Deer Processing Equipment

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I butcher all my deer, elk, and other big game at home, and over the years I’ve collected some vital deer processing equipment to help me to the job well. What follows is my guide to that gear.

Hacksaws are key deer processing tools
Hacksaws are key deer processing tools

I have never taken any of the animals I’ve hunted to a butcher. I’m not sure why, but it’s probably because a) one of the skills I learned as a cook in restaurants years ago was breaking down whole animals, mostly lamb; and b) the first guy I ever hunted deer with was my friend Tim Huber, and he wouldn’t think twice about butchering his own deer, even in a hotel room. And yes, we did indeed do that once in Choteau, Montana (and yes, we cleaned up afterwards).

Butchering to me is therapeutic, which could sound weird to people who’ve never done it.

But breaking down animals I’ve hunted is, to me, like opening a Christmas present. Each cut gets me thinking about what sort of meal I might make with it. Roasts, steaks, shanks, even the trim and stew meat and offal. My knives become an extension of my hand, quick as lightning. And at the end of it all comes time for sausage and salami, an equally satisfying process.

I get asked a lot about the deer processing equipment I use for all this. Well, here’s what I’ve learned over the years. Keep in mind that this is what works for me. I’d love to hear what other stuff you love to use, as I know there are some other great home (and professional) butchers out there.

(Keep in mind this post is for big game. I have instructions on How to Break Down a Game Bird here.)

In the Field

I’m not going to go into guns and ammo here, but for the record I shoot a Sako bolt action in .270 and run Nosler trophy grade copper ammo through it… OK, so you have a deer or pig or whatever on the ground: Now what tools will you need?

I really like a good knife with a gut hook to get things going. Not strictly necessary, but I like the way a gut hook unzips a paunch quickly. For this I use an Outdoor Edge knife, plus a field saw. Only thing you need to be careful about is understanding how sharp those scalpel blades really are. I’ve cut myself twice and barely knew it, once all the way to my knuckle. But I’d allowed myself to get distracted when that happened. Keep your eye on the ball and you’ll be amazed how easily things go with this knife.

I rarely use gambrels but they can be handy if you have big trees around. I typically skin one side of an animal, then flip it using the skin as a mat for the other side. Works fine and is great in grasslands, where there are no trees. But lots of people prefer to hoist an animal up on gambrels.

You’ll also want to pack in a game bag. The kind I just linked to is the one I like: It’s real cheesecloth, not the cheap stuff that lets flies in. Regular sealable plastic bags are handy for the heart, liver and kidneys. Zip ties are a good idea for attaching your tag, although leftover twist ties from a loaf of bread work well, too.

Deer Processing Equipment at Home

Once you get home, you need an area to work in. I use my little galley kitchen — 67 square feet including the counters — but then Holly is also a hunter so we’re cool with that. I know lots of people who set up stations in their garage, complete with stainless steel tables and special sinks. That’d be awesome, but in our deer seasons my garage can often be 95°F, which is not ideal for game processing. So for me, the kitchen is better.

You’ll want lots of cheap kitchen towels and large plastic tubs, both of which are available at your local supermarket. Have several rolls of paper towels around, too.

If you haven’t already, you need to quarter your critter. I use a pair of boning knives for most of this work as well as the fine work that follows. My go-to is an ancient stiff-bladed Old Hickory boning knife I got from my friend Elise. I’ve also used this J.A. Henckels boning knife and it’s pretty close. I like the stiff blade for most uses because it feels more substantial somehow. That said, I switch to a flexible boning knife when I remove the backstraps and slice off silverskin.

The reason is because the bend in the blade really helps you extract as much meat — or save as much in the case of silverskin removal — as possible. Flex blades tend to be thinner, too, which helps a lot. My flex blade knife of choice is the Global 6 1/4 inch flexible boning knife. I’ve been using one for many years and I find its thin blade to be perfect for fine work. The Global edge really holds, too, unlike my ancient, stiff-bladed knife, which needs to be resharpened often.

I can do almost all my butchery with just those two knives, plus my regular chef’s knife. The only other tool I need is a saw of some sort. I used to use a regular hacksaw, but I’ve graduated to a proper DEWALT cordless sawzall. I use the saw only for ribs and shanks. Everything else I can do with a knife. Keep in mind I don’t cut chops, so I don’t need the saw for that.

Hank Shaw chopping up duck feet for stock.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Storage Gear

I typically keep the broken down deer or pig or whatever in the fridge for several days before I freeze it. I find this lets the meat relax and results in more tender venison or pork down the road. It also gives me time to make burger and sausage, which I’ll get to in the next section. But when it’s time to freeze things, there is only one way to go: Vacuum sealing.

I’ve used both chamber sealers and suction-style sealers. If you really want to spring for a serious set-up, a chamber sealer is the way to go. I love my VacMaster 215; get the oil-cooled model.

A cheaper option that is almost as good is either the Weston 1100 sealer or the FoodSaver Gamesaver. They’re still about $300, but should last you many years. I have the older version of the FoodSaver vacuum sealer and have pounded on it for several years with no complaints. And by “pounding on it” I mean hundreds of game birds and fish, plus a few wild pigs and deer. Can you get cheaper vacuum sealers? Yep. But you get what you pay for. Bad seals, overheating motors. This is an area you don’t what to be skimpy on.

As for a freezer, buy a chest freezer. Period. And while not strictly deer processing equipment, it’s vital to have one. Chest freezers can be stored out of the way and they will get a lot colder than your kitchen freezer. And they’re not terribly expensive. I just bought a 7-cubic-foot freezer from Home Depot for $235.

pointing out vertebraeBurger, Jerky, Sausage

I am not going to get into dry-curing salami in this section, as that’s an advanced discussion. But this is the basic equipment you need for making your own burger, fresh sausage and jerky.

First you need a good grinder. If you are just starting out and happen to have a Kitchenaid stand mixer, the KitchenAid grinder attachment works fine for small batches; it’s what I used for years. But if you process more than, say, a deer a year, you really ought to spring for a good grinder. I use the Weston No. 8 grinder. LEM also makes excellent grinders. Buy commercial grade and at least 1/4 horsepower. These grinders make quick work of anything you can stuff into it.

My absolute favorite part of these grinders is the fact that you can buy all sorts of different dies for them, so you can grind as fine as 3.5 mm, which is almost an emulsified sausage, all the way to 12 mm, which great for that first grind in sausage-making.

As for a sausage stuffer, you can’t go wrong with LEM’s 5-pound sausage stuffer. If you plan on linking your sausages, you really, really need a dedicated stuffer — running ground meat through the auger of your grinder can destroy its texture.

Other sausage-making equipment you’ll want will be natural hog casings, curing salts and some sort of rack to hang the links.

As for jerky, “jerky guns” are OK for ground meat jerky, but mostly I cut my own meat by hand and dehydrate it. My dehydrator of choice? The Excalibur 9-tray dehydrator, which will handle anything you can throw at it.

Phew! A lot to cover. But that should get you started. My advice? Build up your collection of deer processing equipment over time, as some of it can be expensive. Start with a good boning knife and a vacuum sealer and you’re well on your way.

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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36 Comments

  1. I have never taken a deer to a butcher in over 20 years. I can hang a few in the garage over a tarp and let them age if it is cold or if I am in a hurry and it is too far from the road I will take it off the bone in 15 minutes on the ground by skinning off each side from the spine down and flipping for the other side. You can also remove the front legs at the knee by using a knife in just the right spot and snapping it.

    Current setup
    Field- Gerber gator & Gerber T handle bone saw
    Butchering- Buck skinning knife, Rapala filet knife, gambrel, come along, hand saw, propane torch
    Processing- steel buffet pans, Lem grinder, Chefs choice slicer, foodsaver, nesco dehydrator, chefs choice sharpener

    Old- Used to have those old sunbeam grinder and slicer from the 70’s and the original foodsaver that you had to hold down real hard to get a seal. Also had the old school dehydrator with only a heating element. I have used small buck knives and old timer pocket knives to gut deer. I have used hatchets to break rib cages and pelvises and a hand saw to remove heads and horns.

    Wants- I would like a electric smoker and a sausage stuffer. The LEM grinder has stuffing tubes but like Hank said it may compromise the texture.

    Have any of you used the 10 minute deer skinner?

  2. My family operates one of the larger big game processing operations in Minnesota. If there was one single tip I could give all hunters that wish to cut their animals at home, it would be to burn their kill. After skinning the animal take a blow torch and burn off all the remaining hair. It’s very simple and will eliminate 90% of the hair ending up on your cutting table.

  3. The other day while at the hardware store I noticed a flooring/ roofing knife and thought it would work pretty well for skinning and gutting. It was pretty good but I still think a small regular old pocket knife is best.

  4. Hank- I too have never taken an animal I harvested to a butcher, and started hunting at 35 years old, six years ago. For me it was a natural extension of wanting to be more connected to the food we eat and an interest in self sufficiency. It has also offered more opportunity to be in the woods which has always been important to me.

    I shoot a 1942 Remington 03-A3 in the original issued configuration, and various other Mauser action rifles from 6.5 to 7.92mm. Most shots are close where I hunt, but with good light and a steady rest the Remington will shoot well enough out to 200 yards un-scoped for me. Lately I have been considering a scope as my eyes are not improving. If it can’t be killed with a 30-06, you may want to consider running…

    For field dressing deer and small game I use whatever knife I have in my pocket. This probably sounds haphazard, but I always carry a knife. I grew up carrying pocket knives. I like to use knives that carry some meaning to me. Sometimes it is a WWII issued TL-29 electricians knife that belonged to my great grandfather. I have also field dressed deer with an LLBean ‘Swiss Army’ knife with a 2-1/4″ blade, and with a simple folding Opinel. I prefer carbon steel blades over stainless steel.

    The US Army TL-29 (that is in my pocket right now) has blades that are easy to keep very sharp. One blade is thin and is used to open the belly of the deer. You have to be careful not to cut into the entrails which I do by turning the knife over and using a finger to each side of the blade as a guide inside the cavity. A hooked gut blade would likely be easier, but I haven’t bought one. The second blade locks and is thick with a flattened tip. The end of this blade can be used to crack the pelvic bone on a young deer.

    I typically drag my deer to the wooded edge before field dressing them to keep dirt and debris out of the cavity. I hunt wood lots on farms mostly, so if I can get the deer to a utility road, we can usually get it into a truck or on a utility tractor. I like to hang the deer from it’s hind quarters in a tree if I can horse it up high enough, but if it is too heavy to lift, I will position it’s head up-hill with a rear leg on one side of a tree. That way I can use a knee to spread the hind legs apart while working and stabilize the animal while opening it up to remove the entrails and the rectal canal.

    I carry zip lock bags for the heart, and liver. The tongue I remove later once I have the deer home.

    At home I have a garage that is off of an alley. I live ‘in town’ near a small liberal arts college. A student once walked by my garage while I was hanging a freshly killed deer. You should have seen the look on her face! I hang deer from their hind legs to separate attachment points on a beam. I do not use a gambrel. When it is cool enough (below 50 degrees F.), I like to let deer hang with the hide on for up to a week. A large deer can hang a week, but smaller deer dry out a bit faster.
    I do this so that when I have broken the deer down- removed front legs, backsraps, plate, ribs, tenderloin, all neck meat, and head; I can pop the hip sockets and each ham will swing free independently.

    I have two knifes and a meat saw that I usually use to break down deer. One knife is a old Chicago Cutlery boning knife with a thin flexible stainless steel blade. It removes the hide and slides under silver skin easily, but is hard to keep sharp which is really important for these tasks. It is a cheap knife, but when it is sharp, the flexibility of the blade makes it a great skinning and boning tool. The other is a large carbon bladed kitchen knife that came from a thrift shop. It has a mildly flexible blade with a sharp point. The blade is almost triangular in shape, but the fact that it has a point, is somewhat flexible, and can be made very sharp with a diamond rod quickly is what I like most about it. I also have a ‘knife’ I bought in a street market is Tasco, MX fifteen years ago or so that was made from a lawn mower blade. I use this ‘knife’ as a cleaver of sorts to neatly remove the feet of squirrels, rabbits, and fowl when butchering them. Crude- yes, but hefty, and very effective. It’s a dangerous tool because one slip could cost you a digit! Like you, I used a hacksaw before I purchased a meat saw.

    I remove all of my deer meat from the bone. We do not have CWD in our area, but it has been confirmed in Western Maryland and in West Virgina. I don’t understand all of the science behind this, but I feed my family with the game I harvest and have decided to take the extra precaution. Every time I see a braised shank on your site my mouth waters!

    I have two large Wearever Aluminum roasting pans with lids, and a few old fiberglass cafeteria trays that I put the meat into while breaking down animals and for extended ageing in the project refrigerator I have in the basement. Having a spare refrigerator is a luxury and one that also helps maintain peace in the valley. I use it when ageing and curing meats, and I keep corny kegs of homebrew in there off season.

    In addition to the project refrigerator I have outfitted a corner of my basement with a few salvaged steel kitchen base cabinets (again from a neighbor’s basement) and hanging racks for organizing all of my gear- canning, butchering, homebrewing, large pots and pans, and other equipment… Having a dedicated place to keep this gear works well for me.

    I put an IKEA kitchen in my house when we renovated it and installed their typical beech butcher block. I have a large section left that was left over that is about 25×40 inches. I use this as a cutting board. It works very well for laying out entire hind quarters and shoulders, but is on the heavy side.

    I have an Sunbeam Mixmaster from the fifties with a meat grinder attachment that I picked up in a church basement sale for 20 bucks a decade ago. It has all of the original attachments and works well, but it was not purpose-built to grind as much meat as it sees… Of all of the ‘old tools’ I have, this is the one I would like to replace most. It gets the job done, but has only one plate and there are no after-market plate options that I have been able to located for it.

    Meat is put away in vacuum sealed freezer bags and lasts well for two years this way. I typically go through most of what I hunt before the next season, but I have had meat stay in good condition for longer using this. Before the vacuum sealer, I would wrap meat in Saran Wrap carefully to eliminate any air contact with the meat, and it also worked well, but was tedious. The vacuum sealer is key for good preservation of frozen game.

    I have a cast iron Enterprise sausage-stuffer that is probably a century old by now. It works well enough, and is on permanent loan to me from a friend’s father, but I would also like to replace this with one from the The SausageMaker in stainless steel that comes apart easily and can be sanitized in a dishwasher.

    Most of my gear has been cobbled together along the way, and much of it was had for free or little cost. I agree that one should pick this stuff up a little at a time and purchase or locate the best quality within reach.

    Having the right tools makes the work more enjoyable.

    Happy Holidays.

  5. Hank,

    Great article! I’m a trapper and occasional knife maker and I highly recommend dexter russell beaver pelter style knives for deer skinning. Well, for ANY kind of skinning. A bolen knife (for the first cut), beaver knife, and a conventional 3.5 inch D-R pelter (looks like an old time pairing knife) will out perform all other knives I’ve used. A bolen knife is superior to a gut hook, giving you more dexterity and control over your cut, and it’s easier to sharpen. The beaver knife is all cutting edge, no point, allowing long, smooth controlled cuts, and a conventional pelter’s got a scalpel like blade geometry at the tip while still allowing long controlled cuts. A set of Japanese water stones up to 10000 grit will get your blades to scalpel sharp and lets you keep them there, no throwaway. I have full sized ones in the kitchen and workshop, and pocket sized for the field.

  6. Great article. I enjoy processing the deer myself. I like knowing how the animal is treated and knowing that only our hands have touched it. I like to get the meat off the bone immediately. After that I let it sit in the fridge for a couple of days. Then I’ll slice, cut and grind the meat and package with a food saver vac sealer. I used to double wrap with plastic wrap and freezer paper, and it worked great, but the time saved with a vac sealer is so nice. We have 3 in the freezer so far, and you are right, a chest freezer is the best way to go.
    Love your website!

  7. Hank, what type of blade did you use on your hacksaw? Something specifically for meat/bone? Or can I just sterilize something I get from Home Depot?

  8. When I leave my meat in tubs in the fridge for a few days-up to a week, I put a cooling rack in the bottom of the tub first. That way as the meat is doing it’s thing it isn’t sitting in blood that was left in the meat. I also cover the meat with plastic wrap. This seems to be the best system I have found out. Much easier and controlled than hanging deer.

  9. Great article, Hank. I think every guy should, at least once in their life, have the opportunity to break down a large game animal in their kitchen. I had the privilege of being taught this art by Master Chef Milos Cihelka, who is not only an amazing chef, but a true outdoorsman and hunter who treats the animal with nothing but respect while it is being hunted, at the time it is harvested, through the aging and butchering process, in the kitchen and at the table. Several years ago, Browning issued the Wild Game: Field Care & Cooking video series (featuring Chef Milos), and I have found these videos to be a great introduction to all the details one should attend to after the harvest.
    One of the things Chef Milos always discussed was the importance of proper aging. With a little experience (and a thermometer) anyone can turn a harvested animal into a culinary masterpiece. I have eaten some pretty ‘gamey’ meals in my time, most of which could have been delicious if the animal had been properly handled after the harvest and before butchering.
    My method for big game produces boneless cuts. I find I need a knife with a gut hook and a boning knife to break down the carcass, and then a bone saw to break down the skeleton into manageble pieces for stock, etc.
    Also, if you don’t own all the equipment Hank mentions, and can’t afford to buy it all at once, ask around. Some of your hunting buddies may already have some of this stuff to borrow, or each of you could purchase one piece of equipment and all get together to make sausage out of your Fall harvest.

  10. Hank, I just wanted to let you know your website has literally been a life changer for me! All of your wild game recipes have helped me save tons of money on the grocery bill. Now all I need for you to do is help me figure out how to build a curing room for salami and I’ll be golden!

  11. Interesting article and it is nice to see what equipment you use (or would like to use 😉

    I am a late comer to deer hunting too … took it up at age 45 when I met someone who helped me get started. I live on a couple dozen wooded acres surrounded by hundreds more and I am lucky to be able to do all my hunting within 1500′ of the house.

    My tutor always butchered his own deer and taught me the basics which I have used for processing all the deer I have taken on my property. My approach is fairly fairly pedestrian but works well for me.

    I use an Opinel #8 carbon steel folding knife to field dress the deer. The Opinel is about as cheap a knife as you can buy but I currently prefer it for gutting. I can make the blade straight razor sharp and it has a nice pointy tip for starting incisions. It seems that I gut most of my deer in fading evening light with a head lamp so if I lose the Opinel in the grass or leaves, no big deal (and since they are cheap, small, and light, I always carry two). The downside of the Opinel is that it will tend to rust if you leave it wet (but not an issue if you dry it off after washing).

    I use a Sagen Saw to cut the pelvis (easier removal of bung hole) and to cut the ribs/sternum (makes it easier to reach up and cut the trachea).

    I “quarter” the deer by hanging from the “bucket forks” attached to the loader bucket of my tractor. I leave the tractor at a slow idle so I can raise or lower the deer as needed while skinning and parting it out. For skinning and removal of shoulders, tenderloins, neck meat, and backstraps I use a 5″ Dexter-Russell boning knife (Sani-Safe series). I use a corded reciprocating saw (like a Sawzall) to cut off the lower legs, head, and to cut the hind quarters in half down the middle.

    Once the deer has been quartered, I put all the meat on wire racks in our spare fridge in the laundry room. The racks keep the meat up off the shelves a little for better air circulation but I still flip and rotate the pieces once a day. I leave it there for 5 to 7 days.

    After the meet has “aged” long enough in the fridge, I take one chunk out at a time and cut off the rind that has formed (which I later grind and feed to the chickens, they love it!). When I de-bone/butcher the pieces, I wrap 1+/- pound portions twice or three times with Stretch-tite brand cling wrap and follow that up with butcher paper sealed with freezer tape. I like the butcher paper because it provides lots of surface room to write on and I write a lot: date, gender of deer, what body part the the meat came from, and what I think this cut might be be good for (e.g. stew, crock pot, steaks for grill, etc.). I use the grinder attachment on my Kitchen Aid stand mixer to grind up scraps (OK for three deer a year but a dedicated grinder would be a nice upgrade). The freezer compartment of the spare fridge is just big enough to hold 3 deer so I don’t need a chest freezer.

  12. I would add a good steel to touch up the knifes blades and use it often. a large scimitar or butcher knife for cutting steaks and butcher twine for making roasts.

  13. Hank I think the only thing that’s missing is instructions on how to break down big game. I’ve watched most of the major videos out there including the outdoor edge series and really think Kurt Heid’s video is the best. I’ve processed plenty of deer and elk, and have family who did it for a living, but I changed the way I do it after watching Kurt’s video. Really efficient, and the production quality is quite good.

    https://www.heidwildgame.com/Cutting-Deer-Right/dp/B00C3R0QE8?class=quickView&field_availability=-1&field_browse=6391614011&id=Cutting+Deer+Right&ie=UTF8&refinementHistory=brandtextbin%2Csubjectbin%2Ccolor_map%2Cprice%2Csize_name&searchNodeID=6391614011&searchPage=1&searchRank=salesrank&searchSize=12

  14. I have always ‘undialed’ my own deer, and as a Registered Nurse, I take the job of ‘undialing’ as my job, often the deer is a part of the community of hunters. It is best to skin the deer first, we have a heavy duty rack that attaches to the receiver of the truck. I skin the deer, all the way, degloving it, as oppose to making a lot of cuts, peeling the hide and fur away this way, leave little to know hair on the meat. Then, evisceration, a quick wipe, body bag, and voila! This year, actually just a couple of days ago, I di 2 small bucks this way, and used a total of 1 cup of water, and most of that was for my hands and face spatter. I dont try and go for any land speed records, instead, respect the deer.
    on another note, my good friend gave be a head from a heifer, so i could harvest the meat from it, and to my surprise, his dad snuck the cow’s tongue before i had a chance to get it.
    love your blog

  15. Really? Wow. That’s a game changer. (haha) My guys bring me the quarters that have hair bits and leaves and bits of ground bone on them. So, our first step is to wash it. Oh, my. I guess they’ll need to do things differently down at the barn.

    1. nana: Really? Yikes. Then yes, wipe the meat down with a damp cloth to get all that stuff off. After that, though, keep the meat away from water.

  16. A quick question about aging vs. brining vs. putting in the freezer while warm. We have 4 hunters in our house, 2 teens & my husband & me, and we aren’t sure which method produces the best meat. For practicality, I’ve been in favor of tossing the quarters in a cooler with sea salt & ice and leaving it on the patio for 3-5 days. This helps me because I run out of strength to process a deer all in 1 late night. But, my 18yo son thinks aging in a cooler w/o salt is preferable. Can you tell me which method is best and why? Thanks!

    1. Nana: I try to never let meat hit water. I do store quarters in a cooler, but I make sure there’s a barrier between the meat and the ice. Brining or soaking will steal a TON of flavor from the meat, washing it out and making it bland. I use burlap or a wooden board or something to keep the meat away from water.

  17. Great article, Hank. I have to make maximum use of small space for processing as well. You mentioned aging meat in the fridge. I stopped doing this because of mold issues. I’d age the meat in plastic tubs, but condensation would drip down from the lid back onto the meat, and mold would take over pretty quickly. How do you avoid this problem?

    1. Dave: Never had an issue, but then I only age a few days, a week tops. Real aging takes twice that amount of time.

  18. I broke down a lot of deer before it finally occured to me that there were bigger cutting boards available. A couple of years ago I bought an inexpensive 18′ x 24″ commercial plastic board. What a difference! Having room to work makes everything easier.
    One item I use that many may not have tried is waxed deli paper. It comes in a box of 500 sheets for about five dollars. One box usually lasts me a couple of seasons. I spread the sheets out on the counter and lay a couple of steaks, a roast, or a pound of burger on each sheet. when all the sheets are full you can stop cutting, clean your hands, and fold the paper over the meat. When you go to wrap or vacuum bag your meat your hands, and more importantly your packages stay clean.

  19. We like to let ours hang, hide on, for a couple of days. It’s wrapped in a heavier duty game bag than the one you linked, with all of the openings duct taped up really well to keep the flies out. Unless it’s very early in the season, it hangs in the shade in the hills for a couple of days. Then we go to town – no bone cutting, we pull everything off, each with our favorite knives. I do every bit of mine with a Havalon except splitting the ribs and pelvis, and that gets a hatchet. We wrap cuts up in one- or two-pound packages with lots of layers of heavy duty saran wrap followed by a layer of foil that gets marked with the cut and the date with a sharpie. I have no problem dredging the back of the freezer and eating five-year-old packages, although I do try to keep them rotated a little better than that.

    If for some reason they come home whole, we just set up a folding table over the tile floor and do it in the house.

  20. I break down all of my deer. I also find it satisfying knowing that I have done all of the work myself. I am also a firm believer of leaving the meat in the fridge to let it “age” or “break down”, whatever you want to call it, I just know it makes a far superior meat than just boning it out and freezing it.
    I like folding knives to take care of field dressing. I am currently running a Spyderco H1 Pacific Salt. It will never rust and an edge comes back easily.
    Recip saws are excellent and an improvement over hack saws.
    If we break down deer at camp, we simply slit the hind legs and hang them by the tendons from the tines of the grapple bucket on the Toolcat, makes short work for skinning and boning out a deer and it saves the back!
    I like to remove the tenderloins and back straps with a small, 4″, fillet knife. I do most of the separating of roasts with it as well.
    I really could go on all day about breaking down deer!