jim butchers his own deer. it sounds gruesome, but he gets whatever cuts of meat he wants, there's no waste, and we save a lot of money on processing. he sends some meat off to be ground, but that's the only thing he doesn't do himself.
i ended up dropping off the meat at the butcher tonight, and i'm still reeling from what i saw there. (if you have a weak stomach, now is the time to STOP READING. i'm serious, just stop right now. go to my sidebar and click on something else i wrote, maybe labeled "prayer" or "pop culture." something that has nothing to do with carcasses.)
it was dark and a little snowy when i pulled into the parking lot. my headlights cast an eerie glow on the dozen or more deer, gutted and crumpled in front of my car. it was like nothing i'd ever seen before or hope to again. carrying a heavy pan of meat, i literally had to step over and between carcasses to get to the door, praying i wouldn't trip and drop everything on the one who was missing a big chunk of of his head. the scene was like something out of a horror movie, except that it was just a regular day during hunting season.
to the right, an open door revealed more deer hanging, although they at least had been partially processed and resembled food. to the left was a door marked "deer processing," which is where i was supposed to go. inside were two men and two boys around ten years old, and each one held his own dead deer and sharp knife. dead deer, children with knives, children with dead deer and knives...the whole experience was surreal.
they didn't really know what to do with our meat (what with it not having hooves or other parts to wrestle off), so they called out the owner. he took our meat, and i got the heck out of there as fast as i could. but not too fast--i still didn't want to slip and fall into the pile of death on my way back to my car!