The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Deer 4.0

Venison backstrap

Moderately gory pictures ahead!  Please go elsewhere for the day if you're squeamish.

Yes, you guessed it, deer 4.0 bit the dust back behind the blueberries Monday morning.  This was the smoothest operation yet --- Mark looked out the window and spotted a button buck, I offered him the kill, but he let me get the rifle and sneak up through the garden, kneel down, and take the shot.

Skin deer

Mark thinks I'm a better marksman than he is, but the truth is that I missed, as usual.  As you can see from the butchering photo, my bullet didn't go in right above the shoulder where I was aiming.  But the deer only ran for about fifty feet before keeling over, so all was well.

After dragging the deer home, we took a deep breath and went back inside to read over the extremely helpful comments on last year's deer butchering post.  As a result, I opted to hang the deer head down, as most folks recommended, which did seem to make skinning and gutting a breeze (albeit an hour-long one).

Another hour with Mark and me working together to cut the meat into two hams, a backstrap, and lots of boned flesh, followed by a final hour of just me running the latter through the grinder, and we had 18.3 pounds of pastured meat for the price of two bullets.  (No, we hadn't shot the rifle since killing two deer last year.  Yes, I did put another shot in the deer's head when I found it since the animal was still moving slightly.)  As a bonus, I stewed up the bones to create a gallon of quality broth, and ended up with another quart of meat picked loose after cooking.  Assuming our previous three deer paid for the gun, that's some ultra-cheap pastured meat.

Grinding venison

In the past, I haven't been impressed by the gestalt of the livers that came out of our deer, but this little guy was one healthy youngster and his liver was a deep maroon with no blemishes.  I've also never had a liver dish I liked, but a simple pate (rendered chicken fat, onions, garlic, thyme, salt, pepper, and a splash of cooking sherry) changed my tune.  We've also already cooked up half of the backstrap (using my garlic-thyme chicken leg recipe...without the chicken legs, of course), and it was similarly top notch.  Our tastiest deer to date!

Meanwhile, we decided to split this deer down the middle in terms of ownership.  Previously, I'd killed two deer and Mark one --- yes, Mark is definitely keeping count.  (I'm not --- who needs a tally when you're obviously ahead?)  Since Mark spotted 4.0 and I slaughtered him, I figure we're now up to 1.5 to 2.5 deer, respectively.  Given the ease with which this deer went into the freezer and the flavor of the meat, I suspect Mark may keep his eyes peeled to even the score.

Our chicken waterer makes care of the backyard flock almost as easy as shooting a deer across the garden fence.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Great job guys! Hope you didn't have any other solid plans for your deer-day, but what a great alternative way to spend it. Bon apetit!
Comment by jen g Tue Nov 20 10:26:46 2012


Google online for recipes of what you can do with that fresh venison. We make pepperoni, italian sausage, breakfast sausage, chorizo, brats, and hamburger out of our venison. It makes your single deer into more niches of the menu.

Keep it up!

Comment by Dave Zimmerman Tue Nov 20 10:50:20 2012
Dave --- Now I need another deer! :-)
Comment by anna Tue Nov 20 11:14:15 2012
I was wondering if you guys considered tanning the buckskin. I could tell you the basics if your interested or you could probably google it. We use the brains and do braintan hides. The elders in my tribe teach us ways to use every part of the deer so nothing goes to waste. I don't know if you sew, but to be able to tan a buckskin and then make yourself some moccasins, or whatever you wish to make with it, sure is good feeling.
Comment by Bo Tue Nov 20 17:16:26 2012
Bo --- I love the idea of tanning the hide, but the reality is that we just don't use many clothes! I go through about one pair of pants per year, with turnover on top much slower. So it doesn't really make sense for us to go to all the effort of tanning the hide when we don't have a good use for the leather.
Comment by anna Tue Nov 20 18:22:12 2012
Gutting is easier when they're on the ground.
Comment by Anonymous Tue Nov 20 19:46:54 2012

For the best (richest, that is) bone broth, I cook them with some vegies, 1/4 cup of vinegar for 48 hours. It's a committment, but it's worth it.


Comment by Anonymous Wed Nov 21 09:21:14 2012

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