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Step by Step Guide to Butchering a Deer..........

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Step by step guide to butchering a deer.......


Right,I have put this together so it might be of help to someone while they are trying to butcher their Deer,this is a Roe in the pics,but,it would be exactly the same for all species of Deer,and,it just as easily be used on Lambs/Goats/Pigs.I have done this one with a view to using all of the fore meat for sausages,but,if you wanted to have casseroles,all you would need to do is to dice up the fore meat and bag in as big a lots as you would need to use on the day.

As I started to do this beast I was on my own,so,the skinning isn't very well illustrated,but,I will try to do another when I get one,and,have someone else take the pics.I was luckier later as I had help with the pics...........thanks Mum.


Step one...........

skin the animal

If you carefully cut around the top of the leg at the large joint(should be obvious)and then cut from the open cavity up towards the large joint keeping the knife just under the skin,and facing outwards as in the pic...


and then you need to pinch the skin at the open cavity until you have an edge,and work your fingers/hand inbetween the carcase and the skin


,it should come off quite easily,so,just keep working your fist/knuckles into the skin,and,work upwards.When you have released the rear legs from the skin you just start to pull downwards still working the fist/knuckles inbetween to help it keep coming off.As you get to the forelegs you need to do the same as you did at the rear legs......put your knife under the skin facing outwards and run it down the leg towards the knuckle,you may have to ease the skin off woth the aid of a knife just nicking the vellum inbetween the carcase and the hide as you go.Once you have cleared both of the forelegs,you just need to pull the skin on down and off at the neck.

You are then left with a naked deer ready to butcher,and,the first part in what I like to call the disassembly is to remove the fore,and,for this you will need a butchers saw/hacksaw.You will have the carcase laid on its back,and,if you move the foreleg around you will be able to see the blade bone moving under the flesh,and,this is where you need to saw from the top right down in a straight line to the bottom,and you will be left with the fore as in the pic........


Put this aside for the moment,as we will be removing the bellies next,now,like a fool I didn't take a pic of me sawing the bellies off,but,here is what you need to cut off.....


and,this is what you will now be left with when you put the bellies with the fore(for the moment)


You now have the inner fillets/tenderloins to remove,they lie either side of the back bone,and feather down to a point towards the front of the animal.If you place the knife tight up against the spine and run it up the spine towards the haunch,all the time pulling the fillet away from the spine,you also need to carefully ease the knife across the vertabrae totally releasing the fillet as you go.....


It doesn't take any force at all,and comes away very easily........


It should be obvious when you come to the end of the fillet,and,then you just cut it off........


The fillet will be covered in a gristly fatty covering..........


You now have to remove the covering,and,this can be done with you fingers....


if you peel it off you are then left with a lovely piece of meat(albeit smallish)that will cook lovely,and,I usually fry it and have it in a sandwich(but then again,I am a heathen...lol).....


I usually have two dogs by my side while I am doing this and they get the fatty covering as a treat.

You should now be left with a piece of carcase just like this.......


but,without the fillets.........


Now there is a bit more intricate part,but,don't worry,because it is really easy,to take off the haunches you need to find a line that is between the loin and the haunch,and,it is very easy to see,here it is.............


it is a curved line formed by a small line of fat,and,you use that line as a cutting line,you are aiming to go around the end of the aitchbone,and,back towards the tail line........



And,the same for the other side.........


You will then have a cut line just like this..........


When you are at this point,you now need to turn the carcase over onto it's back again,and there is a large joint in the spine that would correspond to where the cut line met in the middle on the other side.It is the last joint before the spine drops away down into the anal cavity,you need to put your knife through this joint


,and,don't worry it is quite easy if you raise and lower the the legs as you try to open up the joint as much as you can.You won't get right through,so,you then need to just bend the carcases back to break the joint..........



Just snip the little bit that holds it together,and,you are then left with your haunches,


and saddle


Now you turn the saddle over so the rib bones are on the block/worktop and you will see a loose flap of meat at the rib end,so you need to peel this back and carefully remove it with the knife...


You are then left with what you probably know as the backstraps that need to be removed from the rib cage,so,you run the knife carefully along the line of the spine,but just to one side.Use the tip of the knife only and slowly feel yourself along the side of the fins on the vertabrae.......




As you get to the point where the backstrap has been released from the fins,you then need to remove it from the ribs etc. so,starting at te rib end,there are some button bones that you can bone around if you want to bother,they are small,and if you do try to bone around them watch your fingers as you will need to have them near to the blade...........


As I give all of the bones to the dogs(apart from the leg bones as they can be a bit splintery)I don't normally bother to bone around them,but,if I was doing it for someone else,or to sell per pound I would.If you just use the very tip of the knife and carefully follow the rib bones the backstrap will slowly be released........


At the loin end you have fins instead of ribs,but,as I said,if you just use the very tip of the blade you will be able to follow them easily..........


Do the same to the other side,and discard the bones.......



You now have to of the best pieces of venison there is in front of you,but,there is a gristly membrane that covers them,and,this needs to be removed.If you put your knifetip under this membrane,just to give you a starting point,


you can pinch the end while working the knife carefully under it and edging it down the length with the cutting edge of the knife facing into the membrane.........




remove this membrane completely,and,you are then left with the 'Creme de la Creme',this is usually used as butterfly steaks,and, it is bloody lovely.......


Now at this point I had a little friend join me to see what I was up to.......a 'Ked' Uurgh!


Quickly despatched,I carried on......lol


We now return to the haunches,and,as they are still attatched to each other,so,firstly we need to seperate them.The haunches are attatched by the tailbone and the aitchbone,and,I like to be a little clever here,and,do it without a saw,but,you may of already split the aitches in the field(I don't),So if you lightly run the boning knife across the middle of the aitches there is a cartledge joint inbetween,and,when you find this,you just get a heavy knife and push it through.....


After the aitches are split it is only the tail left holding it together,so,if you are careful you will be able to feel to the right of the large joint in the spine there is another cartledge joint,don't push too hard...just ease it through,it will go through VERY easily if you are in the right place....


Do this on both sides and you will be left with this......


here is a close up of the tail bone which might make it easier to find the joints........


Next you need to remove the bones from both of the haunches,firstly cut the achiles tendon


I then cut between the lower leg bone and what would be their thigh bone,you will see there is a light patch(more cartledge)just where the joint is,it will take a bit of practice to get this right,but,as long as you don't try to push too hard,and you put a small amount of pressure on the bend of the joint you will eventually get inbetween the two bones.......




When you gat to this point it should be a fairly easy job to run the(and don't forget this!!)very tip of the knife down the lower leg bone to start to remove the lower bone altogether.........





We then spin the haunch around and start to remove the aitchbone,this is a ball and socket joint,and it is VERY tight,so watch your fingers.


Start off by easing your knife in behind the bone,and,try to keep the tip of the knife tight against the bone,as it is a funny shape.........


You will get to a point where you think it won't go any farther,and,that is when you will be up against the ball and socket joint,you need to cut the ligament between the joint,and then it will open up.........




At this stage it is easy to just ease the meat away from the aitchbone,and,drop it down to your waitng dog...lol


There is now just the one main bone left and the small button bone at the other end.You have exposed the ball part of the joint and the other end as well,so,if you imagine a line between the two you have an idea where the bone is under the meat,so,run the knife along that line and expose the thigh bone........



Then you do as you did to the lower leg bone,you just ease the knife carefully around the bone,and remove it from the haunch.....



Right,once the bone is out,you should be able to see the button bone


,and,this you just cut around,and remove it


,and then you have this left........


The piece of muscle that I have in my hand on the last pic then needs to be taken out,you can almost do this with your bare hands,but,will just need to ease it out with the knife......


This will probably come out in two pieces,so after it is removed totally your haunch should look like this..........


the lower muscle goes for casserole/sausages and we then roll and tie the haunch.I use a couple of old skewers to hold it in place while i tie it.I haven't shown you how to do the butchers knot as I didn't want to over compicate things,any knot will do,but a slip knot with a half hitch to hold it is best.............






Then bag/mark and freeze..........


Now we are getting there,and we only have the fore and the bellies left to do.The bellies I use for sausages,so just trim the loose boneless flap off,and give the meaty bones to the dogs......


The last lap now,and,we are on the fore,which I use for sausages,but,you may want to use for casserole meat,or even roast the shoulder like a shoulder of lamb.I firstly remove the front legs along with the blade bones like this...........





It is then a lot easier to remove the bones like this,as it is easier to manouver on the block.As with all of the other bones you will have removed,just use the tip of the knife,to feel your way around them,you can take them out as one or individually if you prefer......








At this point just expose the blade bone by running the knife across the blade flat to the bone,and,cut through the ball and socket joint as you did earlier...



On the reverse of the blade bone is a sort of sail(for want of a better word)so try to get around this with your fingers as best as you can,and then cut it cleanly out.......


Here is an exploded view of the bones in the foreleg and blade bone.....


This should help you to see what you are trying to get out before you start.When you have done the other one then we have the neck and what is left of the ribcage with the breast bone still attatched,and,as I have the dogs,I tend not to take these bones out very clean,and,just strip off the bulk of the flesh,agian for sausages..........

breast bone removed....


And,the meat removed from the neck/ribcage.......


Here are all of the bones ready to feed to the dogs(some of which I freeze down)...


And here is an alternative to taking off the backstraps for those that like chops,I just sawed across the saddle to make some really nice thick double chops......mmmmmmmmmm!



And that is as they say IT!!! And,it all started out looking like this..................


I do hope this will be of some help to some of you,and,if you have any questions please ask away.............Martin.

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Nice one my friend. All I can say, which might be of help, is that I do 90% of the work from a gantry. Skinning and haunch sorting is made a lot easier. Maybe that's because I can't handle the devils on the floor. What a lovely article. Well done. Jok.

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