Swendsen does have a bit of an advantage. He comes from generations of Danish meatcutters, started working in his father's
With more hunters attempting to process their own venison start to finish, Swendsen, 52, who works as a
After years of fielding questions, he and a friend first offered a class in
Interest grew. This fall, he and
Moving swiftly, yet careful to explain each step in the process, Swendsen gutted the deer. Throughout the process, he reiterated the importance of keeping the deer clean, keeping it closed as long as temperatures allowed and having water available. His bottom-to-top method also reduced the chance of contamination.
Swendsen and Trigg hung the carcass to skin it, and then moved on to a large wooden table where they took turns carving out various cuts. As they trimmed the pieces to meat-case perfection, they offered cooking tips.
Some class members photographed critical elements with their phones.
Photographs. Instruction. Hunting buddies. They might be misplaced, forgotten or unavailable during a successful hunt.
That's why Swendsen developed Deer Dummy, a field dressing app.
He calls it a hunting buddy in your pocket.
"Boom, it's a quick refresher," Swendsen said. "Your new hunting buddy is your phone."
By Swendsen's count, the app has been downloaded more than 1,000 times since its introduction last fall. Through photographs and text or video, it covers the step-by-step field dressing process.
"It's a good review before the season or before you make that first cut," said Green, who viewed the app before field dressing a doe last year.
"Especially for someone that's new to the sport or if you wanted to teach your kids, it would be a great way to show them how to do it well, especially from someone who knows cutting," Green said.
Swendsen knows cutting. When he graduated from high school in 1979, he'd already been cutting meat for five years. Because he was a visual learner, he said school was difficult for him and he wasn't sure what to do next. His father suggested he enter the family business. He checked out meatcutting school, discovered he knew more than the classes taught, and entered an apprenticeship instead.
He has since worked for
Now he only processes one deer a year, for a friend. He's more focused on promoting the do-it-yourself app.
"We're truly about educating the hunter, to get more information to them to have a better end result," Swendsen said before the
Last season, hunters killed 184,649 deer in
"Deer hunting is all about fostering, passing it to the next generation," Swendsen said. But some deer hunters don't have someone to show them. And some experienced hunters' techniques could be improved.
The biggest myth Swendsen tries to debunk: Washing the carcass after field dressing will spread bacteria.
His best secret, post-field dressing: The third-most-tender cut of meat is the top sirloin muscle.
Knowing how to get a roast, stew meat and sausage components out of a front shoulder avoids the mystery meat packaging. (Deer Dummy also offers a flexible cutting board that illustrates the various cuts.)
"You don't have to sit there and dissect it as long as you're following the bone," said Trigg, of
"Feel the bone, see the bone, follow the bone," Swendsen repeated as he took the knife.
"You don't want a roast, you can do some more stew meat. You don't want stew meat, then you can do some more sausage," Swendsen said.
Can't decide? Swendsen suggested carving out a roast, which can be cut into stew meat later.
While he's been on the processing side for decades, Swendsen is just starting to explore the aspect of the season that requires a gun.
"I'm just getting into deer hunting. I have never shot a deer. I'm getting that fever to hunt from my son," Swendsen said.
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