward the head with pliers, wallah...skinned. Now cut the feet off with dikes and use a knife to behead it. Be careful not to damage the internals when gutting, it gets nasty. I then cut them into quaters.
I then soak them in buttermilk for 24hrs. Shake them off and roll them in flour mixed with creole seasoning, salt, and pepper. Then deep fry to golden brown. :)
It's a given that I field dress deer as soon as I walk up to them.
As soon as I get the deer home I hang & skin it out.
The 1st thing I do is remove is the loin on both sides.
Then I'll cut the hams off and clean/cut up the steaks.
The neck, and shoulders, and front legs are next.
When cleaning it, I remove ALL fat, bone, gristle, and membrane so that what I have left is pure 100% lean meat.
The "lesser" cuts will be ground up & mixed 75%-25% with beef fat for deerburger, sausage, etc.
Squirrels are quick and easy. Make a cut from nuts to neck (skin only), turn squirrel inside out, take your mouse hawk (small version of a tomahawk...a small hatchet could work) and cut off their feet, tail, head. Then you can cut from the neck to the tail end and open squirrel. Clean out and prepare how you like it.
I like squirrels mixed with red beans and rice. First I cook the squirrel on a fry pan until it is near done. Cut the meat from the little wire bones and mix in a pot with red beans and rice. Since I am a fan of garlic I usually add in a couple cloves. Add in a small can of diced stewed tomatoes and simmer for another .5hr.
Deer, I got a butt out tool for my birthday last year so my new way is to start with that tool.
After that make a cut from the crotch to the sternum. Pull innards out and cut the diaphram (if the bullet did not do the job for you) and pull out the lungs and heart. Dont forget to cut the trachea. If you are using a larger knife, be careful when you get two hands in there. A buddy of mine uses trauma shears to cut the trach.
Make sure you get all of the insides out for the coyotes and get the deer to your vehicle. Now, I know there are a lot of opinions on how to avoid "gamey" meat. My personal findings have let me to beleive it is in how you take it out of the woods. Try to avoid dragging where you bounce the deer around. Each hit is breaking cappilaries and causing blood to enter the meat instead of draining (which is why you let the deer hang for a day or two before processing).
Each person processes their take differently (like any butcher). I generally keep it simple. Start at the top and work my way down. This allows me to be maticulous about the cuts and minimize waste.
I cut out the usuals, roasts, steaks, burger meat, stew meat, kabob meat, spiedie meat (local fare consisting of cubed meat marinated in an italian dressing based marinade for 24+ hours put on skewers and grilled on open flame), The hide gets caped and removed to be placed in a brining solution for pre prep for tanning, finally the carcass goes to the revine of death. A place in the back of the property we toss the carcass of our kill for the coyotes and so nobody has to smell it.
My favorite way to prepare venison is on a cast iron skillet with Promise (heart healthy), steaks cut up thin and about the size of a dollar, red onions and yellow peppers. Toss on some leeks and you got some gooooood vittles.
For a roast I prefer to use a dutch oven but I usually end up using a regular oven for convinience. I like to do it two ways, first is to put a dry rub on it and cook in the oven uncovered. The other way is to put beef stock in a baking dish, put in the roast, boiling onions, potatoes, celery, carrots, and shredded cabbage. Cook meat first...when there is about 1 hour left in cooking meat...add the veggies. Cook unitl done and serve. Goes great with an IPA beer like Dogfish Head.
I then take the lesser quality meats and put them in my very own marinade. Let them soak for at least 1 week. I then get a nice smokey fire going. Hickory is what is plentiful around here so I use that a LOT. I also use apple and sugar maple. I then prepare my smoke box and racks. When done it is about 8' high and 4 feet accross. I have a trapdoor at the bottom to add wood and soaked skins for extra smoke. Let meat dry over 12-18 hours and package. For long term storage I vaccuum seal it, for near term use, I bag it.
I could go on but I will spare you. :D
L.E.M. Products have a video that I use during my hunter safety classes on the proper way to handle, field dress, and butcher whitetails. It is step by step and very easy to follow.
The biggest threats to freshly harvested game are dirt, heat, and moisture. So you have to keep the harvested game clean, cool, and dry.
I also butcher my game and if the temperature is below 45 degrees I'll leave a whitetail hang for over a week before butchering. This allows the rigor to leave the animal and the adrenaline to weep out of the muscle and tissue. I believe it tenderizes the meat.
By the way Bear, I take those hanging loins out while the carcass is still warm and put them directly on the grill with a hint of garlic. Don't get no better than that. Yum.
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