Hunting offers a certain kind of joy, something most hunters know they won’t find anywhere else. It’s that cup of coffee before dawn. The silence of an early morning. The surge of adrenaline when you catch movement out of the corner of your eye. Thing is, there’s a satisfaction to processing your own game that ties the whole experience together into a mouthwatering package. If you’re dropping your meat off at a local processor, you’re missing out on something those of us who do it ourselves cherish.
There could be a number of reasons you don’t process your own game. You might not know how, or you might think it takes too long. Most likely, you might not realize all the benefits of doing it yourself. Besides, the local processor didn’t cut your trails, sit in your stand, or take your deer. Why let him process your meat?
Let’s say your butcher charges you $75 for basic processing. Add in a few special cuts, some sausage and jerky, and you’re at $100 in a heartbeat. If you take two deer a season, first, congrats. Second, that’s $200 every year, for as long as you hunt. And that price will only creep up as the butcher follows inflation.
If, instead of shelling out $200 plus bucks every year, you invested a few hundred dollars in a Big Bite grinder, you’d break even in just a couple seasons. The Big Bite grinder is a quality piece of equipment that’s going to last you a lifetime. So, after that, you can put that money back in your pocket every year. You might even spend it on yourself. A new scope, some better camo, even a new pair of long underwear that doesn’t have holes in them.
That feeling of camaraderie you get out in the woods with a group of friends hunting doesn’t have to end when you drive home. Gather your family and your buddies around the table, crack open a few cold ones, and get to work making food for the family. Split the cost of the equipment among friends and you’ll be ahead of the game from the get-go. Teach your kids why certain parts of the animal are better for certain kinds of dishes, let them decide how to season their jerky, even let them pick out their own steaks. This is something the whole family can enjoy.
There’s a level of personalization available when you’re doing it yourself that you’ll never get from a butcher. Besides, the task doesn’t have to feel like a chore if you finish the work by firing up the grill.
Make a contest out of the experience and let whoever makes the best sausage take home an extra backstrap. As long as you’re feeling generous, that is.
First, your workstation at home will be as clean as you make it. Second, you’ll never end up with someone else’s deer in your sausage. It can happen when your deer is one of dozens going through a processor’s grinder. You should probably ask your own processor if it’s your deer he’s handing back to you, but be prepared: you may not like what you hear. Third, you’ll get more meat back when you process it yourself. That sounds a lot better than a back room you never see, part of some other guys deer in your meat, and losing 15 percent (or more) of your meat to the cutting room floor.
If you’re still on the fence, just think long and hard about the hours of preparation and effort you put in to your hunt. Consider the pride you feel when serving up a feast to your family that you made possible with your own two hands. Now, imagine sprinkling just a little more pride on top of that. Can you taste it? Because when you go from field to table, skipping the processor altogether, nothing comes close.
Don’t take our word for it, see for yourself when you start processing your own game this year.