Learning to Butcher a Deer and Make Sausages
Learning to Butcher a Deer and Make Sausages.
15 November 2017.
Dusty, Stryker and I went for a drive in the afternoon to see if we could find any deer as hunting season is underway. Shortly into our drive, a buck jumped out of a patch of trees! Dusty took three shots at him but missed the buck that ran into another massive grove of trees. The buck was in quite a hurry by that point, understandably. Dusty went into the trees after the buck and I drove the pick-up around with Stryker but we could not locate the deer. Stryker and I went to collect Dusty when he came out of the trees and we changed roles. I went into the bush after the buck and Dusty went around the patch of trees with his pick-up.
I never did see the buck but after a little while I heard a shot, so I guessed he must have come out of the trees on the side where Dusty was waiting. I was in the middle of the trees and making my way out when all of a sudden I looked up and a coyote was just in front of me. He was a huge had a really beautiful fur. It is hard to say if the coyote was getting away from the gunshot or if he heard me and guessed I was an animal. In either case, when that coyote saw me, I could see the, “Oh, crap! A human? What in the heck is he doing in here?” look on his face. That coyote turned around and he was gone!
Nature has some characters.
Dusty came to the room to wake me just before 07:00 and asked if I wanted to go hunting with him. I got up, threw on some clothes, went out to the cold outdoors and climbed into his pick up truck. He stopped to get a coffee, we turned onto a gravel road just past town, and right there was a doe standing in a field as the sun was coming up. Dusty asked aloud, to himself, “Where is the buck…?” He spotted it, “…Right there!” A buck was standing about 70 yards away. Dusty go out, cussed aloud because he thought there were no bullets in his clip, realized there were, and found a place to stand and take his aim. The buck ran a short distance after the first shot. Dusty loaded and fired again. The buck stopped. Dusty loaded the chamber and pulled the trigger once more. The buck dropped.
Dusty looked at me as soon as the buck went down and said, “Tagged out!”
He got his buck for the season!
Dusty drove his pickup out into the field. The buck was dead. The two of us loaded him into the back of the truck and then went to Dusty’s garage to start a fire in the wood-stove. Once we got the wood-stove fire burning and pumping out heat, we got back into his pickup and drove back out to the countryside to gut the deer. To start the gutting, we made a cut around the anus of the deer to make sure we did not cut that intestine open. Dusty then and made a slice towards the buck’s belly where we dropped all of his intestines and organs on the ground. The coyotes will enjoy those.
We then took the buck back to the garage to hang and skin him.
As we were about to begin the skinning process I had been talking through text to my friends Brendan and Mary who were are a concert in Philadelphia. I told them I needed to get away from the phone because I had to go and skin a deer…
…Mary responded, “Well, that’s basically the most Canadian thing anyone’s ever said to me.”
I have enjoyed skinning animals for the few times I have tackled the job. Dusty is good at skinning and guided me through the process. We removed the entire hide together. The hide itself is at least 3cm thick. It is no wonder deer are able to stay warm in the frigid winter. Between the hide and the muscle is a sort of membrane separating the two. It is fascinating to get below the hide and into that layer of membrane above the muscle to remove the hide.
You just pull down on the hide and use a sharp knife to lightly touch/cut against the membrane and the hide separates itself with the slightest pulling motion effort.
The stove in the garage was pumping heat and really keeping us warm as we were skinning the still-warm deer. When we got to an area inside of the deer called the backstrap, Dusty said it is the most tender part of the deer. So we just threw pieces of the backstrap it on top of the stove and cooked it there. We did not use a frying pan or anything…just deer on hot iron. He was right, and the backstrap was tasty and tender…
…And there is something beautifully barbaric about looking at an animal as you eat pieces from it.
It is amazing how even three hours after the deer is dead, the insides of the animal remain naturally warm to the touch. Some time after we had finished skinning the buck, Stryker wanted to see how it looked so we went back out to the garage. Stryker was also interested to see the deer’s eyes so Dusty cut one of them out from the skull. I knew that was going to bother me a little. Dusty said it does not bother him but I was very uncomfortable as he practiced his optometrist techniques to get an eyeball out of the deer. An eyeball is about as soft as you would probably think it is, but it is far tougher than you could imagine. An eye can really take a lot of abuse when you are trying to work it out of a skull. However, the eye is full of liquid that comes out of the back when it is eventually cut. Seeing that clear liquid come out of the back of the eyeball is an unpleasant experience. I wonder what it is about human nature that make people queasy when making contact with an eyeball?
At 18:00, Karlee sent me a message to start a fire in the wood-stove in the shop. I got things going and waited for her and Dusty to arrive.
When they got back, they had spices, wood for the meat smoker and a meat dehydrator. Dusty and I set up a table with plastic on top. With the help of Karlee and her brother Brad, the four of us cut the up the entire deer that Dusty shot yesterday.
I only knew a little about the entire process. We had left the deer to hang from it’s back legs for a full day, in the cold, in order for the rest of the blood to run out of the neck as we had removed the head. The deer did not freeze in the cool temperatures of the night, so it was quite easy to work with.
Brad said to Dusty, “You can see that the deer did not run much.”
I asked how he knew. Brad pointed to the white fat and showed me where there was a small amount of foam on the membrane area that separates the hide from the muscle. He said the foam comes from running-motion because the deer is burning fat. There was very little foam laying on the muscle.
The mechanics of anatomy! Very interesting…
On the table, we cut all of the fat off of the muscle and put it into a throw away bin. Next we de-boned, the process of removing all of the muscle from the carcass. The muscle is the meat and of the better cuts of meat, we sliced them into ¼ inch strips that we mixed with spices to make deer-jerky. For the cuts of meat which were not as good of quality, we mixed them with pork fat and spices into a grinder to make sausages. It seemed strange to be cutting all of the deer’s fat from the muscle to then later add pig fat to make sausage, but Dusty explained that deer fat is dryer and pork fat is greasier which makes for better tasting sausages.
I was making the jerky as Dusty and Karlee were making sausages. The sausages were made possible with ‘Wild West Hog Sausage Casings’ they had bought at a hunting store called Cabela’s.
The Wild West Hog Sausage Casings are actually pig intestines that have been washed out.
Dusty and Karlee were filling the casings with the assistance of a meat grinder in which the deer meat is ground up and mixed with the pig fat. The meat ground together and comes out of the side of the machine through a tap in a continuous mush. A very long casing goes on the tap, and the meat pushes inside of the casing. Once a desired sausage length is achieved, the casing is twisted; a process which ends one sausage and the next begins in one continuous casing. I learned that you twist the first sausage in a direction and then the next sausage is twisted in the opposite direction to keep from untwisting the sausage in front of it which you have already finished. It is a continuous motion of twisting one way and the other and then the other until the entire casing is full and has made one long-linked sausage string like you have seen on the cartoons you watched as a child.
It is hard work to cut up and butcher a deer…an entire deer…making jerky and sausages.
My back, my heels and between my shoulders began to ache. Everyone got tired of the process that we began at about 19:00 and by 01:00 we were really running out of steam. Karlee sent me to her car to get E-Shots, which are shots of natural energy about the size of a regular shot of alcohol. So, instead of tequila or Jagermeister, we smashed some natural energy. After hitting those, Dusty and I got a bit of a second wind. I wanted to just get the job over with. Everyone else went to bed, but Dusty and I stayed up until 03:00, making pepperoni sticks. Even though we were tired, it was pretty cool to be turning an animal into consumable food with a great friend. It was a lot of fun to learn how to butcher a deer tonight.
That E-Shot messed me up last night and it was 04:30 before I could sleep. I was beat as well, and yet sleep was still that difficult. There is good natural remedy in a healthy E-Shot!
By the afternoon, Dusty had jerky and pepperoni sticks ready that he used cherry-wood to smoke. There was also jerky and pepperoni dehydrated. It was all delicious! I ate so much meat that I felt sick to the stomach for the rest of the day. I am going to need some fruit and vegetables to balance this off. However, I am so glad to have learned this whole process! Learning to butcher a deer sure is a great skill to have.
Should there be an apocalypse at some point, I will be able to process an animal to keep those close to me alive! I have just become a little handier…