Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Last Deer of the Season

Here in this part of Michigan, late antlerless deer season lasted until January first.  DH braved the very cold temperatures, and went out hunting, as we were only at 2 deer in the freezer for the season.  Because of my work schedule at the horse farm, the holidays, and our trip down to SC to visit with DS1 and his family, I hadn't made it out to the hunting blinds at all for late antlerless.  First time in at least six or seven years.  So we were not up to the quota of venison we'd like to be at when deer season ends.

Thankfully, he was successful that very last day of season, taking a medium sized doe (she dressed out at 100 pounds).  Then we faced the dilemma of late late season hunting:  what to do with her!  It was bitterly cold outside, with quite a strong wind, making washing her out with the hose after gutting a difficult task (a hose is kept in basement during hunting season, and when needed, hooked up to the laundry sink and run out the door of the laundry room to the patio, where the deer get rinsed once it's too cold to use the outdoor faucet on the south side of the house). We knew that once hung in the barn, even out of the wind, she would be frozen solid if we left her to hang and age the meat our customary 2-5 days before cutting her up.

So we hung her in the barn overnight, DH got off work an hour or two early on the 2nd, and we set to skinning her as soon as he got home and put some warm outdoor clothes on.  Her hide was frozen stiff at that point, and she had red icicles where the rinse water had frozen even before it had a chance to run clear the night before.

Both DH and I were pretty dang cold by the time we got her hide pried off.  Not the best skinning job we've ever done, and I ended up with deer hair in my face, which is not a good thing since I am allergic to it.  The meat doesn't bother me, and I can touch the hides, but if a loose hair gets in my face, I'm done for!

Sure enough, I could feel my right eye swell, my nose start to run, and the sneezing fits began.  DH decided we should just take her in the house to quarter her, and so he took her down from the hook the gambrel was on, and carried her to the house while I ran for my bottle of Benadryl!

Here's one great example of how we at this little place here are not quite typical.  Because typically, you would never find a decapitated, skinless deer laying on the kitchen island with it's front legs cut off at the knees and it's hind legs still hooked through the tendons to a gambrel.  But at this little place here. . . .

Since we did want to let the meat age a bit before we went ahead and deboned it, cut it up and packaged it, all that we did that day was to remove the hind legs at the hocks (and laugh at them sticking hoof-first out of the trash can--butchering can make you a bit loony.  Or maybe the cold had reached our brains. . .), and cut the doe into quarters.  Each quarter we put into a plastic bag and then set down in the cellar, where the temperature was closer to 40 degrees than zero degrees.

tools of the trade, washed up and ready to be put away after quartering out the deer 
(and ingredients for a batch of granola about to be made sitting on the island)

The quarters aged in the cellar sat until the fourth, when DH finished cutting them up.  He decided that he was going to take all the burger meat and make sausage out of it.  So out came the spices and the curing salt, and we mixed up nearly forty pounds of meat for hunter sticks.  (Yes, I do think that was rather overkill, I mean forty pounds?!?  Guess what DH is going to be getting in his lunch box for the next year!)

Then, after the meat had sat with its seasonings mixed in for 24 hours, DH and DS2 set to work stuffing the sausage casings.  Unfortunately, the hunter stick casings DH had bought in November with his brand new stuffer were not enough to stuff 20-some pounds of hunter sticks in November and another forty in January.  In other words, he ran out of casings shortly before running out of seasoned meat.

But never fear!  We have a dehydrator!  And lots of people make jerky out of ground meat (just never us, at least, until that point).  So he just grabbed a couple of dehydrator trays and continued cranking sausage meat out of the stuffer and onto the trays, sans casing.

Well, after 'cooking' in the dehydrator, we had some sausage/really tender jerky that tasted wonderful.  Even if it does look rather more like something your cat leaves in it's litter box than anything you'd voluntarily eat.

Such is life at this little place here ;0)

No comments:

Post a Comment