Category Archives: venison

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What to do with venison

DH and I like to go out deer hunting, but before we met, I hadn’t ever been before. So, it has been a definite learning process, any my penchant for being impatient and wanting to rush everything is not helpful for hunting. I love being out there with him, though, and I am slowly getting better

In the years past, my approach to deer hunting has been “throw some lead out there and see if something will hit something.” I know that isn’t the right way to hunt, but that is how I have been doing it. I don’t know how I do it, but somehow I have been shooting the legs off the deer. One year I hit the front right leg, it bounded off, and then one more shot blew out the two back knees. That brought it down, and we had to cut the throat to kill it. Not the best meat that way…the adrenalin/blood still being pumped through the meat make it taste bad.

This year, DH took me dove hunting; my first time. At first I was doing it like I had before, boom boom boom, hoping something might hit something. We went a few times, and I calmed down, got more patient, and was able to start taking them down cleanly.

So, this year, when we went deer hunting, on the way out, I told DH that that is how I wanted to do it. Ignore my buck fever, don’t just throw lead out there, be calm, take a good shot, don’t jerk the gun, and make a clean kill. We went to one pasture, drove to one side of the pasture and determined that the wind was from the wrong direction to start hunting there, so we drove to the other side. We got out, I looked up, and a buck was looking at me about 100 yards away, broadside. I said “should I shoot it?” DH said it was awful small, but I wanted to shoot it. Actually, I thought I would miss, but I wanted to take the shot. Calm, aim, squeeze. He took a few steps and we lost him over the little hill. The doe that was beside him also went down that little hill, and ran down, across the ravine, and back up the other side. I thought I had missed and was very disappointed. DH said, no, let’s go look. Walked over the little hill, and he was down, two steps away from where I shot it.

The rack was pretty small, but the body was good sized. And more importantly, I shot it in the chest and by the time we got to it, it was pretty much out, and when we drug it to the pickup, he was dead. A good clean kill. Exactly how I wanted this year’s hunt to go, so for me, it was a successful hunt.
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I know, I know. What a small rack that deer has! But the body is big, and the hunt was successful.

I felt bad. DH didn’t even have time to do anything. The hunt was over like 30 seconds after getting to the pasture. At least we have another season starting in January, though it is doe only.

We started to dress it, and I do my own cleaning, except DH likes to break the pelvis with the ax for me. He also give me pointers and helps hold things aside if I need it, but I wield the knife. This shows that the bullet went in to the chest. A perfect shot! :)
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We field dressed it using the bale bed (seriously, is there anything they can’t do?), and then took it to his parents’ house to hang for a few days, after rinsing with cold water first.
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I wanted to go help with the butchering, but I was working and DH had a free afternoon, so he took Boobock with him. With his Dad’s help, they got it done in a few hours, before I could get off work. They used 2 15 quart totes to put the meat in and froze it in his parents’ freezer, as both of ours are full of pork and beef.

In previous years, we have had someone else butcher it for us and turn it into summer sausage and jerky, but honestly, that was expensive and we still have some in the freezer from last year and the year before. We have also tried to grill steaks before, but it turned out very tough. That was before we got this screaming deal on a $300 grill for $80 on the local buy/sell/trade website, but still, I have never really had any deer that tasted awesome. We tried using salt to make it more tender, but we used way to much and it just tasted like a salt lick.

Do-do-do-do! Jackie Clay to the rescue. In her “Growing and Canning Your Own Food” book, she says to can it just like beef or any other meat, and it will taste wonderful.

This is my first year to can any meat at all. I started with some chicken legs/thighs that were on sale for $.88 a pound. I put 4 packages of that in the big roasting pan I borrowed from my mom, filled half way with water, and cooked at 350 for a few hours until the chicken was falling from the bone. Using Erica Strauss’s hint she uses for peeling tomatoes, I used a pair of kitchen gloves to protect my hands from the hot meat, and I separated it all from the bone. I washed up some pint jars, added 1/2 tsp salt to the bottom of the jar, filled with chicken, used the broth that was made when I cooked the chicken, only to within 1″ of the top, mind, and pressure canned for 75 minutes (would be 90 minutes for quarts).

DH loved it. Loved it! He would use it for chicken noodle soup, crack one open and eat from the jar, and I started using it for chicken pot pie, and we both loved that.

Next I tried some sirloin. We got a steer butchered and we always have trouble with the sirloins coming out dry and tasteless on the grill. Again, before the $80 steal of a grill, but still, other cuts were better for grilling, we found. So I took 5 of them, thawed, cut into 1″ or smaller pieces, browned them in an electric skillet but not cooked all the way through, hot packed into clean pint jars, made a thin broth out of the leavings, added 1/2 tsp salt to each jar, and then filled with the broth, up to 1″ of the top. Pressure canned for 75 minutes (would be 90 minutes for quarts).

Again, out of this world. DH would just eat it like soup, heating it in the microwave first. I actually made soup with it with onions/carrots/celery/garlic, and it was divine. And again, beef pot pie, using 2 jars each time, and making 2 pies, one for that night and one for later. Yummo!

Hey, that looks like a pattern! Salt plus browned meat into jars makes a very tender, very good meal.

So, that is what I did with the venison. I had DH’s mom take the deer out on the two days ago and put it in her fridge, as she had room, and thaw it, and I worked on it yesterday. The one difference I was afraid of was that deer have more tendons and something called “silver skin” that coats some of the muscle, and I know that you have to get rid of that in order to have good meat. Good thing DH just got me a new set of knives for Christmas! I just took my time, peeled that silver skin off everything, and chunked into 3/4″ or so pieces. Anything that looked questionable got tossed.
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We decided to brown it like we did the sirloin. You can raw pack it, but Jackie says it looks better in the jar if you brown it first, so we listened to her and browned it. Didn’t cook all the way through, just browned the outside, using lard so it wouldn’t stick to the bottom.
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DH even got in on the act.
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We decided to do quarts this time, so we used 1 tsp salt, added the meat, filled with boiling water/broth, and canned. Quarts = 90 minutes of processing.

They all sealed, so we got 7 quarts of meat all ready to make…venison pot pie! DH couldn’t stand waiting anymore, so he cracked one open today just to taste. It is amazing. The best tasting venison I’ve ever had, and tender. Definitely the way we are going to process the other tote, and if we do get another deer during the late season, we’ll do it to that one too!
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