Aging Deer for Quality Venison

Show Notes

On this episode of Huntavore, we join Nick in a not so good situation, a hospital bed needing assistance with a kidney stone.  Spoiler, procedure went well, recovery is going smoothly. With all the questions Nick had gotten about field care and aging deer, he thought it would be a great topic to talk about.  How to get quality venison by taking some steps to let the deer hang, differences in initial aging and further dry aging, how flushing with water is good, soaking is not, hide on vs hide off, and hanging environment details.  If you have just gotten a deer, or are getting close to putting a hit on one, this is a great listen.  So get your game hoist ready for this episode of Huntavore.

 

Starts in the field with a good field dressing.  Non gut shot makes the job easier.  Gut shot, not all is lost, but get the deer ASAP,

Field dress, complete pull of the gut, liver, lungs, anus.  Keep what you want, I bring 2 gallon sized freezer bags with my kill kit just for 5th quarter organs and parts.  Heart, liver, caul fat, want to try kidneys if i’m given the chance (ironic)

Esophagus, cut that as close to the base of the cavity as you can.  Trophy Buck, wall mounter, can't do this next step.

At the base of the neck, where the esophagus comes out the rib cage, cut through the hide, surrounding muscle, and through the esophagus, essentially making a drain before the neck and mouth of the animal. 

Flush with cold water.  I’ve heard folks be on both sides of the fence with water in the cavity.  Yes, filling the cavity with water or ice is not a good move for the meat or condition of your mount.  Flushing the cavity is a good thing.  First, and obvious, it gets rid of blood, dirt, debris, and any gut material you may have had during the field dress.

Flushing also is a way to begin cooling the carcass, the inside of the animal is still warm and hitting with cool water can drop the temp a few degrees

Moving air.  I nabbed a box fan from the house a while back to move air in the shop when running the wood stove.  It seconds as a way that i can keep the caress dry while hanging.  It doesn't have to directly on the deer itself but having air whisk over the deer will evaporate and dry the surface of water after flushing, not let moisture collect during high humid days and nights 

I recently read in a newsletter from Hank Shaw, Hunter angler gardener cook, on dry aging cuts, meat can absorb smells and odors from surround food (talking about being in a refrigerator)  which had me thinking about the environment I am hanging my deer.  A shed or shop is still a good place to start.  But maybe the gas cans should moved outside, and the doors left open to air out the space of fumes and dust.

Another topic that gets debated, hide on or hide off.  Both are effective when used in specific situations. Most of the time, when hanging in a shop or shed I leave the hide on. Keeps the meat clean, and from drying out creating a rind that needs to be cut off.  Having the back end opened, and a fan moving air, and cool temps, this is a great set up.  Will the hide be harder to remove this way, yes.  It wont pull as easy.  But with some patience, a good knife, and some channel lock or vise grip pliers the work goes smoothly.

No shop or shed?  Live in a warm state?  There are still options for getting the same effect of hanging a deer. 

Hide off Quarter the deer, on the bone. Leaving it attached to bone prevents shortening of the muscles, which result in cuts being tough.  Next, hang the deer quarters in a fridge if you have access.  A trick I learned from a guy who raised lambs, after slaughter, and the carcass was moved to chilling, he would spray the surface with red wine vinegar.  The vinegar being acidic would help prevent anything from growing on the surface.  No fridge?  Cooler with bags of ice.  Wrap the ice with plastic, and leave the drain plug open to let it melt off and drain out.  Lay the quarters on top of the ice and close the lid.  Again the meat doesn't want to be in the ice or water, but on top of the plastic covered ice bags.  Frozen milk jugs are also good.  Problem is airflow.  You want those quarters to be dry.