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Little Falls Business Thrives Off Locally Hunted Meat

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Nearly half a million people build up an appetite to hunt in Minnesota each year. All this week, we’re taking you inside the tradition.

Jamie Yuccas and Edward Moody headed north to show us the industries that count on deer hunting season. First up is Thielen Meats in Little Falls. The family-run business has been helping hunters make sausage for the last 23 years.

Thielen Meats is right off Highway 371 in Little Falls and is going on four generations.

“Our Country and Polish Sausage is definitely the number 1 favorite,” said John Thielen.

The tradition of wild game recipes started with mom and dad and continues today.

“This time of year we average about 1,500 pounds of sausage per week, including elk, bear and venison,” said Thielen, “It will go up to 5,000 pounds a week during deer hunting, or just venison.”

They use small sheep casing that work well for sausages, hot dogs and links. Within 30 to 45 minutes, 225 pounds of sausage is loaded up on a rack and sent to the smoker.

The experts at Thielen Meats said the key to making good tasting sausage from hunted meat is to eliminate the gamey taste. They said mild sausage is one of their biggest sellers. It features pepperoni seasoning with red crushed pepper and garlic.

From start to finish, sausage making process takes four days.

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