In an effort to not be totally useless, some general items that apply:
- Any dried out exterior is trimmed until all that’s left is fresh meat. My least favorite part of the process.
- All muscle groups are separated and connective tissues removed, no exceptions. Generally my job.
- Muscles are separated by type: tenderloin, loin, blade, round, rump, etc. Also generally my job.
- About half the animal ends up in burger, much of it from the front quarters. Luckily, I hunt with people who like to eat mostly burger. We take most of the rest. We have a home-built heavy-duty grinder to do the job – and it’s a time consuming job bagging and wrapping it. A young bull might yield 100-120lbs of burger.
- The hind quarter is rich in what we call ‘cuts’ or ‘anything-that-isn’t-burger’. All cuts combined including heart, tenderloins, etc generally add up to about half the meat yield [other half burger].
- Once each muscle is trimmed, it generally left whole, as we like to choose in the kitchen what we want to do with it. Didn’t grow up cutting this way – ended up here as I got more serious in the kitchen.
- All of our meats are bagged in plastic, then wrapped in butcher paper, labeled by broad muscle group. Tried and true method of avoiding freezer burn. The only meats we’ve had freezer burn have been single wrapped from a butcher.
- The consensus in our broad group of hunting friends is that no butcher [at least none that we've tried] will produce an end product as good as you can do yourself. IF a butcher does game, they’re slammed at this time of year, and short on hands. Understandable. IF you get your actual animal back [say you shot a calf moose, and get bull moose back - not understandable], it’s usually single wrapped and prone to early freezer burn, and vastly more likely to have nasty crap in it [including hair, none of which is acceptable]. And IF you get the animal you shot back, and it’s not full of clot, hair, and nasty shit, then sometimes you end up with 80-90% burger and a few roasts. Speaking from experience. There’s a reason we do it ourselves.
Butchering Moose 2009
I truly wish I could provide a play-by-play of butchering a moose for those out there who are interested in how to tackle it – or rather, how I tackle it. This was the second bull to butcher of the year, and the reality was this time around that I was on duty trimming and cutting for 6 hrs and just wanted to be done with it. So no photos. Maybe next year I’ll line up a volunteer to shoot some of the specifics.