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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Removing the “Gamy” from Wild Game! (2 of 3)



Reduce 'Gamy Taste' with These Tips!


Where Does ‘Gamy’ Come From?

Generally, experts agree that that “gamy” taste is a by-product of improper handling of the game, after bringing the game down OR before cooking.

What are some examples?

  • Leaving an animal in the snow (dusk shot), to field dress in am
  • Not field dressing animal ASAP
  • Not completely removing entrails
  • Not rinsing cavity with clean water, soon after field dressing
  • Not getting animal on ice as quickly as possible
  • Not processing the animal within a day or two of harvest
  • Not rinsing carcass after skinning; hair, etc., creates off-flavors
  • Your deer’s diet – from wooded acreage, probably has more gamy taste
  • Deer on agricultural & suburban areas – better diet = better taste
  • Hauling game home exposed – in/on the truck/vehicle

Dave Adds

As an experienced deer processor, Dave (of  http://www.best-venison.com) has seen it all and has the photos to prove it. Look around his site for other info on reducing gamy taste.

  • Dave indicates that leaving bone-in the venison contributes to the gamy taste.
  • He believes “aging” deer can add gamy taste. See his suggestions.
  • He also indicates anything less than “double wrapping venison” for the freezer is a bad idea.

The Big Question

Essentially, the real question you should always be asking yourself is, “If this were beef from the grocers, how would I handle this piece of meat?”

Taming “Gamy” Before Cooking

Check out this site:  http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07333/837468-34.stm Steve Loder, author of 3 wild game cookbooks, gives an interesting explanation of venison’s fat being the source of much of it’s ‘gaminess.’

His theory and solutions are too lengthy to cover here, but he has the credentials to know his subject and give great advice.

Methods to Reduce Gaminess

There are many ways to remove the wild taste. At eHow, http://www.ehow.com/how_2067752_get-wild-taste-out-of-deer.html -check out the  idea there.

To Tenderize & Remove the Wild Taste

  • Before we fry the backstrap of the deer, we marinate the meat in milk for ~24 hours.
  • Cut up a pineapple – mix pressed pineapple slices, pulp, juice with meat chunks (or slices), cover, place in refrigerator for a couple of days, then use. If you are using a large piece of meat, increase the amount of fresh pineapple.
  • Buttermilk is another popular marinating liquid

Try venison in tomato-based dishes, such as meatballs and spaghetti sauce, lasagna, chili, etc. The tomato masks (or removes, I’m not sure which) the wild taste.


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