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ageing your venison for table fare?

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Unread 08-28-2008, 04:51 PM
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Join Date: May 2004
Location: Louisiana
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Re: ageing your venison for table fare?

Guys, as you can see from this thread, there are a lot of ways to skin a cat (or deer, or not skin, etc., etc.). Sounds like most ways work well enough. One has to keep bacterial contamination low, provide unfavorable conditions for those bacterial that are present, and if tenderness and/or flavor enhancement is desired, provide for those in the aging process. Toughness is cause by 2 factors -- contraction of individual muscle fibers after death and presence of connective tissue.

The first step in preventing toughness is to leave the muscles attached to the skeleton if possible. This means not deboning immediately. Hanging is even better because it tends to stretch the muscle fibers somewhat. The second step to tenderness involves allowing enzymens within the tissue to work (break down) connective tissue. This occurs over time (thus aging). Aging also enhances flavor (again from enzymatic activity).

Tenderness may not be important to some, if one grinds, tenderizes (either mechanically or chemically), or slow-moist cooks the meat. Age enhanced flavoring is a personal thing -- important to some and not to others. Therefore, this is why there is no one correct method of handling. Skin on, skin off, water use, or not -- as long as one does not allow contamination, and keeps bacterial growth to a mininum, it all works. Let's keep enjoying our venison!
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Unread 08-28-2008, 10:18 PM
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Re: ageing your venison for table fare?

My butcher told me that venison does not contain the enzymes that cause tenderness from aging. All venison does is get older. Once the rigor is out of the meat it is as aged as it can get. The one important thing in handling game is to get the body heat out. The outside temp is not so important, as long as you do what ever is necessary to get the body heat out. The larger the animal the harder it is to cool. Boning may be necessary. Don't let the meat get wet. Keep the rain off the exposed meat.

The only time I have had bad meat is trying to eat it right after the kill.

That is my training.

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Unread 08-29-2008, 09:02 AM
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Join Date: May 2004
Location: Louisiana
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Re: ageing your venison for table fare?

Well, there are proteolytic enzymes in all meat and these will act to break down protein after death. I dont know how those in deer compare to beef in terms of quantity, but proteolytic activity does occur in venison as well.

Here is an informative article:

There is another one from Texas A&M but I cant locate it right off. One thing that article stressed is that it is possible to hang venison for a day (or at least overnight) even in very warm conditions because it takes a while for the natural heat to dissipate out of the meat -- assuming proper handling. Bacterial growth is exponential -- meaning the numbers start out lower and doubles every few hours providing conditions are favorable (temperature and moisture). So, it is time at warm temperatures that cause spoilage. This does not happen over night.

A certain amount of moisture is also critical for bacterial growth. So, washing of the meat is not necessarily bad, as long as the meat is allowed to dry rather quickly. It is a constant level of moisture (at the higher temperatures) that enhances bacterial growth. Some hunters "age" their meat for several days in an ice chest with ice water -- but because the temperature is kept so cold, little bacterial growth occurs even though the moisture is present.

Therefore, there has to be a balance between aging and spoilage -- with considerations of contamination, temperature, moisture, and time factors. Let's all enjoy venison this fall. Good luck with the hunt!
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Unread 01-14-2009, 01:22 PM
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Re: ageing your venison for table fare?

I am self taught but i like to get hide of asap. Sometimes i can do this with in a hour of kill due to my location of hunting. Sometimes im a few hours or even all day just depends. But even sitting all day look at all the heat coming off that deer. I always thought the quicker you could release it the better off you are. We normally have cool enough weather for hanging but i do have a back up place with controlled env. to leave hang. I hardly ever let it hang more than a few days. I kind of feel overnite is just as good as a week. Also i like to hose it down after skinning rinse all blood, hair, misc. guts, or ****. Im not a big fan of deer meat any way so just my opinion. I feel deer is a great by-product, i make jerky and bologna out of mine.
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Unread 08-16-2011, 01:58 PM
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Re: ageing your venison for table fare?

I never field dress deer if I can help it. I bring them to my shop, hang from hind legs on a hoist and peel the skin down keeping everything clean. Then I can gut the animal, and clean immediately with cold water. I then hang them for 5 - 7 days in my walk in cooler before butchering. Almost everyone I have seen field dress a deer smears piss and **** all over the inside of a deer, and that is what tastes (gamey). Meat that has soaked in piss for a week has a strong flavor and that is what people don't like. I can't remember how many times I have looked at a fresh killed deer drug out of the woods with the chest cavity filled with dirt, leaves, smells like piss, or smells like ****. When someone accidentally breaks the bladder or gets chunks of undigested food coming out of the windpipe, or where ever you cut things apart, in the woods it is impossible to get it off the meat. Like others have said, when people eat my venison they can't believe it is deer meat, and many of these people have hunted for a long time. It is rare that I eat venison I did not butcher myself that doesn't taste like piss.
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Unread 08-16-2011, 02:19 PM
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Re: ageing your venison for table fare?

Originally Posted by kcebcj View Post
Iím gonna stick my neck out here and probably get some people thinking that I donít have a clue but for the last 50 years (as Iím 64 now) I have been taking care of deer and elk in all kinds of temperatureís and here is what I have learned and done.

Grew up hunting blacktails and hogs in the coast range of California where during deer season the average temperature is 90 degrees mid day with a low of 65 or so. If I killed a hog then it was all about getting him out of the mountains and cooled off. Dang old pig will spoil right in the back of the jeep if left to long. Now deer were totally different. Have shot deer early morning removed the paunch opened him up so he would cool stuffed some Bayleaf (grows wild in the coast range) in the chest cavity to keep the flys out get him in the shade and left them that way all day and have never lost an ounce of meat. The trick is getting the body heat out of them. The animal has to have a steady cool down. As long as he is cooling down the meat wonít spoil.

Now you get that same buck back to camp that night. Hang him using a single tree by his hind legs. Skin him and cut the head off. Cut his brisket removing whatever was missed that morning along with the wind pipe. Split the pelvis and remove all the cruddy stuff. Trim all of the blood shoot meat away. Now hopefully you have a nice clean deer with no hair or filth on the skin. If he was gut shot you need your butt kicked for terrible shooting and need to go practice!

I was taught from my grandparents who grew up before refrigeration was around to not use water on the meat. The meat has to crust over in order to keep. I abide by that rule today with one exception. If the animal was gut shot (by one of the kids) I will take a damp towel and wipe all the bad stuff out. I remember as a kid my grandmother jumping all over me for using water and more so for nicking the meat while skinning a deer. All has to do with it crusting over.
Let the deer hang all night then before the flys are moving the next morning put a meat sack on him so the flys canít get at him wrap him in a heavy tarp and just repeat that until your hunt is done. If you unwrap at night and re-wrap at daylight that meat will stay good. Just use your nose to check for any souring right where you split the pelvis. You can smell any change long before it spoils. In warm weather meat can hang 5-10 days depending.

Now the above is what I was taught to do when itís warm. If you pay attention to the meat you will learn when it needs to be packaged and put into the freezer. If it is humid watch it close as you canít age it as long in warm weather. I now live in west central Idaho and have for the last 18 years. I still use the same technique the only difference being that I never worry about the meat spoiling. In October the nights are usually around freezing as my ranch is at 3700 feet and the days are cool. I usually hang both deer and elk in a big shady White Fir for about 15 days give or take a few of course checking them daily.

I cut and wrap all my own meat. All the fat and tainted meat that was missed at the time of skinning is removed and discarded. Takes me 2 days to cut and wrap an elk but once done it is fine eating.

If the meat had to be boned out and brought out with a backpack then I put it in a refrigerator laying it on towels for about a week only. Have to watch it close as it will sour pretty fast. Boned out meat has never been as good as well aged meat so shoot them where a horse can go and bring them out whole or if an elk properly quartered. Itís certainly not rocket science to end up with good meat. Kill him where he stands, keep the meat clean, and let it age.
Pretty much the same process for me and I hunt in central California. Never had any issues whatsoever.
"I'm interested in rifles, but only accurate rifles are interesting". Col. Townsend Whelen
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Unread 08-17-2011, 09:04 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2010
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Re: ageing your venison for table fare?

I do not age my Deer or Elk 1 second more than it takes to get it quartered and in the freezer. (almost frozen butchers out a lot nicer) As far as water goes, not on my life will I. If washing is necessary I use salt brine with as much salt as the water will hold. Treat it with all the precautions you would use for butchering Chicken or Pork and it will always be good on a fork.
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