Video: Four Tips for Deboning a Deer

I wanted to share with you one of the better videos out there on how to debone a deer carcass. Tim McClendon of McClendon Country Meats, in Roseburg, Oregon, does a great job of explaining the process, showing each cut more than once to give viewers a better idea of where and how to break down their deer. Though McClendon does things a bit differently than I do (I pull my quarters off whole and debone them on the table), the technique is still worth a watch. Here are a few tips I gleaned from it:

1. Use Your Knife Wisely
When cutting meat, you rarely have to use the entire knife blade. In fact, for much of the process, the tip is all you need to separate muscle groups. Cutting with the whole blade is a good way to accidently turn steaks into mince.

2. Get a Meat Hook
It can take some practice, but learning to use a meat hook keeps your fingers out of the way of the blade. A meat hook also keeps fingers warm—and doesn't inflame my arthritis—when dealing with a cold carcass.

3. Blunt Dissection
Though the video doesn't get into it, using force and fingertips will often separate muscle groups faster and easier than a knife. You can see what I'm talking about in the video at about the 8:20 mark, when the meat cutter pulls the hams off the bone.

4. Don't Get Hung Up on Speed
A meat processor makes his money getting through as many deer as possible. In other videos, Tim debones an entire deer in six minutes. It takes me about that long to do both backstraps. As you cut your deer, concentrate on doing a good job, not a fast one.