Processing Venison

Discussion in 'The Great Outdoors' started by pasotami, Sep 27, 2006.

  1. pasotami

    pasotami Hangin out at the barn!

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    When I bought deer from my old butcher (whom is retired and I can't get them any more) He would hang them for a period of time before cutting them up and packaging them..... Now he is not around, I want to kill a couple of deer here on the property for the freezer but I have no way of hanging them (no locker to put them in). My cousin in MS said that they had never heard of hanging a deer before they came here to TN - they would kill the deer and process it right away for the temp in MS would not allow it to hang outside a locker and they did not have one.
    So my question is - what makes the meat taste better? Hanging or not hanging and just processing?? :shrug: I want to can some of the meat so I don't take up too much freezer space, does anyone here do that? Got any tips or recommendations?
    I'm determined to get at least a couple of the garden munchers that ate my green beans!
     
  2. cowgirlone

    cowgirlone Well-Known Member

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    Well, Everyone does it different.
    I normally let a deer hang at least overnight, sometimes two or three days, if the weather is cool enough. If the weather is too warm I like to cut it up and let it chill in my fridge (I have one in an out building), before I can or freeze it.

    In my opinion the meat tastes better if it can be chilled at least overnight, it's not necessary to do it, but I think it tastes better. Could just be my taste buds. :)
    I chill chickens and pork before canning, they are not aged, just chilled overnight. Beef, I like aged. :)
     

  3. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

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    Once upon a time (during my college days) I worked for a small scale slaughter house, and they processed deer during the season; hundreds of deer. Given what I saw in the quality of the meat for deer that had been hung for a week, or longer, I'd say over night is a long time to wait, unless the weather is freezing or just below, and the skinned deer is hung out of the sun. I had rather let them hang until the body heat was out of them, or better yet: block them out, put them in a refridgerator to cool, process to suit, and then right in to the freezer.

    If the weather is much above freezing the quality starts fading as the deer is falling from its mortal hunting wounds. I sometimes let our deer hang a few days up here in Nothern Minnesota during the gun hunting season, but then it is frequently down around zero and the deer freeze solid in a few hours, making the hide difficult, if not nigh on to impossible, to remove. (A couple of years back we got six deer in a real hurry and the opening morning temperature was -7. Those deer all froze before we could begin skinning them the next morning.)

    Some good books on the subject say there is nothing to gain in hanging a deer, even at a controlled temperature, but to each his, or her, own. Back down in Kentucky, we had some elderly neighbors from Eastern Europe who would break a chickens neck, and hang it until the feathers began falling out before they butchered it, even in summer! They said it was very good.
     
  4. swamp man

    swamp man Well-Known Member

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    Nope,we can't really hang them to age here without facilities.A buddy here belongs to a hunt club with a big walk-in cooler for aging,and I'm convinced that it really improves the flavor.

    I use a coupla' big plastic coolers,quarter the deer,pack in ice,and change to fresh ice twice a day for a few days.
     
  5. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

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    One should not "age" deer meant for the sausage grinder, it makes it "mushy" in the grinder, and one should not attempt aging a deer that has been "stressed" just prior to, or during, its' harvesting.
     
  6. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    i like to skin them right away and remove the head. i feel this lets the animal drain. i feel the less blood in the animal the better. i normally let them hang for 1-3 days. the weather is normally below 40. if it is above 40, i hurry it along. i often get flies in 40+ weather and i process at the first sign of flies. i have the luxury of a stone smokehouse that i hang deer in. it keeps the temps stable. the deer won't freeze as fast at night nor will it heat as fast in the day. if you have a root cellar, that would be a good place to hang deer.
     
  7. Bearfootfarm

    Bearfootfarm Hello, hello....is there anybody in there.....? Supporter

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    You dont have to "hang " a deer to age it. Just quarter it, wrap it in plastic , and place ti on ice in a cooler for about a week. Once you see the difference in the flavor and tenderness youll never do it any other way. Out it on TOP of the ice and leave the drain open so it doesnt sit in water
     
  8. dezeeuwgoats

    dezeeuwgoats Well-Known Member

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    I have only eaten venison once (it was awful), but it was taken in trade so we didn't do the kill or the butchering. I had elk for the very first time a couple weeks ago as ground meat for tacos which tasted just like our grass-raised beef.

    My question is - does aging venison make the flavor milder, or more intense?

    thanks;
    Niki
     
  9. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    The only hanging that we ever did was just to let it chill, dry, and firm up. Sometimes that meant that we were skinning and cutting meat for 6 hours. It sometimes also meant that we had to stop hunting before noon so that there would be time to process everything yet that day. Only if it were near freezing would we ever allow any venison to hang more than overnight. Even then, I always hated working on a frozen carcass. Just wanted them cool and dry.

    Martin
     
  10. elkhound

    elkhound Well-Known Member Supporter

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    hey guys here in virginia we hang deer in a cool place for up to 2 weeks .but it has to be cool.the reason hanging a deer versus anything else works is because of its body weight.the whole animal is hung from ceilling.the weoight of animal pulls on the muscles and helps to break the tissues down.i cut most steaks with a knife.i break down hams just like a beef(top round,bottom round etc.)its easier to cut after hanging because the muscles are not contracted.that is the reason they hang beefs this way.also if you hang a deer get the hide of as soon as possible so it can chill out.never leave hide on it.

    just my 2 cents
     
  11. shadowwalker

    shadowwalker Well-Known Member

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    While alot of people hang meat. I have hunted since 1969 I have took everything from squirrel to moose. I hang elk, moose if I can. Everything else gets maybe overnight if it's lucky. Otherwise I start butchering as soon as I get home. I really can't tell the difference. If you have the place to hang meat do it I guess. I feel you lose alot of meat off the carcas of smaller animals to ageing. I mean like anything around 100 pounds. You get a rind on the meat sometimes as much as 3/4 of a inch. That's alot of meat loss to me.
     
  12. jross

    jross swamper

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    We realized that the longer an animal carcas was dragged on the ground, the worse the meat was. Maybe from bruising, but we really don't know, but the meat is definetely better with minimal dragging. Now we use my 6X6 amphib to drive as close a we can to pick them up. We hang for at least one day at 50F and under, two days at 40 and under.
     
  13. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    My vension is never gamey...I repeat....never gamey tasting. In fact, you cannot tell it from beef. I attribute this to the following:
    1. A quick, clean kill. If I am not absolutely sure that I can hit the deer in the "sweet spot" I do not shoot. I believe a bad shot that causes a slow, agonizing death which will result in the deer producing a lot of hormones that will taint the flavor of the meat.
    2. Immediate field dressing without puncturing the stomach, instentines, bladder, etc.
    3. Flushing the cavity with copious amounts of clean, cold water ASAP to remove any body fluids and to cool the caracass.
    4. Processing and freezing the meat within 24 hours, if not sooner.
     
  14. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    most of the gamey flavor comes from the feed. i bet you kill corn fed deer.
     
  15. Bearfootfarm

    Bearfootfarm Hello, hello....is there anybody in there.....? Supporter

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    Deer thats handled correctly after killing doesnt have a "gamey" taste. Ive found deer run by dogs and older bucks have a stronger flavor than those killed in a more relaxed setting. And not field dressing quickly to allow it to cool will alter the taste. Aging doesnt change the taste as much as it does the tenderness. And if deer is grilled or roasted it should be served rare. Since it has no fat in the meat itself overcooking will only make it tough and dry.
     
  16. big rockpile

    big rockpile If I need a Shelter

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    All depends on how cool it is,and how much time I have.If I have time its much easier to just debone it in the woods.Bring it home,grind it,cut it up for steaks or Roast.Put it in the Freezer.

    big rockpile
     
  17. pasotami

    pasotami Hangin out at the barn!

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    Thanks folks, this is really helpful.

    Rockpile - when you debone in the woods do you take home the rib section or the leg shanks? I would ask my old butcher for these to make stock with - very good stuff!
     
  18. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    One may indeed find a "gamey" buck if the rut is on heavy and he's got a lot of territory to defend from a number of bucks. Having been given some nice early bucks via bow hunting, there have been several that were a tad bit gamey. No problem since they become summer sausage and salami candidates just as an old bologna bull. The past 2 years, I've twice had deer which should have been at least slightly gamey. One was an 8-pointer shot by a cousin when the rut was on. Meat was tender and better than any doe. As a fawn, he'd been hit by a car and broke a front leg. Leg healed stiff and that deer only walked everywhere for the next several years! Last year was another which should have been a bit smelly from the rut but wasn't. Again, a leg involved but this was a rear leg. The nearest we could figure, he'd been bit by a rattlesnake just above the knee. The healing took all of the rut and running out him!

    Regarding Cabin Fever's 4-point method, I heartily agree except for use of water within the cavity. For use, that's only an extreme in case a shot dumps a lot of blood in there. Paper towels have always been as important as coffee and sandwiches in the hunting pack. Any remaining trace of blood quickly dries but the water never does unless it's real cold and the deer can hang overnight. Of the 5 deer that I butchered last year, only one was a chore. Cousin shot a doe through heart and liver on Halloween and filled the carcass with blood. He halfway washed it out on the farm and then gave me a call. After I picked it up, had to drive 50 miles in a light rain. Deer was wet inside and out and too warm to let her hang. Even the meat seemed waterlogged!

    Martin
     
  19. beorning

    beorning Well-Known Member

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    Not too sure I know what I'm talking about, but I always assumed that aging of any meat was to allow rigor to come and go? We age rabbits in the fridge post- butcher. Forgot to do it the first time I slaughtered, and there was definitely a difference in the end product. I don't see why one couldn't age venison in a fridge after it is cut up?
     
  20. Bearfootfarm

    Bearfootfarm Hello, hello....is there anybody in there.....? Supporter

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    It can be aged that way also. The main concern is keeping the temperature around 40 degrees but it doesnt matter what method you use. I do it in a cooler since its more convenient and I can fit 2 quartered deer in each of the large coolers I use. I use rubber feed pans to make large blocks of ice and they will last a week or more unless its really hot outside. I also sprinkle the meat with salt before wrapping it in plastic to help kill bacteria. That seems to add to the flavor too. The plastic keeps the outer layer from drying out so its not wasted.