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To what extent do you utilize your wild game? #7985548 09/23/20 06:43 PM
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I would imagine that many of us utilize our game to an "average" extent. Most guys I know, when they kill a deer, either butcher themselves or
send the deer to a processor for a decent return of boneless meat, and may keep the cape/antlers depending on their size. A smaller portion might keep the heart/liver and other organ meats.
I've met some that will keep the hides off of animals they don't cape and get them tanned, but a guy can only have so many deer rugs, and tanning can be either expensive, time consuming, or
both depending on what route you take.

Then you might meet the one or two dudes that keeps literally everything. Bones for stock, hooves for gun racks or whatever, antlers for knives, sinew/silver for traditional archery, hair for fly tying, etc.

Personally I butcher most of my stuff myself, pretty much only keep the heart as far as organ meat goes (not a fan of liver), keep some of the bones for family members' dogs, and most of the buck skulls for European mounts.

That's pretty much as far as I go, hunting only 2-3X a year, attending school full time, working, and renting a small apartment next to my university. Even with all that, during a successful year (I usually go for management/meat hunts), I manage to eat deer meat about 70% of the year, with most of the other 30% consisting of nights out with the girlfriend, social obligations, dinners with people that don't eat deer, etc. I've been experimenting with slow cooking shanks (previously I would just grind them), egg tanning buckskin for the heck of it (with decent success...real tedious), and pressure cooking deer ribs.

I was just curious on how much wild game makes up y'alls diet, and if any of you have any unorthodox methods of utilizing parts of the animal that usually ends up in the gut pile or scrap bin.

Re: To what extent do you utilize your wild game? [Re: JRSUSMC94] #7985554 09/23/20 06:48 PM
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On one hunt a guy said "The coyotes and buzzards would starve to death if they depended on me to leave scraps."


Sometimes it's hard being me! But somebody has to do it.
Re: To what extent do you utilize your wild game? [Re: JRSUSMC94] #7985571 09/23/20 06:59 PM
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Diet? A ton. This week alone, I'll eat breakfast casserole three different days that I make with venison breakfast sausage. Two lunches were spaghetti that used venlson ground meat. Tonight's meal (and several lunches over the next week) will be pronghorn Carne Guisada. I've got pronghorn and venison chili grind, I'm about to make 25lbs of chili on October 3. This weekend I'll likely grill some pronghorn steaks. I've got link sausage and summer sausage as well. We eat wild game around half the time, honestly.

I do not utilized the entire animal, though. Hide/bones are discarded, antlers may go on the wall (but I mostly shoot does). We shoot a lot of deer each year. They are mostly done by the processor as we also tend to shoot several at a time and I don't have the cooler space or time to process that many at once.


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Re: To what extent do you utilize your wild game? [Re: JRSUSMC94] #7985608 09/23/20 07:23 PM
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As far as individual animals, I am making an effort every year to use a little bit more of the animal. I take just about every scrap of muscle, including shanks, neck and rib meat. I really like braised shanks and neck. Most rib meat just gets ground, though I am still working on a method I like for cooking them. I take liver, tongue, heart, caul fat, and kidneys. I take long bones for stock. Currently, I leave most hides, the digestive tract, spine, skull and pelvis. Next, I want to try to find a practical way to harvest blood, and am trying to work up the courage to clean my own intestines for sausage casings. Maybe this year.

As part of my diet, it really depends a lot on the year and what tags I draw. I rarely hunt private land in Texas, so there is a lot of variability. The years my kids were born, I didn't get out as much, and ate less game. Last year, it was going to be a very heavy game year with only the occasional beef steak, but I lost a freezer in July and have been on grocery store meat since. This year, I drew elk and mule deer tags, but missed out on TPWD antlerless hunts for the first time in quite a while. So, it will likely be feast or famine depending on how I do on my out of state hunts. Throw in a few hogs, and I could almost completely avoid buying meat this year if everything goes right.

Re: To what extent do you utilize your wild game? [Re: JRSUSMC94] #7985722 09/23/20 08:12 PM
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I usually take one Deer a year and make sausage.

Re: To what extent do you utilize your wild game? [Re: JRSUSMC94] #7986006 09/23/20 11:40 PM
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Nature wastes nothing. Just sayin'.

Re: To what extent do you utilize your wild game? [Re: JRSUSMC94] #7986030 09/24/20 12:01 AM
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I keep the meat to eat and if it’s a good specimen the head and horns/antlers to adorn my walls.

I rarely buy meat, if I eat meat at the house there is a 95% chance it’s something I shot. But, I have a heavy travel schedule and three kids all in sports so I do eat out a ton.


When I was younger I would try to keep as many keepsakes as I could from animals I caught/killed ( every set of horns, had the pig tail from my first bow kill, Turkey beards, even had a stingray tail from a 30 lb Ray I caught, rabbits feet, etc) but over the years it just became to much clutter and I had to liquidate. Last year I gave away every set of skull capped deer horns I had.




For it is not the quarry that we truly seek, but the adventure.
Re: To what extent do you utilize your wild game? [Re: JRSUSMC94] #7986626 09/24/20 02:13 PM
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We fill 3 freezers with elk, deer and antelope every year, last fall a bighorn was included.
We make our own sausage, german and summer. When we get the chance we go down to Texas for hogs in early spring.
We also process our own animals.
Hides are not saved but skulls are. Bones go to a friends dog if he wants them.
An occasional beef steak is a treat for us, we mainly eat wild game meat year round.

Re: To what extent do you utilize your wild game? [Re: JRSUSMC94] #7988191 09/25/20 07:07 PM
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We eat almost exclusively game meat throughout the year, probably 6+ animals depending on how good the WT deer season was. Family of 4 (including two teenage boys that love venison), plus I'm pretty liberal sharing my bounty with elderly neighbors and family members and friends throughout the year. I both process my own animals or use processors, depending on the animal and size. We also eat most of the animal, including some of the offal and cuts like the shanks. Very little is wasted, and that goes for hogs as well. I may have a couple of hides tanned throughout the year (axis, or something interesting) and keep the skulls with antlers/horns for Euro mounts. A great friend who owns a ranch that has exotics on it also shares the occasional axis, blackbuck and aoudad meat, all of which is welcome and quickly consumed.

Both my wife and I cook our game meat in a wide variety of ways, using family recipes, cookbooks (Afield by Jesse Griffiths, Buck, Buck Moose by Hank Shaw, Meateater by Steven Rinella, Venison Every Day by Allie Doran) or sometimes modifying regular recipes by changing to game meat (I like the Kenji Lopez-Alt stuff).

Over the last 12 months I shot three WT (one buck, two does), an axis doe, a Nilgai bull and a couple of large hogs, so we were blessed. Still have plenty of Nilgai meat and a bit of hog, but mostly out of venison. Fingers crossed for a good season!


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