When fortunate enough to harvest some beautiful organic whitetail meat in the fall, we are all left with the decision of what to do with all of this meat. After the harvest many people chose to take their venison to a butcher for various reasons. Some may not have the time to do it themselves, however many just do not have a full understanding of the butchering and deboning processes. We are here to share what we have learned over the years of home butchering and show you how to process and debone a deer hind-quarter. This will help you gain a broader understanding of the processing of venison, save you the money on a butcher, and even closer connect you to the harvest and your meat.
Benefits of Processing a Deer Yourself
Some of the benefits of learning to do this on your own, aside from it being an extremely rewarding task that I feel fully rounds out the experience of the hunt, are:
- There’s no wait time. You get to start eating your game as soon as you’re done butchering and it really should only take a few hours to get it done.
- You decide what you want. I personally think it’s a real shame to have two hind quarters, loaded with piles of some of the best steaks you’ll ever eat in your life and to turn it all into pepperoni sticks.
- STEAK! We all dream of that perfectly cooked, 2” thick and juicy steak coming fresh off of the grill and savouring every bite. When butchering your own meat you get to be in control of exactly how thick you want to cut your steaks and how you will enjoy them. The meat off of the hind quarter of a whitetail deer is extremely tender and flavourful, it all just comes down to perfecting the perfect cooking technique and not overcooking it.
- You still get your sausages. You’ll be trimming a lot of meat off of your deer that will be destined for the ground-meat pile. If making sausages is not in your wheelhouse then you can still bring your trim to the butcher, have it cut with some fat and made into the sausages you love.
The 5 Main Cuts and How to Process and Debone a Deer Hind-Quarter
Below Josh McFadden is going to show you the 5 main cuts you’ll get off a whitetail deer hind-quarter – the sirloin, bottom round, top round, eye of round, and the shank – he will also show you where to find them and what you can do with each cut.
Deer Processing Tip:
TIP: I am often asked how the meat should be left to hang and when it’s best to process the meat. My answer is always “as soon as possible”. The meat is quick and easy to butcher while it’s fresh; you’ll have a much easier time skinning the deer fresh as well. The longer you hang the meat, the thicker a skin will develop on the outside that will not only waste more meat, it will also create a hassle for anyone butchering the meat as you will be adding a lot of trimming time.
Further, as the meat hangs and enzymes start to break down the mussel tissue, a more “gamey” flavour will develop, which is often a more off-putting flavour to you or those you may want to share some meat with.
The sirloin is located on the front side of the hind-quarter at the top of the leg.
- The sirloin is about the size of and looks like a football. It is quite bulbous to the front and hugs the front side of the femur.
- To remove the piece, make a small cut along the seams on either side and work your fingers along the sides to free it from the bottom and top round. Cut down to the bone at the top and bottom of the “football” to disconnect the muscle from the top of the kneecap and base of the hip area. Now, work your knife along the backside to free it from the femur, pulling and rolling the sirloin away from the bone with each long cut you make along the femur.
- I will usually cut the whole sirloin into thick steaks or slice thin for jerky or stir-fry.
Venison Bottom Round
The bottom round is located on the outside of the leg on the hind-quarter.
- The bottom round is a long and more flat cut of meat.
- Similar to the sirloin, work your fingers between the seams and pull apart as much as possible without tearing the meat. Get the tip of your knife inside the seam as you pull the muscle away from the other cuts and away from the bone.
- This will slice into beautiful steaks and you get to decide how thick you want these amazing meat snacks. You can also slice thin for jerky, stir-fry or cube for stew + steak bites.
Venison Top Round
The top round is located on the inside of the leg on the hind-quarter, it’s about double the thickness of the Bottom Round, wide at the top and slightly tapers toward the bottom.
- The instructions for removing the top round are the same as the bottom round and sirloin. Work your fingers and knife top along the seams and slice any muscle connected to the femur.
- Uses are the same as the bottom round.
Venison Eye of Round
The eye of round is located on the back of the leg on the hind-quarter, in between the top and bottom rounds.
- The eye of round looks almost identical to the tenderloin. It is about the diameter of a golf ball and runs the length of the femur. Once located between the top and bottom round, you can pretty well grab a hold of it, run your fingers along the sides of the muscle and pull it free without the use of any knives.
- I treat the cut the same as the tenderloin. Season, grill or pan sear it whole on all sides to an internal temp of 135-140F, let it rest ten minutes, slice and eat!
The shank is Located on the bottom of the leg on the hind-quarter, between the knee and the hoof.
- If the hoof is still in tact, saw it off just below the shank meat. Work your knife down from the top of the knee cap, get behind it and remove it. Now you should see the knee joint. Bend the knee and get the tip of your knife in there and work it from side to side until the shin bone is freed from the femur.
- The shank is arguably the toughest piece of meat on the deer that will typically make it into the trim pile to get ground. This is a massive mistake. When treated properly, the shank is the best cut of meat on the whole animal and I would have to say it’s my personal favourite.
- The venison shank can be left on the bone to be cooked low and slow in the oven, sitting in a bath of broth, vegetables and sometimes beer, also known as braising.
- This process requires patience but after many hours you will have the softest, moist and most fall-apart piece of meat you’ve ever made.
When processing a deer on your own, the connection you feel to each package you pull out of the freezer is unmatched. We hope you found this video on how to process and debone a deer hind-quarter helpful, and wish you the best of luck in the deer woods, and with processing your harvests in the future.
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