You have hunted all day long and it is getting close to the end of the day when shooting time will be at an end. This is usually when a nice prize shot takes place. You are tired and worn out from trudging around in the hills, corn fields, and snow drifts, but you cannot pass on this one shot. This has happened to me many times. After harvesting the game, I have to clean it when I get home.
Big game, deer, and elk are easy. Just field dress them and off they go to the processor. You may be one of those people that do it all themselves. Congratulations to you because you probably get it done just the way you want it. For me, it is off to the processor the next morning providing it is cold enough outside. The one buffalo I harvested was winched onto a lowboy trailer and taken right to the processor.
Bass Pro Shops Electric Meat Grinders by LEM Products
|If you do your own processing, Lem makes a great grinder. Click on the link or pic to price and buy from Bass Pro.|
I do my own turkeys and they are easy. Just skin them out and take the breasts, legs and thighs. The one thing that I do insist on is vacuum sealing. The processors in my area all do vacuum sealing. That will keep the meat for almost two years, plus there is no freezer burn.
All the fish I catch are fileted out and then vacuum sealed. Right now we are eating fish we caught last summer. They are still fresh from being vacuum sealed. I take my sealer right with me, and if possible, seal the filets right in the fish cleaning house if they have an outlet. Otherwise, they are iced until I get home, then vacuum sealed in my own kitchen.
FoodSaver GameSaver Bronze Vacuum Packaging System
|This is the unit I own. Click on the link or the picture to buy from Bass Pro.|
At the processor, I have my elk burger mixed with 15% pork butt. This adds really great flavor and the tallow helps keep the burger together. I was told the frozen pork butt would become rancid, but this has never happened. We have had fresh tasting burgers up to a year after the animal was processed.
Foodsaver Large 15 Vacuum Sealer Bag Material
|Click on the pic or link to buy from Bass Pro. I buy all my bags from Bass Pro. Cheaper ones do not do as good a job. I do not recommend spending the money on cheap bags.|
This year we had the elk mixed with 15% of 70/30 Angus beef, and we can tell the difference. Also, this animal was a little older than I usually harvest. You have to work with the steaks and roasts a little more than a younger animal. Totally thawing the steak or roast the first day, then marinating it for a minimum of 24 hours before cooking, works best. I did not request the elk burger to be fine ground, and believe the people in the processing plant ground it like beef burger. It needs to be fine ground. Otherwise an older animal will be a little chewy.
|There is a lot of meat here.|
The buffalo harvested in South Dakota has 5% beef tallow in the burger. We noticed that upon cooking, there is a lot of shrinkage. You actually end up with three nice size burgers and one that is puny. Since this was an older animal, the meat needs to be well thawed and worked with before cooking. The flavor is excellent. Of course, buffalo was the meat of the plains Indians.
|There is even more meat here.|
As I indicated before, the turkeys I harvest are breasted out. I give the legs and thighs to my good friend John. He really likes this part of the turkey and is a master at getting the parts cooked. We vacuum seal each breast and if the bird is really big, we cut each breast in two parts. Most of the time we just freeze the breast and have people over to dine on wild turkey breasts. This is a favorite among friends. Our preferred method of cooking is to brine the breast for at least two hours. Then it is salted and peppered, double wrapped in tin foil, and baked in the oven for six to eight hours at 225 degrees. This makes a really tender and moist breast of wild turkey.
Look for my recipe book for cooking wild game on line in the future. Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck. Hank.