DIY Game Processing – nothing defines success in the field more than a properly organized stable of wild ingredients in the freezer. Just as do-it-yourself game management and harvest is one of the most rewarding parts of the GameKeeper’s lifestyle, DIY processing of the harvest provides a lot of benefits not achieved through having someone do it for you. Keep a good set of butchering knives in your truck, and get to work on that fresh harvest for the best meat around.
It’s Done Right – Know you are maximizing your time in the field by ensuring you not only get as much of your harvest as possible in the freezer - and avoid the thoughts of having someone else’s or someone else having yours. You can also ensure your own equipment is clean and up to standard. Adequate taping and packaging is in your hands.
Customized to Your Specification – Preferred portion sizes, cuts, and ready-to-eat preferences vary with family size, cooking style and methods. Butchering your own game allows you to tailor to your family’s specific needs and store in a way that best fits your needs.
Organized and Efficient Use - A consistent labeling and packaging system in your freezer and/or pantry helps you manage your consumption of the game and wild ingredients you have stored. Using your own labeling system will help you properly utilize the resource and avoid waste.
Makes You a Better Outdoorsman – The more involved in the process you are the more respect you have for the game and resources, properly preparing, butchering and storage of your harvest inherently creates a deeper connection to your food and the resource.
More Economical – With the average cost to process a single deer +/- $100 and the availability of quality equipment, you can get started processing your own game for less. Get started with a vacuum sealer and vacuum bags and build your tools and experience from there.
It’s the Total Experience - You already have a lot of personal investment and experience with your harvest, from resources spent in the field preparing, time commitment to hunting and proper field care of the harvest. Taking the next step to properly age, butcher, preserve and prepare it for your table completes the transition from field to freezer.
Getting Started Processing
Level 1 – Sealing and Labeling
When freezing wild fish and game, one of the most important parts is the removal of any air than may come in contact with the meat or fish that could cause freezer burn. Then be certain to label the bag, so you can keep track of species, harvest date, and cut. You can get started with a good knife and a box of freezer bags/paper. However, we would recommend using a vacuum sealer and vacuum seal bags for the ultimate protection.
Level 2 – Grinding and Tenderizing
Most hunters like a staple of tenderized venison steaks and ground venison in their freezers. These cuts are easily adapted to traditional meals like spaghetti, tacos, and of course, the famous bacon-wrapped deer steaks on the grill. Invest in a grinder and/or meat tenderizer, and begin customizing your grinds and cuts to your specific taste.
One of the favorites for snacking at home or in the field is jerky. While you can make this in a traditional oven, it’s more convenient and economical to use a dehydrator. Use a jerky gun to combine your favorite game and seasonings into meat sticks or invest in a meat slicer and up your capacity for making whole cut jerky in a variety of seasonings.
Level 4 – Sausages
Everyone is on the lookout for the best wild game sausage. Whether it’s summer sausage or griller links, separate yourself from the rest of the crowd by combining a variety of wild game meats and traditional ingredients for custom game blends that have your own flavor combination. Use the sausage stuffer on your grinder and your own ingredients and let your wild game culinary creativity loose. Or season your ground meat with a breakfast sausage seasoning mix and freeze some sausage patties for a wild game breakfast anytime.
Level 5 – Ready to Eat
Spending time creating ready-to-eat portions and preparations of your wild game will make meal time more convenient for you and your family. Get everyone together and make up large batches of venison burritos, wild boar tacos, and elk chili. Freeze in the appropriate proportions and you have a quick, easy protein-packed organic meal in no time.