Sunday, November 07, 2010

Free Meat!!

Coworker: It's that time again. How many do you want?
Me: How many can you give me?

I still haven't found a hunting lease I can afford. Luckily one of my coworkers is responsible for controlling the deer herd size on his family's property. Deer are pretty much the rats of the woods. With no predators to keep them in check they will rapidly breed themselves to a state of massive overpopulation which results in suffering, sickness, and death. To maintain the herd at a number which matches the available food supply he often has to harvest between twelve and twenty deer each year, based on analysis by Texas Dept. of Natural Resources biologists. Being an ethical man, he doesn't let any of the resulting meat go to waste and is constantly trying to find people to whom he can give it.

The problem is most people want him to give them the meat already butchered and neatly wrapped up. That's a lot of work for one deer and pretty much impossible for 10-20 deer. Most people just don't want to go through the hassle of doing it themselves even if it means free meat.

My thoughts? FREE MEAT!!!

If it means being up until 3am butchering it, so be it. I'd be up that late with insomnia anyway. But now I have a freezer full of food to show for it.

The only downside is stray dogs have been causing problems with my garbage can. I have an idea how to handle that, though.

Adventure! Excitement! Pan-seared venison with mushroom/onion gravy and herb roasted potatoes!


Wayne D. said...

I would help if I was in the area. Growing up, my family would kill and butcher deer as a main source of meat. Steak gets kind of expensive if you are the family of a teacher.

As for the dogs, see if you can get any bear or other large predator urine at a sporting goods shop. That could help a bit. Locking bins or bungie straps across the top help too.

Merriwether said...

Yeah, growing up dirt poor most of our meat came from surrounding fields, forests, and waters too. Very little came from the store and what did was usually Spam. Poppawether LOVES Spam.

Tonight I cooked up the last bit of last year's deers. It was superb! I'll take venison over beef any day.

J. said...

I would *love* to have someone teach me how to do that efficiently. I guess there's the internet and books and stuff, but the logistics of holding open book + sharp instruments + deer carcass strike me as a little complicated.

How much do hunting leases run, anyway?

Wayne D. said...

Books don't really help with butchering. The only good way to learn is by helping someone do it.

Skinning the stupid thing is actually the hardest part to me. Especially when you come home late and exhausted from hunting, hang up the deer in the garage and hit the sack. Then, you find out the next morning it has frozen solid and you have to pull off the hide with vice-grips inch by inch as someone holds a heat gun on it so you can defrost the tissue between the hide and muscle. That was a long cold day...

You going to make deer jerky Merriwether? I love that stuff so much I may make a trip to Texas just for it.

Merriwether said...

J., deer leases usually start around $1,000 and go up to astronomical levels from there. That's a lot of money per pound of meat.

My butchering technique is simply cut off each muscle and freeze it. That's pretty easy to do. The rest of the meat on the bones getts cut off and either used as stew-meat or is ground up into burger. I'm no expert and I'm slow. It works better if you have several people doing it. One person cuts off the big muscles, the next person trims away the little stuff, and a third is grinding burger, and a fourth is packaging it. That's how we used to do it growing up and you can do several deer in a day that way.

My coworker stopped by yesterday and told me he'll be bring me SEVERAL more deer next Monday. Hmmm, maybe I need to set up a butchering party.

Wayne D. said...

HOLY CRAP!!! $1000!!!??? Back in Montana I just bought a $15 tag that was either sex, either species. Then, I just went onto public land, or more likely, a farmers land and got one.

Here in AZ I now have to deal with a lottery system, which sucks. That and a lack of a large freezer has kept me from hunting here.

Merriwether said...

A hunting license is cheap, under $20. LAND to hunt on is expensive. There is very little public land in Texas open for hunting and those areas are overrun and downright dangerous during hunting season. Most hunters in Texas lease private land to hunt on, and that's where the +$1000 comes in. :-(