Deer parts: what good are they?

Deer bone handle knives are both unique and functional.

As archery deer season is well underway and the firearms seasons are rapidly approaching, the thoughts of fresh backstraps has me salivating.  

However, last month I was asked a pretty interesting question by good buddy Jimmy Sexton, the publisher and editor of one of the magazines for which I write on a regular basis… this one.

Sexton’s question to me was this, “What are some uses for all the other deer parts once the loins, steaks, roasts and trimmings for burger is processed?” 

His question prompted this explanation.

Let’s start by making sure the pure meat is properly cared for. This will ensure great venison meals. Eviscerating, more commonly called “field dressing,” should be done as quickly after death as possible. 

This will allow the all-important cooling process to begin. If the temps are warm I suggest a couple of bags of ice be placed inside the carcass.

Now for some of the “parts” Jimmy enquired about. During field dressing be sure to save both the heart and the liver.  

Lots of folks know to do this because they love eating these organs. Even if this does not seem like something you would enjoy, save them nevertheless. Someone you know will appreciate them. 

Be proactive and have a home for these delicacies ahead of time. Some people also eat the kidneys and tongue. I do not.

Next let’s discuss the hide you will have left over before you begin butchering. Hundreds of thousands of deer hides are wasted each season.  

Most guys who process their own venison discard the hide with the carcass. That is OK, but there are many more useful ways to dispose of those hides.

There are dozens of spots across the country that will buy your hides. Most of these are commercial tanners that turn hides into leather for clothing or into decorations.  

Praises to the Elks Clubs of Missouri for collecting deer hides each season and turning them into leather gloves for disabled veterans.

Did you know that if you take your deer to a commercial meat processor they charge you a fee to skin your deer before they cut it up and then sell that hide to a tanner?
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So, why not get something cool made for friends or family from your deer hides? There are a few places in Missouri I can recommend to get either “hair on” or “hair off” tanning.  

In Springfield contact Springfield Leather Company and another good one is Tanning Unlimited in Hermitage, Mo.

But here is the very best advice for what to do with your deer hides this season and forever. DONATE THEM! Contact your local Elks Club.  

They have long been involved with collecting deer hides and having them made into great, durable leather gloves for disabled veterans. What a wonderful destination for one of your deer parts!

Believe it or not, there are also several good, practical uses for deer bones, as well. Remember this first, NEVER save or use a deer’s brain tissue. That in and of itself is a topic for an entire article.  

However, if you have never tried the marrow from a deer’s thigh bone, or femur, as a condiment I think you should try it.  

Native Americans and mountain men would heat these bones in a fire and then break them and use the marrow like butter. Don’t knock it ’til you have tried it.

Another and very good option for deer bones is to freeze them and give them to your dogs throughout the year. To save space I cut up several bones and put them in Ziploc bags in the freezer.

Many items can be made from deer bones. Buttons, cabinet handles, beads and even sewing needles are common uses for the bones of mammals, including deer.  

Those of you who enjoy crafts will no doubt have several other good ideas.

When it comes to making handles out of bone, knife handles come to mind first. Many of you have seen knives with handles made of antler, but bone handles are much more intriguing. 

I suggest you consider getting one made for yourself or a loved one.

So, you see, there are lots of great ways to use the leftover deer parts instead of just pitching them out with the trash.

(Mike Roux is a member of the Mossy Oak pro hunting staff.)

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