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 firstname.lastname@example.org