Deer hunting season brings family time for Andy and Doris Young for a couple of weeks.
The North Platte couple processes deer meat for a few customers each year. Their operation is small, but they enjoy the work and especially the fellowship around the carving table.
“In the first weekend, usually both my daughters are home, (son) Bo is here, all the grandkids,” Andy said. “This year, my oldest grandson said, ‘Grandpa, do I get to use a real knife this year?’ They start out with a plastic knife, then they go to a butter knife, then they go to a little fillet knife.”
“We just spend a lot of time out here together,” Doris said.
The couple has a shop that includes a walk-in cooler where they work together on their family hobby.
“I got started after hunting with my father-in-law,” Andy said. “He bought equipment and I was just doing it with some friends. Then he wanted to sell his equipment, so then we put out advertisement and paid for the equipment the first year.”
Doris said they have been processing deer together for about five years, but they have a lot of experience.
“When I was a kid growing up, I helped my dad do it,” Doris said. “I’m not going to say I ‘like’ it, but we laugh about it because there is a lot of family time spent around this table.”
Since moving to their current residence, business has grown each season.
“They keep us pretty busy during rifle season and just the right amount of business during archery and late season,” Andy said. “Just a few come in, and I can sit out here and cut up deer and watch TV. I get them done and then a few more will come in.”
He said the only thing he doesn’t like is they sometimes have to turn down some good customers because it is a small operation.
“One of the key things is having a cooler to keep them cool, especially in this (warm) weather,” Andy said last month. “I’ve had to turn down probably 30-40 deer because they just can’t lay out in this heat and I don’t have the space.”
Hunters bring in the deer and Andy and Doris skin and butcher them at the shop.
“We can only get so many done a day,” Andy said. “It depends on how shot up they are, how bloody they are.”
It generally takes the couple about 2½ hours to process one deer.
“We do one at a time,” Andy said. “That’s how people get their own meat back.”
After the deer is skinned, it is hung in the walk-in cooler.
“I always cut one hindquarter off and that straightens the deer up (as it is hanging),” Andy said. “Then I take the backstraps out and I cut them up.”
He said he then takes the rib cage and gets as much meat as possible off it.
“You can’t make a roast or steaks out of a lot of the shoulder,” Doris said.
“I always cut my steaks from the hindquarters,” Andy said. “If a person doesn’t want a roast and they want all the steaks they can get, then I will cut steaks out of the roast as well.”
Steaks also come from the backstraps, Andy said. “I butterfly them and I tenderize them.”
Andy said he takes a little longer than most places.
“The reason is because we try to take out a lot of the fat and a lot of the silver skin,” Andy said.
The amount of meat can depend a lot on where in the body the deer is shot.
“I always go by a sheet put out by Merna Pack,” Andy said. “Their sheet says a fawn will get 20-25 pounds, a doe will get 25-35 pounds and a mature buck will be 40-60 pounds.”
Andy and Doris tell people they will take care of the meat as if it was their own.
“I’m not going to put bloody meat in there,” Andy said. “I’d just as soon throw away a couple pounds of meat than put in bloody meat and ruin the whole thing.”
The Youngs charge $90 to process a deer.
“I’m a little cheaper than anyone else, but I don’t offer them anything else — no salami, no jerky,” Andy said.