To many of us the cutting and wrapping of our game is an integral part of the hunt that we do without any hesitation. To others this is a mystical thing that only a “butcher” can do.
I will try to guide you through the process of cutting a deer for your freezer with a minimal amount of equipment. We will discuss boneless cutting only as this is my preferred way and this method is the easiest to do and it takes less freezer space while providing the best cuts available. The only equipment needed will be an 8” boning knife {filleting knife will do} and a 10” or longer slicing knife. Both must be SHARP! A dull knife slips and is more prone to cause yourself injury. A good steel or sharpener is needed to keep your knives razor sharp during the process.
The first step is to skin the deer, which should have been hung from the tendon on the hind leg to stretch the large muscles. Now clean off all hair left from the skinning process. If the tenderloins {“fillet mignon”} were not removed earlier to prevent them from drying out do it now. They are next to the backbone in front of the pelvis on the inside. Cut with the boner along the spine from top to bottom and feel where the loin ends near the pelvis. Cut across the top of the loin and peel it down towards the chest. Some freeing with the boning knife may be necessary here if they are dried out. Slice the fillets into 3/4" cutlets and trim off all dried meat and fat.never cut with the grain on any cuts! Always cut across the grain or your meat will be stringy. The next cut will be to remove the “sirloin tip” this is a natural roast but may be steaked if you wish. The hind leg has a line running from the knee down on the outside. This is your start place. Cut into the leg about an inch below the knee all the way to the leg bone, turn the knife downward and follow the line on the outside while shaving the meat from the leg bone all the way past the hip joint and along the chine bone to the flank and out. Keep your knife at a 90-degree angle to the leg during this cut. There is a covering of small muscles over the tip that can be pulled off leaving a roast that resembles a goose breast. Wrap as a roast or steak by cutting across the grain. large tips may be cut into 2 roasts also by cutting across the grain in the middle. Never cut lengthwise! The trim from here goes to burger.

{randy removing sirloin tip}
{hind quarter with sirloin tip removed}

The next cut removes the front legs. They are easily sliced from the ribs by cutting against the brisket while holding them away from the body. There are no bones to cut thru here and the leg slices easily. Follow the ribcage with smooth long slices. Don’t hack. Set the legs aside for later.
{removing front leg}
Now you can remove the loins from the back. Make a cut across to the backbone at the point where the sirloin tip was removed, just below the chine bone. The spine has a ridge that sticks out. You can feel it and will notice the bumps. With your boner cut all the way along this ridge to the neck where you have removed the head. Make this cut on each side of the ridge. Cut as close to the bone as possible. Don’t hack, draw the knife in a smooth cut following the spine, trying to shave the meat from it so to speak. Now start to cut the loin muscle from the rest of the backbone from the upper end. You are removing a round muscle that may peel out by hand or may need to be cut out. Again shaving in a smooth motion follow the backbone from the lengthwise cut you just made out to the ribs. Work your way down to the neck. The loin is removed. You will have extra meat and fat on it and this can be peeled off by hand some knife work might be needed to snip a membrane or two. This is your best steak. Boneless and fatless. This muscle has a silver skin that can be filleted off now or trimmed after cutting your boneless chops. With the silver skin side down cut the chops to 3/4" thickness. They may be butter flied by making the first cut nearly thru the loin and the second cut all the way thru. This gives a cut that folds open like a butterfly’s wing. Remember, all cuts are across the muscle.
The next cut is to remove the hind from the front. The backbone can be separated here with a boning knife between the vertebrates or it can be sawed. This is at the point where the loin was separated and the sirloin tip was removed. You may want to remove all the meat that is left on the ribs/neck for the burger pot at this time. Don’t save dried out leathery meat. Trim off all dried meat from the fresh meat. That done you can debone the hind legs now or you can saw the pelvis in two and take each side to the cutting table in turn. The meat below the ankle is shank and goes for burger. The feet can be disjointed with a boning knife and tossed. You now have the hind on the cutting board. The cuts here are the sirloin, which is at the pelvis and above the hip joint. This is steak material. Next, around the leg bone are the rounds and the eye of the round. The eye is a small round shaped muscle that can be steaked / butterflied or left with the top or bottom round muscles. Remove the pelvis bone by laying the hip on cutting board pelvis up and with your boning knife slice next to the bone, staying as close as possible while removing the pelvis, disjoint the hip with the point of the knife and discard the pelvis after trimming any meat that is left for the burger pot. Remove all fat from the sirloin that you just removed. Deer fat is terrible tasting! The sirloin is 2 muscles overlapping in different directions. This can be separated and cut for stir-fry, pepper steak, left whole for a roast or steaked. The choice is yours.
With the boning knife shave the leg bone from the remaining meat, the rounds and shank. With the bone side up you can see the division of the major muscles. Separate them by cutting the connective tissue with your fingers, and minimal knife work. The muscles are easily separated and you now see the eye of the round. Separate it from the top and bottom round now. The eye is good for butterflies or pepper steak/or stew meat. The rounds are now trimmed, fat removed and the dried meat that was exposed to the air is sliced off. These can be now turned into steak, slicing across the muscle, or a roast. If the round is too big for 1 roast cut it in two “across the grain”. The ends are squared up and put to the burger pot. The remaining shank meat is cleaned up and also put in the burger pot.

{deboning hind leg}
The last is the front legs. They make poor steak and at best a pot roast can be taken here. The lower part is the shank, burger meat. Remove it from the bone and remove the heavy tendons. A pot roast can be taken from the inside of the elbow joint by slicing along the bone with the leg held vertical and following the lower leg bone thru the elbow joint and continuing up to the blade. This is also good for stew meat or burger. The rest of the leg is deboned for burger.

{12 year old "MISS MICHELLE WIILTON" cutting and triming}
This is a good time to teach your young ones that meat does not come in a package .Michelle is a great help at butchering time and has recently started hunting with her father and his friends.

Trim all fat from your burger meat. Fat will ruin it. Don’t put any dried out meat into your burger, it will affect the quality. Don’t use bloodshot meat. A small hand grinder will do a deer in no time and will pay for itself the first time you use it. This is not a hard thing to do and for me it is part of the hunt. Larger animals like moose and elk are cut the same basic way. You can add pork fat or beef fat to your burger if you wish, I don’t as it doesn’t freeze as long and changes the taste.
When wrapping don’t skimp on freezer paper. You need a minimum of two layers and remember to wrap as tightly as possible. I hope that this will help you to get the courage to learn to cut your own meat.

click here for cheryl's methode.

Pete Ward

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