How To Butcher A Deer Leg
2 Simple Methods
Venison has some notable, desirable attributes as part of your diet. It is delicious and healthy because of its lean quality. This article will show you how to butcher your deer hind quarter.
See all the nutritional facts of Wild Game Meat here.
The best part is, hunting and butchering the deer yourself makes the deer meat free!
Well, free from paying the supermarket or butcher anyway.
The satisfaction of getting your own deer is magnified when you can butcher it yourself. It is a rewarding experience to be self-sufficient.
We are going to discuss 2 methods on how to butcher a deer hind quarter. Knowing how to butcher a deer leg will free you to process your own meat, your way.
The process of butchering may seem ominous, but you will see that with the right tools, you can easily accomplish this task.
The deer hind quarter is a bit more complicated to butcher than the rest of the deer.
I will take you step-by-step through the process of aging, butchering and storing your venison hind quarter.
Pre-Butchering Dry Aging Your Venison
Aging of venison is necessary to allow enzymes to break down the meat. Aging is only done for a certain period of time because you don't want bacteria to set in, usually 7-21 days depending on the weather or drying conditions.
To dry age your deer, hang the whole deer or hind quarter in a controlled environment. You will need a refrigerator that is large enough to hold the deer.
I prefer for the skin to be on the deer during this process so that none of the meat dries out. If you prefer to skin the deer first, you may have to trim off the outside layer of meat that becomes very hard during drying.
Wet aging is a method of aging that is performed after the deer is butchered. Wet aging will be discussed later in this process.
Important Tools For Butchering Your Deer Hind Quarter
Knives & Meat Grinder
I know you are excited to begin this process, but first you need to prepare your work area.
Plan to have a good size workspace that will accommodate the whole hind quarter.
You need room for the butchering process and then have a separate area ready to hold your finished product.
Gather the tools listed below so that you have everything you need.
Let's talk about knives first.
You will need a fillet knife and a deboning knife.
Your deboning knife will help you get the meat off the bone. I recommend a curved Semi-Stiff blade for this job.
Your filet knife with a straight more flexible blade is designed to cleanly slice through the connective tissue and trim the meat.
You can also use an All purpose knife or hunting knife to cut up the thicker pieces of meat.
Two great knives every home butcher should own are the Victorinox Deboning and Fillet Knives.
Keep a knife sharpener handy. Before you begin, make sure your knives are clean and sharpened. You may also need to take time to clean and sharpen your knives throughout the butchering process.
Your knives will work better if they are clean. This will also protect your hand from a slippery knife.
People get cut from blunt knives not sharp ones!!
Cutting Board And Table Covers
You will need a sturdy cutting board or two.
I think a table covering is necessary. You can find plastic sheeting from a hardware store.
Tape it to the table or surface you are using. This will protect your meat from contaminants as you butcher your venison.
Clean up will also be much easier. Just roll up the plastic sheet and dispose of it when you are finished.
Gloves And Paper Towel
Wear gloves to protect the meat as you are butchering the deer hind quarter.
Have paper towels on hand to help clean up blood, dirt or hair that might be on the meat or area where you are working.
A good meat grinder will be needed to process some of the tougher cuts of meat.
Be careful to remove the silver skin and tendon before grinding the meat if you are using a simple kitchen meat grinder.
A more expensive meat grinder designed for processing meat will be needed if you don't want to worry about removing the tendon or silver skin.
Read This Review For The Best Deer Meat Grinder (Electric And Manual)
You will need a bowl or dish to put the meat in once you have butchered it.
To store the meat you will need a vacuum sealer machine.
The vacuum seal will keep your meat fresh until you are ready to use it.
Cuts Of Meat From Your Butchered Deer Leg
Top round or (top sirloin), bottom round, eye of round, top butt, bottom (sirloin) butt, and tenderloin triangle are the six cuts of meats you will butcher plus the shank bones.
Some people use slightly different terms for these cuts of meat however they are essentially the same.
Each cut of meat has its own distinct shape.
The top round (or top sirloin) is football shaped.
The Bottom butt (sirloin) is a large piece of meat.
The Bottom round is thick and fat. Great for roasts.
An Eye of round cut is a long, cylindrical shape. (attached to the bottom round)
The Top butt is like a square.
A Tenderloin triangle is easy to spot because of its triangular shape. Often referred to as the tri tip.
And last but possibly the best are the Shanks.
Cutting each piece of deer meat into its natural shape will help you cook the meat properly.
The more tender cuts of meat can be grilled.
The thicker cuts of meat will be separated so that you can braise them low and slow or put into the meat grinder for a great healthy mince.
Makes great hamburgers, meatloaf, sausage or chili.
Butchering The Deer Hind Quarter Steps To Follow
There are two main methods to butcher your deer hind quarter.
Taking out the leg bone first and then making the various cuts of meat.
The other option is to take the butchered cuts of meat directly off the bone.
For your reference both methods are discussed below and the cuts of meat are very similar.
I find it easier to take the bone out first and then make the various cuts however there is no right or wrong way.
Experiment with both butchering methods to find out what works best for you.
All of your cuts are going to go with the muscle grain. Look for the natural separation points and ease them apart.
As you cut, remember to use your hands to pull the muscle while the knife cuts and makes the separation more precise.
The goal isn't to cut through the muscle, follow the natural sections of the meat.
Let's Get To It!
Method 1 Butchering The Deer Hind Quarter Bone Out First
Here is an excellent video from Texas Parks and Wildlife that shows this simple method of breaking down your deer hind leg. The images are taken from this same video for easy reference.
Place the venison hind quarter on your work surface with the ball joint facing up. Begin by deboning the deer hind quarter. The round ball joint will lead you to the femur bone.
Use your deboning knife to cut around the ball joint.
You should feel the femur bone about one inch under the meat.
Allow your knife blade to follow the curve of the bone, separating the meat from the femur bone.
Continue pulling the meat with your hand and use the knife to cut the meat off the bone.
The meat should easily separate from the bone as your knife slices through the connective tissue.
With the connective tissue cleared away, you will see the bone clearly.
These divisions are marked by white tissue which is contrasted by the dark meat.
You will cut the meat along these natural divisions and reveal some beautiful cuts of venison.
Remove the hind leg gland as described in the next section as this can taint the meat.
Use your hunting knife to do the heavy work of cutting the femur and shank bone apart.
Finish butchering all the meat off the bone before making your individual cuts of meat. The shank meat was closest to the bone and must be separated from the top round.
Look at the meat and notice the natural divisions of the meat to easily find the cuts of meat mentioned above.
Next, you can separate the top butt, bottom butt, bottom round, eye round and tenderloin triangle or tri tip.
Hold the meat with your hand and separate with the knife following the natural seams in the meat
Method 2 Butchering The Deer Hind Quarter Directly Off The Bone
This time take the cuts individually off the bone rather than taking the bone out first.
The process of breaking down the deer hind quarter however is largely the same.
You follow the natural seams in the meat to take off your individual cuts.
Here is another excellent youtube video from Cabela’s showing you the hind leg butchering process step by step. The images are taken from this same video for easy reference.
First, begin by separating the top round without cutting it out to reveal the top eye round. Then take or cut out the eye of round.
Next remove the hind leg gland.
This gland can taint the meat so make sure it is cut out of your venison leg.
Cut out the bottom round
Next you can cut out the top round off the femur bone.
Hold the top round with your hand and slice through the connecting tissue with the filet knife.
Once that is removed take out the butt sirloin.
Separate the top piece of rump off the sirloin
Grind up the shank meat with any other small portions of meat left over.
Or keep the shank meat on the bone for a great slow cooked meal.
Lastly, trim your meat of discolorations, fat, and anything that looks bloodshot or any dirt that might be left.
The silver skin can be left on to protect the meat in the freezer. Remove when cooking.
Storing Your Butchered Deer Hind Quarter
Before freezing your venison, prepare the meat for storage by vacuum sealing it with a vacuum machine.
Vacuum-sealed in plastic, your deer meat will be safe from the air and can be frozen for up to 2 years. After sealing the meat, you will want to age it.
Canning venison is also a good way to store the meat. Canning will take a little bit longer. Venison meatballs or stew are easily canned.
Venison roasts need to be frozen so you can cook them later. I prefer to freeze venison so I have focused on that method.
Wet aging has become popular recently because it does not require a large holding place for the venison.
Game animals like deer are very active and their muscles are well defined. Aging the meat is important to tenderize the meat. Without aging, the meat will be tougher than it needs to be.
Now that you have mastered how to butcher a deer hind quarter you should wet age it before cooking.
To wet age your venison, put the vacuum-sealed cuts of meat in the refrigerator for 7-28 days. The juices and blood in the sealed package will give the venison a deeper gamey flavor. Enzymes will tenderize your meat while you allow it to wet age. The plastic vacuum bag will ensure that no air reaches the meat.
To enhance the flavor of your venison, you can air dry your meat in the refrigerator a few days before you cook it.
Take the frozen meat out of the freezer. Open the vacuum seal, drain the meat and place it on a rack over a plate in the refrigerator. Leave it uncovered so that the air can do its work on the meat. Every couple of days, pour out the juices that come off the meat.
When you are ready to cook your venison, pat it dry and prepare it according to your favorite recipe.
See these Wild Game Recipes Here
The Butchered Venison
You should have several distinct venison hind quarter cuts before you.
Let’s look at some of the best ways to prepare each of the cuts.
The football shaped top round or top sirloin can be roasted in the oven or sliced and grilled to medium well. Makes great steaks.
The bottom round is a thick, fat piece of venison. There are many great ways to prepare this cut for cooking. This meat is great when cooked at a low temperature in a broth for several hours. It makes a great stewing meat and can also be used for a roast.
Trimmed off the fat and cleaned up the bottom round is actually a lean piece of meat . This cut of meat makes fantastic deer jerky. Here are 5 Easy Spicy Deer Jerky Recipes for you to try.
Eye of Round is a long, tube-like shape of meat. It looks very similar to the tenderloin. If this cut is dried correctly, it can be seasoned and grilled like a tenderloin. Cut into small medallions and cook quickly, add a mushroom cream sauce.
The top butt is a tougher, square shaped piece of meat. Great in low and slow cooked dishes.
Bottom butt is the largest muscle of the deer leg and it can be tough sometimes. It is best to braise this meat, cooking it low and slow in juice. As the fat and connective tissue break down, the meat will become more tender. Stews make an ideal dish from this cut of meat.
Alternatively put in the grinder for awesome hamburger mince, meatloaf, sausage or chili.
Lovers of venison know that the flavor in this cut is worth the extra cooking time.
The triangular shaped tenderloin or tri tip is a very tender piece of meat because it is closest to the tenderloin. The tenderloin triangle is only big enough for a small meal so you might plan to grill it along with the tenderloin.
The shanks with meat on can be cooked in a broth for a very flavorsome dish. Alternatively trim the meat off and put in the grinder.
Now that you know how to butcher a deer hind quarter, you are ready to try it yourself.
Gather your tools and carve up that venison that is waiting for you! Then, head to the table to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
List Of Recommended Tools To Butcher Your Deer Hind Quarter
Two excellent performing knives for the job are the Victorinox Deboning and Fillet knives as mentioned above. A Semi Stiff curved blade on the Deboning knife will get your cuts nice and close to the bone.
The flexible fillet knife will help you follow the natural seams of the meat with ease.
Keeping your knives sharp will make the whole process of breaking down your deer hind quarter simpler and much safer.
I am a bit old fashioned when it comes to sharpening knives and prefer to do it on a Honing Steel
Good quality cutting board/s are essential when breaking down your deer leg. These boards from Gorilla Grip are perfect.
- They contain grooves to catch any blood or juices.
- They are non-porous so will not soak up any blood or juices.
- Dishwasher safe and BPA Free.
- Will not dull or blunt your knife.
Keep your hands and meat protected with these Food Service compliant disposable gloves. Range of sizes available.
Latex and Powder free. Durable, Elastic and good Grip.
Some of the most flavorsome deer meat can be found in the tougher cuts of meat described above.
These cuts make super hamburgers, meatloaf, sausage and chili dishes.
To get the most out of your butchered deer leg you should have a good quality meat grinder.
I have both an electric grinder to use when processing a lot of meat, and a small table top grinder for smaller jobs.
STX International brand is one of the best premium meat grinders you can buy. If you process a lot of meat it is well worth the investment.
Gourmia offers great value for money and will do the job perfectly.
A good quality vacuumed packed piece of meat will last a very long time in your freezer.
Your meat is protected from freezer burn, mold and nutritional loss when stored in this way,
Foodsaver make a fantastic Vacuum Sealer machine to make this process really simple and cheap.
Seal wet and dry items easily.
Fully tested and compliant for food storage. BPA Free Bags and Rolls.
You have learned How To Butcher A Deer Hind Quarter and the tools required to do the process.
Also discussed was How to store your venison and suggested recipes and cooking methods.
The only thing left now is for you to:-
Walk Little ……. Look Lots