It’s the season of wild game processing

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Pickup trucks have drivers and passengers dressed in trendy fall orange and that will only increase in the coming weeks.

Many big game hunters wait until the last Thanksgiving weekend before they get serious, but many hunters are already working hard because they have family members with tags and hope to fill the freezer as soon as possible. The “heat” for the muleys and whitetails will start next month, and if we have snow it may be the best time of year for many Montanans. The elk descend lower and each ungulate that can be harvested is much easier to see compared to the white matter, and the tracking becomes a special pleasure in itself.

It is often said that once the trigger is pulled, the real work begins. Every hunter understands and accepts this condition as it is part of the experience of getting him back to the platform. After that, you have a choice of two different directions: take it home or a friend’s house for butchering, or take it to a wild game processing plant who will call you when everything is cut and packed, ready to go. be recovered.

Cutting and wrapping the game yourself is a lot cheaper and there are a lot of people who make it a weekend away taking care of everyone’s animals, turning work into a social event. Kind of like neighbors helping neighbors build a barn 100 years ago.

If you’re new to butchering yourself, it can be intimidating, but the pros will tell you it shouldn’t be. All that fresh game meat is just that. It’s all meat and there’s no reason to be intimidated by it. You go to the store and buy beef, pork, etc. all the time. This deer or moose is no different in terms of cuts. The size will vary, but the only difference is that you save money by processing the meat yourself.

Many people overcomplicate the processing of meat – like they are going to hurt it. Of course, there are different, maybe even better, ways of cutting meat, but at the end of the day, it’s meat. You learn as each year gets easier and it will taste the same no matter how sloppy your cut is. You will work your way through this and come up with their own process for how you personally like to cut game meat.

The breakdown of a hindquarter is fairly straightforward. Once separated from the bone, a person can almost separate muscle groups by hand. It’s roast heaven because of the size of the muscles. The top and bottom rings are often reserved for roasts, but you can also slice good steaks from these cuts because they don’t have a lot of silver skin inside. Try to remember to always cut against the grain when cutting steaks. If you cut with the grain you’ll end up in a fight trying to bite into that steak.

Depending on the size of the animal, many will use the fore quarters entirely for grinding, but chops, steaks and small roasts are hidden there. Fillets and backstraps are sacred and you will be surprised at how much meat is in the neck. Many hunters take the whole critter and cut anything that doesn’t look edible and make it into a burger, which is the most versatile cut you can have.

The “grinder stack” can serve as a burger or delicious “fun food” that everyone enjoys. But this is where you need professional help if your buddies don’t have the necessary equipment for this phase.

Last year, during the pandemic, Superior Meats only accepted boneless meat ready to be ground. This year, even with their expansion, they are unable to take wild game and the reason is both good and bad.

Their recent building expansion has brought in new business deals and they are overwhelmed with the amount of processing they have in front of them with absolutely no space to store wild game, let alone slice it into steaks, chops and roasts. To take a commercial processing area and move on to slaughtering wild game, a huge tedious cleanup has to take place. Then, to return to a commercial processing plant, the cleaning process is repeated.

The crew apologize as they know how important their service is to their previous customers each fall, but at this point they just can’t be of help.

So it’s good news that owner Jerry Stroot is putting more people to work, and bad news for hunters who need help administering their hunt table fare preparation. JoAnn Frey of Clark Fork Custom Meats in Plains reports they’re busy, but they can be of help.

“If it’s boneless and clean, we can take it to grind it into a hamburger and make specialty items,” Frey said.

And for those with a palate that doesn’t like game, these are the “fun foods” that everyone enjoys. Jerky, salami, teriyaki sticks, hot dogs, sausages, thuringer, etc.

Lolo Locker south of Missoula said the same thing, but their storage space is full.

For hunters who prefer only to dress their elk, deer and antelope in the field and drive them directly to a butcher’s shop for skinning and processing, H&H Meats in Missoula has always been available for big game hunters and the reason why. is that this time of year they do not do any commercial processing. They are open to big game hunters who wish to lay down the whole carcass or take it boneless with instructions on how they would like it to be processed. But all of the processing factories have strongly suggested that you call them before you stop.


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