Deer Guys mobile deer processing
Courtesy Deer Guys Facebook page
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By David Schlake

While most hunters know how to field dress a deer, many don’t know how or don’t want to fully process their own, prompting them to seek professional assistance.

For those who do it on their own, the process is messy and time-consuming. And, for those who pay someone else to do it, it can get pretty expensive and can take a while to finish.

One man from Tonawanda, New York, saw an opportunity to make hunters’ lives easier by cutting out the most involved steps of filling your freezer with wild game meat.

“When I was younger, I had a deer processed,” Bryan Hetzel told WKBW in an interview. “It wasn’t the best experience, so I decided I’d be taught how to process deer.”

In 2015, he started a mobile deer processing business called Deer Guys which brings hunters’ processed game meat right to them.


Hetzel’s one-man operation travels all over Niagara and Erie counties in upstate New York, where he’s seen his business grow every year. He says he processes 150-250 deer during each hunting season.

He says the beauty of his model is the demand, as there’s enough work available for others to copy his mobile butchering strategy without hurting his business.

Not only does Hetzel save his customers a trip to the processor, but he also does his work right there on site, effectively cutting out the wait time and ensuring the hunter gets the animal he killed. Hetzel will even arrange to pick up a deer as soon as you shoot it so you don’t even have to load it into your vehicle.

One problem Hetzel has run into, however, is the large number of ticks that inhabit western New York.

“This year happens to be a very bad year for ticks,” he said in the interview. “So I think the insurance that you won’t have all these ticks in your vehicles or the outside your vehicle rings home for safety purposes.”

Hetzel says he hopes to continue expanding the Deer Guys brand next year and beyond.

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  1. I process my own, I have the time and the mess cleans up. This is a great idea though and I hope your business thrives. May you all get your tags filled. Merry Christmas!

  2. Don’t do much deer in my neck of the woods (scrub). But I do a fair bit of hog hunting. And I hate butchering them swine. My problem is most game processors in my area aren’t too keen on these critters. Sure would love to have this service here in Hill country…
    But I wish this guy more business in the years ahead.

    • I usually just cut out their hams and loins. Like that, you don’t even have to gut them or do much skinning. I’ll full butcher pigs under 80lbs or so. The best are the 40lb pigs, as skinning and gutting is easy, and then you can just split them in half and put them right on the rack of the smoker.
      Hudson’s will do pigs, and they do a great job with a fast turnaround. Their sausage is fantastic. They are, however, very proud of their work.

  3. I am really good at a lot of things. Having said that, I royally suck at field dressing and butchering deer.

    I have no idea why it seems to take me at least an hour to field dress a deer. Shouldn’t that take about 3 minutes?

    As for butchering, I takes me something like 10 hours to remove the skin, quarter it, remove all the meat, and package it.

    That is why I pay someone to process my deer. Fortunately, a neighbor about 1 mile away does an outstanding job and only charges $80. The end result is pure meat without any bones, fur, fat, tallow, or tough white connective tissue.

    • Field dressing takes 5min-15min depending on deer size, if someone can hold a leg and sex of deer. Your best friend is a razor sharp knife. I cut a deep circle around the perineium, cut out the milk glands/male sex organs, “unzip” the stomach hide without cutting into the mesentery, cut most of the diaphragm, reach both arms way up and into the ribcage to cut the trachea and esophagus, pull trachea and lung tissue out with one hand and finish cutting the rest of the diaphragm, while still holding the wind pipe I then pull everthing out at once being careful to cut the connective tissue and the aortic artery running alongside the spine so I don’t tear the inside tenderloin. If you cut the butthole deep enough everything will come out in one giant pile. Then I flip the deer over to dump out the extra blood. Harvest heart and liver if preferred. Throw deer into the bed of the truck to take home to hang/skin. Skinning is 1000 times easier on a warm deer and skin very quickly if you hang the deer from the neck(not an option if you need a shoulder mount)

      • Jeff,

        Thank you for the tips and tricks!

        I do keep and use insanely sharp knives.

        I have always started up at the sternum and worked my way down. Sounds like that isn’t a good idea.

        Part of the reason it takes me so long: for various reasons I usually take my deer home to field dress them in my back yard. (I hunt about 3 miles from home.) By then their stomachs have ballooned out and it is really hard to “unzip” them without puncturing their stomach, which smells awful and would ruin meat. So, that slows me down.

        Then I am super careful down at their pelvic region because I don’t want to cut into their bladder or intestines and ruin meat. And I am also super careful cutting around their anus for the same reason.

        And yes, the times that I have skinned a deer were after it was hanging up in my back yard for a couple days in the cold.

        Putting it all together, sounds like I should immediately field dress them before their stomachs balloon out, starting at the pelvic region working up toward the sternum. And then I should bring a longer knife that I can use to easily cut around their anus. I am thinking that an 8-inch filet knife would be excellent for that. Once they are field dressed, I could bring them home to immediately hang them and skin them while they are still warm. Then I could butcher it a day or two later assuming that it is cold outside with temperatures in the upper 40s or lower.

        The only down side to that: I have to put the hide and bones in the trash which gets quite heavy.

        I am 98% certain that I live in the same state as you. Would you be willing to allow me to come and watch you (and possibly assist) at some point to learn the skill myself?

        • Michigan, if so Id be happy to help. I live North of Detroit but frequent the GR area. I could potentially meet you in the field? My area I hunt and where I butcher is my wife’s family property and then my mother in laws home so I really cant invite anyone to go with me. Actually I use a 2.5″ blade.

        • Jeff the Griz,

          On the topic of getting together to learn how to butcher deer, what is your drive time (in light traffic) to The Big House?

        • Hey Jeff,

          Sounds like this could work. I frequent both regions that you listed. Contact me at bassamatic76 at google mail.

    • I hang him up to field dress, gravity does most of the hard work. Before I hang him, there’s a tool called a Butt Out that takes care of the back end. Just did a 190 lb buck by myself, just get a gambrel to hold the legs open, tie a rope to it and throw it over a limb (I have a frame of 2 x 6s I use) tie the other end to the trailer hitch of your 4-wheeler and raise him up. Start cutting under the tail and unzip him, I use a saw when I get to the sternum, it all falls out and use a caper or a Havalon (unbelievable) to cut everything loose. Be careful not to puncture any of the innards or stomachs, stinks like hell and I hear can taint the meat. I hose him out if I can or use a couple buckets of pond water to rinse out the cavity. Back the Polaris up and drop him in the back. If I have meat sack I cover him up, then transfer him to my pickup bed. Fill the cavity full of a couple bags of ice I keep on hand, and take him to the processor down the road. I can do the whole thing myself if I have to, but usually don’t have time and the processor I use makes good sausage, I keep the tenderloin and backstrap and chunk out several pounds for jerky. As for the mess, buzzards had it gone by the next morning, couldn’t even tell what happened. Just by coincidence, I had a trail cam up there on video, the buzzards were there 30 minutes after I left and it was gone in two hours, real Discovery-channel looking video clips. Nature’s janitors.
      Having the gear makes a lot of difference: gut gloves are nice, some kind of shoulder-high gloves, sharp knives, a bone saw, gambrel and pulleys if you have ’em, etc. Nice to have help, if you can get someone on the back legs you don’t necessarily need to hang ’em, but it sure makes ’em easier with gravity, I’ve done many by myself.

  4. I dont hunt. Never have. Friends do. But this seems like a very good idea. It gets an important job done by someone who specializes. Older or out-of-shape (I know) hunters will appreciate this. Seems like liability might be an issue to be addressed but that can be done.

  5. I’m what you would call semi-pro. Father in law and I would do our family, then some friends and neighbors. 65+ deer a year on weekends and evenings. The small fee was usually enough to cover electricity, blades, and maybe a few extra gifts under the tree. We built a shed sized shop with vinly flooring, that plastic coated paneling, small sink w/ 6 gallon hot water heater and 2 mega sized plastic cutting boards so everything bleaches down. Unfortunately he passed away a few years back. Now I only do up immediate family due to the driving distance. It’s nice to ensure you’re getting very lean meat, cut exactly how and when you want it. I prefer to hang 24 hours.

    A few years ago my daughter shot a big doe during youth season(sept). The morning started at 40 degrees and by 1pm it was 80. From the time she pulled the trigger 9am, to the time the deer was packeged and in the freezer 3 hours. That included waiting 30 min to track the deer and 25 min looking for said deer. It made for some extra blood, and slightly tougher back straps but at least the heat didn’t spoil any meat.

  6. $80 is very inexpensive for dropoff/pickup processing. In my area a good processor (one that doesn’t mix deer and is clean) runs $120-130.

  7. There is a really good processor only a few miles from where I hunt in Central Georgia. I don’t even have to field dress the deer. In fact, they prefer that customers don’t. They will clean, cut, grind, and wrap for $55. $60 if it is a large deer. Facilities are clean and efficient. I’m getting spoiled.

    • That’s cheap. Are you guaranteed that your deer isn’t going through the same grinder that someone who gut shot theirs?

      • That’s always a concern, but I’m reasonably certain this guy isn’t pulling something like that. His business is growing, started out with a small butcher shop in the country, now has a larger separate butcher shop in Swainsboro. I don’t think he’d be in business long if that was his practice. It not an especially growing part of the country there. Cost of living and wages are low. I couldn’t touch what he provides for less than $80 where I live.

  8. Smart fellow for sure,,

    Simple ideas like this can lead to great success.

    It’s not that hunters don’t know how to process a kill, but if this guy can butcher and wrap, and do it on site, this allows more time for even more hunting in the short while most get to spend time in the fall hunting fields.

    I need to Think Up something like this.

    Maybe a punching bag for angry wives?

    Guys, when the wife wants to fight with you, call me up. I’ll stand there and take whatever she wants to dish out towards you.

    $50.00hr, 5 hours max….

  9. I’m not sure what the laws are in other states but I’d bet big bucks he couldn’t run this operation in Iowa. I’m sure he wouldn’t be in compliance with all of the processing laws, let alone possession issues with IA DNR, among other things. i wish him well, hope this doesn’t bring the authorities down on him.


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