Hunting season is a year-round celebration for a lot of Northwest families. Especially with every trip to the freezer to pull out another package of meat from that hunt. We’ve looked at processing game, as well as what to do with deer and elk meat after you’ve cut and frozen it. In this article, we have some tips to make processing your game a lot easier.
Remember Your License and Tags Before You Go Hunting
In Oregon and Washington, you must have a hunting license, tag, and a clear understanding of hunting rules before you go out in search of your trophy. The links below are packed with all the info you need to get started.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
For more information, call 503-947-6101
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
For more information, call 360-902-2200
Prep Your Workspace
Anyone who has ever processed their own game will tell you that a countertop-height table is a must. Otherwise, you’ll be hunched over for hours and spend the next week or so in pain. Another pro tip: cover your workspace in butcher paper and tape it to the table. Sure, you’ll tear through the paper while you work, but it will make cleanup a lot easier.
Other items to make cleanup easier include: tarps for the floor, extra butcher paper, as well as a garbage can with liners so you can easily throw away chunks of fat and other unwanted cuts.
Vital Supplies and Tools
Beyond several sharp knives (large, medium, and smaller), knife sharpener (sharpening steel rods works best for processing game), cutting board, and rubber gloves, you’ll also want:
- Meat grinder and several plastic bins
- Butcher paper
- Painters tape (for closing up the butcher paper)
- Plastic wrap or freezer Ziplock bags
- Food scale to weigh your ground beef and other cuts
- Vacuum sealer and bags
- Safety glasses
Meat Grinders are Amazing
If you don’t already have one, get yourself a good, quality meat grinder. We have several options at Coastal. This will allow you to turn much of your deer and elk into ground meat.
To make that grinding easier, cut the meat you intend to grind into 1×3-inch chunks. Place those in one of your plastic bins. Then, using the coarse blade, grind the meat. Be sure to catch it in your plastic bin. Now, regrind that course meat using the fine blade. Once you’re done grinding, weigh out one or two pounds of meat per freezer bag, close it up, and wrap it with butcher paper. If you have a vacuum sealer, use that instead of the freezer bags. Don’t forget to tape the butcher paper closed and mark each cut with its packing date and the type of meat enclosed.
Coastal tip: cut away as much fat as you can to avoid clogging your meat grinder.
Keep Things Clean
Remember to rinse the carcass and pat it dry before you start cutting and grinding the meat. As you process everything, change out your rubber gloves as needed to avoid spreading bacteria onto doorknobs, countertops, or other kitchen tools or appliances.
One final pro tip on cleanliness: use 1 part bleach to 9 parts water to clean up after you’re all done. Soak any sponges, towels, knives, plates, cutting boards, and meat grinder attachments in a similar solution of bleach and water for up to 30 minutes before running them through your washing machine or dishwasher.
Get to Coastal for All of Your Hunting and Processing Needs
Your West Coast-owned and operated Coastal has meat grinders, vacuum sealers, knives, cutting boards, tarps, and a lot more to make processing your trophy quick, easy, and easy to clean up.