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Venison, The Cheap Red Meat.

Updated: Jan 29

Hello everyone and welcome back to Wicked Quail and Pork Homestead- the blog. Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook!

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We've had a busy year here on our new farm, I apologize for my absence on the blog. Before we get started on our topic, I'd like to introduce you guys to Rosie, our new Beagle. Rosie's purpose on our farm is to go hunting for rabbits and partridge, track deer that we may lose the blood trails of, and tire the kids out of course!

If you don't follow our Facebook page you won't know that we lost Reina, our Australian Shepherd, to a coyote attack this June. We don't put full blame on the coyote, we do know that Reina was one for picking fights, and this time, it didn't go in her favor.

Rest in peace, good farm dog.

Beagle playing in the snow

The topic at hand today is venison and why you should be utilizing your hunting seasons. Here in Maine, we have plenty of wild game available for harvesting and stocking the freezer.

Our large game consists of whitetail deer, black bear, moose(should you get drawn), and turkey. Our small game seasons are partridge, rabbit, and waterfowl.

In our house, we utilize a ton of venison (whitetail deer). The vast majority of our sausage intake is from a venison and pork mixture. We also raise our own pigs so that is a full circle item for us that comes directly from our land.

There are often jokes passed around about how expensive hunting is, how much gear it takes, and how long you have to be away from your family. It's important to know that these jokes only extend as far as special week-long trips to different states/countries when hunting animals that don't live in your immediate area. Hunting the wildlife that lives around you is a great way to source protein for your family and a great way to get your family outside!

We started our kids early, from the moment they were born, actually! We take them on all of the bird hunting trips unless it's strictly kayaking for waterfowl, and in doing this they have learned about mushrooms, wildlife, survival, and respect for our Earth. Plus, it gets us all away from technology for a little while, everyone can use a social media detox from time to time.

Now when it comes to bird hunting, that is kind of a hobby/money-spending activity. If you want to provide poultry-like products for your family I would suggest getting a few geese or heritage turkeys, but that's a conversation for another day.

Today, what I really want to touch base on is large game. If you live in an area that has Whitetail deer and a hunting season for them.. you are missing out big time if you aren't utilizing that.

We only buy chicken from the store at this point in our sustainability journey, everything else is raised or hunted here. The venison makes up 80% of our sausage, salami, and jerky. That's a lot of our meat coming from the great outdoors! With the sausage and salami, we like to mix in at least 30% pork. You want to add a little fat to the venison when grinding it, the one downfall of venison is that the fat on the deer doesn't taste great.

Your options for preparing venison are endless. We also make stew, corned venison roasts, ground bacon burger, and steaks! I'll drop a few pictures below of this year's butchering job as examples. That's another thing you really should look into is butchering your own wild game. The equipment is a slightly hefty investment but paying your local butcher $1.25/lb to do the job is costly as well. I will leave a link below to the vacuum seal bags we use from Amazon.

Let's talk about the start-up costs of hunting for large game. You'll need a firearm ($200-$1000), your license (Varies by state), and some basic gear, for example in Maine, we have to wear two articles of orange during rifle season. If you keep track of your gear and take care of your firearm, these costs will pay for themselves within 2 seasons.

Remember, when hunting to put food in the freezer, fancy doesn't mean much. Go to Walmart to get your cheap gear, and don't go dumping $600-$1000 on a rifle. Buy what you can afford and focus on building your skills to get the job done.

Now let's talk about the reality of the cost... I'll give you my numbers, but keep in mind that yours will be different. You'll need to take the time to figure out what works best for you and during those first couple of years, you'll be "paying off" the large purchases like a rifle. Taking into account that I have had my gun and tree stand for quite some time, they have already paid for themselves.

Purchases for the 2023 season...

-New vest and hat $40

-Box of ammo $50

-Doe Urine $20

Hypothetically, I had 3 tags this season. If I filled all three tags with deer sized at roughly 125 lbs hanging, I'd get roughly 280 lbs of edible meat off of those 3 deer, give or take.

Without paying someone to butcher it or factoring in the vacuum bags to do it yourself, that's .39 per pound. Now I only got one deer this year (my husband got 3 more), so technically my cost was $1.18 per pound. Still not anywhere near as expensive as beef in the store. Again, learning to butcher your own wild game is going to be beneficial here. Try teaming up with a friend to get the job done quicker and pay them with meat!

Now let's talk about the health benefits of venison, this is something you don't hear enough about.

Venison has 26.5 grams of protein, 94 mg of Omega-3, and 266 mg of Omega-6 per 100 grams of meat. That's very comparable to beef, and I like to think that the deer eating its natural diet behind my house is all-around healthier than the commercially produced beef that's been shipped overseas for packaging.

A fair portion of Maine is huntable and public land (timber companies own a lot here), so get out and look in your area for those places you can hunt, or put on your brave britches and ask landowners for permission (offer to gift them some of the meat should your hunt be successful).

I hope this short blog has encouraged your journey towards hunting for your freezer. Until next time, Happy Homesteading!

venison heart and onions

Deer heart and liver are both filled with nutrients! I cook the heart in lots of butter, onions, and seasonings. The most tender and flavorful part of the animal!

home butchered venison

We got

-20lbs of sausage in bulk for links.

-50 one lb packages of sausage for cooking with.

(Sausage has 30% pork in it)

-22 packages of steaks/stew meat

-16 half lb packages of sausage for my grandfather

All out of Paul's biggest deer this year. Not counting the other 3 we harvested. We use a ton of sausage so this is what we do the most of.

Sausage making. We love our Cabelas grinder and tubs!

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