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wild game processing, grinding burger, meat grinder

Steaks and Burger, that is what 95% of each elk, deer, antelope and bear get processed into.  Call me a simple man but those two allow me to eat the way I like to and keep my overall wild game processing to a minimum while still being able to do the process and control how my meat makes it from field to freezer.  My goal this year was to eat down my freezer to a few select items that I would eat during hunting season.  I’ve been doing a good job but still had quite a few bags of small cuts that I had labeled burger.  When I initially process my game I take any of the less than ideal pieces and give them a quick trim and throw them in a big stainless bowl.  This keeps my inital processing time down.  I ran out of burger about a month ago and have been trying to find the time to thaw the rest of my game out and process it.  This last week I finally found the time and kicked things off.  Today I want to run you through my very simple process in hopes those of you who aren’t doing it will see that it’s really an easy task.  First things first I pull any bags that were labeled burger and put them in containers in my fridge to slowly thaw.  This takes about 3-5 days and often the meat will still be slightly frozen in the middle.  This is nice because it keeps the meat a bit more firm and helps make those last trimmings as you go to remove any sinew or silver skin.

The next step in the process is to rinse each piece of meat and inspect.  Occassionally some of the pieces on the edges will get a little freezer burn or will need some extra trimming.  The good pieces get tossed into a metal strainer so they can shed excess water and the pieces that need some knife work go on a cutting board and get patted dry.  I’ll make any trimmings and then toss final pieces into the strainer.  Super straightforward and easy.

Up next comes the grind process.  You’ll need a grinder and this is really your only investment into the process.  Earlier this year I upgraded my grinder to a MEAT! 1.5 horsepower grinder.  This thing is legendary and has some serious power.  Compared to my old grinder this thing literally sent the burger flying out.  It made the process so easy and quick.  I’d put money on there being a really really good chance you could process game for a lifetime and then give it to your kids to use for a lifetime.  I’d say it’s well worth the $599 price tag.

Again, some might say I’m simple but I will grind my burger from 100% wild game.  I don’t add any fat or bacon or other meats to my burger.  I want lean, clean, and healthy burger to eat and for me there’s no sense in adding to it.  I’ve never had a burger fall apart or not taste amazing so I’m sticking to it.  Simple load up the upper tray, turn on the grinder, have a bag ready on the one end and go.

Once I get a healthy stack of burger in bags, I’ll put a metal collar on the top of the bag and into the freezer it goes!  Not only do I eat this at home all the time but I always make sure I have about 15 pounds of burger ready for hunting season.  It’s a great addition to the cooler on any hunt where I’ll be camping and eating at the truck for 2 reason:

  1. It makes an amazingly good and easy meal.  Burritos, pasta, tacos, and burgers are all hearty, healthy meals that take minimal equipment to cook and can be cooked up in no time after a long day.  These are staples in my truck hunting meal plan for dinners.
  2. Frozen burger is a killer addition to the cooler on longer hunts or hunts in warm weather.  The burger will help keep your coolers cool for a few extra days and as long as you plan a few other meals the first night or two you’ll be in business when night 3,4,5 roll around and your burger has just thawed.  Just remember to put it in a zip lock bag if you don’t have it sealed super tight or sitting upright in the cooler and they often will leak a little blood.

So if you aren’t processing your own game I’d encourage you to.  It’s simple but most importantly I don’t trust anyone to be as diligent with the meat I harvest as myself.  I’ve watched and been to many processing places before and it’s a production line and at the end of the day I want to know that I got my meat in my freezer and not someone else’s who didn’t care and keep it clean and cool.  So get a few cutting boards, some freezer paper and tape, a good knife and a meat grinder and process your own wild game this fall.

Zack Boughton