Locavore Blog: Using the Whole Deer

I mentioned last week that I’m interested in possibly processing my deer myself — along with the help of a few friends that have done it before. I’m not entirely sure why I feel this way, but it is definitely something that I’m considering. Much of my rationale behind wanting to hunt is because it puts me in charge of my own food. If I get a deer, why would I want to turn that deer over to someone else?

I remember seeing the piles of bucks awaiting the over-burdened deer processors in Michigan during deer season. Talk about overwhelming, and I always wondered how everything was kept straight and processed so quickly. I know these are professional butchers, but with it being such a short and busy season, speed is necessary to turn around as many deer as possible.

Photo from Stealth Cam's Facebook Page.

Photo from Stealth Cam’s Facebook Page.

Have you butchered your own deer? Would you do it again?

Should I decide to go that route, there are so many different products available to help with the processing. Weston Products offers a good selection of commercial grade game processing equipment — general meat processing supplies like food grade silicon spray and gloves (yes! I will definitely want to wear some gloves!!), meat grinders, and storage materials so that the meat doesn’t get any freezer burn.

Meat processing supplies offered by Weston Products.

Meat processing supplies offered by Weston Products.

But there’s more than just meat when you get a deer. I’m excited to get a shoulder mount to hang on the other side of our fireplace (across from my husband’s). I’m also excited to learn about tanning the hides. I have a friend who has experience doing this and promised to teach me should I get my deer. Once the hide is tanned, I’m not sure what I will do it with…we already have cozy deer hide gloves from my husband’s deer. Maybe I can make a bag, belt or headband to wear often that will remind me of this awesome experience. I’m also interested in creating some more natural jewelry with the scraps, similar to the earrings I made with some of my husband’s deer hide.

Earrings made from deer hide and gem stones.

Earrings made from deer hide and gem stones.

What do you do with your deer hide? Do you use the whole animal?

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Kristen Schmitt

About Kristen Schmitt

Kristen writes articles on hunting, wildlife, nutrition, sustainable agriculture, and environmental issues and her articles have appeared in National Geographic, Modern Farmer, Deer & Deer Hunting, Food Politic, Mother Earth News, Modern Hunter, Utne Reader, Vermont’s Local Banquet, and Urban Times.Kristen and her family moved away from metropolitan Detroit and into the Green Mountains of Vermont for a realignment of priorities and a focus on family and sustainable living. A new bowhunter, Kristen recently completed a DVD entitled, “Beginner’s Guide To Archery For Women” that will be released this fall through F&W Media.She is a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America.

One thought on “Locavore Blog: Using the Whole Deer

  1. cowboystl1

    i am just a poor hunter i had to save and buy on sale my grinder and food aver is the best way to store it vacuum sealed is the way to go most of the hide and bones go to nature i do make some carvings out of bone on occasion

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