Early Season Game Care and Poor Man's Cooler

Show Notes

On this week's episode of the Pennsylvania Woodsmen, Mitch starts off with an update on season preparation.  Nothing like waiting until the last minute to get stands, plots, and more ready for opening day!  Habitat management and private land hunting strategy are something Mitch enjoys deeply, and these recent projects got him fired up; prompting a little bit of philosophical argument between private land and public land hunting.  At the end of the day, do what you love!

The main course of this episode Mitch is joined by Nick Otto, host of the Huntavore podcast on Sportsmen's Empire Podcast Network.  Prior to marriage and kids, Mitch used to butcher deer within 1-2 days of harvesting during early season when the weather was warm.  Now, it takes a bit more planning to accommodate processing into daily life.  Processors are always an option, but if you enjoy doing it yourself and want to save some coin, this episode may help you out!  Nick discusses the proper measures to take after the shot during the early season.  We navigate field dressing, skinning, quartering, cleaning, aging, temperature, and more.  Lastly, if you do not have a walk-in cooler, Nick provides some excellent tips on how to turn household appliances into a poor man's deer cooler, buying you time to process!  This is a fantastic episode for quality table fare! 

Check out the Sportsmen's Empire Podcast Network for more relevant, outdoor content!

Show Transcript

Mitchell Shirk: Thanks for tuning into this week's episode. Hope you guys are doing well. We are closing out the last month of August here, last episode of the month, and then we're rolling into September. Finally gonna start having the summer winds change [00:01:00] towards fall, which I'm always looking forward to. I got a month before I'm ready to hunt.

Unless you're hunting in a special regs unit, which one of the places that I hunt is in a special regs unit. I could be starting two weeks sooner, but probably not gonna happen to be honest with you. But I have been getting ready, I've been jam packing a year's worth of season preparations into two weekends is what I did.

So last weekend, I probably said something. Last weekend I was out working on. The one property, and that's actually in the special regs unit did a bunch of work there and I talked about that last week's episode. And this week I had rented a loader a skid loader, a skid steer on tracks, and I had a whole bunch of dead ash trees on my property at my house here, and I had cut them, the majority of them down in the wintertime and actually cut 'em into pieces of firewood and thought, ah, over time I'll slowly work at [00:02:00] getting them out, work at getting them out.

I had built a wood shed at my house where I slowly was building a wood shed at my house, which it's now done, but. Yeah, I'll slowly bring firewood down and split it here and there, and it just never happened. So I had loads and loads of firewood, that's cutting pieces. It needs to be split.

So I decided I'm gonna get a skid loader. I'm gonna bring all that firewood down. But when I have the skid loader here, I had a little bit of yard work I wanted to do with it. But the big thing that wanted me to get it was my food plot that I des I built a few years ago. And everything else, it was built the, where the opening was on my property.

And it was never shaped the way I wanted it. And I finally decided, you know what? If I get a skid loader here, or some places with some brush, that I'm gonna clear that brush out and I'm gonna change the shape of it, because there was too many hard edges in it, and it was not very conducive for deer to slip in and feed through.

And the way it is like I've got betting on either side of me. Left and right [00:03:00] and there's a couple staging area that there's a place in the backward, it's an orchard that the deer go feed. And to the west of me, there's a bunch of crop fields and I'm stuck in between that.

And my property's very thick. Like all the overstory trees are dead. So it's very thick from that perspective. And I just wanted it to be something that they could gradually as they move through their property, it was not, it was just an easy slight turn into a food plot, do a little bit of feeding come to my water hole that I've had there for a few years, maybe get a drink and then slip back out.

And there was no hard turns up and down the hill. So I cleared that out and I used the brush. There was one section separating the yard and the woods that the screening just didn't come in real well. And I just decided I was gonna take that brush and build a brush wall. It was only, oh goodness, it was only probably 15 feet wide at this section before the brush covered up and screened the yard out really well.

So I [00:04:00] just I just built that brush wall up as tall as I had for brush. I removed a couple trees with the loader, smoothed it out, and then planted it. And drug it with a chain and it's ready. And the other thing I did too, because it had grown up so thick, there was places where a lot of the trails had grown shut just because it was breyers and brambles and stickers and a lot of the trails that used to be there or maybe weren't that great in the first place.

I ended up making like a network of trails with a skid loader. I took the, from the corners and, pushed away with the loader real slow and made gradual paths that they could come down into the centrally located hub where mock scrape, food, plot, waterhole, all that good stuff is just down to one spot where I'm gonna call my kill spot.

And I, I don't have any other stands there. I may hang a tree, stand over on. An adjacent property, I have permission to that. I can get in and out of a little bit better just 'cause of the way the woods are, it's better in between some thick [00:05:00] cover and open hardwoods and stuff. And it's probably a good stand for it is a good spot for morning rutt movement in October and it's more easily accessed on this ridge.

But for my property, I just stay low. I have one stand for this small property and I feel if I stack my odds there, I can hunt it fairly often, be low intrusive and should be high odds. But one thing I gotta go on a rant a little bit about when it comes to that we're in a world right now with hunting where.

Public land is the cool thing to do and I am all for public land hunting for many. That's their only option For many, it's a chosen option and for anybody who can go out and hunt public land and consistently get it done and have fun and do their own hunt, that's awesome. Keep doing that. However, there's this conversation or vibe amongst the hunting community.

It's not within everybody, but you [00:06:00] hear it on another podcast or you, you chat with somebody's opinion. Perfect example is any time nowadays, if you show a picture of a buck you killed, have you ever been doing that with somebody and they go, oh, did you kill that on public? My thing is, who caress, I've said this before, I'll say it again.

Do your own hunt. Do what makes you happy. But I wanna bring up another point. There's a lot of people that. Come from that side of the spectrum where you hunt pot, private, knock on door permission, low input costs, and want to knock people who have private land do improvements and then shoot deer on that.

There's like this negative asset oh, anybody can do that. And if you have that mindset, my guess is you probably don't have a ton of experience doing that, or you don't see the whole picture. Because from my point of view, It is [00:07:00] more work than you can probably imagine to do it right, it's tiring.

I worked my freaking tail off for hours and hours. Granted, it was my own fault that I waited so long and I did it, but I work my tail off just the same as somebody who goes out on public land, grinds it out, scouting, walking, figuring out stands. I put all that heart, that thought process into my property, then manipulated it in a way that hunt now do.

Does my hunt? Is my hunt a little bit easier? Absolutely is. There's some variables I'm able to control and I have it set up in a fashion that's easy for me to access. I don't have to hang a stand in the middle, in the dark or carry a stand and carry heavy loads in. So there's some differences from the actual physical hunt, but the preparation, the work, I don't think anybody could argue that it's more or less one way.

And at the end of the [00:08:00] day, it still comes down to this is something I enjoy. And if you enjoy doing it too, don't be ashamed of that. And if you enjoy doing public land and you don't wanna do private land manipulation, that's okay too. I'm just going on a rant because it's just, again, have your own hunt.

Enjoy yourself. Don't bring people down. Don't bring each other down. We got enough of that going on in this day and age. So embrace each other even though you've got some differences. I will make this statement. I might be sticking my neck a little bit out a little bit on this, and I could be wrong.

I think if you take a quality property, a quality private land, piece of land, and. Name, whatever hunter you want. Think of all the big wig buck killers of in the country. And I'm sure everybody has their own people. If you had a deck of cards who you'd stack for the best deer hunters in your mind, and many of them, let's just say they're public land hunters.

I guarantee you most of [00:09:00] those guys could go on a property in year one and probably have a good chance of killing the best bucket net area in year one. 'cause they're good hunters. They understand the lay of the land. They know how to read, sign, and go in for a kill, probably better than I do in some cases.

But if you take that same property and then you put them on it for 10 years in a row, I question if they would consistently kill. The same the best deer in the neighborhood on that property, or if there'd be a diminishing returns. And the reason I say that is because even though you're a fantastic hunter, it doesn't mean you understand property management.

Manipulating a hunt in a way that's gonna be better quality and aspects. Some people do, but there, there's a learning curve associated with that. And I've seen it where good hunters struggle. Why do you think there's consultants out there for private lamb habitat manipulation because there was a learning curve associated with the right and wrong things to do, and they don't want people to make the same [00:10:00] mistakes, even really good hunters.

But from looking at confined borders there, there's a learning curve there in how to do that on a consistent routine basis. Those private land hunters and whoever you wanna say, I, they're the people who can do it regular 'cause they know the work that needs to put in and the balance associated with managing a property and a herd and trying to consistently kill mature bucks.

Is one better than the other? Not at all. Just a thought. Just something to food for thought. And the last thing I wanna say to. For before I, we get into this week's episode is I am extremely blessed to have the knowledge and experience that I do from the private land side of things, and I'm gonna give that all credit to my hunting mentor growing up.

Now I don't throw his name out and I don't, 'cause I don't think he likes to have the spotlight in a lot of cases. And I won't say his name, but he knows who he is and I appreciate like the stuff I was doing this [00:11:00] past weekend for my property that wouldn't be possible without him for the very reason that he taught me how to run equipment.

He. And not that I'm an operator by any means, but he taught me, put up with me breaking stuff for years and gave me so much hunting knowledge that I'm able to apply and mold on my own. And that's something I could never pay. And I got a great appreciation for it by a, I worked my butt off for one weekend and he does it all the time, like just relentless.

I don't know anybody who puts more work into their land and trying to kill deer than that individual. And I was laughing because at one point throughout the weekend, I got the track slipped off, it slipped off of the the line and I had to get somebody to come and put the track back on.

It just, sides swipe you. I was backing around and there was a stump. I got a little too close to it and it just clipped the stump and it pushed the track to the inside and had to get that fixed. But I'm thinking, stuff like that. [00:12:00] Can I do it? Yes I could, but I didn't have the tools and.

Lacked a little bit of the knowledge and how to get in order that, so I had to get some help. And, my, my hunting mentor that I'm talking about, that's something that, could fix anything but a broken heart. And this hobby land management it's expensive. It's time consuming.

It's hard work. It, there's knowledge gaps with working and manipulating landscape. It's dangerous. It's not easy. There's so much that goes into it that from a, just a deer hunting perspective, you probably don't realize. So I had to throw that out there. 'cause I appreciate that. Most of you listening to you don't know who that is.

Some of do know who that is and that's great. That's no problem. But, I appreciate just the pr as I was doing this work, I just had that appreciation of what I have at my disposal and what I've learned over the years. So I'm thankful for that. And I'm excited for this season.

I'm hoping I, I was just thinking about this on cameras, every property I hunt, so the two I talked [00:13:00] about, there's one other property I'm gonna hunt this year that I haven't done anything to. I'm just gonna hunt it. I've got some cameras out with a friend. I may hunt the main property I've always talked about with my hunting mentor.

There's one part of me that feels like I, because this has been such a busy year with working on my house and everything else, I haven't. Done any work there. And I'm, I don't want to be that person that just shows up in hunting season and hunts. So I'll still go out there and enjoy the hunting season with them and sit with my friends and have that camaraderie aspect that I've enjoyed Switch.

It's my favorite place to hunt. But, when it comes to my own personal hunting I might not go there quite as much. But the all I think about all the properties that I can hunt, I've got a deer on camera that of the caliber I would shoot at every single property. And that's exciting.

So I'm optimistic. All right, enough rambling. Let's get to this week's episode. This week's episode, I'm speaking with a guy from the Sportsman's Empire Network. I'm speaking with Nick Otto. Nick joined us [00:14:00] last year around this time to have some conversations about deer season preparation meat care after the harvest, but that was more towards the colder end of the hunting season and rifle season.

And in, in passing the, past few weeks and stuff, I had a bunch of conversations with Nick and managing Venison and Wild game just picking his brain on how to be better at it. And he brought some perspective or taught me some things that I never really knew and then gave me some ideas for handling venison in the early archery season.

And I thought, you know what, Nick, we gotta do a podcast on this because I think everybody here that hunts September into early October, heck even into late October, sometimes we're getting some warm days. And, you gotta figure out how to manage your venison unless you're gonna take it to a butcher shop.

But if you're like me, I shoot multiple deer throughout a year most times, and I don't wanna pay. Butcher bills every time. We're gonna talk about early season care. What's the [00:15:00] best way to handle it, and then what are options that you have? I'm gonna, I'm gonna dumb this the poor man's cooler, poor man's walking cooler, and some ways that you can take inexpensive tools or appliances and turn them into something where you can buy yourself some time.

If you shoot a deer and you don't get it back until Saturday night and you don't have the time to butcher it and it's 70 plus degrees out, how can you get that meat cooled down and maybe buyer some self, some time? Maybe you're like me. You've got kids and family obligations and you can't butcher it the weekend you shoot it.

But you need to buy yourself some time till next weekend. How are you gonna do that in a sensible way? And this poor man's walk-in cooler, I think is a good option. And he's gonna talk about that. And we're just gonna, we're gonna talk about some general Maintenance on equipment and how to maintain quality venison in the early season.

So I think let's leave it at that. It's a great episode. I think it's good to get you [00:16:00] prepared because we're right around the corner with the season. Before we do get to this episode real quick, shout out to our partners, Radox Hunting. Just got in a bunch of cell camera pictures from my Radox M cores.

They working great. I'm really happy with them. For cell cameras, the image quality is really good and I really like the way it's, they're so easy to set up with that scout tech app. Much easier than some other apps that I've done. And really great response time from any of the support team of any issues.

I had one, I spoke about another, I had a, had an issue getting one set up and it was just a sim card was bad and they were immediately responded. Sent me a new sim card, all set it, ready to go. All I had to do was swap it out and boom, it worked. So that was exciting. New end block for Erratics. Check out their hang ons, tree stands, hang on, tree stands and their sticks.

I just got some sent to me and I'm gonna be testing them out. Like I said, they're new for this season. They got out a little bit later, but they're still readily available. I have two [00:17:00] stands I can think of that I want to hang and I'm going to test these racks. Tree stands out. But I can tell you that option.

The other thing too is keep in mind that they've got the options for all the stick and pick stuff for their trail cameras. So check out Radox hunting. And with that, let's get to this episode.

Joining me today for this week's show, the Pennsylvania woodsman is none other than my friend from the Midwest. Nick, no, wait. No, I don't like this intro. I gotta do something better for this guy. Okay. Joining me from today's show is none other than the man himself from Michigan that wishes you as from Pennsylvania, where the interstate is his drive through.

Mr. Nick Otto. How is that? That's a much better introduction for him.

Nick Otto: Much better, Mitch. It's great to be here with the man who won't steer you wrong and it'll kill, continue to shoot straight. This has been good. It's been

Pennsylvania. Yes. It's a great state. I dunno, my [00:18:00] heart and soul is here in Michigan, but it's always nice to come visit you guys over there in the

Mitchell Shirk: keystone. Absolutely. So as we're recording this, you're on a little bit of a summer vacation, right?

Nick Otto: Yes. This is our last hurrah for the summer.

My wife's brother was getting married in Marquette, Michigan. Way up in the up. And that's upper peninsula for those that are in in Pennsylvania. So we did, there was a week of festivities for that, but we figured, hey, if we're gonna love the camper all the way up here, we're gonna enjoy it. So now we're on, this week we're in Indian Lake, which is the southern part of the up back days here, there just, and hiking and having a great time here in the great state of Michigan.

Mitchell Shirk: Good deal. Yeah. We were just talking off air right before we got started about how the ingenuity has to happen when you're on the road and you're just trying to run your podcast show. I was doing it when I was on my trip this summer in Canada and everything else. So the [00:19:00] ingenuity is great.

And that's a little bit what I wanted to talk about with you today, because out of anybody that I've talked to on the Sportsman's Empire, if there's anybody that's got some tricks up their sleeve for stuff, it's gonna be Nick. But before we get into some of that Nick let me allow you to introduce yourself and introduce your show on the network.

Nick Otto: Yeah. Name's Nick Otto and I'm the Hunter War. The whole idea is I love to hunt and fish. I'm gonna definitely tune into all the other shows on the Sportsman's Empire for getting tactics, for getting tips on gear, for trying to figure out how to get close to that buck or get close to that dough or get on that board.

But when it comes to after the shot, that's where the hunt of war will ring true. Because my goal is to make sure that after the shot, after you've acquired that animal, that you get the best use outta that animal. I'll talk about ways to field dress different ways to butcher an animal, whether it be one with four legs or it'd be a feathered friend.

We're [00:20:00] gonna find a way to, to break that down and then ultimately get it to the plate and be able to celebrate that harvest with friends and family. So that's what the hunt wars all about is you do the hard work of getting the animal down. The work isn't done yet, and that's where then we pick up and we talk about all things after the shot.

Mitchell Shirk: Now, I know you have a little bit of a background in agriculture too. Did you have a background in butchering and meat processing in the first place? Or is that something that you've just grown a love for over time with your love for hunting in the outdoors?

Nick Otto: It all kind of fruitions just off the poultry farm.

I wanna say that's where I get a lot of my geniuses, I would say is coming off of being a farming kid, is that we had to make do with what we had. And then even on the business side we were lucky enough that we have processing facility right.

Standing on the meat line at seven years old I'm at a, I'm at a table, but I'm [00:21:00] actually, I'm standing on a chair so that I can get up and run a pin feather basically like little tweezers to pull the pin feathers off the bird. And so I moved my way, growing up in that family, going up and down that table doing the different jobs, learning how to take apart a Turkey.

And from there like that really got me used to working with a knife that got you, me working with joints or how to cut through a bone or how to keep most of the meat on a cut, but at the same time be able to get the most off that carcass into glow, into grind. And so that's where my upbringing started as a kid is both outside at the barns, but then inside processing plant.

So then the transition came to if I'm gonna hunt, I wanna. I, yeah, at first I didn't know what I needed to do, but then I started to look at this shoulder joint right here at the elbow looks very much like the knee of a Turkey. Or if I'm gonna [00:22:00] cut a bone in half, I don't wanna, I'm gonna use the same bit, or excuse me, the the saw blade tooth size.

I wanna use that same boning knife when it comes to deer. Yeah, it's gonna be a little bit longer of a pull. But at the same time, the translation of butchery anatomically too, you're speaking like, there's only so many ways to put a joint together. And so once you know 'em on one, one animal, it translates easy to another.

And so that's been an easy transition. But at the same time, I'm a hands-on kind of guy. I like to get my hands dirty and, if I gotta, if I gotta look something up on YouTube, if I gotta find a book shoot, I was looking at the syllabus starting out. As far as going, looking at the syllabus that the University of Kentucky was putting out for their buty program I was looking at those resources to figure out how can I translate that into venison, how can I translate that into using other animals such as boar or even upland birds.

So it's been fun. Be those different tactics onto different [00:23:00] hunting. Hunting, right?

Mitchell Shirk: It's. It's part of the hunt. It should be an automatic part of the hunt. I feel like it's something that doesn't get talked about enough. Thank goodness for the hunt of, or thank goodness for people that join your show and have knowledge of this to help us because I think the average Joe Schmoe, like myself I've got a lot to learn.

I've learned a lot over the past few years. I've learned a lot listening to your show. And I always, whenever I got questions, I pick your brain. And the one topic that I really wanna discuss is I wanna go down a rabbit hole of early season. We've got in here in Pennsylvania, we've got some units that open up archery season.

In September, like right around the 16th. This year the statewide opener this year is September 30th. We've got we've got archery season runs through the entire month of October. We have a week long actually correct that we have a leak week long muzzle loader bear season, followed by another two weeks [00:24:00] of archery bear season through the month of October into November.

And man, some of the, it seems like the last few years, some of the hunts that I've been on have been 70, 80 degree days at that time of year. And meat care is always a concern. There's been a lot of nights where I said I am shooting a buck or nothing. I don't wanna deal with a deer tonight just because it's hot and in the processing and everything else like that.

And there's also times where I wanna shoot a deer when I wanna shoot a deer. So what limits me is I don't have the tools and I wanna talk about the poor man tools and it's the process behind it. You also do. Some bow hunting in the early season too, if I'm not mistaken Nick?

Nick Otto: Absolutely. Same thing with that poultry farm is it gets busy right? During the time of the firearm season in Michigan here, everything all our attention goes back to the Turkey farm right there around Thanksgiving. So getting in early is, has always been a tactic of mine. I wanna get in quick, I wanna get [00:25:00] something in the freezer.

I almost have the backwards mentality of a lot of guys is I wanna get in quick, I wanna put that dough down, I wanna get something in the freezer. 'cause that's gonna alleviate the stress for me later on, that now I can look for that buck. Now I can start being choosy. And I know some guys they're choosy at the beginning because they know they have time and yeah, my, my hour glass is flipped.

I wanna get in, get my deer, and then, then I can wait out the. But just like you said, yeah, sometimes some of these hunts in October, man, I've been out in a t-shirt and it's been 75 degrees sitting up in a stand, you're like, oh my goodness, it's if I do put a deer down, I need to be on top of this thing right away.

And that's if I don't sweat to death or dive mosquitoes sucking me dry, sitting up in that stand at the same time. But yeah, early season is one that I really wanna get something done. And you're right, maybe it's global warming, maybe this has just always been a [00:26:00] thing that's been about us, but at the same time, it's like we gotta figure a way to get that meat.

Dry. We gotta get that meat cold and we wanna be able to get that meat prepared and put away in the freezer if you're gonna take something early in the year.

Mitchell Shirk: Yeah. Let's start by, I wanna know what you personally have at your disposal to, for preparing when you're going on an early season hunt. And then let's talk about some options about what people can have, but first and foremost, like before we're gonna go, if you don't have a walk-in cooler and you don't have a, any large space really that's what I wanna figure out is what we can acquire and not a lot of costs, but let's start off, but what do you have at your disposal?

What are you doing right now, this time of year after the shot and you're bringing a deer into your shop or whatever?

Nick Otto: Yeah, I have it. It's been tried and true and I know a lot of guys have them. It's the refrigerator sitting in your garage or it's the one in your shop. I've got [00:27:00] one refrigerator that I do a lot of my charcuterie in there.

I do a lot of meat hanging in there. I've actually retrofitted the drawers to come out or the shelves to come out. And I actually put in some metal slats in there just so to beef it up 'cause you're putting quarters in there. But I have one bridge that's dedicated to just deer and beer. Beer goes on the door, deer goes on the racks.

You hang up the quarters, you find a way to get it in there. And by being able to take an animal early here in the that refrigerator gives me a couple days that I can now have to get this animal completely butchered out.

I guess it depends on the size of the animal, but that's like my first go-to piece of equipment just because it's gonna provide me a couple days. If I wanna age an animal for longer, I really like to get between [00:28:00] seven and 12 days. Either that, week and a half. That's a great time to be able to let an animal hang.

But you also have to have really good conditions. And if you don't have those, having some sort of refrigeration even on the residential scale of a refrigerator is gonna be super helpful, right? It may not give you that full seven days, but what it's gonna provide you, it's gonna give you three days that you can figure out, okay, can I get this to a processor?

Can I cut this up myself? What do I need to get? And then at that point, I can break it down. I got room in my freezer, then at that point, and then it can go in. So that's my first go-to piece of equipment that I've been able to use. It's just a retrofitted refrigerator.

Mitchell Shirk: Let stop you there for a second, Nico.

Let's go back to the field for a second. So shoot a deer and pretty obvious that we're going to field dress the deer as quickly as possible. We're gonna get it outta the field as quickly as possible, and we're gonna hang it up and we're gonna skin it as quickly as possible. Now I typically am gonna wash it [00:29:00] out as good as I can.

I might split the ribcage, I might split the deer in half completely depending on what I wanna do. Do you have any preferences of how you split or hang a deer about that? But my main question too is if you wash a deer, is it important that I've heard of people that say, you need to, take.

Shop towels and dry the deer off and get that moisture off as quickly as possible. Have other people say you put fans on some people say you don't need to do any of that. I'm not sure what the, is there a right course of action? What is our ultimate goal for meat preservation in this state?

Not including the temperature side of things?

Nick Otto: I'm gonna, this is a great way I'm gonna answer this and I'm gonna, A recent, this past spring I got a chance to go on a hog hunt down with John on the Oklahoma Sportsman's podcast, also part of Sportsman's Empire. He invited us down and we were able to take some hogs and shoot Oklahoma's just hot all the time.[00:30:00]

And what we were able to do is we got those hogs in. Now granted they're not in ungulate The hog is built a little different. It, it doesn't blow up with gases as much like a deer, but it's still this whole, this example still works out. Once we brought that animal in, we field those animals.

We split them right down the middle in halfs, so you could go with that. On the big one we split in half. A couple of the other ones we just opened up the belly and I actually used a couple sticks and just jammed them in there to spread open the rib cage just so I can let some air flow through there.

We did take a hose and wash out the cavity because we did break one of the, one of the intestine on one of the s. So a is that you end up getting into the intestine, get into that gall and bile, or get into the stomach. I know some people say, Hey, you wanna keep everything dry because [00:31:00] the wet, anything that's moist is gonna rot quicker.

That, that is a point. But at the same time, you gotta get all that eco matter. You gotta get all that acidic stuff out there, whether it be the bile, whether it be the feces that has to come out. So spraying is always a good idea. But we had temperatures that got down into the fifties at night.

It was still really warm during the day and it would get down to fifties, but we had moving air. There was just this constant breeze down there. And so by hanging the animals up from a it, those off and. Or at least along the inside of that cavity. When we got up the next morning and I took my hand and put it on the inside, it was bone dry.

On the inside of that, I didn't have any residual moisture. And on those halves they really had a good tack on the outside. They had already dried out at least that, that membrane on the inside of where the ribs were at that had dried out completely. It was separating a little bit, which was [00:32:00] excellent because at that point you have a dry surface that is not gonna let bacteria start to grow in those situations.

So now let's say you put a deer down in Pennsylvania, or even a bear at that point, if you can hang him up and you can get that ribcage spread open, so air move in through, give it a spray out, and as long you've going across. That's gonna help be able to wick away any of that moisture that you've got on the inside.

If your temps are getting down into the fifties at night, like you can get away with that. You're gonna your animal's not gonna spoil as long as we can get that body heat off of that. So that's what that mo, that's what that breeze is gonna do, opening up that chest cavity. But that next morning, that's again, when you have to be on top of it, because if we're out away from refrigeration, you just got coolers now is the time you wanna start using some of your butchery skills, breaking those down so they can fit into the coolers at that point.

Or if then if you had to go [00:33:00] to a processor, you wanna be first in line to get to that processor.

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Wanna check out Radox cameras in person? Stop in at Little Mountain Outfitters in Richland, Pennsylvania and have a peek [00:35:00] now back to the show. Okay, so that makes a lot of sense from a moisture management standpoint now. From a temperature statement you brought up the fifties. That seems warmer to me. So like, where's your cutoff before you're like, this cannot hang overnight?

Because, I think about early season, most of the deer that I've ever killed in the first three weeks of the season, I kill in the evening. So I'm gonna be dealing with the deer that night. And I, shame on me, but I always get the point where I wanna get the bare minimum done so I can go home and go to bed.

'cause a lot of time they're late nights in the first place. So like, where's the cutoff at hanging a deer?

Nick Otto: As long as, yeah. If it's just gonna be that overnight, shoot, you're already going from a hot animal running it near a hundred degrees and you're exposing it to 50 degree nights. That's where that temperature's gonna equal or that's gonna, that temperature's gonna continue to fall in that animal, in that carcass until it gets to that [00:36:00] 50 degree mark.

Is that safe? No. But at the same time, if you don't have that availability and overnight is not going to spoil that animal because you've gotten the major heat producer being the the entrails, getting that gut out of them, that's gonna help you preserve that meat. If I'm gonna leave one hanging up for more than overnight I'm really wanting thirties.

You can risk it with forties if you're watching it, if you have.

If you're at a hunting camp, or even if you're just in the area where you've got a shed that's dark and it's got a concrete floor that can act as a heat sink, where it's gonna get down to fifties, gonna stay nice and cool that concrete's gonna stay nice and cool so that you keep that deer next to that or inside that shed where it's nice and dark.

That's gonna be one way that [00:37:00] you can help maintain that temperature lower, or at least the lowest that you can find there at that point. But I would say overnight, you're already exposing it to lower temperatures, then you're gonna wanna have to find that That refrige at that point. So yeah, aiming for thirties, you can make do with forties, fifties.

It's one of those, you just it's something you have to do at that point. But other than that, yeah, it's, otherwise it's gonna be too long.

Mitchell Shirk: And we're talking about that based on if you're at a camp or if you just have nothing at your place in order to make that happen.

That'd be a one night thing. But let's talk a little, ideally we're gonna have a walking cooler or something that we can get that temperature down. So let's go down the avenue. I talked about this with you on the phone not that long ago, and that's what prompted me to wanna do this podcast with you is I called it like a poor man's walk-in cooler, so to speak.

And you talked about the deer beer fridge. Let's get into that. Let's talk about initial setups, what we want to wanna look for as far as equipment. Can any old fri [00:38:00] refrigerator work. You talked a little bit about modification that you did in yours. Let's go into a little bit more depth with that.

Nick Otto: Yeah I chuckle too because I feel like that's one of those, I love gear just like the next guy and being able to spend big amounts of money on hunting specific gear and items. I love to pick up some of those things, but then there's other stuff that it's man, I just can't afford that.

And to sustain my family at some point the hobby's gotta get creative because other funds are already allocated to something else. So with that, you do get to hit those creative wheels going and having things be not a singular use, but to have them have multiuse is gonna be beneficial and.

I, I, it stays in my garage all year and it's used, I, there's beer in there when my buddies come over. They [00:39:00] always, some of them leave a six pack from when they're buting a deer, so it's there's always Coors Lights in there. There's always Miller Lights. It's it just grab and go as you please.

I've gotten into making charcuterie and that's where you're really aging out pieces of either sausages or even whole cuts where you've got them in a vac bag. I've been working with a company called In My Dry, where you can actually like dry age for long periods of time. You do need the refrigerator in order to do that because the compressor helps pull moisture outta that refrigerator, keeping it an arid environment.

So that's how this whole thing works for there. So what I did for my fridge is I pulled out all of the little glass shelves in there that. They can support a gallon of milk, but that's probably about all they're not gonna take a full deer leg or at the same time, it's a heck of a mess trying to clean up after putting the deer in a refrigerator because you got blood all over the place.

You've got [00:40:00] purge all over it. It's just one of those easier, you're constantly cleaning it out. So that's where I went with these wire shells. From there I hang one up nice and high. I can take the leg corners and tie them from the underneath with a hook. And I've basically made myself, it's now a walk-in cooler, but it'll hold a whole white tail deer, whether it's a, whether it's a big buck or whether it's just a little dough, it'll hold that in there.

Pieces and prim situated just right. There's where. Not gonna be enough, and you might have to have something even bigger. You're taking multiple deer or you've got a camp situation where you've got guys taking multiple deer, having a bigger area that you can control temperature is gonna be even better, and that's where I got this year.

I have a, an eight foot chest freezer. I'm sure a lot of people have these chest freezers and as uprights are getting more and more popular. [00:41:00] If you check like Facebook Marketplace, if you check Craigslist, you can find a chest freezer for super cheap. Now, whether it's a little small, one four cubic foot,

The temperature and you're like, Nick, you're gonna freeze all the meat. If you go on Amazon, or I'm sure you can look at tons of different retailers, I end up going on Amazon and finding an ink freezer thermostat. This device allows me to plug into the wall. It's the power, it becomes the power source.

And there's two plugs that are then where I into that thermostat, and then actually thermos itself. You drape inside of the. And now I can set the temperature whether I want it to go all the way down to freezing. I actually set mine to 34 is gonna be [00:42:00] the low. And I went to 40 B in the high. And at that point, when the temperature inside of that freezer got to 40 degrees, that would kick on the power source.

It would turn on the freezer, it would then chill it down to 34 degrees where it would then kill the power at that point. So I essentially turned an eight foot freezer into now an eight foot chiller that I can then take meat, hang it in there. I've got now more days to play with multiple deer. This was the setup I dreamed up actually going down to Oklahoma and coming back.

Now I got three hogs. I got several hundred pounds of meat. What am I gonna do here? And that's where just using a little bit of ingenuity, using just a little bit of creativity, thinking outside of the normal walk-in freezer. This is how I'm gonna be able to preserve all that pork. Here's how I'm gonna preserve all that venison for just this minute amount of time.

What's nice about it? [00:43:00] I unplug it. I can push that freezer outta the way it can go into storage up until next season when we can get it ready to go again. So now

Mitchell Shirk: if we use either setup like that if somebody goes out and uses a fridge and can keep it in there, or they use a make a chiller out of a a chest freezer, do we need to be concerned?

We already talked about airflow earlier. Do we need to be concerned neither of those situations that we're not getting moisture out? Or like what are some lookouts there? I guess

Nick Otto: you can overload a residential refrigerator with a really slick wet deer. If it's really wet out. That compressor's gonna be working really hard.


A bunch of moisture. But what can also happen is, yet you can, essentially how that works is the compressor draws air across the cold coils. Now the cold coils are gonna then ice up with whatever [00:44:00] moisture is being collected through there. But then as the refrigerator goes into its defrost, that's where it or it melts, goes into the pan, drops out the tube that then goes to the bottom side of the refrigerator.

If you're overloading it with too wet of an environment, you can keep that thing from having it go through its defrost cycle, and then that's where it's gonna be basically trapped with moisture. It can't get rid of that quick enough. So that's where a refrigerator can buy you. That's what I was talking earlier.

It can buy you a couple days, it can buy you two or three days. Is it gonna be able to handle the full seven days for aging? If it's humid out, probably not. It's not gonna hold up, it's not gonna keep up with the amount of moisture. If it's dry out, you haven't had, it's not raining out, it's not foggy out.

It could probably get you through that seven days being in the eight foot chest [00:45:00] freezer. That's where you might wanna look at some blocking, or at least a way to be able to lift one deer up on a shelf and have one deer below. Being able to work in layers so that you've got air that can run over that.

Whether that's, shoot, opening the door of that thing, you're already gonna move a lot of air. As soon as you open that that lid air begins to circulate, you do lose a bunch of cold air, but at the same time, drier air is coming in. So opening that up a couple times a day just to move air around, that's not a bad idea.

I've going along with the ingenuity thing, maybe if you've got a small little. That you can use like a, either a computer fan or even just a little desktop fan that you can set up on one end just to draw air going across that can be helpful. But at that point, the both these setups are there to not necessarily solve all of your problems when it comes to aging wild game, but it can solve the problem of I need something to do this in the next [00:46:00] three to four days.

If that makes

Mitchell Shirk: any sense. It absolutely makes sense 'cause it's buying time because I know, you were talking about working on the farm stuff, but that's not your main job, but you're a PE teacher, right?

Nick Otto: Yes. When it comes to having not a lot of funds and having to find a way to use items in different fashions, that's a specialty that we have as educators.

Mitchell Shirk: Sure. You're a dad, father of three, I believe. And yeah. I, I'm the same boat, I've got kids, I've got a busy job. My wife has a busy schedule as well. Before all that, it was nothing that if I shot a deer the first week of October when it was 70 degrees out, I would just do my thing until I was done.

And that just doesn't happen anymore. So I need, in order for me to be able to make the most outta the time, I do get to hunt. And I want to kill a deer. I want to buy myself time. And this is what this is what I wanted to talk about with you because time is never a good thing for us in these situations.

Nick Otto: Absolutely. [00:47:00] Yeah. You finally like, Hey, you know what? I carved out a little time. I'm gonna go out on a Wednesday evening hunt, and sure enough, here comes the deer that I wanna shoot. I shoot it, it's down. It's now eight 30. By the time I get that animal back, it's eight 30. I gotta stop a second and go take care of the kids, wipe off the blood.

First off my hands. Get the kids in bed, or we gotta go down, we gotta take pictures with the deer and we gotta get them off the bed, get them on their thing. What am I gonna do now with this animal that's laying right here? Can I find a shortcut that's gonna get me to Friday night where I have the ability to be able to have a little extra time?

Can I make it to the weekend? That's where that bridge is gonna come in, because yeah, pulling that skin off, getting those quarters out, get them hung up. I what a relief to be able to have. That be on limbo. I can press pause on this meet so that I can then come back to it [00:48:00] later versus the shoot babe, I did this now.

Now I've gotta stay up all night and do this. My job's gonna suffer the next day because I'm gonna be wicked tired. And it's just this snowball effect. At that point, you're not, you can't give the best back to your family. You can't give the best back to your wife or your kids and to be able just to say, Hey, meat, hold out here a second in this refrigerator.

Go into this chest freezer, this chest chiller here. That is such a weight off your shoulders because now at this point, it gives you flexibility. So as busy as we're, you just mentioned that as busy as we're, we want the most quality outta this animal, I also don't wanna let anything go to waste.

This is that opportunity that I can save as much of it because I now have.

Mitchell Shirk: So if we, just to recap the fridge, you said a lot of time, two or three days at the most, maybe longer depending on the situation humidity wise, but the chest freezer situation, you're capped [00:49:00] out at how long there a week or maybe a 10 days or what are you thinking there?

Nick Otto: I'm thinking the same way. Those freezers work, some of them work similar to the compressor style. Some of are really good at pulling out moisture from those because it's gonna be gonna a real chilled state. The top part of that chiller might be a few degrees warmer than the bottom because it such an insulated sink in there that, the stuff on the.

You're gonna be because of that size, depending on how many deer you can get in there. Yeah. It's gonna give you maybe a couple more, you might be able to look at five days being in there. You might be able to look at, seven days. But as far as like it, it's not wicking away moisture at that point.

It's gonna be just chilling that down. So I would, yeah, I would say that same window as it's buying you a little more time, but it's not necessarily solving your whole issue of a walk-in cooler. That is, that creme de la creme. That's [00:50:00] something that the processors have and because they can get so many carcasses in and get, can get the money for it and can afford to do that's one way to do that.

I know there are some, there are families who have their own walk-in coolers. They've got camps that have their own walk-in coolers. And as we talk about this here too, technology's coming even further and further where. There are units that now can do the same idea that, we're overriding, like with the freezer thermostat, we're adding our own thermostat.

They're doing the same thing with air conditioners, where now guys can take a, whether it's a trailer, whether it's a small closet in their shop or they build out this area where they can put some closed foam in, whether it's spray foam or whether it's just the foam boards. But they put this air conditioning unit into the side and they override that thermostat with a controller.

And at that point they turn that air conditioner into the freezing unit, [00:51:00] into the working bones of that. And at that point, you now essentially have made yourself a poor man's walk-in cooler. I think it's CoolBot. I think you can probably find that online, but yeah, it's one of those things like, Price, you've gotta buy a certain.

Maybe you make one with one of those, but if you still can't get onto one of those being the best setup, an okay setup would be go into that chest freezer.

Mitchell Shirk: Yeah. I think it really depends on what your ultimate goals are and stuff. Now you brought up you brought up another topic and I'd like to touch base on it a little bit.

You touched about just talking about aging and stuff, and that's one of those things that people talk about, but I don't think a lot of people actually know what aging is, what the benefits are, what the process is and how it works. And I've heard of, professionals with walking coolers and the right setup, aging for a very long [00:52:00] time.

14, 21 days. Sometimes I've even heard of longer. And let, I wanna talk about the benefits of it, but help me understand better. 'cause I, I. Like I said, I'm slow and I probably missed the point of importance there, but how is it that those professional setups allow it to go that much longer versus our poor man setup?

Is it just because of that air factor?

Nick Otto: Yeah. You're getting an industrial sized condenser. You're getting industrial sized fans and you're getting an, a much more efficient way of getting moisture off of those animals. They, those blowers are blowing air over top of those carcasses. And even though it's not evaporating in the sense of temperature wise, all that moisture is just getting wicked outta it.

The condenser set up far bigger than what we can get on a residential scale. And you go to a processor,[00:53:00] it's gonna be. Can't even, they vary. But at the same time, you've got racks and racks of deer that are sitting there. If they gotta have powerful units in order to do that. And so you're looking at, shoot, even as a power consumption, some of these units, you're looking at a three phase as opposed to one 10, we're running on one 10 power here, and maybe two 10, maybe.

If somebody's got the setup, they can unplug their welder and plug in, some sort of condenser to really amp it up a little bit. But a lot of these are run on three phase electric where you can't get those in a residential setup. So with that much power, they're able to then pull off that moisture.

They've almost got the condensers and the evaporators that are sitting outside. They almost look like household air conditioners.

To get that off the meat and to be able to continue to chill those down. So it's just something that we can't keep up. We just can't out. It's, that's what it's made to [00:54:00] do and it does a very good job at it. So that's how these butcher shops can get away with it. With aging stuff like that is because they have a far better fine tuned control of that environment versus our poor man setup.

Yeah. We get into the aging and aging is such a, like a wide variety be, or it's just a wide term. Guys will talk about, oh, I, I age at this many days and I age it or I hang it with skin or I hate it with skin off and aging as far as an animal at at, from death to a whole carcass hang that is, you are aging the animal, but at the same time you're basically.

The enzymes go to work. You're letting rigormortis go through its full process. And so by letting an animal hang for a certain number of days, you are letting that mu, you're letting all those muscles relax. You're letting everything soften to a point where it's going to [00:55:00] end up being somewhere in an economical range of the most tender that it's gonna get.

I thought it was Danielle Pruitt that wrote the article, but there was an experiment done on venison where they took several deer and they tried them and they, I forget the unit of measure that they used for tenderization. But what they found is that from day one to day seven, they.

Happening as far as a scale, exponential amount of tenderization was happening from day one to day seven. From day seven to day 14, there was still tenderization happening on that animal. It was still becoming more tender, becoming, but at a less aggressive rate that has, it started to slow down. [00:56:00] And then from 14 to 21, it really started to flatten out.

You could start to see where that bell curve was starting to get to its peak. You were getting to that stall point of, as far as hanging a whole animal right around that 21 day mark. Between 14 and 21 was gonna be the maximum, but as far as like the exponential amount of tenderization happening, it really slowed down.

So I applied that into how am I gonna handle my medicine? And if I can keep an animal right there between the like 12 and 14 day, that gets me the most tenderization happening. But at the same time, it's also getting me towards that, that stall a little bit. But those are days that are manageable in my residential setup.

If I can do that out of a fridge, great. It might get to a point where it's I dunno, it's not gonna, I'm not getting enough. It's still moist on the outside of the skin. I'm not [00:57:00] seeing a lot of this moisture get wicked out. This looks like it's something that's gonna have to have to get butchered over the weekend.

I'm at day seven. Am I ultimately gonna be able to tell the difference between day seven and day 14? Probably not. Once you get, once you pro, once you properly process that animal, and if I had a back strap from day seven, I had a back from day 14. I bet it would be really hard to tell the difference, but at the same time, what I'm also getting from the benefits of that is I'm gonna be getting water loss off that animal.

I'm gonna be wicking away that moisture. It's gonna be a dry or the texture's gonna be drier and it's probably gonna make for an easier cutting piece of meat because if I've got most of that surface moisture off there, it's gonna be a nice clean cut that I can have on that. With less moisture, you're also probably gonna be able to get more of that intense venison flavor.

A lot of people are looking for that. A lot of people will [00:58:00] want more of that venison flavor, and that's gonna give you a more truer sense of that if it's less waterlogged or at least less amount of water inside of its cells. So that's a nutshell of how people will age their venison on the hoof or age it as a primal.

There's another set of aging and people will get into this talk of wet aging, dry aging. And that happens more on the already pro, already butchered side of it. If you vacuum seal your venison pieces or your boar pieces, that is essentially going to be wet aging. Wet aging happens inside of that bag.

And you're gonna get what's called purge. And that's moisture that's inside of the meat that's gonna work its way to the outside of the meat. So when you open up those sealed up bags and you have, you're like, oh, look at all this blood that was still in there. Some of it might be blood. A lot of it's just going to be water that was inside of that muscle as is and it's gonna have a pinkish hue [00:59:00] just because there's gonna be mitochondria just because there's gonna be pieces of cell of cellular work that was happening.

And so that's gum all out. It's not necessarily just blood at that. But that's gonna be the wet aging process, and that can happen just inside a refrigerator, having that sitting there. Then people talk about the dry aging, and that's where you get into restaurants that have these chambers that are set up for that.

They wipe them. They, it's a sterile environment. They put these pieces of really expensive beef or really expensive lamb in there, and they'll hold them for months. We're talking, 60 to 90 days. They put those in there and when you get them at a restaurant like that you, you get a more, you don't even get a whole steak.

You get like just a

cheese fermentation. Meat preservation at that point. You want the funkiness, you [01:00:00] want those flavors that you're gonna get from that super long aging process. So when guys in the wild game realm, I think when they're talking aging, they're talking basically from that day one to day 21, that's gonna be the window that a lot of guys are doing that, then they're probably gonna back seal it because that's an easy way to be able to hold that piece of meat, be able to put that in the freezer and not let it get freezer burned In that sense, you can go further, but that's where you're gonna need some of that other equipment that I think is gonna be just a little bit outside of our reach, unless that's exactly what you're wanting do.


Mitchell Shirk: that makes a lot of sense. And yeah, I think that makes it a lot more doable and understandable for people who are just like me and have general knowledge, but wanna fine tune it and just be better. So let's go with the thought that we're, we still don't have the time.

Seven days isn't enough, Nick, and I'm still just not allowing myself to go spend the extra money and take it to a butcher. And I gotta come up with something. So I've heard of [01:01:00] people taking the quarters, wrapping them in butcher paper or vacuuming, sealing them, and then freezing them and thawing them out.

Thoughts, advantages, disadvantages. Good idea, good option. What are your thoughts there?

Nick Otto: Having tricks up your sleeve is always a good thing. Some of those tricks may not be the best, but at the same time, a lot of our circumstances aren't the best. So if you get this needs to chilled out, get this inside.

Saran wrap and then get butcher paper on that and I'm gonna freeze these, and then I'll come back to them at another date. That is something that you can do. Mind you, you can't do it very many times. It's gonna be a one, it's, you're gonna have the grace. You have [01:02:00] one, one strike. Basically, when you do that, and I say that not in the fact that the meat's gonna go bad, but you open yourself up to the freeze thaw, you're gonna take that piece of meat and microscopically shred it with ice.

When you freeze a piece of meat, it already has water either in it and it cells around it. Even if you've gone through that dry aging process of, even 21 days, there's still going to be water inside of that meat, and when you freeze it, That the quicker you can freeze it, the better because the shards of ice are gonna be smaller.

When you get into a slower freezing process, those shards tend to be elongate and get bigger. So you have the one, the refrigerator that you keep your ice cream in inside fridge? Inside fridge. It's probably set not super high. And that wouldn't be a very good item or environment that's gonna make your big ice, your ice [01:03:00] crystals that are gonna do a lot of damage inside of that piece of meat.

You wanna go with a deep freeze. You wanna go with one of those, either a dedicated freezer for when you've got the bigger cuts because it's gonna freeze that quicker and it's gonna make the crystals smaller. Those smaller crystals are gonna then pierce less of the meat and they're gonna have less purge out the backside.

So we talked about when you Cryovac, your. The meat. You pull it out when you're wet aging and that's where you're gonna have, that's where your purge is gonna develop. Once you freeze that the ice has been made, you pull it out to thaw it out so that you can cut it up. You're gonna have that purge at that point.

It's either use it then or freeze it hard again. And at that point that it better be into ready to go cuts or ready to go pieces of meat at that point. So if I thaw that out again and I cut it up, I'm then gonna wanna have it into meal [01:04:00] ready portions that I can increase one more time. Because after that, if I have to do another thaw freeze, it's just gonna continue to pull more moisture outta that.

And that's where you're gonna get a dry piece of meat, the more freeze thaw that you go through. So if you can minimize the amount of freeze thaw that you go through on a particular cut, on a particular primal, That's gonna help you keep more moisture inside of that meat so that you can then have a little bit of leeway when it comes to the grill or it comes to the pan.

So yes, that is a trick that if you need to do that, keep that up your sleeve. But mind you, once you thaw that out, that's you better get it ready and portioned up. Either eat it now or get it set to go off or have it packaged up for meal ready events at that point. I have seen actually we do this at the farm with tender or some of the tenderloins.

We actually back seal a marinade in the bag. If you've got a marinade you love to put on venison, [01:05:00] why don't you at that point, you add marinade into that Cryovac pre-meal, ready to go bag, seal that up as is. It's now sealed in with the marinade. You put that in the freezer, it spends a little time in there.

When it's ready to come back out, you let that thaw, it's pre-marinated, ready for the grill, taking one step off of what you need to do to get that thing ready. So that might even be helpful when it comes to meal planning. I know.

But at the same time, that's one way that you could have stuff ready to go. You need a quick Tuesday meal, you've got pre-marinated venison because you've already back sealed it with the marinade in there. So that would be one perk to that little trick there.

Mitchell Shirk: I've tried that Nick, but one problem I was having, and I, it must be the vacuum sealer I have, or either that, or I just don't have the right proportion of moisture marinade in there.

It [01:06:00] seems as though I have an issue with a good seal on the yeah, a good seal on the vacuum bag. It seems like it's pulling moisture out. And then I don't get a good vacuum seal. I'm not sure if I just need to add those little moisture wicking tubes in the bag or if there's something I'm doing wrong.

But that's one reason I've gotten away from that.

Nick Otto: Yeah. Depending on the sealer that you've got, if you've got one of the countertop sealers where it's. The mo or drawing out the air of the bag, it's gonna go along in there. Now I've seen, it's almost like a piece of felt, or I've heard it called a ve mouse that has helped out as far as when I put that across the bar.

That piece of felt sits between the two layers of the plastic. When I seal that down there, the one side catches the moisture and it keeps from all that being sucked into the bar, messing up with that. So that's one thing to do is to use those little ve mouses. The [01:07:00] second thing you could do is actually raise up the vac.

Put a couple books underneath that make gravity be helping you out at that point. If you lift the seal so that, now the bag has to lay down, moisture has to be drawn up and over. That might slow it down enough that you can get a good seal and have that Or that it'll slow that down. You can get that plastic heated up and sealed before that moisture even gets up there.

The third thing I think would be is to not try to hug your meat as much as you can, but come out to the edge of the bag giving yourself as much of that play there. So the moisture continues to try and draw up. It's gonna seal before it gets there at that point. So those are three things you could do is lift up the actual vac unit, use the full length of the bag, and if you have the vac mouse, put that in there.

I use a chamber vac I that I guess, it doesn't suck the air outta the bag, but it sucks the [01:08:00] air outta the chamber itself. And so it uses atmospheric pressure so that once it sucks all the air out of the chamber, it seals the bag and then it returns the atmosphere. And that's where I get that suck down unit. So it's not drawing any moisture outta the, so chamber vac would be best play, but yeah, if you have the poor man set up with the countertop version, then yeah, using gravity, using the length of the bag and the little vac mouse, keep those handy when you wanna be able to use marinades inside of a Mac vac machine.

Mitchell Shirk: Gotcha. We're getting towards towards the end of us wanting to wrap this up, but I wanna circle back to something you were talking about 'cause you stemmed thaw in in some backstraps that I've made this past year. You were talking about the freezing thawing, the moisture loss and everything else.

And I think you were talking about the issue I was having with some of my backstraps. So I'm hoping you can diagnose what I did wrong, or at least point me in the right direction of how to do better. [01:09:00] But I had had some backstraps that I, cleaned up. I probably washed them off a little bit if they had some blood or gristle or something on 'em put 'em in a vacuum sealer and went my way.

Then I thaw 'em. And, I, the timing of how I thaw 'em depends whether I'm putting 'em in a, in some warm water or putting 'em in the fridge and letting it process out. But there were times where they would thaw out. And it seemed like there was an extreme amount of moisture that would come out of the bag, and the meat had a brownish look on the outside.

And the odor was not the same as something that seemed to have less moisture and was dried out. And was that just due because of the moisture loss from that meat, or was just, did I put it into wet or I'm not sure why. I was thinking, have you ever experienced something like that with it coming out and it's just this isn't, it's almost quote unquote gamey, I don't know.

Nick Otto: Yes. In a wet scenario, you are gonna get a tanginess to that [01:10:00] piece of meat. It's hard to describe, but unless you open that bag, and I know people have experienced this before, they, either they've put it into the sink or they've let it thawed. Refrigerator the longer that you've had gonna those cryovac and the more that you've let that age inside of the bag as far as in a thawed state, you're gonna get a little bit of, but it still can continue to tenderize even in that wet environment.

But from that, you're also gonna get a, just the way the enzymes are working, you're gonna get this tangy, I don't wanna say acidic smell to it, but when you open it up, I think it's uncanny that people will get that smell from it. That happens with beef, that happens with lamb, that happens with pork, that happens all meat.

It's inside of that bag even as lower temperature [01:11:00] it's in. But just. As such a slow process, we can't barely tell. But then even when we get it to the thaw state, it's now continuing to age inside of that. It's continuing to tenderize. Those enzymes are still at work when we open that, we're now smelling the result of that.

Your meat's fine. It didn't, it just the fact that it was wet age like that and that it's got moisture on there and it's got this tanginess. It's not bad. The brown on the outside is gonna be an oxidation that is now, it was exposed to the environment when it went into the bag and it's gonna, you leave pieces of meat out they're gonna, they're gonna turn bright red and soon as you pull them

rich environment.

You them out, you pat them dry, you put them on the grill. When you sliced into that, [01:12:00] you're back to your red, you're back to your mahogany, you're back to your pink color in there. It's just the outside of that is oxidized because of that change in environment. So people will take, I do it, I take pictures of things when they, when I cut 'em up because, oh, that, that brilliant bright red, you put that into a vac bag.

It's no longer in an oxygen-rich environment. That's where things go brown and people start to freak out a little bit. Oh my goodness. Can it a spoiled? Nope, it's just not. And an oxygen rich environment, that bright red is just on the inside. So go ahead to sear that up. Sear that up.

Mitchell Shirk: That was great. That answers my question.

I'm sure a lot of people have had that too. Hey, we've been rolling for a while. This has been a great episode. I think this is gonna get a lot of people thinking about how they can improve their setups and fine tune things. Or maybe they just wanna do it themself for the first time, but they don't know where to start.

I know I'm going to start doing [01:13:00] some Facebook shopping or something like that because I've been dying to do something on my own. 'cause I keep basically half-assing the whole entire process and I need to have a system that works for me. So I appreciate you, you doing that. So before we go, I want Nick you talked about this was all about creativity and ingenuity, all revolving around meat processes.

But we, I want you to leave us with what are some other redneck ingenuity things that all deer hunters should come up with and what have you come up with? That's just a absolute money saver and game changer. Nick.

Nick Otto: Oh man. I. I chalk it up to my actually I had a dirt bike in high school and I had these cinch straps that I would use in order to cinch it down.

And they were kind, they were too short for really going across the truck bed, but they just, they don't have the, yeah they just need to be retired. So these old cinch straps that I have, they're, they're fine. They still hold weight, [01:14:00] but then they were just taking up room and I finally, or got a saddle and I was using a saddle and I'm a short guy and I needed eaters for my.

And I was like, man, I don't wanna buy a big set of ERs because, I dunno, it's I'm still trying to just get used to this saddle. Maybe it's something I gotta purchase down the road. Maybe I gotta save up for it. But what can I do? In the meantime? I took those cinch straps. I made two foot loops and I now run one hook, one hook of the cinch strap up to my thigh on my right side.

And I run a second strap, the second hook onto my left thigh. So I now, and I have a, or a bungee cord attaching the two of them. So they sit right close to my legs as I'm climbing up in the saddle. So I put a stick on, I pick one foot up, and I put that hook on the first ladder, and then I can step up and then I can add the next one.

And at that point, I'm onto the stick. [01:15:00] So instead of buying a hundred dollars or a hundred system, I just made it out. A couple cinch straps where the hook hooks onto the stick, and I tell you what, I'm stuck to them. I think I need to put a patent on these things because they're sleek. They're out of the way.

And shoot, I wear, I don't even take them off. Sometimes. I get up in there and I just leave them. They sit right there on my thighs and they don't go anywhere. It's a real true redneck gem using sink straps for ERs.

Mitchell Shirk: I wish I was more creative. I'm not a creative individual. I've done a little bit of tinkering like that and found stuff that was.

It's quote unquote, supposed to be cheaper. Until I figured it out, it probably was the same price as just getting what I needed in the first place. 'cause I'm not that creative. But I did the same thing with my bo stabilizer. So I was shooting, past few years I've been shooting a front bar stabilizer.

I, I've been back and forth between a 12 and a 15 inch bar [01:16:00] up front. And I ran a 10 anywhere from an eight to a 12 inch bar, back bar. And I really liked that shooting set up. But the problem was, if I don't shoot a lot then it just feels heavy and I, it feels like it defeats the purpose for me. And this past year I haven't shot that much.

And with my shoulders bugging me as much as they've been, it's nice having a lighter bow again. So what I did was I took one of my stabilizers and I actually found a it, it's actually like a. Like a Jeep Light clamp you know those, KC lights and stuff like that you put on Jeeps and stuff like that.

It has this this rubber molding piece in the middle of it and it's an Allen wrench that screws it down. And I just found the right rubber molding that would cinch around my stabilizer and then I just turned it into a side mounted stabilizer so it offset the weight of my sight and my rest and all that stuff.

And bounced the bow out that way. But it's done in a lighter fashion. 'cause I was running [01:17:00] stabilizers setups that were expensive or I shouldn't say expensive. They were heavy and they were long to counterbalance that and make a stable bow. And it's great to shoot, but it's also a pain in the neck if I wanna, hike the mountains, bear hunting or something like that in pa.

So that was my little creativity thing. I just wish I was more creative in other aspects 'cause I think it would just save me a lot of money and hassle.

Nick Otto: And it's that spark you need to be put into a spot where it's I gotta make this work or otherwise I won't have it. And I think that's where the true genius comes in.

If you have a, just another example. My rangefinder I ripped the button off the top up and, I was like, shoot, it's no longer and water's gonna get in there. Dirt's gonna get in there. This thing's gonna go to crap real quick. But I don't have the funds to get another range finder, but I did find that the Roku button off of our old old remote fit perfectly, where the button on [01:18:00] range was.

So it's just one of those things where find something. You haven't used in a while, it might hold the solution to what you're looking for. So is it redneck? Absolutely. But at the same time, that's money saved that you can put into something else for your hobby later. Gear great, but sometimes you gotta make do with what you got.

Mitchell Shirk: I think you're on to making like an Instagram reel if you might be a redneck in the form of the vore. I like that. Nick, this has been great. I really appreciate you coming on the show, talking this stuff through us. It was a big help for me personally, and I think it's gonna be helpful for a lot of my listeners.

So thank you. Anything you wanna leave us with and make sure you plug the vore?

Nick Otto: Yeah. Hopefully more videos will be coming out, but I've got two videos that I think they're on the Sportsman's Empire. YouTube channel. One of them shows you how to break down a leg quarter a hind leg quarter, and then I also have a shoulder quarter.

Those seem to be, get the most questions. And so I've got those two [01:19:00] videos up on YouTube. If you are looking at doing your own and you just want something to check out those two videos that'll hopefully get you started. And then, yeah, if you want to continue on with the conversation, check out the vore on Instagram.

I'm at. I'm always posting stuff that either, yeah I'll try to repost some of my crazy redneck stuff that I'm throwing out together out there. But I also do all my dishes. I try to be creative with my venison. I wanna try and use as much of my wild game on a day-to-day basis. And so we're gonna, I'm gonna be trying different things.

Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. But I'll definitely share and try to keep people engaged with what Kels can I do with my wild game. So check that out there on Instagram. If you have any questions, feel free to dmm me. I answer everything that I get. If I can't get you the answer right away, I'll find out, I'll research it.

And then that's probably gonna be a topic on a show, so I'll make sure to plug you there as well. But yeah, anybody wants to join in. They're more than welcome.

Mitchell Shirk: Fantastic. Thanks [01:20:00] again, Nick. We'll catch you later.