On the way to my friend’s farm project near Reading I caught sight of a Muntjac deer that had died being hit by a car.
“What luck.” I thought as I had been wondering what to bring as a present (apart from a good bottle of red) and I already knew not to bring vegetables as they are up to their gills in the stuff. So I braked to a halt and hauled the surprisingly heavy carcass along the road and into my boot. The unfortunate beast had a shiny eye and didn’t smell, so all looked edible.
I had never prepared such a large animal before ( though have worked my way through wood pigeon, squirrel, pheasant and rabbit) and was glad of the help of a friend at the farm!
We hung the muntjac up by the front legs, although we debated about it being head down like I’d seen in some book or other…I used my green wood carving knife to cut a slit from the anus to halfway up the belly, being careful not to cut into the stomach which was starting to bloat (with pungent gas from rotting deer munch). Then we used scissors and the knife to slide under the skin to get the skin off. It was hard going even with a reasonably sharp knife, the deer’s coat was tough. We cut around each hindleg and peeled the skin down.
At this point my friend Andy had to use an axe to cut off the hooves so we could get the skin off, then he twisted off the hind legs and we had two big joints of meat already.
In an ideal world we’d have cut bang straight up the belly and taken off all the skin, but I went off to the side, so instead we made a cut in the neck and took pieces off the shoulder. We peeled the skin down (you have to get your hand right in there, and the aroma of butchery is powerful) and got to either side of the deer’s spine, where the tender and tasty Backstrap cut is found. This meat is in the strips either side of the spine, and is tender enough to fry like steak.
As you can see, my other mistake was to puncture a hole in the abdomen and the deer’s guts fell out, leaking expired deer poo 💩 all over our hands. After a brief break to wash it all off, we finally skinned and took off the two front legs. We bagged it all up and found we had over 5.5kg of venison to hand out to friends and cook 2 big meals for the carnivorous people of the farm!
Andy made a delicious fried-sauteed thingy from the backstrap cut, we had it with homemade rosemary flatbread and greens soup. Totally delicious 😄 and worth all the hard work.
So next time you see roadkill, remember that’s several weeks worth of high quality meat for one family, and far better for you than a McDonald’s….why not give it a try (providing it’s safe to stop, of course)….