Mike Anderson, proud resident and “unofficial Mayor of North Ethel” had always been fascinated by the old-fashioned way of preserving meat through smoking and salting. So, when he noticed the tradition dying out with many hunters, he decided to take it upon himself to keep it alive. “It’s a part of life that’s slowly leaving everybody,” Anderson describes.
“They want to go out and be a hunter, but they don’t know what to do with their meat.”
Mike started by building out a small meat processing plant attached to his workshop on his back 40 and began making deer sausage, using the traditional methods that his family taught him. The smoker is a mix of cherrywood, pine, and ingenuity from overcoming past failures—like that time his smokehouse caught fire. It is adorned with family heirlooms to honor his family, like his grandfather’s aluminum hard hat and his grandfather from his daddy’s side’s cattle brand.
His commercial walk-in cooler and kitchen can only be described as immaculate. The walk-in features a window unit with a jumper to override the temperature regulator, keeping a perfect chilly atmosphere to cool sausage hot out of the smokehouse. He sources the meat from local hunters and uses only the finest spices and natural preservatives.
Since he only gifts meat to family and friends, the operation is a labor of love. Mike is as good a guy as they come, but there are a few guidelines if you want him to process your deer. If you bring him a deer, bring it properly tagged, skinned, quartered and as clean as you would want to eat it. Anderson describes the sloppy way some hunters bring their meat to be processed with leaves and mud all over the kill and recommends that hunters make efforts to keep their game as clean as possible from field to cold storage.
“Ricky McDavid gets the gold star for bringing me the cleanest, best prepared deer ever,” he muses. As word of mouth has spread, the demand for his deer sausage grew. Mike is proud to be keeping the tradition of meat processing and preservation alive and is happy to share his knowledge and passion with others.
Today, Mike Anderson is a beloved figure in Ethel, and his deer sausage is locally renowned. He has ensured that the tradition of meat preservation will continue for generations to come, and his legacy will live on in the hearts and taste buds of all who have been lucky enough to be gifted his small-batch venison.