Any hunter worth his or her salt doesn’t hunt solely for the enjoyment of the pursuit. Though that is a value that is widespread among us, it is certainly outweighed by the value placed on procuring meat on our own terms. But killing the animal is only one small step of harvesting it – there is then field dressing it, quartering it up, boning it out, separating the muscle groups, and of course cutting steaks, making sausage or jerky, or a variety of cured meats.
From the many hunters I have met in my life, I have come to the conclusion that there are many who do not complete the entire harvest with their own two hands, but instead take the carcass, or quarters, to a butcher in order to complete the job at hand. I truly do not think this phenomenon is because a hunter’s lack of will to complete the process on their own, but simply a conflict of time, money, and convenience. Though it may seem like a pretty massive investment, I think that it is 100 percent worth your while for several reasons.
There’s no question that a full kit of meat processing equipment can cost an arm and a leg – anywhere from a few hundred dollars, all the way up to a few thousand, depending on the lengths of meat processing you will do. Usually the basics include a freezer, a butcher block, a cutlery set, a meat grinder is always nice, plenty of freezer packaging, and maybe a few various containers. Your resources will likely vary from project to project. One day you’ll be working on steaks and burgers, and the next you might step up to cured meats and smoked links. Despite the costs that all this great stuff comes with is will end up being a hell of a lot cheaper than all the money you would have spent at the butcher. Sure, it might take a few animals, years, or seasons for the investment to pay off, but if you’re putting several big game animals in the freezer each year, then you’re saving money.
A lot of the equipment you will invest in really does not go bad. I’m sure there’s a way to break meat processing gear, but from my experience if you buy quality stuff, then it’ll last a very long time – given that you take good care of your gear. Not to mention, once you have the stuff you need, you never need to buy it again. You could even pass it on to your kids come the day you are ready for an upgrade.
The Gift that Keeps on Giving
I’m not sure there’s a way to be more popular than by being the guy on your street with his own personal butcher shop. You’ll be well equip to tackle your own projects, as well as loan out your gear to friends and family – in that case, your bound to get thrown a few backstraps every once in a while. Not to mention, you could make some pretty phenomenal Christmas gifts out of homemade artisan meats.
You’ll Have Fun
Processing meat is a ton of fun, and it’s extremely fulfilling both while you’re doing it and when you’re cooking up some fresh meat. There’s just something about it – when you have delicious meat that you handled from start to finish. You know exactly where it came from and you didn’t need help from anyone else. It is a major time investment, and I understand how that may be tough for many people, but it certainly isn’t something that you couldn’t knock out on a Sunday afternoon – especially if you are processing a single animal. Invite a friend over to help, drink a few beers, or even teach butchering to your son or daughter. I guarantee that when you begin processing your game from start to finish, you will be rewarded with much more than just fantastic food.