FIELD CARE OF DEER MEAT ENHANCES HUNTING EXPERIENCE
Cool it quickly so it’s good to eat
For deer hunters, taking a deer is a satisfying adrenalin rush, often culminating several weeks of practice, scouting and preparation. However, once the deer is down, tagged and photos snapped, the real work begins: caring for the meat.
No matter the weather, cooling a deer soon after the kill is important. When weather is mild, hunters must take special care to ensure their hard-earned deer is fit for the table. When cared for correctly, venison provides tasty, lean, healthy meat.
As soon as the deer is recovered, it’s important to field dress the animal so that the carcass can begin cooling. Be careful to keep dirt, hair and debris away from exposed meat while dressing and when dragging the deer to the vehicle. Ideally, hang the deer in a clean, cool building. And it’s often best to remove the hide so that meat can continue to cool. If you plan on having the deer processed by a commercial butcher, it’s a good idea to contact them as soon as possible to make arrangements for delivery.
If you plan on doing the butchering yourself, make sure you have a cool, clean place. Many hunters like to age their deer, but a cooler is often necessary for this. Ideally, venison should be aged at 39 degrees. Cooler than this and the meat may freeze and warmer than this, the meat will spoil.
With a little extra effort and time, successful deer hunters will enjoy months of rewarding venison meals. Remember, field dress the deer quickly, cool the meat and keep it clean.