Fun with Almost-Free Venison

“Is she dead, or do I have to bring a gun to finish her off?” I asked.

“No, she is definitely dead.”

A doe (a deer, a female deer) had run full speed into a fence when spooked by a property owner and snapped its neck, dying instantly.

Another title for this article could be “Spending less while doing more of what you enjoy.”

In odd situations like this, Montana Fish and Game donates the animals to veterans if they are still viable for meat.  Veterans only need to sign up at a local VA office and wait for the phone call when a big game animal has met its untimely death.

There is a small window of time to gut and cool a deer carcass before it starts effecting the quality of the meet. When I was working and the VA called, I almost always had to turn down the offer. If I was able to accept, I worked so many hours that I didn’t have time to process the deer myself.  I would have to take the deer to a local meat processor and pay $150 or more to have it processed.

However, this year I was able to process this delectable doe myself.  I kept the best cuts for steaks and jerky, then the rest of the meat was ground by the local processor. I went from paying $150+ down to $18 for oh-so-glorious Montana venison! That is what I like to call “almost-free.” As health conscious, yet meat loving- folk, game meat is a win-win with Omega 3’s 2-3 times that of conventionally raised meat.

Learning to gut, skin, carve and clean a deer has been a real treat for this once-city boy turned Montanan. I’ve always wanted to learn and participate in all aspects of hunting. And I love being outdoors no matter the occasion (add a cup of coffee and “Ooooh Mama!”). So whether it’s hunting big game, or, in this case, being in my beautiful back yard processing big game while watching my kids play—outdoors + Mr. Mt = happy, happy man.

Since moving to Montana, our herd has come to love the taste of venison.  Now, from the back of our van, when our jerky-craving 8 year old sees a deer along the road, he shouts out “Hit it, Papa! Hit it!”

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