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butchering your own wild game

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Melissa Mead View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Melissa Mead Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 October 2012 at 09:42
Thanks for this topic! (I'm having a character field-dress a deer, which I've never even seen done.)
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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 October 2012 at 08:26
Hi, Melissa -
 
I'm glad this was helpful - if you or anyone else has any questions, let me know. I was literally up to my elbows in the field-dressing process just a couple of days ago, and over the next few days I'll be into the butchering/processing, so it's all fresh in my mind ~ Tongue
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Margi Cintrano View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 October 2012 at 09:06
Great Job, and looks like you and your two team men, have learnt the tricks of deer butchering very well. Thanks for posting your photos.
As you know, how culturally skeemish, people can be; I have to look at the gastronomic side of things and how delicious they can be ... LOL  Wink
Here are some venison dishes to set the autumn and winter season in good tidings:
 
Venison Filet Mignon.
 
 
 
Venison Ragù ( can be placed on Polenta Bed or Tubular shaped Pasta or Ribbon Pasta variety ).
 
 
 
 
Venison Stew and / or Venison Steak Tartar Ground.
 
 
 
 
Venison Goulash.
 
VENISON: Tagine Slow Simmered Stew, Kebabs, Sausages, Stroganoff, Charcuterie Air Dried or Smoked and Vension Burgers are some other suggestions.
 
Enjoy,
Margi.  
 
 
 
 
 
*** Photo Courtesy: Public Domain Uncopyrighted.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 November 2015 at 22:52
Much of this is probably duplicated in previous posts, but the subject came up on another forum, so I am posting my reply here. One day, I will compile all of this information into a single essay, but that day is not today.

The question was regarding whether or not hanging and aging a deer carcass had any benefit. Here's my reply:

I've shot, butchered and eaten deer since 1983, and I've had the opportunity to try venison almost every way, ranging from butchered the same day that it was shot (not by choice), to hanging from November until March (also not by choice). In between, I've let them hang 5 days, a week, 10 days, two weeks, three weeks and as long as a month. The deciding factor, in all cases, was the intersection of temperature with available time, so my experiences apply to my specific area only, or areas that are like my area. In most cases, the deer were mule deer (muley) does, although there were also some mature bucks and a couple of yearlings. In at least two cases the deer were superannuated. There were also several whitetails of both sexes. In all cases, the deer ate on some farmed grains (wheat and barley), as well as alfalfa and whatever grass or sage they could browse. These were not only my own deer, but also deer that had been shot by my father and by my sons. My conclusions are that both hanging and aging contribute to better tenderness and flavour, within reason.

Obviously, the extremes (same day and 4 months) are not at all recommended. In the "same-day" case, it was a yearling whitetail. The meat was ragged, tough, and had an unpleasant taste that reminded me of metallic, rotten milk. This deer (closely followed by one that I had a processor do) stands as my absolute worst venison of all time, when the age and species should have put it in the top 5. In the 4-month case, it was due to the fact that it was frozen solid in sub-zero temperatures for the vast majority of that time. The meat from that deer (a mature muley buck) was actually quite good and quite tender, but there was an "outer layer" of 1/4-inch on some exposed parts that was no good. This was my dad's deer, and I wasn't too happy about it going so long, but the meat underneath WAS just fine. I include this example because it demonstrates that even when the situation goes way out control, you can salvage it, if you pay attention to details.

If memory serves, a University of Wyoming study found that hanging and aging deer for 10 days at 40 degrees is optimum, and my experience would be about the same, although an extra week or so has never hurt anything. The vast majority of deer were butchered and in the freezer within a month, with most butchering being started at 2 weeks, although once again, starting at 3 weeks hasn't hurt anything. Venison has always been more flavourful and certainly more tender in the two-week range; after 3 weeks, the meat is starting to get "too tender" (for lack of a better term), but has never been mushy. Another benefit of hanging is that when hanging, the weight of the deer causes a slight stretching that contributes to tenderness. In all cases, I would not describe the taste as gamey. To put it more simply: my wife complains about the taste of venison if it is butchered inside of 10 days, but not if it hangs 10 days to 3 weeks - she seems to enjoy those. As for those hanging longer, she has not expressed an opinion one way or the other, but I hadn't yet met her when the 4-month hang happened.

Very important: Respect the meat! A calm, 1-shot kill is important. Quick field-dressing is a given; removing of the entire windpipe as well as propping open the chest cavity are vital. We also usually rinse the body cavity right away with cold water, since we almost always stop by at my dad's place after hunting and he has a spigot/hose right there. I leave the hide on until it is time to butcher; the reason for this is because in a very short time, it is going to be cold anyway (night) and because the hide keeps the meat from drying out while hanging and aging. But depending on location/climate, this might not be feasible. I contend that hanging and adequate aging (when possible) are just two small steps in an entire chain of events that leads to good meat. Above all, when butchering, do it right! Remove ALL fat, silverskin, membrane etc. before packaging and especially before eating. These are the primary cause of gamey flavour. Go boneless with your cuts - and my advice is to also avoid the bone saw. It can be done, and leads to better quality, in my opinion. Cuts with bones, bone chips and bone dust are not necessary. Just because you are used to seeing pork chops with an attached rib or round steaks with a ring of bone, doesn't mean that this is good for venison. The fats, connective tissues etc. are not the same. 

Once again, I repeat for emphasis: my area/region/climate is friendly toward this practice; yours might not be. Temperatures at night are in the 20s or lower, temperatures in the day are rarely over 40 - or, if they are, it is not for any significant length of time and the carcass stays very well-chilled. If I were much farther south, I wouldn't hang nearly as long - but I would still hang, whenever feasible. The same University of Wyoming study outlines definite benefits to hanging, with added benefits to aging, so I do both, because I can. Your situation might be different, but if you are in the far north and have regularly-cold temperatures, there should be no issues as long as you are aware of what's going on.

Since 1983, I've never had gamey-tasting meat, because I took care of it. I've had flavourful meat and tender meat to varying degrees, but the meat that made it to the plate has never been gamey or rotten. The deer we shot two weeks ago was frozen solid at 10 days, so it probably won't get done until next weekend after a couple of days in the 30s and 40s, but I have 100% confidence that she will be quite fine. She was a mature doe who went down with one shot as she was eating alfalfa and winter wheat sprouts, and she will be very well-trimmed when she is butchered. Those are the main factors, but the fact that she spent time aging and hanging will push her from "very good" to "absolutely delicious."

I don't know everything, but I do know venison. I say all of this with confidence because I've gone from one extreme to the other under varying circumstances and have pretty-well wrung out most of the scenarios. If 30+ years of real-life experience are worth anything, then I hope someone gets some benefit from this.
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Margi Cintrano View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 November 2015 at 06:31
Fascinating report and outstanding penning.
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HistoricFoodie View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 November 2015 at 08:50
Ya know, Ron, I have never had venison that tasted gamey. Not if I was involved in the killing (my own kills or when acting as a guide), field dressing, and butchering.

I also think, many times, folks who complain of deer being gamey are merely projecting a mental expectation. I know several people who insist that venison is gamey, but who devour lamb, and even mutton. Go figure.

In areas where hanging isn't feasible (and, you're right, it's the best way to go when possible), I've come up with a pretty good second choice.

I break down the deer into primals and large muscle groups. These go in a large cooler, along with plenty of ice. The venison is elevated on a rack, to assure it never sits in water. Plus the drain plug remains open.

This creates a temperature environment in the high 30's, close enough to the ideal 40F as to make no never mind. Trick is to use a high-quality cooler. I wouldn't trust those foam jobs for this.

Another aspect of butchering: The more time you devote, the more usable meat you'll harvest. For instance, I take the time to save all those tiny bits and shavings. For instance, when you cut off the silverskin there's almost always a thin layer of meat. I filet that off.

A typical deer will actually yield 3-5 pounds of those shavings, which are ideal for chili and tacos. Much better than the ground meat typically used for them.

I don't know anyone else who bothers with that. But to me it's well worthwhile. And is one of the secrets of my chili---which everyone loves.
But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket
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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 November 2015 at 22:12
Agreed on all counts, Brook! Thumbs Up
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drinks Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 December 2015 at 12:41
Texas version, shoot deer at crack of dawn, make sure it is at least 75', put in PU bed. drive to at least 5 beer joints and display animal.
about 4 pm, gut deer, take to processor.
Find people to whom to give the cut, wrapped and frozen meat.
Actually, I have found there is an animal that should be skun, quartered and placed in ice box, on ice and held at least 3 days to clear out some flavors.
This is a feral pig, sows and others under 100lb live weight are fine done this way.,really need to leave boars over 100 lb to make more little pigs.
Feral pigs make really good smoked sausage.
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