The best way to show honor and respect for a big game animal is to use every part after you’ve killed it. Here’s an easy way to make dog treats from meat scraps that would otherwise get thrown away.
by Leon Pantenburg
Inevitably, there will be scraps of meat, gristle and fat when you’re done butchering that elk, deer, bear or other big game animal. While you may not want to eat certain parts, your dog will thank you for keeping it.
With two Labs in my house, there is never any waste, so I just make the scraps into dog treat jerky. Obviously, you could use other types of meat if you found a good sale at the grocery store.
While cutting and trimming the meat, just save any part or trimming you don’t want. If you don’t eat the organs, you can slice, boil and dry the heart, liver and kidneys.
Here’s what you do.
- While you’re butchering, put all the trimmings into a large plastic bag. I generally just label what the trimmings are, and put it in the freezer until I have time later to work with it.
- Put the raw meat scraps in a pot with water, and boil until the meat is done. Let cool, and pour off the broth. This step in unnecessary if you’re planning on drying the meat. But I like to add another byproduct from those parts of the carcass that would otherwise be thrown away. This broth will become a nutritious – and to a dog – delicious addition to regular dry dog food. It can be frozen until needed, then re-heated in a microwave.
- Cut up the cooked meat into uniform chunks so it will dry uniformly. Think jerky strips.
- Heat up oven to 200 degrees. Place meat strips on a pizza rack or on a flat pan. I have racks for making people jerky, so I just use those. If you’re using racks, put aluminum foil or a cake pan underneath to catch any drippings.
- Place a folded towel at the top of the oven door so it doesn’t seal, and the door is left open a crack. This is an important step, because it assures the jerky will dry, instead of being baked.
- Dry the jerky in the oven for about an hour or two, or until the meat is hard and dark brown.
- Label: I freeze the jerky treats, even though they probably don’t need it. Always put a label on the package that says something to the effect of “Dog Treats” or “Dog Food.” If you want to freak out somebody, just label the package “dog” and be prepared to do some explaining.
I don’t know about you, but I want to know what is in my family’s food, and that includes the four-legged members. My Labs love the treats, and I appreciate that I can more fully use the harvest.