Sportsline with Tony Caridi  Watch |  Listen

Hunting season offers an annual windfall for meat processors

CROSS LANES, W.Va. — Although most West Virginians still butcher their own deer, there is a strong cottage industry which springs up during the fall deer hunting seasons. Across the state a lot of people make a nice chunk of holiday change processing venison.

The operations range from home based shops run out of a garage and basement to fully functional meat processing centers. Nearly all will be at their busiest during the Thanksgiving week as the buck season opens up.

Jim Sayre estimates his shop will process 700 to 1,000 deer during the two week buck season

Jim Sayre owns S&J Custom Meats in Cross Lanes. His operation is a custom butcher shop which opened in the 1980’s, but was sold a couple of years ago. Jim and his family have re-acquired the operation and will be open for deer season 2021.

“We’ll probably do 700 to a thousand,” Sayre said in a conversation on West Virginia Outdoors. “We just got the shop back, so we’re anticipating 75 to 100 on the first day.”

There are various rules when it comes to butchering. Those which are regulated by the USDA are restricted in what they are allowed to handle when it comes to wild game. Sayre said his status however, allows for deer processing.

“I’m a custom shop so a farmer can kill a beef and bring it to me or I can pick it up from a slaughter house. I always do the beef first, hogs second, and deer last, except during the gun season and I take nothing but deer.” Sayre explained.

Sayre and his family carefully custom cut all deer to the hunter’s specification.

He has various packages and price points for what customers can do with each animal. He said he’s also very careful to make sure the deer you bring to him is the deer you take home.

“We have a rail system out of the cooler. We roll one out, put it on the table and we totally process that one before we bring out another deer. There’s never more than one deer laying on the cutting table at the same time,” he explained.

Sayre also suggested hunters bringing deer to any shop toss a couple of bags of ice inside the carcass to cool it down. He said by 9 p.m. each evening all deer in his shop are inside a cooler and nobody leaves until all deer are handled.

More Outdoors

Ready for free fishing weekend in West Virginia
The DNR hopes waiving license requirements for two days will encourage people to try fishing for the first time or at least try it again if they haven't been in a while. You could also give your kids a first fishing experience as part of the event.
June 7, 2023 - 10:06 am
W.Va. anglers qualify to advance in BASS event
For a fourth year in a row a West Virginian wins either the boater or non-boater top spot at the organization's regional championship event
June 6, 2023 - 1:58 pm
DNR Police ready for start of boating weekend
Memorial Day weekend typically kicks off the pleasure boating season, officers will be looking for break downs and violations on the waters of the Mountain State.
May 25, 2023 - 2:29 pm
Hunting is a family affair for the Shell family in Wyoming County
Buford and Lena Shell and their 11 year old son Levi all tag out during the spring gobbler season, for the second time in three years.
May 22, 2023 - 2:34 pm