Learn How to Butcher Meat at Home

Get the freshest meat possible by butchering deer, beef or chicken carcasses in your own kitchen.

Credit: Michael Robertson

Masa Takei butchers the fresh deer meat

Travel writer Masa Takei serves up a lesson in butchering a deer in my kitchen.


Having access to fresh, wild meat is the carniphile’s equivalent to a bounteous vegetable garden


When renowned travel writer Masa Takei turns up with half a deer carcass there are only two things you can do: sharpen your knives and clear some space in the freezer.


Tying off a venison rolled roast

Tying off a venison rolled roast

For three hours yesterday, my kitchen became an amateur butchery as Masa and I tried to turn half a deer into recipe-friendly pieces of meat. As we progressed, the classifications shifted from animal part (leg, shoulder, etc.) to butchery terminology (shank, rump) to meal specific (roast, casserole, sausage).


Kitchen utensils for home butchering

A good boning knife is invaluable. It should have a thin blade with a sharp point. If you’re dissevering a larger animal like a deer or a pig you want a boning knife with a relatively stiff blade; a more flexible blade is preferable for fish and fowl.


A hacksaw. Butchers (and serious hunters) will have a band saw but a hacksaw is pretty efficient at cutting through bone (and as Masa commented, it gives you a whole new respect for orthopedic surgeons who not only cut people up but put them back together again).


An anatomy chart of the animal you’re dissecting. This is not altogether essential, as a lot of it is self-evident. But a good chart will tell you the names of the sections and how tender each section is relatively. This helps in deciding how you’re going to cook them later.


Pan-fried deer hearts

Pan-fried deer hearts

Start with chicken and fish

It’s not as intimidating as it sounds. Start small by buying whole fish and filleting them yourself or, instead of buying chicken breasts, learn how to dissever a chicken.



Deer hearts

Today I’m having pan-fried deer heart for lunch. It’s one of the tastiest morsels around (chicken hearts are also good). For those who are interested, I dredged the chopped up heart in flour and black pepper and pan-fried it in butter until the juices run clear (if the juice are still pink when you cut into it, it’s not ready).


Check out Chef Robert Belcham at Vancouver’s Refuel restaurant for some great inspiration on “nose to tail” cooking.