Until I cleaned the Pheasants on Friday, I’d never taken a blade to a recently living animal. However, I have dealt with a roaster chicken, so the pheasant wasn’t so new. Processing Six on the other hand was like a combination of a slasher flick and Predator. I’d read the fundamentals twice, once in Jackson Lander’s Beginners Guide to Hunting Deer for Food and once in Hunt, Gather, Cook, but in this area, reading and doing are very different.
What follows below is a very graphic look at what was done. Please don’t click through if you have a weak stomach.
there are several methods to turn deer into meat depending on the temperature, the shot placement, the location, and the desired cuts. In hot weather, on an animal that has potentially been gun shot, most books recommend immediately gutting the animal in the field, however, as it wasn’t chilly, and Six’s guts were certainly intact, we opted to transport the carcass back to the garage for processing.
For this task, Gary and I were assisted by his brother Seth, cousin Quintin, and girlfriend Leah. Leah was also our impromptu crime scene photographer.
Gary showing me where to slice the hide on the hind legs. Do NOT slice the Achilles Tendon:
Slicing the ligaments connecting the lower leg bone to the upper legbone:
Gary making the incision from the junk to the breastbone:
Gary scooping the guts out:
This liver would be tomorrow’s lunch:
Hanging the carcass by the achilles tendons:
Skinning the beast:
decapitating the beast:
skinned and decapitated:
the dog loves this stuff:
Head, ready to be skinned:
Gary, skinning the skull:
The process was less disgusting than I thought it would be. Yes we got pretty bloody, but it was okay. A few keys to making this work well. Don’t cut or nick the guts, that’s gross. Don’t nick the bladder. Don’t get hair on the meat. Seth gave me a good pointer. Call the right hand your “knife hand” and the left hand your “hair hand”. The right hand touchs knife and meat, left hand touches hair, good system. Since I’m european mounting the skull, it needed to be skinned. Gary basically did that.
With the meat skinned and gutted, it will hang outdoors in the cold weather for a two days before we cut off the backstraps, tenderloins and hams. We didn’t save any sweetbreads (Sorry, Guy). I plan to take those 3 cuts, hard freeze them and bring them in my checked luggage back to NYC for beast feast. The rest of the carcass I’ll send to a local processor to have made into jerky and venison sausage. That I’ll have ground shipped to NYC.
Today, Kathie cooked up the heart and liver for lunch. It was delicious. First time I’ve ever eaten something I’ve killed.