Wanted; Deer Processing Horror Stories!

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Wanted; Deer Processing Horror Stories!

Postby Schmidt » Mon Mar 26, 2012 8:10 am

by Dan Schmidt

The truck's windshield wipers could barely keep up with the steady downpour as my buddy and I drove the back roads at first light. It was Tuesday morning, and we were on our way to the meat processor to drop off a doe he had shot the previous evening. Gun season was in full swing, but the weather didn't indicate it. Unseasonably warm weather had blanketed the area since the opener on Saturday.

I was still on an emotional high from the weekend. Barely an hour into the hunt, I had already filled my buck and doe tags. It was warm that morning, too, and we didn't waste any time running those deer to the processor. Despite my concerns about the weather, the processor told me he'd hang my deer in his walk-in cooler ASAP.

Fast forward to Tuesday. Upon arriving at the processor, we were told to drive past the coolers and back the truck up to his barn. "The cooler's full, but we'll get on that one right away," he said. Imagine my surprise when we got out of the truck, walked up to the barn and saw several dozen deer stacked on top of each other on plastic tarps across the barn floor. Underneath that pile were my buck and doe from Saturday.

I was more than disturbed. Livid would be a better term. After helping me move my deer to the cooler, my buddy decided not to drop his deer off after all. We later drove to a grocery store, bought several bags of ice and packed it into the chest cavity of his doe. He cut his hunt short and drove home (three hours) so he could drop his deer off at a professional processor where he had done business previously.

The experience bothered me for days. When I picked up my venison the following weekend, I couldn't help but wonder how much went to waste. I should have received more than 100 pounds of processed venison. I went home with just over two grocery bags full. Needless to say, my family and I were gun shy every time we took a pack of that venison out of the freezer. We didn't have to throw any of it away, but it certainly gave us reason to pause every time we opened a pack of it!

As they say, live and learn. I used to process all of my own venison. And the day will soon come when I do that again. However, for now, I'm forced to take my deer to a different processor. Since several bad experiences like the one mentioned above, I've sought out the services of a certified processing business. They not only do a professional job, they ensure I get my own venison back, and they turn around every deer within a week.

We know that many Deer & Deer Hunting fans have had similar experiences with deer processing. What's your horror story? We want to hear it! Share your story with us, and we will compile the best (or should we say WORST) stories in a special report. If we use your story, you will receive a gift from D&DH.

You can share your story by responding to this forum post, or you can email it to me at dan.schmidt@fwmedia.com.

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Re: Wanted; Deer Processing Horror Stories!

Postby msbadger » Mon Mar 26, 2012 9:36 am

Dan your a better person than I...no way would I have touched that meat
This is not first hand experience but it did make the papers many years ago actually the town we use to live in....A very similar incident in Western NY at a very popular processor...in fact he was within a mile of the Reg 8 offices of the DEC here...I believe they got involved in this sad incident...temps warmed and deer were piled up out back...but the deer all went bad...everyone lost their takes...We have not sent our deer out for many many years...just too risky ;)
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Re: Wanted; Deer Processing Horror Stories!

Postby Schmidt » Mon Mar 26, 2012 12:02 pm

msbadger wrote:Dan your a better person than I...no way would I have touched that meat

LOL Ms. I'm certainly not better. I just lack common sense sometimes! Thanks for your insights. --Dan

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Re: Wanted; Deer Processing Horror Stories!

Postby Deebz » Mon Mar 26, 2012 12:38 pm

I've never had a bad experience with quality of meat coming back from a processor, but I also do all of my own butchering. I will take cubed or ground deer to a guy to be made into summer sausage and deer sticks.

My cousin one time took a deer to the local meat locker and pretty much had the whole thing turned into sausage and sticks. The quality was fine, but the $300 price tag when he went to pick it up was a bit of a shock. I wasn't there when he took the deer in, but I think he may have been rooked a bit on what it should actually have cost. He was only 17 at the time and really didn't know what he was doing for sure...
"When a hunter is in a tree stand with high moral values and with the proper hunting ethics and richer for the experience, that hunter is 20 feet closer to God." ~Fred Bear

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Re: Wanted; Deer Processing Horror Stories!

Postby Sopchoppy » Mon Mar 26, 2012 1:54 pm

As for the $300 tab on the sausage, depends on how many lbs. he got. The going rate is usually $3.00 a pound. The first deer I took was a 7pt. that field dressed 105 lbs. Dropped it off at the only processor on my way home. When I picked up the meat, I weighed it when I got home and had 45 lbs. Thought I should have had about 10 lbs more, there was not any bloodshot meat as he was hit in the rib cage. Maybe I was expecting too much, but ever since, I have processed my own.

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Re: Wanted; Deer Processing Horror Stories!

Postby kellory » Mon Mar 26, 2012 2:29 pm

The only problem I can remember, is when I dropped off a small buck and got back a doe. I didn't much care for the small rack, and the meat was likely about the same, but it seemed slapdash and careless. Hoerver, I have never seen a processor who seemed to have a fool proof system for tell who's deer was who's. I no longer use that guy. As a group, we process our own, but when solo or short of time, I may drop one off. Here is a follow up question, " Knowing you can not get it processed while you wait, How would you like to see you deer handled/ processed/ treated. ?" The guy I use now will skin it, run a torch over it to crisp any stray hairs, wash it, then hang it for about 20 minutes before heading into the cooler , all on the same trolley system and power winch. I assume it transferred to another hook inside the cooler, That would make sense, but I can not confirm that. Average cost per deer @$80.
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Re: Wanted; Deer Processing Horror Stories!

Postby Woods Walker » Mon Mar 26, 2012 6:16 pm

In over 43 years of hunting I've had two animals comercially cut. An antelope, and a mule deer. It goes without saying that I did MY part as far as the field care and cooling of the carcasses were concerned. They were all cut at different places. All the other game that I;ve killed I've cut myself.

The antelope was very good.

The mule deer was inedible to the point that my DOG wouldn't eat the meat. (Most of that deer was made into burger, so who knows who's meat I actually got, and how it was cared for.)

Needless to say, I will never again let my animals be cut by anyone but myself if at all possible. I just flat don't trust anyone to take the care that I give the meat that I will be eating. If I cut it, I KNOW that it's clean, and whatever get's packaged is definately edible.

With the exception of a few whitetails that I killed as a kid in New Jersey, and a dozen or so head of mule deer and antelope that I killed while living in Wyoming, all the rest of my deer have been Illinois cornfeds. You'd really have to WORK at making them taste bad!!!!

There was a place in northern Illinois that was pretty well known for it's snack meats and such that were made from venison. One year when the place that my buddies and I used for grinding deer scrap for snack meats stopped doing it (and they were VERY good at it!) they tried this other place. Well.....being the good friend and all around nice guy that I am :mrgreen: .....I offered to take the scrap to this place because it wasn't all that far from me. When I went in there I about got sick, and if you knew me you'd understand just how disgusting that would have to be! "Dirty" doesn't describe it. FILTHY would come closer, but even that would be parsing words. I didn't drop off all the meat scrap. Just part of it. When they got it back, the summer sausage had HAIR in it!!!! At least the hair you could see. God knows what else was in it, and I wasn't about to find out either.

For those of you that live in northern Illinois, it WASN'T Ream's in Elburn. That was the place that stopped doing it, and a sad day for all that was! Ream's is still there, and although he doesn't do wild game anymore, if you are in the area stop in anyway....and bring plenty of money. It's a grillers paradise.
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Re: Wanted; Deer Processing Horror Stories!

Postby Cut N Run » Mon Mar 26, 2012 8:16 pm

I have ~3 deer per year professionally processed for about 15 years running and many more in the years prior to that. I'm fortunate that I have had some very good processors prepare meat for me. Sadly, one of the best processors I took deer to for many years passed away one summer, which left me searching for a suitable replacement. On the advice of a hunter I barely knew (mistake #1), I took a deer to a processor a few counties away, which was almost an hour drive for me each way. That processor's shop was within 15 miles of the house of a friend of mine, so I got to stop by and visit my friend after dropping the deer off. I left the processor my 3 phone numbers and how I wanted the meat prepared on the shop's information sheet. I specifically asked him to call me when the deer was done so I could make the trip to pick it up. He assured me it would be no problem and he would leave a message if he couldn't reach me directly. A couple of the better processors I have used the services of before would age the deer for a week in a meat locker that the temperature kept just above freezing before they would start cutting. I assumed this new processor would do the same (mistake #2). I waited a week before calling and expected to hear that they would begin cutting my deer in the next few days. Instead, I got a rude response from the processor's assistant who asked me why it had taken me so long to come pick my deer up and that venison was taking up valuable freezer space (What?!?!?!). I requested to speak to the shop owner and got almost the exact line from him. The shop owner angrily told me that if I didn't pick up the venison that day, he was going to donate my venison to Hunters For The Hungry. That processor never called me (I had the phone company check my home, office, and cell phone records), so why exactly was I given a form to fill out with my contact info for the processor to contact me by if he had no intention of using it? I was fortunate that my friend who lived closer to the shop that me was able to go pick it up that day & keep it in his freezer for me until the next day when I was able to go get it. That one deer was one deer too many for that processor to get of mine.

I told my experience with that processor to another hunter friend of mine who also had taken some deer to that same processor. Only his deer had been donated, without him ever receiving a phone call to confirm the deer was done. Now, I go out of my way to tell people not to even think about using the services that processor. I wouldn't touch him with a 10 foot pole.

I happily take my deer to Norman Kirby in Chapel Hill who does a great job. He is timely and somehow manages to call me when my deer are ready...imagine that.

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Re: Wanted; Deer Processing Horror Stories!

Postby Schmidt » Tue Mar 27, 2012 6:53 am

Cut-N-Run: Wow, that certainly qualifies as a horror story. I've heard similar examples over the years, but nothing quite like that ...only a week and they were upset that you hadn't come back? Wow, that is incredibly rude. Keep the stories coming, everyone! It's great to hear that so many of you process your own deer.

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Re: Wanted; Deer Processing Horror Stories!

Postby gatodoc » Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:04 am

Having been trained in slaughterhouse inspection and meat inspection, I sometimes worry about what I'm eating from USDA controlled processors. I don't intend to put anything in my mouth that's been handled by someone with no over-site and/or formal training whatsoever.

Therefore, I process (debone and cut up my own). It's not that hard to do and if one screws up, there's meat for jerky or grind...:)


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