By Chris Eberhart
This site is about everything whitetail. One thing that we have to keep in mind is that in the end our hunting is largely about the great food that is the end result. (I say largely, because there are other intrinsic reasons that people hunt that though they are directly related to the food, they are beyond the scope of this post.) Though I have concentrated seriously on hunting mature bucks for a long time, this came well after I was capable of filling my freezer with relative ease. Only then did I take the step up to more challenging deer. Still though, my first line of concentration every year is making sure the meat gets packed in. Even though you focus on big bucks you should always keep the venison at the forefront of your thoughts. This should be obvious, but I have seen incredible waste, and heard some horror stories of antler hunters on guided hunts claiming not to like venison, and of big bucks being buried or left for the coyotes. Anyone who does this kind of thing has no business hunting. It is worse than some forms of poaching in my eyes.
I consider myself a venison foodie. I take pride in my venison, and attempt to respect the deer by trying to waste nothing. When you are done butchering a deer there should be essentially nothing left to throw away. I’ve even found a great way to use the bones, and even the tongue. I thoroughly enjoy butchering my own deer. This is something I have done my entire life. I also worked a few seasons processing deer. A lot of guys don’t butcher their own deer simply because they don’t know exactly how, and they are intimidated by others. To this I say: just try and do your best. There is no rush, and if you simply go slow you will figure it out. There are many ways to get the job done, if you just do it. And this is my offer, if anyone out there tries butchering their own deer for the first time because of this post feel free to contact me if you run into any issues. I will try to help out any way I can.
Here’s an anecdote: A female friend of mine, who loves venison but doesn’t hunt acquired a deer. She hung it up and skinned it, quartered it, and eventually butchered the entire thing during a series of interesting phone calls. To get the job started she actually had to buy a knife. The motto here is that when there is a will there is a way, and you too can do the full program, from shooting all the way to cooking. That first deer she cut up certainly didn’t meet professional butcher specs, but the important part is that she did it. The second deer she cut up was much better, and the third was done like a professional. All it takes is doing a couple by yourself, and you will then be very capable.
The final step of respecting both the hunt and the deer you kill is good cooking. There is nothing wrong with the ubiquitous venison steaks fried in butter. In fact, I think I grew up eating this style of venison a couple times every week. There are so many possibilities with venison, the finest meat. Learning how to cook, and coming up with a few special recipes is just a step toward becoming a complete deer hunter. Hunting sure doesn’t stop in the field. The passion is archaic and should define you in almost all aspects of life. Be proud and do your best to utilize as much of every deer as you can. The possibilities are endless. Sometimes the simplest cooking turns out the be the best.
The food aspect has been getting more and more attention in the hunting scene lately. Although hunters have never really veered away from the core element of hunting for food, the hunting media got away from this as a primary focus for a long time. The “new” trend is one of the best things that could have happened to the hunting community, and will ultimately bring hunting into a better light in the non-hunting public. Hunt deer and make meat! That’s what it is all about.
I will be posting some butchering and cooking posts as the fall progresses.
Good Hunting, Butchering, and Cooking!
– Chris Eberhart, BowhuntingWildFood.com
If you want more great whitetail hunting information like this, check out Chris’ latest book, Bowhunting Whitetails The Eberhart Way