A Hunter’s Dilema: To Bone or Not to Bone?

These Deer are Alert and Watching!

The Boning Process

After bringing your game down, you must decide whether or not to bone.  Boning simply means removing all the meat from the bones — usually in the field.

Some folks swear by it while others swear at it!  Here are some of the pros and cons of boning.

The Downside of Boning

Why would it be a bad idea to bone out your game?

  • It dries out the meat,
  • The meat can get that ‘gamey taste’ or even spoil,
  • Dirt and other contaminants can affect the meat.
  • If you are boning, you aren’t hunting.
  • State regulations may require you to remove the animal in a particular way, so it can still be identified.*

As you cut the meat away from the bones, it exposes that meat to the air, which dries out the flesh.  When you are ready to prepare your game for processing, you may have to throw away overly dried, shriveled meat.

When you are out in the field, sanitation conditions are dicey.  The chances of the meat spoiling — or adding that gamey taste — increase the longer the meat is exposed to the elements.

Another issue is the fact that if you are busy boning, you are not hunting!  Some hunters see this as a terrible waste of their limited hunting hours.

Finally, nothing else matters if your  state requires you to remove game from the field in a certain way, so it can still be identified!

The Advantages of Boning

There are a couple of reasons you might want to bone out your animal in the field:

  • You are only moving meat, thus reducing the weight of your pack back to camp.
  • If  you had to bring ice to keep the meat safe, you won’t need nearly as much to cover the meat, instead of the carcass.


The rule of thumb among seasoned hunters is:  Only bone out an animal as a last resort when the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

Of course, if your state specifies how an animal is to be transported from the field, all other considerations are immaterial!


* The state of Texas requires that deer be removed from the field in quarters, so the animal can still be identified.


‘Early Snowfall’ Rear Window Graphic used by permission of Vantage Point Graphics.


This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com



Published in: on December 8, 2010 at 10:29 am  Comments Off on A Hunter’s Dilema: To Bone or Not to Bone?  
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Keeping the Gamy Taste Out of Your Wild Game

These suggestions will help reduce or eliminate the ‘gamy’ taste in your wild game.

From the time that you bring the animal down — to the time that you use the meat, there are plenty of opportunities to impair the flavor of your hunted game.

These are a few of the problems that you will need to address — to keep your game tasting fresh.

From the Moment You Shoot the Deer Until the Time You Eat the Meat, There are Many Chances to Damage the Flavor!

Transporting Your Venison

When I see a hunter carrying his deer on the hood of his vehicle or in the open bed of the truck, I wonder, “What is he thinking?”

Would you leave un-frozen meat out of the refrigerator for 8+ hours — and expect it to taste fresh?   Carrying a deer in an open truck is a near-guarantee of off-tasting meat.

Also, an exhaust system of the average truck can heat the truck bed to a temperature that will spoil the meat.

Keep the meat iced down, in large igloos.  As an added precaution, the igloos should have layers of insulation between them and the bed of the truck.

Boning the Meat

Off-flavors can be the result of not trimming the meat carefully.  Fat can turn rancid (even in the freezer) and that will affect the taste.

By removing the bone and cutting the animal along  large muscle groups (hams and fore legs, for example), you save room in the freezer.

Also, cut off portions where the bullets have damaged the meat (bloodshot) and any area that seems tainted or suspicious.  Leaving these portions can produce an off flavor when the meat is used.

Preparing Meat for Freezing

When boning the game, leave the meat in meal-sized portions — and leave them whole.  The less surface area exposed, the better your meat will taste.

As meat portions are thawing, cut the larger cuts into steaks, etc. (if that is how you want to cook them).

Freezing with Two Layers

Have you ever wondered why deer processors  wrap deer twice (with plastic wrap and then with coated freezer paper)?

The plastic layer seals the meat so there is little dehydration. The combination protects the meat for a year, or more.


Remember: Deer meat does not freeze until it gets down to 28 degrees! The longer it takes to freeze, the more likely the meat will have an off taste!


Great Eight‘ is used by permission of Vantage Point Graphics


This blog is a companion to my website: GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com


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Published in: on October 29, 2010 at 1:01 pm  Comments Off on Keeping the Gamy Taste Out of Your Wild Game  
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Getting the Gamy or “Wild” Taste Out of Venison


What You Do in the Hours After Shooting Wild Game Determines it's 'Gaminess'



I’ve written articles about keeping the gamy taste out of wild game after it is shot and during processing. The three that come to mind are:

Can You Take the Wild Taste Out of Venison?

Removing the “Gamy” from Wild Game!

Getting the “Gamy” Taste out of Wild Ducks, Fowl, Etc.

But sometimes you have a portion of game that is doubtful and you want to make sure you are not disappointed by a ‘gamy’ aftertaste.

Here’s a great recipe!


Venison Marinade

1 to 1 1/2 lbs. venison, sliced or cubed

3 Tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup water

1 and 1/2 teasp. MSG

1/2 teasp. pepper

Mix all ingredients together and pour over the meat.  Refrigerate at least 24 hours.  You can marinate as long as 3 or 4 days.

Drain.  Broil or barbecue.


  • This is excellent for removing the gamy or “wild” taste from venison.
  • Because we don’t need the salt, we use low-salt soy sauce.
  • Make sure it is real soy sauce.

“Real” soy sauce has wheat and soy beans as ingredients.  La-Choy (and other fake soy sauces) use caramel coloring.


‘Buck Dream’ is used by permission from ClearVue Graphics


Happy Birthday to our son, Christopher!


This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

Can You Take the Wild Taste Out of Venison? (1 of 3)


020176L_One Chance Only

Protect Your Investment with Proper Handling!


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?

Critical Timing

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.

Next Time

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