How long wiil you age before cutting?

Discussion in 'Elk Hunting' started by fireworks, Oct 23, 2013.

  1. fireworks

    fireworks Member

    Aug 18, 2013
    I was wondering how long others age before processing. The family business has an auxillary cooler 28x8 ft. That is cleared out by fall so we have the opportunity to age at a stable temp. I once aged an elk brought out whole for 21 days at 38 degrees. That is the process for dry aged beef. I lost a fair amt of meat due to the rhinding but it was very flavorful. What are some of your tricks for aging?
  2. kcebcj

    kcebcj Well-Known Member

    Jan 28, 2008
    Here on my ranch I have a tree up the canyon behind the house that does not get any sun in the fall and winter that I hang my meat on. I left an elk 22 days about 4 years ago and it was ok but 10-15 days works out better. The temps are usually 20's at night 30-35 days in the shade. I just keep a close eye on it and if the weather shows a warming trend I cut it.


    HAMMERHAND Well-Known Member

    Apr 7, 2011
    I can understand why someone would age a beef because the fat is flavorful from the feeding methods and the meat is properly marbled, however game animals have fat that goes rancid quickly, and connective tissue and glands that impart a terrible flavor to the meat the longer you leave it in there. THE worst game meat I have ever eaten has been "properly" aged. Just a personal opinion, but I would opt to get the skin off the animal right away, get it quartered out and cooled right away, and butcher it myself before the meat even had a dried "skin" to it. Tenderness for me is a reflection of how long you cook it. It needs to be medium rare to rare and it will be tender and flavorful. Flavor has to do with several things:
    1. What the animal eats
    2. How old the animal is
    3. How much stress the animal was under before it died
    4. Lastly and most important: How quickly you got it cooled off and clean after the shot and got the hide, fat, and connective tissue removed from it.

    People insist upon putting pork or beef fat in with ground game as well, personally I like to add any fresh fat right before cooking because fat goes rancid and freezer burns before whole muscle protein.

    I've completed the experiment before and it is easy to do at home. Age one hind quarter in the method you describe and butcher one hind quarter right away...I tried it on three different occasions, and the un-aged meat was by far better flavored and less "gamey" IMO, and both were very tender because they were cut and cooked properly.
  4. MontanaRifleman

    MontanaRifleman Well-Known Member

    May 21, 2008
    About a week or so in cool weather.
  5. Speedo

    Speedo Well-Known Member

    Oct 3, 2010
    We go out for a 20 day season normally, if one of us shoots a moose on the 1st day of the season it is skinned, quartered and hung for the rest of the season. If we hunt for the full season we are now on the 20th of Sept. and we start breaking camp on the following day, if some one shoots a moose on the last day of the season we let it hang for a couple of days before we break camp. It takes us 2 days to get back to the trail head once we head out unless we have problems along the way. So at times the quarters will hang a month or more before being cut, wrapped and frozen. We have never had a problem using this method and the only meat loss is from the rind. I have a couple of friends that always hang their moose for at least a month before they butcher.

  6. 458win

    458win Well-Known Member

    Dec 24, 2004
    Ill cut it as soon as I have time wether its the afternoon I shot it or the next day. Sometimes a week or so but I have never noticed any difference in flavor or tenderness.
  7. Jim See

    Jim See Well-Known Member

    Jul 2, 2013

    I started that thread in 2007, and from some input from others I now age longer than the usual 5-7 days that I used to.

    If I bone out an elk in CO it gets cooled that night to the point where it starts to freeze, then stowed in coolers that are closed during the day and opened at night. 9-10 days minimum.

    If the conditions are right un-skinned deer have gone up to 19 days, since this 2007 thread. I have never lost a carcass to spoilage.

    In 2012 I shot two crop damage does, had them at the local meat locker cooler in 1 hour, he cut and froze them in 2 days.

    That was the toughest venison I have ate in 10 years, nothing changed in the handling of those deer other than they were not aged.

    I cut my venison with a fork, if you use a knife, IMHO you didn't handle your venison properly.
  8. canderson

    canderson Well-Known Member

    Mar 6, 2008
    With venison, I gut (if not taking head to taxidermist) leave the skin on and hang for two weeks. I make sure all of the trachea is removed. We lose very little meat to drying out with skin on.
  9. mrbigtexan

    mrbigtexan Well-Known Member

    Oct 8, 2009
    I have always gut, hang up, skinned, quartered, and put on ice as fast as possible. Usually within 2 hours. The backstraps and tenderloins get cut and packaged and frroze first, then the backlegs, then the front legs, then the neck and skirt. It might take up to a week to get it all done depending on what shift im having to work. But it stays packed in ice till im done.
  10. upacreek

    upacreek Well-Known Member

    Dec 6, 2012
    Years back we always gutted our elk then brought our horses in. At that time we would skin and quarter. A lot of times over night would occur. I know a guy that went on a high end guided hunt. They got an awesome bull, very successful for them. At the end of the hunt their guide was fired as soon as the owner found out he didn't skin my friends elk as soon as it was dead. He gutted it and retreived it the next morning. Explanation was the hide and glands revert back to the meat and the blood can't cool quick enough. Since then we started skinning our elk asap. Sure enough most of thestrong elk flavor nobody liked before was gone. If I grind 5-10% beef fat into my burger I can feed it to anyone and they never ask what it is. Just think its beef. Now my wife (next week she'll be my ex-wife) and kids don't like the taste of beef hamburger.
    Funny thing is my brother in law fed us some of his elk that was not skinned early and my family refused to eat it. I have processed my elk between 2 and 16 days and could not tell as big of difference as removing the hide.
    Just my experience.
    To help with strong game taste in elk steaks soak 12-24 hours in evaporated milk. It helps.
  11. cohunter14

    cohunter14 Well-Known Member

    Oct 11, 2012
    Sorry to hear about this...but I have to say, how you phrased it, I laughed out loud reading it. Don't know if you meant it that way or not, but damn! :D
  12. upacreek

    upacreek Well-Known Member

    Dec 6, 2012 should be final next week! 6 months ago it wasn't news I wanted to hear, but she wants to party more than me and I hang with my kids. So I have gotten used to the concept. My boyslike to take the horses out and fish with me, so I can't complain too much. She didn't like me hunting much, so guess what next spring sees? My name on some draw hunt applications! And I am gonna start mounting heads to hang in the house! This year's elk is already getting ready for a European mount!

    Counting down the days!
  13. mrbofus

    mrbofus Well-Known Member

    May 8, 2012
    somewhere around 10 days in a good cooler has worked well for me. I also prefer NOT to mix pork or beef fat in with my burger, just plain ground venison.
    The last time I had an elk cut commercially, I asked for no fat in the burger,
    I got fat in the burger and it was pretty rank stuff.
    Been cutting my own ever since. At least that way I know what I am eating.