Ground Elk Recipes

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UTICA – For about a half-century, Linda Oiler has watched the hunters, wildlife officers, and accompany appear into the little boner boutique in arctic Licking County, anniversary assured to catechumen their harvest into approaching meals..

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Over her 47 years there, she has overseen the processing of endless deer, hogs, beasts and alike an elk or two at Oiler Meat Processing. But at age 81, the aging dame of the business says it’s time to barter her all-knowing red accessory for the comforts of her admired vegetable garden and her 120-acre acreage not far from work..

Oiler has artificial relationships as constant as the brier she wields to cautiously abstracted the fat and gristle from the slabs of beef, pork and lamb set afore her on the boning table.

Business during the accomplished year during the COVID-19 communicable has never been better, Oiler says.

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“People are bistro at home, and they’re affairs so abundant added meat and they’re acquirements how to cook,” she says. 

She says she’s candy added than 1,000 deer this year, up 30% from accomplished years. And abundant of that is allowance to augment the hungry.

Oiler is a adherent of Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry, a aggregate of meat suppliers who accommodate some of their compensation to aliment banks, ministries and charities.

Metro Parks, a adept partner, last year donated 280 deer adopted in its parks for Oiler to action and administer to the Mid-Ohio Aliment Bank..

“I’ve taken every deer that they’ve taken out of Metro Parks. I action them all into arena deer,” she says. 

Ohio law forbids the affairs and selling of agrarian animals or their parts. Hunters may accompany in deer they’ve dead to be candy for their own use or for donation to a aliment pantry.

Processing can be expensive, but may crop aliment for months or years back frozen.

For example, Oiler accuse $325 for processing of accomplished hogs, which includes smoking of hams and bacon. Unlike huge slaughterhouses and branch farming, the meat candy actuality has no preservatives.

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Oiler treats anniversary chump like family; and abounding accept been her accompany for decades.

“Nobody should be accomplishing this as continued as you have,” Linda Smith says to Oiler as she and her husband, Mark Smith, stop by to aces up boxes of arena venison to bear to the Saint Vincent Haven apartment for men in Newark.

The Smiths alive abreast Oiler and Mark plows her driveway. In return, Oiler gives the brace two ample accoutrements of meat as thanks.

Her amore for bodies is akin by her activity for her work.

Using sometimes acrid language, she gives a company a quick bout of the boutique a ancillary aperture where live animals are lined up to access pens in the “kill room,” aerial hooks to adhere the animals for skinning and abysmal benumb and accumulator areas.

In the beef refrigerator, she proudly shows off two skinned and gutted beasts that, already processed, will augment her for years.

“People appetite to buy my farm. They anticipate I’m activity to retire in Florida,” she says. “But hell no, I’m not activity to Florida.”

Her admired alliance is The River’s Edge Grill, a few blocks abroad in Utica forth the Licking River’s North Fork.

Rod Atherton, who owns the bar and grill, formed his aboriginal job at Oilers as a apprentice in aerial school, leaving about 10 years ago to absorb time with his architecture business.

Oiler now food the restaurant with Oiler steaks, pork, sausage and secret-recipe bratwurst.

“I don’t apperceive what she’s activity to do with herself back she retires, she spends so abundant time there,” Atherton says. “When you go there you aloof feel like you’re family.”

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Oiler jokingly acknowledges: “I haven’t been home for 47 years. I’ve been in this plant.”

But she insists that appear Saturday, “I’m walking away.”

She purchased the operation with her backward husband, Carmel Oiler in 1974. Previously alleged McCann Arctic Locker, it housed dozens of meat lockers that hunters could use. 

The brace replaced the lockers with the annihilation operation, acceptance for an efficient, full-service processing plant.

On Wednesdays, the operation is a aberration of pigs and cows. On added days, her agents carves huge slabs of meat into steaks, cutlets or strips for bouillon or jerky. Oiler prepares a hot meal daily. On this day, it’s a potato, onion and allotment beef stew.

Born in Meigs County, Oiler was aloft with bristles sisters and a brother on the appropriately called “Red Mud Hill,” area her parents farmed abundant to get by and absolute in the ancestors a able assignment ethic.

“I haven’t capital for annihilation in my life,” she says.

Her abandoned son, who works for the Ohio Department of Transportation, wasn’t absorbed in demography over the business. That was apparently a blessing, she says.  

“If (family) took over, I’d accept to appear actuality and advice run it,” she says.

Instead, Travis Payne, of Danville in adjoining Knox County, and his son-in-law Zach Frazee, both butchers and advisers at the shop, will booty ownership, while befitting the Oiler name.

What he’s abstruse best from his mentor: “How to accord with bodies better,” Payne says.

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Payne and Frazee will purchase the operation in a 10-year, land-contract arrangement.

While insisting she is walking abroad from the business, Oiler says, “If he calls me and needs help, I’ll be the aboriginal to appear in.” 

Oiler takes pride in her account to customers, demography calls for appropriate orders at all hours, she says, and from all walks of life.

The accomplished brace of years, one of Les and Abigail Wexner’s advisers brings in an elk for processing.

“We bullwork it all for her and she feeds it to her dogs,” Oiler says.

Whether flush or not, Oiler treats all her barter the same.  

“When you accompany beef out of the acknowledgment and put the assignment adjustment up, you accept to accomplish abiding it’s cut the way they appetite it cut,” she says.

[email protected]


This commodity originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: 81-year-old dame of Utica meat-processing business abrogation afterwards 47 years

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