Broken Arrow Ranch

 

Broken Arrow Ranch animals are field harvested from over 100 different ranches, totaling about 1 million combined acres, located in central and south Texas.  These animals are truly wild – not farmed or pen-raised. The free-range, all natural meat they produce is of the highest quality. Fine dining restaurants in almost every state use our wild game products. The strongest markets are New York, California, and Texas where large metropolitan areas support many fine dining establishments. Our product line includes venison from three different species of deer (axis, sika, and fallow), two species of antelope (blackbuck and nilgai – or South Texas Antelope) and wild boar. We maintain strict quality control by limiting our product line and selling exclusively the products we actually harvest and process. We are an artisan producer of quality meats, not a middle-man or a broker. We encourage you to learn more about our products and what makes us special.

The deer and antelope we harvest are free-ranging, feeding on natural grasses and other vegetation. This imparts complex natural flavors into the meat that are not found in farmed animals. Many of these animals are tropical species that do not accumulate significant body fat deposits. Because they are wild and roaming on large areas, we use a humane field harvesting system designed by us and approved by the Texas Department of Health. Every animal we harvest is harvested under full government inspection for your protection. Our venison and antelope meat averages one-third the calories of beef, one-eighth the fat content of beef, and is lower in cholesterol than a skinless chicken breast. There is no safer, more nutritious meat.


Broken Arrow Ranch Products include:

Field-Harvested Wild Game Meat

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About Broken Arrow Ranch

Broken Arrow Ranch is an artisanal producer of high quality free-range venison, antelope, and wild boar meat. They field harvest only truly wild animals by partnering with ranchers in Central and South Texas as an integral part of their population management programs. This practice provides a humane life and harvest for the animals, maintains a sustainable animal population for the rancher, and produces wild game meats of legendary quality.

Broken Arrow Ranch is a family-owned and operated business now in its 2nd generation. Since 1983 they have been supplying the highest quality venison and wild game meats to America’s finest restaurants. Many of the same products provided to discriminating chefs are now available for online purchase and preparation at home.

Broken Arrow Ranch is located in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. Clear flowing streams, waterfalls, spectacular bluffs and vistas provide pleasure to the people who live here and a natural home to the animals that live on the land.

Most of the ranch land in this area is not suited to cultivation, but it provides an abundance of natural herbs, browse, nourishing native grasses, and climatic conditions that are ideally suited to a wide variety of exotic (non-native) species of deer and antelope.

Introduced to central Texas over 80 years ago, these exotic animals have multiplied and flourished to provide a new agricultural resource for America. We strongly support sustainable agriculture methods, and our harvesting is carefully managed to insure the continuing health of these animals without depleting the natural forage.

In world overrun by tasty, four-legged creatures, Chris Hughes, founder of Broken Arrow Ranch in Texas, has solved the issue of getting wild-caught meats directly to your gullet.  Broken Arrow Ranch is an artisanal producer of high quality free-range venison, antelope, and wild boar meat that field harvests only truly wild animals by partnering with ranchers in Central and South Texas as part of their population management programs.  The result? They help maintain sustainable animal populations, and the wild game meat they produce is… wait for it… legendary.

Thanks for taking some time for us today, Chris.  Can you tell us about yourself and how you came to found Broken Arrow Ranch?

I’m the second generation in this family business. Broken Arrow Ranch was founded by my father, Mike Hughes, in 1983. He recognized that there was an overpopulation of exotic deer and antelope in Texas but there was no reliable, inspected source of venison from the US. As he researched this opportunity he found that there were no laws allowing or, more importantly, prohibiting the sale of meat from these animals. So he worked with various state and federal agencies to develop a framework and write the appropriate laws. The next challenge was how to harvest the animals humanely without stressing them. Since we were dealing with wild animals that were not used to human interaction trapping them for transport to a fixed slaughterhouse would overly stress the animals and ruin the quality of the meat. To solve this issue Mike pioneered the mobile-processing concept and built the first government approved mobile unit. Venison is still the heart of our business but over the years we have also begun offering wild boar meat, quail from our Diamond H Ranch property, and Dorper lamb from a co-op of family ranchers nearby.

Talk to us about your humane field harvesting process.  What exactly does this entail?

Our mobile processing unit is the key that allows us to harvest these wild animals in a humane, stress-free manner under full government inspection. We collaborate with area ranchers to harvest deer and antelope on their property as a part of their population management programs. This model allows a win-win-win-win situation where the animals live naturally until humanely harvested, sustainable animal populations are maintained for the land, the ranchers receive a repeatable income source, and we are able to harvest wild game meat of the highest quality.

The harvest begins by transporting a mobile trailer-mounted processing facility to a ranch along with our harvest crew and a government meat inspector. Instead of taking the animals to a processing plant, we take the inspector and facilities to the animals. Our harvest crew then searches the ranch for appropriate animals to harvest. Each animal is individually harvested in its natural environment from long-range using a sound-suppressed rifle. This technique eliminates stress on the animal that would negatively impact meat quality. An additional step we take to ensure the quality of our meat is to electro-stimulate all animals within minutes of harvesting using a custom built device. The electro-stimulation causes muscle contractions that ensure a thorough bleed out, milder tasting venison, and increased tenderness. The harvested animal is then transported back to our portable processing facility that has been set up on the ranch. Within an hour of harvesting the animal it is eviscerated, skinned by hand, and placed into the trailer’s cooler for transportation back to our fixed facilities in Ingram. It should be noted that field-harvesting puts us at the mercy of Mother Nature, just like our ancestors. After 15 hours in the field we may have a successful harvest or we may leave with nothing if the animals do not present themselves. There is a lot of uncertainty with this method, but it is what you must do to harvest truly wild animals while maintaining meat quality.

What makes Broken Arrow Ranch meats better and why?

I think it’s a lot of little details that add up to make better meat. No-stress harvests, electrostimulation, and aging the meat 3-4 weeks on the bone gets us started down the right path. The care our experienced butchers put into each cut and the meticulous packing for safe delivery certainly also help enhance our customers’ experience. We personally take the meat through every step from harvest through shipping instead of having it pass through multiple companies like many other suppliers must do. As a small company this allows us to charge each employee with fanatically protecting and improving our meat’s quality at every step.

Population management is always a serious issue.  How do you track and manage wild populations?

In some places game surveys are used to track populations but mainly it’s self-regulating. The ranchers aren’t obligated to let us harvest on their property so if they don’t see enough animals they won’t let us come. On our side, it’s not efficient for us visit a property with a low animal population. If we go to a property and there aren’t many animals then we’ll note that and not go back until the population has grown.

How did you get introduced into the Paleo community?  What are some thoughts on the community and how it pertains to Broken Arrow?

I often get asked whether wild game meats are a fad. I like to tell them that wild game meats have been popular for a lot longer than farmed meats! For this reason many in the Paleo community find us at some point in their research. We were first introduced to the Paleo diet concept in the late 1980’s when Dr. Boyd Eaton contacted us for nutritional data. Others in the paleo community have contacted us with questions or comments over the years. I always enjoy helping people research their food sources even if we don’t wind up being a match for their needs. The important part of the interaction is that they’re learning and I’m usually learning something too. The Paleo community deserves a lot of credit for their passion to better understand food sources and suppliers.

Can you talk about some of the places that exclusively use your meats, ie. restaurants?  Who is your biggest customer?

We don’t have any restaurant customers who use ONLY our meats but we do have some that use a lot! We sell to about 1,000 different restaurants a year and it’s everything from Michelin starred to mom-and-pop places. The common link is a chef or owner who truly values the quality and wholesomeness of their food sources. I keep a “thank you” list of recent customers on our website: www.brokenarrowranch.com/recent-customers. I encourage everyone to check it out and visit them for a meal.

Where can I find cooking instructions and recipes for wild game?

A good start is www.brokenarrowranch.com/recipes. Wild game meats can be substituted for conventional meats in most of the recipes you already use. Just remember that game meats usually have less fat so a little tweaking may be required. Tender cuts should be cooked quickly and not past medium-rare. Ground cuts can have moisture added by mixing with vegetables or adding more fat. Braised dishes and stews always benefit by cooking the day before and letting the flavors meld overnight.

What’s your shipping radius?  How do you package shipments?

We ship our meats anywhere within the USA. The vacuum packaged meat is packed in an insulated cooler with frozen gel packs and sent overnight to your doorstep.

How many lbs of game meat do you usually catch in a day?  

Our harvest results vary considerably from day to day due to weather, rancher schedules, and whether or not the animals present themselves. It can be zero pounds or 8,000 lbs. This year we expect to harvest about 100,000 lbs of deer and antelope, 135,000 lbs of wild boar, 35,000 lbs of Dorper lamb, and 550,000 quail.

What’s on your table tonight?

A chef friend and his family are visiting the ranch tonight so I’ll be entertaining. We’ll build a fire in the pit to grill some wild boar sausage and quail. From the garden I’ll use squash, cucumbers and my first ripe tomato of the year. I’m pretty excited about that tomato. All that sounds pretty paleo. Maybe my diet’s stronger than I thought…

Okay, I get that your humane harvesting requires a single headshot, which greatly reduces the stress and thus affects the flavor.  Who is this guy with this amazing accuracy, what does he shoot with, and does he offer lessons?

Everybody wants to be the shooter! Actually, I have two amazing shooters – Dustin and Caleb. For most harvests we use a .308 caliber Remington 700 with an AWC suppressor. It’s a very reliable and well proven system still used by many military snipers. Most of our shots are at distances of 50 – 200 yards so we’re well within the rifle’s capabilities. No lessons offered right now but that may be something to explore for slower days on the ranch.

Any words of wisdom for venison and wild boar meat lovers?

It’s the world’s greatest meat from both a flavor and health standpoint. Of course, I love to see the orders come in at Broken Arrow Ranch but if that isn’t the right choice for you then there are still other options to consider. Go hunting and reconnect with nature. There’s a primal satisfaction to eating something you’ve harvested, be it an animal or vegetable. If hunting’s not in your plans then make some hunter friends who can get you wild game meat. They can’t legally sell you meat but some mutually beneficial arrangement can always be worked out. Whatever you do, please support this two million year old fad and make wild game meats a part of your diet.

What is the “Broken Arrow Ranch”?

Answer: We are a working ranch, based in the Texas Hill Country, where we harvest and process wild game meat, such as venison, antelope, and wild boar, under full inspection by the Texas Department of Health. We are not a “store front” purveyor who only warehouses meat from other sources or suppliers.

What is different about Broken Arrow Ranch game meats?

Answer: Harvesting and processing our own meat allows us to maintain the high quality of the products we sell. The products we provide are available only by ordering directly from us. Obviously, there are other sources of venison and wild game meats, but there are distinct and important differences. About 85% of the venison sold in America is raised on deer farms in New Zealand. All of the deer and antelope we harvest live as free-range animals wild on large open ranches. They subsist on a widely varying diet that gives the meat a rich and complex flavor. Another important difference is the unique way in which our deer and antelope are harvested.

How should I cook my antelope, venison or wild boar meat?

Answer: Depending on the cut of meat you are preparing, wild game meat should be cooked in one of two ways: a little or a lot. Tender cuts (such as loins and filets) should not be cooked past medium rare. If done so the meat will become tough and dry. Working cuts (such as those from the shoulder or leg) should be cooked at low temperature for several hours. This process breaks up the natural connective tissue of the muscle creating extremely tender and flavorful dishes. As a rule of thumb, you can substitute Broken Arrow Ranch venison in almost any of your favorite beef, lamb, or pork recipes. For more detailed directions check out our recipes and tips we have compiled from years of cooking here on the ranch and from our customers.  Our article on How to Cook Venison is also helpful.

Is it legal to sell meat from wild animals?

Answer: Many people falsely believe that it is illegal to sell meat from wild (not farmed) animals.  The correct assertion is that it is illegal to sell meat from any animal that has not passed inspection by a government meat inspector.  However, the only way to harvest a wild animal in the field so that it can pass inspection is to take a government inspector out of the plant and into the field with you.  Well, that's exactly what we do.  More information can be found in our articles about our field harvest technique and unique wild game meat inspection requirements.

Are Broken Arrow Ranch's products "organic"?

Answer: “Organic” is a term that is often confused and misused. A general designation for “organic” products is those that are grown naturally, as opposed to products grown synthetically or with enhancements. The South Texas Antelope and Axis Deer harvested by Broken Arrow Ranch range freely on open land that is not treated with herbicides or pesticides. They choose the food they eat from many species of grasses, bushes, herbs, trees, berries and nuts. The animals grow at a natural rate, without artificial stimulation. We do not specifically label our wild game meat as “organic” but it is indeed an all-natural product.

How are the deer and antelope harvested?

Answer: Our process is unique in the world - the only fully inspected year-round harvesting of truly free-range wild game. Avoiding stress during slaughter is a major factor in controlling meat quality. Our field harvesting technique is to quietly search the ranch for animals ready for harvesting and killing the animals by a single long-range head shot from a suppressed rifle. The free-range deer and antelope we harvest are never under any stress and the resulting meat quality is the highest possible. The meat is then processed on the ranch in our proprietary mobile processing facility under full inspection.

Are your harvesting techniques humane?

Answer: We take the utmost care to ensure that all our animals are harvested in a humane and respectful manner with no stress to the animal. For one thing, it’s the right thing to do. Additionally, harvesting stress-free animals results in meat of superior quality. We strongly support sustainable agriculture efforts, and many of the ranches we work with utilize us as an integral part of their game management plan. The animals we harvest are not native to the United States and, thus, have no natural predators. Were it not for our services many deer and antelope would begin to starve due to overpopulation.

What am I getting when I order venison from Broken Arrow Ranch?

Answer: Venison is a general term used to describe the meat of a deer or antelope. Here on the ranch we make a distinction between the two so our customers know exactly what they are getting. Many products are labeled with the specific animal species, such as Axis deer or South Texas Antelope (also called nilgai antelope). There are subtle and interesting differences in flavor between the two, but both make outstanding dishes. Our products labeled as “venison” may contain a mixture of deer and antelope meat.

Are there any restaurants near me that serve Broken Arrow Ranch products?

Answer: Broken Arrow Ranch products are served in hundreds of fine dining establishments nationwide. If you live near a major metropolitan market, then chances are that someone near you is using Broken Arrow Ranch products. Some offer it periodically as a "Chef's Special" for a limited time, but others keep Broken Arrow Ranch products on their menu full time. If you see venison, antelope or wild boar offered and want to be sure you're getting the best, ask your waiter if they are serving Broken Arrow Ranch products. Click here for a list of recent restaurant customers.

How do Broken Arrow Ranch products compare in price?

Answer: We cannot produce the very highest quality at the lowest cost. The steps we take to provide you with the highest quality wild game meat do add cost to our products. We think the extra effort is worth it, though, and many fine dining chefs agree.

What species of deer and antelope meat do you offer?

Answer: For our gourmet customers we offer high quality products from the following animals: Axis Deer – Axis venison is considered by many to be the finest venison in the world. A native of India, the Axis deer was introduced to ranches in the Texas Hill Country over 50 years ago. The meat is finely textured and tender. More information about Axis Deer can be found here. South Texas Antelope – Our best selling game meat. These animals are native to the Himalayan foothills of India and Nepal and are traditionally called “nilgai” antelope, translated as “blue bull.” The meat has a mild flavor with a good texture – much like veal. It is extremely low in fat, averaging less than 1% for most cuts. More information about the South Texas Antelope can be found here. Wild Boar – Wild boar have been used as a source of food on every continent except Antarctica. We employ the services of several trappers who catch the boar in trap boxes and bring them live for slaughter under USDA inspection. These wild boar produce the hormone androstenone that gives the meat a unique flavor, distinct from ordinary pork. More information about wild boar can be found at our website

Can I book a private hunt on the Broken Arrow Ranch?

Answer: Sorry, but we do not allow private, recreational hunts on our ranch. A good source to find hunting ranches is the Exotic Wildlife Association.

Is there a minimum order quantity?

Answer: Yes, any order must include at least $50 of product. This is to ensure that the products ordered can be shipped safely to our customers. All website orders are shipped overnight in insulated coolers, and the product mix/quantity achieved with a $50 order is appropriate for safe transport in our smallest cooler. This minimum order level is a safeguard that prevents us from shipping products in a mostly "empty" cooler where quick thawing may occur.

Where do you get your deer and antelope?

Answer: We work with many ranches throughout Texas to bring you the finest free-range venison and antelope meat available. None of the deer and antelope we harvest are penned or farmed. Rather, they are truly wild game roaming the open ranges available down here in Texas.

Do all of the deer and antelope harvested come from the Broken Arrow Ranch?

Answer: No. We harvest deer from the Broken Arrow Ranch several times a year, but most of the animals are harvested on other area ranches. Ranchers use our harvests to maintain a naturally sustainable population on their property. If the population was not managed then overgrazing, starvation, and disease would occur. An additional incentive for the ranchers is that we pay them for the animals we harvest. A true win-win all around.

Why do you field harvest the deer and antelope?

Answer: Harvesting truly wild deer and antelope is always a challenge. If they were trapped and transported live to a traditional slaughter plant the animals would be put under a tremendous amount of stress and the meat quality would suffer. So instead of taking the animals to the plant we take the plant to the animals. We pioneered the mobile processing concept in 1983 as a way to harvest animals in a stress-free manner while still satisfying all of the necessary food safety and government inspection regulations.

Will my meat be delivered fresh or frozen?

Answer: Typically, all of our meat is delivered frozen. Everything we do is intended to provide you with meat of the highest quality possible, including why and how we freeze it. We can provide some of our meat fresh, but that is a custom order not available through the website and requires a bit of lead time.

Why do you freeze the meat?

Answer: After field harvesting the animals we age the meat on the bone for 21-28 days. This aging process creates a more tender and flavorful meat by allowing natural enzymes in the muscles to break down connective tissue and allowing muscle fibers to "relax." (Just like aged beef sold at high-end steakhouses.) Once the meat is fully aged we cut it, package it, and flash-freeze it. So, by delivering frozen meat we are able to ensure that you are getting meat that is at the absolute peak of its quality. An important distinction here is that our meat is FULLY AGED BEFORE FREEZING. The meat will not get any better than it is at the moment it is frozen and freezing it naturally preserves that perfection for you to enjoy. This technique is time consuming and expensive, but it produces a superior product - and to our knowledge we are the only producer in the world who does it this way. Fresh does not necessarily equal better in this case.

How do you freeze the meat and doesn't freezing affect the quality?

Answer: Like many things, there is a right way to freeze meat and a wrong way. You can be certain that we didn't put so much effort to produce high quality meat just to "ruin" it during the freezing process. The difference between meat that is frozen slowly (wrong way) and meat that is frozen quickly (right way, our way) happens at the molecular level. When meat is frozen slowly the water molecules inside expand and destroy cellular walls. This results in poor texture and significant purge (loss of moisture) when thawed. However, when meat is quickly frozen the water molecules do not have time to expand and there is little to no cellular destruction. This meat maintains a quality and texture that is almost indistinguishable from fresh meat. 

How can I order your wild game meat?

Answer: We have many free-range, high quality wild game meat products available on our website. If you have any questions or experience any problems please call us at (830) 367-5875 or use the "contact us" form.

How will my order be shipped?

Answer: All consumer orders are shipped in a reusable insulated container, chilled by gel packs and delivered to your door. We use UPS overnight service for shipping.  Standard overnight service will have your product delivered by 4:30 PM the next business day after shipping. Our Shipping Information section provides additional details.

How long can I store my wild game meat?

Answer: Venison and antelope in packages with tight seals can be stored in your freezer for up to 1 year. Wild boar and quail can be stored in your freezer for up to 6 months. Once thawed the meat should be cooked or refrozen within 5 days. Meat stored in your freezer for longer than the recommended time is still safe to eat but the quality (texture, flavor, etc.) may have diminished.

How should I thaw my meat and how long will it take?

Answer: Refrigerator Method (Best) - Thawing meat in the refrigerator is the slowest but safest method and will result in the least amount of moisture loss in comparison to the other methods. The temperature of the refrigerator should be maintained at 35°F to 40°F to discourage growth of harmful organisms as the meat thaws. Leave the meat wrapped and placed on a platter or a tray to catch any drippings. Allow 4-5 hours per pound of meat to fully thaw. After thawing in the refrigerator the meat can be refrigerated safely for 3 to 5 days. If you decide not to cook the meat within this time, the meat can be refrozen. Remember however, that each time the meat is frozen it loses a little of its flavor and texture quality. Do not refreeze meat that has been thawed using the cold water or microwave methods. Cold Water Method (Quickest) - Thawing meat in cold water is a faster method than thawing in the refrigerator and it is safe as long as the proper precautions are taken. However, there may be a slight loss of moisture during the faster thawing process that can result in meat that is more dry to the taste. Fill the sink with enough cold tap water to cover the cut of meat, keep the meat in its vacuum packaging and put it into the cold water. Be sure that the meat is sealed tightly so that it is not exposed to the water. Meat exposed to the water will result in flavor and color loss, and will have a greater chance of bacterial growth. The water must be replaced with fresh cold water every 30 minutes. Do not use warm or hot water because it will encourage the growth of bacteria and even more moisture loss. Allow 30 minutes to 1 hour for smaller cuts and up to 3 hours for larger cuts/roasts.

Please contact us by phone, Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm (CST)

(800) 962-4263
Broken Arrow Ranch
3296 Junction Highway • Ingram, TX 78025

Or contact us via email through out contact page.

Commercial-Exotic-Game-Harvesting.pdf

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Established in 2010, The Paleo Foundation was first organized for the purpose of helping Paleo Diet Adherents easily identify products that met the basic tenets of the diet.  Since then, thousands of products have been certified through the Certified Paleo, Paleo Approved, Paleo Vegan, and Paleo Friendly Certification Programs.


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