Charles Samuel "Sam" Poole Sr., a Carroll County butcher whose Sam's Deer Processing in Finksburg has been a destination for lucky hunters for decades, died Saturday of complications after heart surgery at Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury.
The longtime Louisville, Carroll County, resident was 65.
The son of a butcher and a homemaker, Mr. Poole was born in Gaithersburg and raised in Sykesville. He attended Sykesville High School.
Mr. Poole began his career when he was 16, working at small grocery stores and butcher shops.
He also worked part time at Bullock's Country Meats in Westminster, and had been dressing deer for years before establishing Sam's Deer Processing in Finksburg, a Carroll County Health Department-approved operation, about 25 years ago, family members said.
Mr. Poole did not sell meat to customers but charged them for preparing the deer they brought in for butchering.
The busiest time of the year for Mr. Poole was of course deer season, which in Maryland runs from September through January. By late November last year, Mr. Poole told The Baltimore Sun he had processed 1,000 deer during the season.
"We can't stop or we'll be overrun," he said.
The newspaper reported that "a 145-pound deer yields about 65 pounds of meat and depending on the size of the deer, basic butchering averages $60. (Orders for bologna, sausage and jerky add to the price tag.)"
Mr. Poole was creative and could also produce hams, jerky, franks and even scrapple from deer.
Mr. Poole's operation employed two nephews, a sister and his wife of 45 years, the former Brenda Marie Nickoles, who wrapped meat for customers and handled the business' books.
In a 2009 article in The Baltimore Sun, he explained that the trick in making deer sausage was moisture.
"Deer meat is lean," Mr. Poole said. "You gotta mix in some pork to make it flavorful and tender."
He said he avoided using deer fat in his sausages.
"You are better off without it; if the fat gets cool it has a filmy aftertaste," he warned.
Depending on what a customer desired, Mr. Poole produced four varieties of sausage: country style with brown sugar and sage, garlic-defined Polish sausage, hot Italian with red peppers and the sweet variety featuring fennel and Italian seasoning.
Mr. Poole told the newspaper that making sausage earned him "$2 a pound for meat that we were going to get nothing for."
Paul Peditto, who heads the hunting program for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, took the deer that he shot to Mr. Poole for processing.
"There was no better specialty menu for venison than at Sam's. He'd make venison hams, sausages and a pastrami venison that was like a New York deli," recalled Mr. Peditto.
"Sam was a great guy," said Brian Eyler, who heads the deer management program for the state Department of Natural Resources.
"He was always willing to accommodate us in our data collection efforts," said Mr. Eyler. "As the largest processor in Maryland, Sam would have deer from all across the state in there during muzzle-loader and firearms season."
Bob Beyer, who recently retired as assistant director of the Department of Natural Resources' Wildlife & Heritage Service, was stationed for a decade at Mr. Poole's shop, where he collected data on deer that were brought in for processing.
"First off, Sam processed 3,000 deer annually, and they came from all over Maryland and West Virginia. That's a lot of work, and he'd work all day and all night doing it," recalled Mr. Beyer.
"He also did a lot of things quietly and behind the scenes, and never wanted any recognition. He helped prepare meat for the homeless and took little or no money for it," he said. "He loved kids and treated them royally when they brought in their first deer as new hunters. He helped organize special hunts for disabled hunters."
He described Mr. Poole as a "gracious person who always wanted to help. We've lost a good friend."
Mr. Poole was an avid supporter of Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry, a nonprofit that was founded in Washington County in 1997 and is now a national program, with several chapters in Canada.
"Sam participated for quite a number of years," said Matt Wilson, who is director of the Maryland program with headquarters in Hagerstown, and provides ground venison for distribution to food banks and church pantries.
"He helped support and was a great advocate of the program that feeds needy people in Carroll County. He'd do 100 deer, which yielded on average 50 pounds of meat that was ground and packaged into quarter-pound packages. One deer provided roughly 200 meals," he said. "Sam's 100 deer provided 20,000 meals."
He said that Mr. Poole always had "good-quality deer, which meant good-quality meat went to food banks."
"We always appreciated that," said Mr. Wilson, who described Mr. Poole as an "amiable and jolly person. He was very friendly yet straightforward."
"He wasn't a deer hunter but processed them for hunters," said Mrs. Poole. "He enjoyed gardening and boating at our beach home in Fenwick Island, Del."
Mr. Poole also liked attending auctions, where he acquired butchering equipment and tractor parts, his wife said.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at the Burrier Queen Funeral Home, 1212 W. Old Liberty Road, Winfield.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Poole is survived by two sons, Charles S. "Sam" Poole Jr. of Taylorsville and Kevin Brian Poole of Louisville; five brothers, Maurice Poole, William Poole and John Poole, all of Winfield, Ernest Poole of Centreville and Robert Poole of McSherrystown, Pa.; six sisters, Hallie Martin of Thurmont, Ethel Morrison of Aspers, Pa., Doris Sprague of Frederick, Catherine Reaver and Wanda Smith, both of Winfield, and Evelyn Muller of Taylorsville; and a grandson.
Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson contributed to this article.