Growing up in south Alabama, deer hunting has always been a part of my life. From dog hunting as a kid and teenager to stalk hunting in my 20s and beyond, deer have given me peace along with time to think, plan, and reflect. Without having a chef or any type of meat person in our family, all we ever knew to do with the meat was bbq chunks or to beat the cubed steak all night with a hammer. That began to change for me in the fall of 1997. I had been with Winn Dixie for almost a year and a half, starting as a bagger and then learning various departments within the store.....becoming a floater wherever I was needed. I had been approached many times about going to the meat department, each time declining the opportunity because I liked to eat meat and was afraid being around it all day everyday would turn me against it. Not to mention them crazy looking folks back there, with blood all over their doctor’s coats, who could “very easily chop me up and knew how to dispose of any evidence if we didn’t get along”. Right before Thanksgiving that year the store manager made it clear that it was no longer an option, but I was assured it was temporary and would only last through Christmas. I never left the meat business after that. Christmas passed and I was asked to stay. I was offered the chance to be a meat cutter apprentice. Learning to cut meat, along with learning which muscles were best for different cuts, opened up a whole new world of what I could do with a deer. Over the course of a few deer seasons, I became very confident in my basic cuts including cubed steak, roasts, and deer burger. In 2002 I left Winn Dixie and joined the meat department at Super Foods, eventually working my way up to meat market manager before leaving the company. While talking with a customer one day, he asked if I would process two deer for him......which I agreed. At this time, all the equipment I had was a knife, a cutting table out on the patio (if it rained I had to move a vehicle out of the carport), and an old hand meat grinder borrowed from my grandparents. That hand grinder didn’t seem that hard processing my own deer, but for someone else’s deer it wasn’t going to cut it. I took the money from those deer and put it towards a small electric grinder and was on my way. A few weeks later I processed a deer for someone else, who began telling other hunters about me. My parents gave me a sausage stuffer for my following birthday and I used my deer money for a small smoker. My first attempt at smoked sausage wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great either. After reading all I could find about smoking sausage and several trial batches, I finally had a product to let someone other than my dad try. They were impressed and I was on my way, always looking for new items to add to the menu. During the summer of 2005 I was able to purchase a small portable building and turn it into a cutting room. No more cutting in the rain and I was able to leave my equipment set up instead of having to box it back up in the closet. In 2008 I had outgrown that first cutting room and bought two reefer trailers. A 28 foot trailer to be used as the new cutting room and a 45 foot trailer be used as a cooler to hang the deer in. That year we processed 125 deer, more than twice the previous season. Over the next few years the processing continued to grow due to word of mouth and satisfied customers. In 2011, I made the choice to leave Super Foods and process deer full time, deciding that I would not be able to continue giving my job the dedication the company deserved while still growing my own business. We’ve had our share of growing pains and learning curves, all the while still expanding the operation and looking towards the future. One day I plan to build a USDA inspected facility, enabling us to process cows and hogs. I would also like to have a retail space in the new facility. From the first customer deer in 2004 to the 703 deer during the 2017-18 season, my focus has remained the same....... Treat the customer right, provide them with a quality product, and make sure they get their deer back.