Deer Park, Wisconsin: population 230.
The building’s modest look and size are very much in keeping with the town. Deer’s Locker, a small-scale meat processing plant is on one level and takes up only a fraction of a small city block. There’s parking for six or seven cars, but lots more on the street. It would be easy to miss the building altogether if it weren’t for the large fiberglass bull hanging over the front door.
It’s a place you don’t want to miss, however, because Deers Locker, a Wisconsin-licensed abattoir, brings every customer decades of experience and quality service.
Established in 1952, Jesse and Evelyn Waidelich are the second-generation owners/operators who greet their customers in full aprons and wide grins. Every fall and winter, hunters bring in thousands of deer to be transformed into chops, steaks, roasts and several kinds of sausage. Beef steers, sheep and hogs are slaughtered and processed throughout the year. It’s where I had my first steer processed into steaks, roasts, chops, ribs, and ground beef.
At a time when more Americans are looking for local foods, Wisconsin’s fortunate to have a large number of small processors, like Deers Locker. We’re among a small handful of states with fairly easy access to certified plants, which may correlate to the smaller average size of farms in the Wisconsin. The lack of small- and medium-scale processors with state or federal certification is a growing problem nationwide, however, and is an issue the USDA is addressing.
How much of my 1,200 lb steer ended up as delicious cuts? Jesse does the quick calculations in this Deep Roots Radio interview. He also gives us his thinking on how long a carcass should age and at what temperature to assure tender final cuts. [Audio below]
Deep Roots Radio interview w/Jesse Waidelich, second-generation, Wisconsin small-scale meat processor