Deer hunters have long list of options for woods-to-table venison
Some people hunt deer to bag a big trophy buck, get it mounted and hang it on the wall of their home, office or camp.
Others go hunting just for the experience, but most all of them are also looking for something good to eat — a freezer shelf full of venison. Those folks traditionally have relied on the staples of deer meat — hamburger, steaks and sausage. A lot of hunters used to gut, skin and process their harvest themselves, but that number is dwindling. That was the old days.
Today, deer processors are located in popular deer hunting areas and there are usually more than one. And the selections of cuts for the freezer are almost unlimited.
“Things have definitely changed,” said lifetime outdoor enthusiast and deer processor Kyle Green, owner of the Dubach Deer Factory and Smokehouse north of Ruston, La. “We make all kinds of products for hunters and that includes about 20 different options just for sausage. We even make deer bacon and that is a very popular item. People want different flavors, not just ground meat to put in spaghetti or tacos.”
Green said one thing people today like is venison that is already prepared to the point they don’t have to spend a lot of time cooking it. That’s why the “Smokehouse” part of his business has grown so much. One of his specialty products is cream cheese & jalapeño stuffed deer backstrap wrapped in bacon and smoked for hours that customers can just throw on the grill a few minutes and it’s ready to eat. He also smokes all his sausage products so they are fully cooked and can be prepared the same way.
Having burger patties already made up and quick frozen where customers can just pop off a few from the pack and then throw them on the grill is a growing trend as well, he said.
The most popular sausages seem to be regular smoked sausage, jalapeño cheese sausages and even green onion sausages, Green said.
Various processors offer a world of options besides steak, regular hamburger and sausage. Those include bacon burger and burger patties, smoked sausage, deer bacon, cheese and jalapeño sausage, cheese and pineapple sausage, pan sausage of all types, summer sausage and even bratwursts. Brown sugar and maple smoked patties is popular for breakfast. And more.
At many processors, you can order your deer cut into stew meat, roasts and even get venison snack sticks, deer jerky, hot tamales and meat pies.
If you have a specialty item you want, make sure and check with your processor before delivering the deer to ensure your satisfaction. Not all processors provide the same services.
With the out-of-control wild hog epidemic, many more people are also shooting and trapping hogs. You won’t get as many options, but some processors stay open longer months to take care of the feral porkers as well.
Most processors didn’t just stumble into the business. They have a history with deer and making the most of it in the kitchen.
“When I was a kid, I would go to Texas and hunt,” he recalls. “There was a place in Del Rio with a little Mexican meat market and the guy that managed the ranch had a son about my age. We would take deer to the plant and I was always fascinated with it. They even had a little grill where you could walk up and make your own breakfast burrito. I just kind of fell in love with it. The plans for me to do it were years in the making and we finally got it worked out like we wanted.”
Green said he has a simple philosophy. He wants to send the venison home with the hunter with the same quality he would expect if it were headed to his table.
Processing deer isn’t as easy as some people think, he said. Especially when it comes to making products like sausage. Everything you do has an impact, from the length and temperature it is cooked to the type of wood and casing used. It’s also important that deer hunters make sure their processor has a clean, stable work environment to handle their meat.