The next time you convince your wife you need to hunt to feed your family, be sure you give her the option to spend the same amount of money on T-bone steaks.

Consider the numbers:

  • Fixed Cost: $100.00
  • Carcass Yield (50%): $2.00/Lb.
  • Boning Yields (30%): $6.60/Lb.
  • Sausage Processing: $3.00/Lb.

                                 TOTAL: $11.60/Lb.

$12.00 will still buy a one-pound choice T-bone steak.

Your gures may differ from these, as xed costs and marksmanship vary considerably from hunter to hunter. A gut shot can destroy these yields. And the boy with all the toys can have a xed cost topping a thousand dollars. A $3,000 bow and a mutilated carcass could drive your meat price to $100/lb. So the next time you convince yourself that hunting is a source of cheap meat, you may be barking up the wrong tree.

Compound the high cost with the high risk of eating uninspected meat, and it may not be the sport for the faint of heart. But being the other red meat of choice, it is imperative that you understand the ramifications. Cost and risk–is the risk too high to take?

Venison is so much a member of the red meat group that it is nearly impossible to come upon the deer-hunting season without comment, especially about those that have such a passion for the sport—that to take it to the next level of red meat production seems only natural. It is as natural as nature’s own unbounded creation of beauty. (For is there anything more beautiful than that of deer grazing in lush green elds, protected by the sanctuary of a thickly wooded refuge?)

However, we also know that when man intercedes, the intent of creation also becomes tainted. Such is the case when a “deer hunter” wakes up to a brisk cool morning with a spring in his step and a loaded muzzle in his hand. It’s the kind of unbridled caution that will turn the best of times and intentions into a disaster for many.

With the deer-hunting season about to open, it only seems appropriate to raise the awareness level of the health risks involved in eating uninspected meat, or meat that is processed by a novice. Unfortunately, this describes the processing of most venison—thus the reasons for nding lead in the meat, as well as other adulterations and health issues.

Properly dressed and processed deer will be free of any and all foreign material. Utilization of every cut will be maximized and upgraded for value. And scrutiny for health issues such as Chronic Wasting Disease and other abnormalities will be observed and dealt with in a responsible manner. Tissues directly associated with CWD, inclusive of brain, spine, and other affected areas of the carcass will be completely destroyed. A “trained eye” and a preciosity for cleanliness and sanitation should be the norm for all venison processors.

This is simply a statement of caution to make you aware of taking every precaution to keep it clean, keep it dry, keep it cold, and keep it healthy. To turn a prejudiced eye translates into a huge risk factor when you consider the average novice has no training in the skills of recognizing potential disease carrying characteristics, nor proper meat processing procedures.

These are disconcerting issues, for which many ignore. But Chronic Wasting Disease may be the wake-up-call that will give venison its due-diligence. CWD is a fatal brain disease that is found to be spreading in deer and elk across this entire country. Although experts say there is no scientific evidence the disease can infect humans, the World Health Organization recommends people not to eat any part of a deer with evidence of the disease.

In spite of this presumptuous evidence, hunters are demanding to know whether the deer they kill this fall will have the disease. Unfortunately, testing is the only way to nd out. Be aware that affected animals will appear sick–thin, weak, emaciated–a fact that shouldn’t go unnoticed by a reputable processor.

This information is not intended to raise unfounded fear; rather, it is to inform you about the health risks of red meat when due diligence is ignored, and to further embrace and support the Federal Meat Inspection Program. It points out that this program is vital to the welfare of the meat industry, or it would go untamed, suffering the ramifications of venison, which at best, is indisputably unsettling.

Not a pretty picture, but it is an issue that I’ve been concerned about for many years. Back in my college years at North Dakota State University, I can remember venison being processed that was genuinely unfit for human consumption.

The difference then was that venison was actually cheap meat–and often a legitimate source of red meat for the family. But today it is an expensive, high-risk source of meat.


For more insightful stories written by Ken Knight read PONY TALES by PONTY