Here\u2019s a simple question for you hunters out there, do you process your own game?\u00a0 If you don\u2019t, why not?\u00a0 As a hunter and DIY game processor, the number of hunters who simply drop off their deer\u00a0at a butcher shop and wait for a phone call always baffles\u00a0me.\u00a0 You\u2019ve already put yourself through the most challenging part of providing meat for the table, so why you wouldn\u2019t take a couple of hours to ensure you have the freshest cuts available from YOUR deer is mind-boggling.Think about it, every season you spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on equipment that\u2019s supposed to \u201chelp\u201d you put meat on the table.\u00a0 You also spend hours upon hours pursuing the game.\u00a0 Of all the work involved, this is the easiest, fastest, and most rewarding part of the entire hunt. \u00a0If you\u2019ve yet to process one of your animals, don\u2019t be afraid to start\u2026it\u2019s easy, so jump right in!In these two video tutorials, Larry Bonde, Chairman of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, shows you how to easily process your deer from start to finish, all the way from skinning the animal to packaging the finer cuts of meat. Also, don’t forget to read some of the helpful tips\u00a0from Al Cambrone, co-author of \u00a0Gut It. Cut It. Cook it.: The Deer Hunter\u2019s Guide to Processing and Preparing Venison.FAQs About Processing Your DeerLW: What would you tell hunters who are curious about butchering their own deer? \u00a0\u00a0Maybe they\u2019re new hunters, or maybe they\u2019ve been hunting for years, but until now they\u2019ve been paying someone else to process their deer.\u00a0 What should they know?AC: With the techniques we show readers in Gut It. Cut It. Cook It., skinning and butchering your own deer isn\u2019t really that hard.\u00a0 It\u2019s a new skill to learn, but it\u2019s not rocket science or brain surgery.\u00a0 Your deer is already dead.\u00a0 As long as you keep your venison clean and cold during this process, there\u2019s nothing that can go seriously wrong.\u00a0 So don\u2019t worry if some of your roasts and steaks turn out a little ragged or lumpy. They\u2019ll still taste great.\u00a0 You can do this.LW: Let\u2019s start with the tools. What do you need? AC: All you really need is a sharp knife.\u00a0 In Gut It. Cut It. Cook It., we show you how to butcher deer with a modern, boneless technique that doesn\u2019t require you to saw through lots of bones (It also saves room in your freezer). Although some home butchers prefer to use a saw for removing the deer\u2019s lower legs, even that step can be completed with just a knife.\u00a0 In practice, of course, you\u2019ll probably want more than one knife.\u00a0 You\u2019ll also need things like cutting boards, bowls, plastic wrap, freezer paper, tape, and paper towels.LW: After your deer is down, what\u2019s the first thing you should do? AC: First, be absolutely certain your deer is dead.\u00a0 If you\u2019re not sure, approach from a safe direction and touch the deer with your foot or the end of your rifle barrel.\u00a0 Once that\u2019s done, tag your deer.\u00a0 Next, take a moment to calm down and catch your breath.\u00a0 You\u2019ll want to field-dress your deer as soon as you can, but another minute or two won\u2019t matter.\u00a0 If it\u2019s gun season, and if you remove a layer of clothing, make sure you\u2019re still wearing some blaze orange.\u00a0 Lay out everything you need.\u00a0 If it\u2019s been a while, mentally rehearse those next few steps.\u00a0 There.\u00a0 Now let\u2019s get to work. LW: Is there a right way and a wrong way to field dress a deer? AC: We\u2019ll show you a method that works, and variations are fine. You\u2019ll definitely hear different opinions on where to start the job and how to complete certain steps.\u00a0 But I can think of three traditional practices hunters should definitely avoid.\u00a0 First, don\u2019t cut those tarsal glands on the deer\u2019s hind legs.\u00a0 Although some hunters slice them off to avoid contaminating the meat, there\u2019s no better way to do exactly that than to slice into them and then use the same knife to field-dress and butcher your deer.\u00a0 Instead, just leave those scent glands alone.\u00a0 Second, don\u2019t cut the deer\u2019s throat to bleed it out.\u00a0 It\u2019s totally unnecessary, and it only provides an extra opening for dirt and germs.\u00a0 Finally, for that same reason, don\u2019t open your deer up all the way from its chin to its tail.\u00a0 Not necessary. LW: Which part of butchering a deer presents the most challenges? AC: Field-dressing is the most messy, unpleasant part of the entire process.\u00a0 But you\u2019ll be doing that job yourself anyway, even if you pay someone else to take it from there.\u00a0 After that, it just gets easier.\u00a0 Another thing to remember: If your steaks don\u2019t all turn out to be perfectly symmetrical, it\u2019s no big deal.\u00a0 Some of those chunks are going to end up as stew or burger anyway. \u00a0Even if parts of the very best cuts end up as scraps and shreds, they\u2019ll be great for stir-fries and fajitas.\u00a0 So don\u2019t worry about perfection.\u00a0 Just relax.That said, certain steps can be a little challenging\u2014especially the first few times.\u00a0 Depending on the deer, for example, skinning can take longer than expected.\u00a0 But don\u2019t be discouraged if it\u2019s difficult right from the beginning. Some of the leg areas that are harder to peel are also the areas you\u2019ll skin first.\u00a0 It gets easier as you go along. What else?\u00a0 Trimming meat off the shoulders and hindquarters takes patience, and some of those bones and joints might not be exactly where you expect them to be.\u00a0 It gets easier with practice.\u00a0 A good rule of thumb is to just follow the individual muscle groups and cut them out one at a time.\u00a0 They are separated with a fibrous silver skin which makes following them easy. Just take your time, and remember that it\u2019s not a race and you can\u2019t really mess up. LW: Let\u2019s say it\u2019s an unseasonably warm day. Do we need to take any special precautions? AC: Yes.\u00a0 At moderate temperatures the situation is less urgent.\u00a0 But if it\u2019s really warm (above 50\u00b0F), you\u2019ll want to field-dress your deer and get it chilled down as quickly as possible.\u00a0 If you can, plan ahead and fill a cooler with bags of ice.\u00a0 If you don\u2019t get a deer, refreeze the bags when you get home, then get them back in the cooler the next morning.\u00a0 When you do get a deer, you\u2019re going to field-dress it, get it in your vehicle, and then put the ice\u2014still in the bag\u2014inside its body cavity.\u00a0 That will chill it from the inside out.\u00a0 Shove as many bags in there as you can.\u00a0 Pile the rest alongside the deer.\u00a0 Plan B: Stop for ice on the way home, first chance you get.\u00a0 I suppose a sunny pickup bed or hitch\u2019n haul is less than ideal.\u00a0 Try lots of ice, and a damp tarp covering everything. LW: To hang or not to hang? And at what temperature? Where? How long? AC: Not everyone will agree with what I\u2019m about to say; our beliefs about aging venison are often based on tradition rather than actual food science.\u00a0 We may have learned the \u201cright\u201d way from Grandpa, but it\u2019s time to debunk a few myths about aging venison.The short version: Aging your venison won\u2019t significantly improve it, and aging your venison outdoors more than a day or two will almost always make it taste worse. \u00a0It could even turn your venison into a serious health hazard.How did we come to believe otherwise?\u00a0 The way we think about venison has been hugely influenced by the marketing of aged beef.\u00a0 But let\u2019s remember that most beef, including steak, is not aged.\u00a0 Today it makes the trip from slaughterhouse to supermarket in about three days.\u00a0 Pork, lamb, and other meats aren\u2019t aged, either.\u00a0 Like venison, they don\u2019t need it.And the tiny percentage of beef that\u2019s dry-aged for fancy steakhouses?\u00a0 It\u2019s aged indoors in carefully controlled conditions\u2014not just in a standard walk-in cooler, but in a sterile environment kept between 1 and 3 degrees Celsius, with humidity levels of 50 to 75%.\u00a0 To slowly dry the meat, air is kept circulating continuously. Compare that to deer hanging on an outdoor buck pole where you\u2019ve got freezing, thawing, sun, wind, rain, and wide temperature swings every day\u2014hopefully for not too many days.So, depending on the weather, it might be fine to hang your deer for a day or two. \u00a0But any longer is likely to do more harm than good.\u00a0 Well-intentioned aging in uncontrolled conditions is one of the biggest reasons for the \u201cgamey\u201d taste of wild game. LW: What else can hunters do to prevent that \u201cgamey\u201d taste?AC: Keep your venison clean and cool every step of the way.\u00a0 Get that deer butchered and into the freezer within a day or two.\u00a0 If you can do that, your venison will taste great.But even then, don\u2019t expect it to taste like cow meat.\u00a0 These days, even beef doesn\u2019t taste like beef.\u00a0 One reason is that most American beef is now raised in feedlots.\u00a0 When people try grass-fed beef because they\u2019ve heard it\u2019s healthier or more flavorful, they often decide it\u2019s not for them.\u00a0 It has a different flavor\u2014almost like venison.\u00a0 Free-range organic venison doesn\u2019t naturally taste \u201cgamey.\u201d\u00a0 It naturally tastes great.\u00a0 Removing the silver skin from the individual muscle groups will also help your venison taste great. Instead of disguising that natural flavor with sauces, marinades, and gallons of cheap Italian dressing in giant plastic jugs, let\u2019s celebrate and savor it. LW: What about in the kitchen?\u00a0 What should hunters remember when they\u2019re cooking their venison, and how is cooking venison different from cooking beef?AC:\u00a0 The most important thing to remember:\u00a0 Don\u2019t overcook it.\u00a0 On the grill, it takes just seconds for steaks to go from perfection to overdone shoe leather.\u00a0 How long you cook your venison makes way more difference than the age of the deer, how long it was aged while hanging from the oak tree in your front yard, or pretty much any other venison variable you can think of.\u00a0 With a slow cooker, no worries.\u00a0 But with just about any other cooking method, a little overcooking can negate everything you\u2019ve done right up until now.\u00a0 Unlike beef or pork, venison has very little intramuscular fat that\u2019s marbled right into the meat.\u00a0 That doesn\u2019t mean venison has to be dry.\u00a0 It does, however, mean you can\u2019t get away with overcooking it. LW: Anything else you\u2019d like our readers to know?AC: Like I said, you can do this.\u00a0 With the techniques we show readers in Gut It. Cut It. Cook It., skinning and butchering your own deer isn\u2019t really that hard.\u00a0 It\u2019s a new skill to learn, but it\u2019s not rocket science.\u00a0 So don\u2019t worry if some of your roasts and steaks turn out a little ragged or lumpy. They\u2019ll still taste great. \u00a0Remember, too, that it\u2019s not a race.\u00a0 Take your time, work safely, and save the serious celebrating for after you\u2019re done.Let\u2019s be real.\u00a0 This is going to be some work, and it definitely takes longer the first few times.\u00a0 But it\u2019s also incredibly rewarding to know you\u2019ve done it all yourself, every step of the way\u2014from pulling the trigger to washing the dishes.