Fa la la la laa laa laa laa la…. ‘Tis the season to feast and eat… Fa la la la laa laa laa laa la.
Don we now camo apparel… Fa la la la la la laa laa laa. Tote around a single barrel… Fa la la la laa la laa la laa la.
Howdy folks, it’s officially my favorite time of the year. Not only is it the holiday season, it’s also a time we get to fill our freezers with tasty wild game meat. I’m not much of a hunter and as an animal lover, I must admit it’s a hard process for me to go through without crying, but I am a firm believer in knowing where my food comes from and that each animal lives a wild, healthy and happy life. Being able to hunt on the farm was a huge draw for us on deciding to homestead.
This November brought deer season and I was saddened by the amount of poaching that goes on in our area. I am thankful for our fences and signs as we do have the horses living amongst the wild game, but boy did people push the envelope. I mean, I can SEE you… you are in my neighbors field and you can obviously see my house. Sigh… I digress.
I am thankful that Clay had his mule deer tag and harvested us a beautiful 4 point buck in a single shot. I was so proud I promptly marched out and took a bunch of amazing photos, later to realize I didn’t have a memory card in my camera… blast! Anyway, Clay gutted it (with my leg holding assistance), skinned it and hung it up in our power shed. The whole process didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. This farm girl is growing up!
After hanging it for 10 days it was time for my very first large animal butcher session. I was a little intimidated, but once Clay started to bring in the quarters and I had fully gotten into my first glass of wine, everything came pretty easily. I just followed the natural lines of the muscle and trimmed, trimmed, trimmed. As an avid cook, I knew what I wanted to keep and what I didn’t. It was actually kind of fun. And man oh man, is venison a gorgeous meat! I mean, look at that color. Happy happy girl.
The dogs enjoyed a leg bone each… Wyatt got the crazy eyes and devoured his. It took Maynard about 15 minutes to warm up to the idea and realize it wasn’t there to kill him, and in the end, enjoyed it very much.
After packaging all of the large cuts of venison with my handy dandy food saver, I set the remaining scraps aside in the fridge for next day grinding. We bought a grinder from Cabela’s a few months earlier and I was eager to try it.
So the next day, I trimmed and sliced about 2 lbs of jerky meat and fed the rest through our grinder. It was awesome! I was finished in like 20 minutes and that was running it through 2 different blades. It took longer to clean the darned thing. Ha ha! 10 lbs of beautiful ground venison for the freezer – am I a bad ass or what?! (Sorry, the new homestead skills have gone to my head quickly. Also, gotta keep the motivation up for our next much larger butcher session.)
Fast forward one month to this week and we were on our next hunt. Mind you we enjoyed our first venison tenderloin steaks (delicious) and butchered 10 roosters within that time… I can not stress enough that this lifestyle literally never has a dull moment.
At the end of November we had a herd of elk move onto the property. What a breathtaking sight to enjoy my morning tea to. Elk are absolutely gorgeous animals and something I did not experience in Alaska. Clay and I enjoyed doing a daily count, and watching the bulls try to woo the ladies. Mostly we anxiously awaited the arrival of December 1st, when Clay’s Limited Entry Hunt tag for a cow elk came into effect. We hoped they would stick around.
And they did.
The weather was warm, I got home at 4 pm, we geared up, he with his .338 and me with my camera and a hunting we did go. 20 minutes later we had our elk. I think I’ll start going on more hunts if it only takes 20 minutes. (I can feel Clay rolling his eyes from here.) I am amazed at how big elk are. She was beautiful and we both thanked her for her life and sacrifice for our family.
Clay’s dad came down to help haul it up to the house and they gutted, skinned and quartered it for the shed. Hooray! I haven’t bought red meat from the grocery store in a year and I won’t be starting anytime soon. I am excited to butcher my first elk and try my hand at elk jerky… the venison stuff only lasted for 2 days around our house. Nothing like jerky for breakfast 🙂
Another busy month leads us into the holidays and we remain thankful and blessed. We truly are living the sustainable lifestyle we dreamed about. Although, I keep having a stare down with the giant elk heart that’s in my fridge at the moment… I’m still a work in progress.
Now, time to increase my wild game meat recipe collection – what’s your favorite way to prepare venison or elk?