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.