Auburndale, WI – Auburndale students were given the opportunity last week to process five deer hunted by area veterans.
The deer were hunted on the farm of Steve Becker, who has been experiencing damage from deer and was issued 8 tags from the DNR and Wood County Land & Water Conservation to help get the problem under control.
His baleage and storage feed have been targets for aggressive attacks by deer this winter. “They’re just annihilating the plastic and we can’t keep up taping everything,” said Becker.
Several disabled veterans, including two Purple Heart recipients, were invited to the farm to hunt the deer through the nonprofit United Special Sportsman Alliance (USSA). Through the USSA, disabled veterans can participate in outdoor activities such as fishing and hunting at no cost to them, according to Darrell Kauth, the veteran hunt coordinator who organized the trip to Becker’s farm.
The ninety pounds of ground venison that were processed by Auburndale high school and middle school students will be donated back to the veterans for use at USSA gatherings.
“We’re sure appreciative of Steve and the Auburndale school for helping us out that week, because it gives us a lot of opportunities,” Kauth said.
Equipment is provided as needed to the veterans. One of the hunts he’s organized in the state was for a quadriplegic Marine who was able to shoot a buck by using an adaptive shooting device that follows head movements. Because the deer are still tearing holes and causing damage on the farm, Becker was issued another 8 kill tags last week. Due to the damage, he plans to rebag his high-moisture corn in the spring.
The semester-long processing class at Auburndale typically works with deer more often in the fall because of the deer hunting season.
“It’s truly a very unique opportunity that we were given,” said Mark Cournoyer, agriscience instructor. “We’re really fortunate to have the Beckers and the DNR working with us to make this thing happen, to give these kids the experience.”
Starting on Monday last week, students made retail cuts, steaks, butterfly chops, and ground the rest of the meat. Auburndale 7th graders did the packaging. Learning how to process various parts of deer in class gives students the chance to learn useful skills.
“There are few opportunities for students to cut the high dollar retail cuts out of the deer,” said Cournoyer. “Generally, kids are given the job of taking the tendon and fat off the venison trim and never given the chance to remove the back strap or the tenderloin or cut the steaks out of the hindquarter.”
The retail cuts were also ground up, which meant students didn’t have to worry about making a mistake while learning the technique.
Processing students have also brought their own venison from home to make into snack sticks, summer sausage, whole muscle jerky, venison bologna, hot dogs, and brats. Each product takes a week, starting with a discussion of the tools that will be used. The meat is then ground, seasoned, stuffed, and smoked. The class has learned pickling with store-bought cucumbers and will try their hand at canning this semester.
For more information on USSA, visit childswish.org. Volunteers and donations are appreciated for the program.