Is it legal to cut deer in my garage for others?

The resulting type and use of wild game product determines if a license is needed.

The need for a permit or license depends on what processing activities are being done and what will be done with the meat. If the processor is cleaning and cutting deer for the hunters own use, then no license is required. This scenario is considered “Custom Exempt” meat processing and meat does not enter into commerce. Each package should be marked “Not for Sale”. It is also suggested to mark the type of wild game on each package, such as “venison”.

A Food Establishment License from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) would be required for the processor in certain situations. If any further processed products are being made from the venison into ready to eat foods or if other ingredients are being added, a license is needed. If the further processed product contains cure (i.e. jerky, summer sausage) or is being vacuum packaged, then a Specialized Meat Processing Variance is required through MDARD. These requirements are the same as retail establishments that process venison and apply even if the processed products are being made for only the hunter’s use.

If the venison is going to be donated to a charity or program like Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger, then a licensed processor must be used. Hunters that are interested in donating their whole deer through the Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger program can locate a collaborating processor. The program allows hunters to donate their whole deer without paying for processing. Other charities would be able to accept venison processed by any licensed deer processor. 

Regardless of where the venison is processed, Michigan State University Extension recommends proper handling, use, and storage of venison and cooking it thoroughly to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.