There is nothing better than eating an animal that you harvested, but butchering the thing by yourself can seem like an impossible task. If you have never butchered a game animal yourself, I recommend you give it a shot and see how you do. It is hard to mess up, and the result can be the best cuts of meat without having someone else do it for you! Let’s look at the different parts:
Trimming and Cleaning
With every part of the animal that you are butchering, you will want to keep it as clean as possible by picking off any stray hairs that you find, as well as leaves or dirt that might be on the meat. Once you get it cleaned, you will now want to trim away any pieces of fat from the meat. While it doesn’t need to be perfect, this can help keep the meat clean and get rid of any gamy taste.
One of the most coveted cuts of meat on any animal is the loin (commonly referred to as the backstrap) that runs along each side of the spine. These will go from the hips all the way up to the neck. After the loins are properly removed by slowly working your knife along the spine, you can cut them into smaller sections or even sliced them into steaks.
The front legs have a few options, although they tend to be tougher than the rest of the meat and many hunters will grind them into burgers. Another option is to simply cut the front legs into sections and use this meat for jerky meat to slice. These large sections of front legs can also be slow-cooked into roasts or chili that allows them to get tender and not be so tough.
Butchering the neck is super easy, and you simply need to take your knife and run it along with the neck bones all the way to the windpipe. Once the neck meat is removed, it can be used similar to the front legs and cut into jerky, roasts, or ground into a burger.
The hindquarters can be the most difficult to butcher. First, find the ball joints where the legs attach to the pelvis and carefully insert your knife to release them. These can then be cut down by following the different muscle groups and cutting them into larger portions. Hind legs are most commonly cut into steaks and roasts, which gives them some of the most versatility of any cut of meat on an animal.
And there you have it! Butchering your own animal doesn’t have to be hard if you stick to the same simple groups of meat and take your time.
For more great ideas on how to fish and hunt from the experts, check out the awesome articles on our Bradley Smoker Hunting & Fishing Blog for more great tips & tricks.