Learn to Debone this Cut of Venison that Often Gets Discarded

Hunters often have a shrug and “Dunno, what do we do with them?” outlook when it comes to utilizing a deer’s shoulders after they’ve killed a buck or doe.

If they’re using a gun and shoot the shoulder or just behind the scapula in the gap, it can leave shards of bone or bloodied meat. Bowhunters who thump the lungs or make that perfect heart shot typically don’t have this issue but still may not be keen on utilizing the shoulders due to the big scapula and thinner — in their mind — bits of meat that has a lot of silver skin and tendon.

The shoulders shouldn’t be discarded, though. There’s plenty of meat on them for jerky or smaller roasts. Or, as longtime chef and hunter Scott Leysath notes here, you can clean up the shoulder and then cook it slowly until the bone easily comes out. The remaining tender meat can be shredded for sandwiches or tacos.

In this cool video, Scott Rea shows us how to take apart a shoulder to get the most out of it. Rea’s videos are popular for deer and other game, and he’s deft with a knife. Some tips he provides include:

— Be sure to use sharp knives and one you can maneuver easily to remove the meat, trim it and get it in the best shape for meals.

— Have a good workspace so you can move around easily and move the shoulder around for better, cleaner cuts.

— Be organized with piles of meat for jerky, stew, other bits to chop for burger or jerky.

— Keep the workspace clean. Have a discard bowl so you’re not mixing in nasty bits with the good meat.


— Don’t rush things so you can maximize your efforts to get the most meat possible.


Check out this great recipe submitted by D&DH reader Bill Glade. It’s one of several recipes in our popular “We Kill It, We Grill It” cookbook available in ShopDeerHunting.com, along with others.

Pulled Venison Shoulder
Front Shoulder
Beef broth
Sliced onions
Barbecue sauce, or favorite marinade

Take the entire front shoulder, with bone in, and put it in a covered roasting pan. Cover with water, beef broth and sliced onions. Cover the pan. Cook on low heat on the grill until the meat falls off the bone or the bone slides out of the shoulder without any problem. Separate the meat from the fat and gristle. Pull apart the meat and put it back in the pan with the onions. Keep 1 or 2 cups of the broth and put that into the pan with the meat.

Add the barbecue sauce or your favorite sauce at this time if you desire, and stir it well into the venison. Cover it and return to the grill, again on low heat, to allow it to absorb the flavor of the sauce.

Serve on warm buns with your favorite side dishes!