Hunting is a way of life for many Mainers
There's no question that the tradition of hunting goes all the way back before Maine was even a state. My great-great-grand uncle Buckshot, was a hunter in Maine logging camps. His stories have been passed down through my family for generations. So for a few hundred years, Mainers have been taking to the woods to feed their families.
But, after you've taken your prized deer or moose, you have to take it to be processed. Butchering is one of those old skills that seems to be going further and further to the wayside. So, a lot of Mainers don't process their own animals. Maybe the birds and the fish, but the big critters are left to the pros.
But what happens if the numbers don't add up after processing?
As long as people have been bringing their animals to butchers, there have been accusations of people not getting all their meat. Or in the case of one BDN article, they got too much. Go figure. Regardless of the amount, how do you even begin to tell if your meat is yours?
The tag will tell everything. Typically, when meat is returned, it's returned with the green tag you brought it in with. In the case of the aforementioned article, the tags didn't match, so it was an easy spot. For others, it may not be so easy. If the tags match, but the weight is still way off, you may not have much luck in getting what's yours.
Should I ask my butcher?
Absolutely. If it was an honest mistake, probably something can be worked out. Human nature suggests honest mistakes are taken care of in an honest manner. If you get a lot of pushback and the tables are turned back at you, there's a good chance there's some funny business going on, but sadly, it's your word against theirs.
So at the end of the day, the real lesson here is to absolutely trust your butcher. If they're good at what they do and seem like good folks, you should be all set. If you get a queasy feeling in your gut, maybe get a new one next year. Either way, it's your animal, and you deserve what you pay for.