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Meat processors gear up for general rifle season

By Katherine Mozzone, KTVM Reporter, kmozzone@ktvm.com
Published On: Oct 24 2013 06:43:04 PM MDT
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

Hunters aren't the only folks gearing up for the general rifle season.

Meat processors like the folks at Happel's Clean Cut Meats have been at work since the start of archery season.

Happel's will process over a thousand animals on good season.

The owner tells us a lot of folks are moving away from basic cuts of meat like steak, chops and burgers.

He says close to two thirds of his customers want their game processed further, into sausages and jerky.

"A lot of the hunters' families, their wives and children, really like the processed product- the jerkys and the sausages. That gives Mr. Hunter out there a better excuse to keep going back because mama and the kids say, Dad, bring home some of that," explains Happel's Clean Cut Meats Owner and Operator Lyle Happel.

Happel stresses how important it is that hunters take care of their animals after they're first harvested. He says he sees a lot of new hunters who aren't so familiar with how to chill an animal and dress them in the field.

"This gamey meat taste people often talk of is probably 90-percent an animal that's not chilled properly from the time that it's harvested," says Happel.

Happel tells us the first six hours after an animal is harvested are the most important.

"Take care of them because those animals sacrificed their lives for you to be a successful hunter and they deserve everything afterwards to put good, quality meat on your table and that's one of the ways to start the whole process is to take care of them from the time that they're first harvested," Happel says.

Happel's Clean Cut Meats charges about a dollar pound to skin game and prepare basic cuts. Sausage and jerky are extra.

Family owned and operated, they're celebrating their 52nd anniversary this year.