Essentially, there are two major times your handling of the meat affects the deer’s taste: just after the deer is killed and just before you cook the venison.
When I Know the Venison Will Be Awful
When I see proud hunters, with deer draped over the truck top or hanging out of the back of a truck while they are driving, I shudder. They certainly weren’t in it for the meat!
That meat is going to be “gamy” – if not outright spoiled. What are they thinking? Driving down I-45 on a day like today (temperature was 72), just how long would you expect a piece of beef to remain edible, on the top of a truck?
The few hours after slaying the deer are critical! Quick field dressing (more on this next time) is essential. Some folks, shooting a deer about dark, leave the body in the snow, to dress it in the am. This is a fatal error!
Another item critical to the taste of the venison meat is — washing out the carcass with water ASAP after field dressing.
Your knife must be sharp and your hand swift and sure. Entrails not carefully removed will affect taste.
Where’s the Ice?
Deer, after death, are still warm. It is critical to get everything iced ASAP. Sometimes, it is not possible to have the deer under ice within the 2 hour window. At least have bags of ice in the body cavity by that time.
MDH* disagrees with the paragraph above & he has valid points: Putting precious ice in a warm body is a waste. He opens the body cavity to cool down, while he does other parts of processing (depending on the temperature, he may be skinning the deer, also to cool the carcass).
Skinning may be a great plan in 40 degree weather (or less). However, when it is warmer, the best plan may be to quarter the animal and get it into coolers.
He also disagrees with the idea that a deer must be under ice within 2 hours. It’s a great goal, but not always practical, especially if you’ve shot the deer miles from homebase.
A Lifelong Deer Processor Says …
1) “Get it Clean
2) Get it Cold
3) Get it Cut”
Dave and Ruth, of http://www.best-venison.com have a wonderful site. They show so much info that is helpful to a hunter: “venison cuts charts, visual aids and estimating your yield.”
The PRICELESS CATEGORY, however, is: “Venison Value.” Show this to your wife next time she tells you hunting costs too much. (Of course this is based on the assumption that you have shot a deer!)
Did You Know?
Venison does not freeze until it cools down below 28 degrees.
January 1, I’ll finish this article with other ways to reduce ‘gamy taste’ in venison.
Have a wonderful New Year!
*MDH = My Deer Husband, or “He who likes to be obeyed.” (but rarely is)
This blog is a companion to my website: GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com