Kansas: Wild Game Royal Table Fare

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Have you ever heard someone say that deer meat isn’t worth eating, that it’s “gamey” or “wild tasting”? Many people who have tried improperly-cared for venison, and many who never eaten deer, labor under this misconception. But avid deer hunters realize that these folks just don’t know what they’re missing. Many believe that whitetail deer is the best red meat on the planet. But ensuring that the meat they take lives up to this standard requires care, and when care is taken, the ultimate satisfaction of the hunt comes when the meat is served to family and friends.

Follow these simple rules, and your venison will be fit for a king.

The first step is a quick, clean kill through the lungs or heart, and this requires knowing one’s range and equipment, combined with careful shot selection.

Next is cooling the meat. No matter the weather, cooling a deer soon after the kill is critical. When weather is mild, hunters must take special care to ensure their hard-earned deer cools quickly. As soon as the deer is recovered, it’s important to field dress the animal so that the carcass can cool down.

Be careful to keep dirt, hair, and debris away from exposed meat while dressing and when moving the deer to the vehicle. Those who plan to process their own deer should hang the deer in a clean, cool building. It’s often best to remove the hide so that meat can continue to cool, particularly if the weather is warmer than usual. Hunters who plan to have the deer processed by commercial butchers should contact them as soon as possible to arrange for delivery.

A cool, clean place is essential for butchering. Although not necessary, many hunters like to age their deer, but a cooler is often needed for this. For those who prefer this method, venison should be aged at 35-39 degrees. Cooler than this, and the meat may freeze; warmer, and the meat may spoil.

With a little extra effort and time, successful deer hunters will enjoy months of rewarding venison meals. Remember: make a clean shot, field dress the deer quickly, cool the meat, and keep it clean.


hunter25's picture

A lot of good information

A lot of good information here that many should be able to put to use. Many people claim wild game is bad or they don't like it but many have never even tried it. When my wife cooks it up and takes it to work everyone loves it and has no idea unless we tell them. After that they always want more. Now I do always take care of my own animals and I think that's a big part of it. You have to keep the meat clean and well taken care of. I think too many guys try to let it hang too long when it's not cold enough or get hair or other contaminants in the meat. And if you bring it in to be processed there is no way to be sure if your getting your own meat back. Let me cut it and cook it and I guarantee there will be no complaints.

Ca_Vermonster's picture

As I have said in a few other

As I have said in a few other posts, there is nothing quite like butchering your own deer.  It's an experience that the whole family participates in.  I debone, Dad steaks it up, and Mom wraps.  All the while, she's cooikng some fresh meat off the stove.

As for the aging process, I have had deer that I cut up the very evening I killed them, and I have had deer that hung for a week.  I honestly cannot tell the difference in most occasions.  Out here in California, unless you can line up some cooler space, and the article says, you pretty much need to slice and dice right away.  Back in Vermont, it depends on the year.  It's been cold enough it has frozen, but this year, it got into the high 50's, so we decided to cut it up after just 2 days.  And, it tasted great.... Wink