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Getting it to the table

November 5, 2010

The hunting portion of deer hunting may be over after you've successfully followed the blood trail and tracked down your buck or doe.

But you're job is far from over.

Some of the experienced hunters and outdoorsman will field dress, then skin and process the deer in their garages or home.

Article Photos

Rodney Shields, owner and operator of Custom Deer Processing in Harrisville, is shown preparing deer meat to be eaten.

But a good-sized portion of hunters don't have the skills or expertise to perform this task. And even greater amount may but simply don't have the time.

That's where a shop like Rod's Custom Deer Processing in Harrisville comes in. They can assist you in getting from the kill to the dining room table.

And Rod's even caters to the lazy hunter too.

It's a good idea, if you know how, to field dress your deer before dragging it out of the woods. Field dressing is the process of removing the innards of the deer. And the sooner its done, the less likely the meat of the deer will be spoiled. It's not a lengthy process, but it's not enjoyable either.

Custom Deer Processing will do it for you. Simply bring the deer to the shop and they will perform dress and skin the deer to get it ready for processing.

Some shops charge extra for that but at Rod's, it's included in the base processing price.

Then the hunter has a multitude of options of just how he wants his meat processed.

There are steaks, ground meat, sausages, slim jims and jerky and even bologna. The hunter designates how much he wants of each style of cut or processed meats and Rod's will accommodate.

A popular product is the slim jims and deer jerky.

For the slim jims, Rodney Shields, the owner and operator of Custom Deer Processing, will combine nine pounds of deer meat with three pounds of pork meat as well as cheese for flavoring, either hot pepper or cheddar cheese.

For both the slim jims and jerky, once advantage of Custom Deer Processing is you get back what you drop off.

Shields explained that some shops will combine meat from multiple customers and make the requested amount of jerky from that large pool of meat.

The problem with that is you were mixing deer together.

``Someone might have an old buck, maybe 9 or 10 years old, and it has a real strong, musky smell to it,'' Shields said. ``That smell will then get into everyone else's meat and give it a different flavor.

``Whatever you bring in here, that's what you get back and only your own meat.''

The sausage comes in varieties of hot, garlic, sweet Italian, along with breakfast-style sausage and kielbasa.

After combining the ingredients, the sausage is then smoked using hickory chips.

The ground meat is also combined with pork and is ran through the grinder twice, something Shields said not all shops do.

``We double-grind all of our meat and when it comes out, it looks like something you might purchase at Kroger or IGA,'' he said. ``If you only do it once, it looks closer to chili meat.''

The pork, which is purchased locally at Sam's Club in St. Clairsville, is inserted to add flavor and take away some of the dryness that is commonly found in venison.

While whitetail deer is the main animal processed at Shield's shop, it's not the only one. He can handle wild boar, mule deer, turkey, you name it.

``Pretty much if it can be taken legally, we can handle the processing,'' Shields said.

He also partners with Pietro's Animal Taxidermy for those that wish to have their buck's mounted, either with a classic shoulder mount or a European-style mount.

Something else Shields has recently started doing is helping hunters help others.

The general price for a basic processing and cut is $65 dollars. But if the hunter wishes to donate the meat from his kill, Shields will cut the price to $40 and help find a needy family in the area to donate the meat too.

While the pricing of having your deer processed increases depending on how varied and the number of smoked meats you request, it can still be an affordable alternative to purchasing beef or pork at the store.

Custom Deer Processing is located at 74550 Henderson Ridge Road in Harrisville. It can be reached by calling (740) 546-4240 or (740) 391-0362.

Hughes may be reached at



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