Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Harvest, Part 2

Today in the News:  This is the second part of The Harvest.  This post will contain very graphic pictures of a dead buffalo being gutted and prepared for butchering.  If you have a weak stomach or disagree with harvesting animals for meat, this post is not for you.  Please come back tomorrow.

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The Harvest, Part 2

The farm owner and his assistant entered the pen with a tractor and chained up the bull.  They've obviously done this before.  I can't imagine having to move this monster without equipment.

The cow in the picture paced back and forth.  The farm owner is an older gentleman.  It made me nervous  that she was so close to him.  He kept an eye on her and continued working to latch the bull to the bucket.

They dropped the bull in the yard to weigh it.  The estimated weight was 2,000 lbs. 

Eeyore said just by eyeballing it that the bull wasn't 2,000 lbs.  His estimate was that it was much lighter.

They hooked the scale to the tractor.....

.....and Eeyore was correct.  The weight on the hoof was 1,468 lbs.

The bull remained on the bucket for the gutting.

I examined each wound....

Eeyore and I started the process of field dressing.  I was a little out of practice.  Eeyore had been reading about butchering cows and seemed up on his game. 

I decided to get the tongue out and get it on ice.  I've never had tongue before.  Cutting it out with my new Mora knife was relatively easy.

Then I rinsed it off and put it in my cooler.

We removed the hide from the tail and around the anus.  The anus was zip tied to prevent feces from getting on the meat.

Here's the tail on the grill.  I'll be honest.  I didn't try it.  Eeyore did.  He seemed to like it.

The next part of the process was not captured by me on film.  I got into the motion of everything and helped get the guts out of the bull.  If someone from the group sends me pictures, I'll update and notify everyone in the "Today in the News" section.  What I can tell you is that this is hard work.  The organs weigh a lot and the blood........there were buckets.  My pants and arms were drenched red when I was done.

This pile is the lungs, heart and esophagus.  From hand to hand is where the bullet entered and exited the heart.  The 300 Win. Mag. did massive damage to the organ.  A better picture in a minute.

When all of the organs were removed, Eeyore washed down the inside with water and then drenched the exterior for evaporative cooling.

This is the gut pile.  Notice the feet in the background.  The innards are HUGE!  I tried shoveling it into the tractor bucket when we were finished and I couldn't do it.  So I asked for help and two of us couldn't do it.  So we braced the gut pile with our shovels and the bucket loader scooped it all up. 

The lungs.  These alone must have weighed 30-40 pounds.  As you can see, I was wrong about the lung shot.

When the process was complete, we used the tractor to load it onto the back of a half-ton Ford F-150.  It handled the load very well.

Because it was somewhat warm out, the back of the truck was packed with ice and the inside of the body cavity was packed with large bags of snow.

....and down he goes. 

Tired guys. 

This is a better picture of the heart shot.  Again, it is between his hands.

Close up.

Eeyore, looking like.......well.....an axe murderer. ;)

And here is the cowboy, holding up the tail....his door prize.

This is where I stopped documenting the process.  Once they had the bull loaded onto the truck, they brought it to a professional butcher. 

Speaking from experience, a large group of people could butcher a bull this size in a day - faster with experience.  We used to do it at my grandparent's farm.  All of my uncles, aunts and cousins (and sometimes neighbors) would help in the process of cutting and wrapping meat.   Granted, it was usually moose or deer.  In any case, many hands make light work.

I hope you enjoyed seeing the process documented.  It was very cool to be able to participate.  I'd like to say thank you to Eeyore and all of the other families involved for letting me document the process.

Pax Domini Sit Semper Vobiscum,

Mike, Oscar, Hotel....out.

Me, channeling M.J.  - blood on the dance floor!


  1. GREAT stuff man! Looks like hard work, but rewarding. Those old timers who hunted and processed buffalo for a living must have been tougher than we can imagine.

    My blog(thanks for the suggestion!): Wonderful Whittlin'

  2. Very good coverage! It would be interesting to have some photos of the skinning process, or the dividing cut of the pieces...My brother is a vet and he tells me that always with animals the best cut is the muscles that dont do a lot of work. That is the neck, and spine muscles...Leg muscles are always hard and chewy because the get a lot of excercise..Ever wonder why a rib eye is so tender? Very good photos...Indeed it is hard work, i've witnessed this process on a regular cow with my brother and man has he got stories to tell of things going wrong...


  3. Great post. I'm glad you did it.