One of the biggest problems new hunters make is overestimating their deer’s venison yield. Why? First, they based the result on live rather than field-dressed weight. Second, they do not realize how much waste is produced when butchering a deer. However, on average, a deer will have 35 to 40 pounds of venison per 100 pounds field dressed weight.
Of course, several factors can impact the venison yield. The deer’s overall health and fat content are apparent factors. Time of year, food source, and stomach contents are often overlooked factors. Finally, it is essential to remember that you will lose some meat to shot damage. Let’s look at how to calculate the yield from your next deer.
How much meat can you get from a Deer
How to Calculate the Venison Yield
There are several methods of calculating venison yield. All involve calculating weight, living or dressed, and making simple calculations. However, many such approaches fail to consider some of the earlier factors. The result is often an overestimation of weight and a resulting unrealistic expectation of yield.
The most accurate involves calculating three weights – carcass weight, boneless weight, and venison yield weight. For a more precise result, measure the field dressed weight with a simple hanging scale.
Some hunters may be wondering how there can be different weights. What does each mean? Here’s a quick explanation.
Carcass weight is one step beyond field-dressed weight. In addition to the intestines removed during field dressing, it also considers the removal of head and hide, which can account for more than 10% loss.
Boneless weight estimates what the carcass would weigh if you removed all the bones. Studies show that bone comprises as much as 13% of a deer’s overall weight. However, it is almost impossible to achieve an accurate boneless weight of a specific deer as there is always meat loss during the deboning process.
Venison yield is the amount of meat after all processing is complete. There will be a difference of as much as 10 pounds between the estimate and the actual amount of yield. This is because of loss due to excess fat, scrapes lost during the butchering process, and meat damaged during the hunt.
- Carcass weight – field dressed weight divided by 1.331.
- Boneless weight – carcass weight multiplied by 0.67
- Venison yield – boneless weight multiplied by 0.70
Carcass Weight – 100 / 1.331 = 75 pounds.
Boneless Weight – 75 x 0.67 = 50.25 pounds.
Venison Yield – 50.25 x 0.70 = 35 pounds.
How the deer is processed will also impact the final yield. You can stretch the result if you are content with ground meat, meat sticks, tongue or hot dogs. Scraps, rib meat, etc., can be utilized to maximize output. However, using only select cuts such as steak, tenderloins, and roasts will cause the yield to be on the lower end of estimates. Check out the best deer jerky recipe here.
What Part Tastes the Best
Asking which part of the deer tastes best involves a bit of personal preference. Some people love the tongue, heart, and liver. Others prefer only prime cuts such as steaks. However, overall, there is consensus that the backstraps are the best-tasting part of a deer. The tenderloins, smaller cuts located under the backstraps, would be a close second.
Although both cuts are muscle groups, lack of use allows them to remain very tender. Plus, they are lean, flavorful, and easy to prepare. Whether you are craving a pan-seared medallion or mouth-watering fajitas, the backstrap is an excellent starting point.
Is it Easy to Process Yourself?
Although processing a deer yourself is not difficult, it does involve a learning curve. Unless you have previous butchering experience, DIY processing will likely be limited to removing as much meat as possible and processing it into ground venison.
- Quality knife set with sharpener
- Cutting board
- Freezer paper with tape
- Bone saw
As your experience level grows and you acquire additional equipment, you can process more complex cuts. Although this will take longer, it will allow you to enjoy steaks, spare ribs, and roasts.
- Assortment of bowls
- Sausage stuffer
- Vacuum sealer
- Specialty knives for boning, filleting, etc.
Regardless of your end goal, the most critical step in processing your deer starts before you leave the field. Appropriately dressing your deer and packing the meat for transport significantly impact the taste.
Be sure to field dress the deer as soon as possible. Removing the entrails without puncturing the stomach or intestines is essential. Next, cool the carcass and protect it from insects and dirt. Finally, keep the carcass cool and protected until you are ready to process.
As you can see, although venison is a healthy alternative to many other types of meat, one deer will not go as far as you may expect. Therefore, many hunters use venison as a supplement rather than a substitute for beef. If you process the deer yourself some savings can be achieved. However, the cost of having a deer processed and packaged is will greatly reduce any potential savings, and may surpass, the cost of commercial meat.
But for many it about more than saving money or avoiding beef. Being able to harvest a deer is only part of the hunt. Processing that animal into something that can be shared with friends and family is the final step, allowing the hunter to come full circle in their quest for a connection with the outdoors.
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