The Game Butcher - wild about meat
by Darran Meates
171 pp, 210X245mm, colour photos, softcover
This book on processing deer & wild pigs is written by Darran Meates, one of New Zealands leading butchers of game meat.
With practical down-to-earth text and over 250 photographs, The Game Butcher shows how to field dress, skin and butcher deer & pigs, caping techniques, food safety information for game hunters and even recipes for venison and wild pork.
Reviewed by Martin Auldist, Australian Deer Magazine
The appropriately named Darran Meates is a qualified butcher and deer hunter from near Wellington in the North Island of New Zealand. In that country he is well-known in the hunting fraternity through his internet television show about butchering wild game, as well as his regular articles in the Kiwi hunting press. Darran also operates a game butchery business that processes over 1000 deer and pig carcases each year, turning them into much sought-after steaks, mince, sausages, salami and other game meat products. All of this makes Meates eminently qualified to author The Game Butcher.
This book is essentially a field manual designed to impart hunters with all the practical information they need to make maximum use of the deer and pigs they harvest. Obviously this is something to which all ethical hunters aspire. Simply taking the meat home, however, is somewhat of a waste of time you don’t have sufficient knowledge to convert the venison or pork into to safe and enjoyable meals. That’s where The Game Butcher comes in.
The 170-page, full colour soft bound book comprises 13 chapters. These work sequentially through the entire game butchering process from sharpening your knife, through field dressing and hanging your meat, to breaking down the carcase. Importantly, throughout the book there is a strong emphasis on food safety. In this regard Darran provides some sound advice on avoiding unsafe venison. There is also a chapter on caping out your trophy stag or boar. The book finishes with a selection of cooking tips and venison recipes that I for one am keen to try.
I especially liked the section on how best to age your venison, and for how long, as well as the chapter on breaking the carcase into the various cuts (and what they are called!). I suppose I have always wondered if I’ve been doing things the correct way or not – and as it turns out there are some improvements I could make.
The book is professionally laid out and it is easy to dip into it and find information about whatever part of the butchery procedure you are up to. It is lavishly illustrated with many detailed colour photographs in step-by-step guides to the various procedures.
For hunters just starting out in deerstalking who might be a little uncertain about what to do when their first deer hits the deck, I reckon this down-to-earth book is a must-have. I certainly wish I had read it 15 years ago. The section on pigs is probably not so relevant to Aussie hunters, but even experienced deer hunters will surely learn something from this written record of Meates’ unparalleled knowledge and experience in deer butchery. Do yourself a favour and get The Game Butcher for your bookshelf.