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

Pastured meat for 17 cents a pound

Butchering a deerIn case you've never gone hunting, there are scads of seasons, even if you limit your sights to deer.  There's bow season, muzzle-loader season, youth deer season...and either-sex firearms season.  That last one is when you really want to wear orange if you leave the road, and is when I tend to hear four or five gunshots during a short walk with Lucy.

It's also when I use my lazy-woman's version of hunting to bag a deer.  Here's how I hunt --- I sit on our futon, glancing out our big bay of south-facing windows in between writing blog posts, reading novels, and petting Huckleberry.  A deer super-highway runs right along the southwest corner of our core homestead, and when I see a deer walking by, I grab the rifle, walk quietly out the door so I can steady the gun along the top of the picnic table on the porch, and take a shot.

This year, I bagged a mature doe, the biggest one we've ever gotten.  That means the meat is a little tougher than the yearling delicacies we've enjoyed in previous years, but I'm confident I can make it shine via brining, stewing, etc.  Not counting the liquid and meat we picked off the bones after cooking them into broth, here's the haul:

Cutting up a steak

(As a side note, we cut each ham in half because it was so big.  And we saved back a lot of stew meat rather than grinding it all this time because I've learned to cook with stewing chunks more.  Plus, Mark got sick of grinding, eventually.  On the other hand, Mark turned out to be vastly superior to me in terms of meticulously cutting up steaks, although I did have to give him a lecture on cutting meat on a wooden cutting board.)

Since we've only shot perhaps five bullets this year, that's less than 17 cents per pound --- pretty cheap meat!  For those of you keeping track at home, I'm still leading the deer competition 3.5 to 1.5 ahead of Mark.  Now, if I can just nab one more deer this week....

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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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have you tried canning any? By the way my hubby hunts in a similar fashion. There are way too many deer in our area.
Comment by tee Sun Nov 24 09:40:50 2013
Did you learn to process the deer from a person or did you have a good reference book? I would love to be able to hunt from our backyard but our dog seems to keep the deer away - guess that's good during gardening season.
Comment by Karyn Sun Nov 24 10:34:28 2013

tee --- I've been given some canned venison, and it was pretty good, although probably primarily for putting into stews. If we get another deer, though, it'll have to be canned since the freezer is full to the brim!

Karyn --- We're still learning, honestly. I mostly just did internet searches, listened to the commenters on the blog, and kept trying until things got easier! The first one was pretty daunting, but if you can process a chicken, you can process a deer.

Comment by anna Sun Nov 24 10:37:40 2013
I am so glad to see this post. The time has come for me to learn how to shoot. I'm glad I'm not the only one wanting to harvest the 'cattle' that mow down everything around here. Got any advice on guns or learning how to shoot?
Comment by Robin Sun Nov 24 18:15:45 2013
Nice! I've got a mate that likes to shoot. He often goes after deer (they're feral animals here in Australia, and cause big problems to farmers and the environment). He says he'll try and get me a good doe next time he goes, and I'll get to have a go at processing venison. Can't wait!
Comment by Darren (Green Change) Mon Nov 25 07:10:18 2013

Robin --- I wish I could answer your question, but I know barely more than you do! A friend of Mark's is a gun aficionado, and he picked out our rifle for us. (Actually, he sold Mark the gun.)

In terms of learning to shoot, I figure as long as you understand gun safety (keep the safety on at all times until you're ready to pull the trigger, don't point the gun at anyone, etc.), it's mostly just practice. But I don't mind only being an okay shot as long as it gets the job done.

Comment by anna Mon Nov 25 13:28:18 2013
This guy has a really good series on butcher deer.
Comment by CJ Mon Nov 25 23:35:43 2013
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