Home Butchering: A Hobby for the Legally Insane
One problem in the Communications Age is that we think we can do anything. With websites and video channels devoted to every possible subject, it seems easy to spend a few minutes researching a topic before you dive headlong into a project for which you have no skills or training. This isn’t a problem when you’re talking automotive repair but can be a problem when considering do-it-yourself neurosurgery.
Anyway, under that modern misapprehension I came decide, quite earnestly, that I could butcher my own deer.
Before the deer season it seemed, quite reasonably at the time, that an experienced hunter should have no major problem in turning a proud trophy into a neat pile of chops and steaks. Sadly, it turned out that home butchering is slightly more complicated than brain surgery but with far more frightful results.
I started the plunge into madness one evening by suspending my latest field-dressed deer from our garage ceiling. This required punching some major holes in the nicely finished plaster in order to allow a chain to be thrown over a roof truss. After the carcass was hanging placidly in the cool air, I was ready to begin what I considered the final stage of an honorable hunt.
Of course, I had forgotten to inform my family that there would be a bloody, headless cadaver hanging in the garage when the door was raised. Fortunately, I was in the bedroom at that moment and suffered only temporary hearing loss.
Ignoring unsigned death threats left in the kitchen, I went to work the next morning by attacking the remains in earnest. The skinning process went along smoothly and I stepped back to admire my handiwork. It was that moment when it became obvious that there were no dotted lines on the carcass like those in the home butchering instruction videos. My confidence flickered momentarily but I pressed on, opening the festivities with my largest, sharpest knife.
Now flash forward several hours. The improvised butchering table built from sawhorses and plywood was strewn with large, gore-covered meat lumps while I appeared to be Jack the Ripper’s less-fastidious twin brother. Cold panic set in after realizing my family would return within two hours and it seemed fairly certain that having two furry severed legs hanging from a chain in the garage is considered legal grounds for intervention by child welfare authorities. The situation was growing urgent.
Diving into the meat pile with a cleaver and specially purchased saw, I hacked and cut like the aforementioned madman. Gristle, fat, sinew and bone chips flew, meat was subdivided into smaller piles and I grew increasingly agitated as the clock spun yet faster and faster. An errant thumb may have been severed at some point but my hands were too chilled to notice.
An hour later, cold yet sweat-soaked and exhausted, I straightened my aching back and surveyed the damage. Sitting before me, swathed in butcher paper, was at least forty pounds of random venison cuts that didn’t bear the slightest resemblance to anything ever found in a grocery store. Some roasts were so large that they would require an entire blast furnace for cooking while others were smaller than an anemic dove breast. There was a strong possibility that one package was actually the missing thumb.
After a long contemplative exhale, I was crushed by the realization that my proud deer had been reduced into what onlookers would believe to be a large collection of random household objects gift-wrapped by agitated chimpanzees.
However, the ordeal has a happy ending since the poor butchering technique didn’t adversely affect the delicious taste of the prime venison. I’m pleased the ordeal is over and my family is pleased there are no longer any legs hanging from the ceiling.
In fact, I’m so happy that I took a vow to never, ever, butcher anything larger than a squirrel.