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Butcher makes house calls

Have Knives Will Travel owner cuts up your game while you learn

Tim Bennett of Medford isn't your usual butcher.

He makes house calls.

Bennett, a hunter who's been cutting meat for about 20 years, decided a day before deer season started a few weeks ago that he could put his skills to work: cutting and wrapping other hunters' deer and elk while they watched and learned how.

Lots of people do their own, but they don't have a stinking idea what they're doing, said Bennett, who said you can ruin good cuts of meat that way.

Have Knives Will Travel, his new business, was born. He charges a flat fee: $30 per deer, $60 per elk. He doesn't know of anyone offering such a traveling service. Neither does Duane Dungannon, state coordinator of the Oregon Hunters Association, who's been hunting for two decades.

To me, it's a novel idea and something I know I would be interested in, Dungannon said.

In business about three weeks, Bennett has cut up about 10 deer and a couple of elk so far. One of his customers, Rex Birdsong of Medford, had Bennett come to his house last week to cut up an elk he shot by the Huckleberry campground.

With knives hanging from a belt around his waist, Bennett cut into the elk's shoulder while Birdsong and his hunting partner, Frank VanPelt, watched. Working up a sweat, Bennett stopped occasionally, pointing out the different cuts such as the rump roast, tenderloin and sirloin tip.

Why did he call Bennett?

It's too much for me to do, answered Birdsong. It takes me two days to cut up a deer.

It takes an hour for Bennett to cut and wrap a deer. For an elk, it's two hours.

Birdsong has taken his game to a butcher shop in the past. A butcher can charge 50 cents a pound to cut and wrap an animal, and his elk weighed an estimated 250 pounds.

Bennett charges a real good price, said Birdsong.

Bennett said he enjoys meeting people, sharing hunting stories, and looking at pictures of game that hunters got last year. He's just doing this for fun, he said, and he figures that the money he earns this year will just pay for his materials.

We're not affecting the GNP here, he said.

(To reach Tim Bennett at Have Knives Will Travel, call 779-4843.)

Traveling butcher Tim Bennett cuts up an elk in the kitchen of Rex Birdsong of Medford, center. Birdsong's hunting partner, Frank VanPelt, watches. - Photo by Jim Craven