Taking Care of Your Venison!

By: Marc Anthony

Preparing for your hunt this year may require you to spend some cash preparing your food plots or purchasing new equipment for the upcoming season’s hunt. It’s not hard to spend a few thousand dollars on plant seeds, new bows, fresh arrows, broadheads, clothing, etc. Unfortunately, many hunters forget what’ s needed AFTER the hunt!

Harvesting fresh venison is a treat no one can appreciate unless you happen to be the person making the kill. Let’s face it; there’s a lot of work and money that goes into making these hunts come together! If you add all of the time and family sacrifices along the way, a fresh slab of deer is really a blessing. All to often the preparation leading up to the hunt is executed with passion but the aftermath, which happens to be the deer itself, is treated like nothing more than, well, a dead animal. With that line of thinking, the quality of your deer will resemble just that. What most people don’t understand is the fact that the hunt isn’t over until the game has been properly prepared.

Preparing venison well enough for your palate to be impressed requires good field techniques in addition to great cooking skills. Too many hunters leave the dead animal to lie while they continue to hunt thus causing bacteria and gas to build up into the carcass. That gas pushes through the capillaries ultimately tainting the taste value of the meat. That bacteria is also the number one enemy of the deer’s hide! Anyone looking for a quality whitetail mount must understand that the condition of that hide is paramount to a long lasting mount.

You can bet Brandon Wikman took great care of this trophy buck.

I’ve heard many people complain that venison is too gamy for them to consume but the fact remains; venison isn’t gamy here in the Midwest. That “gamy” taste is a result of improper field preparation. Look at it this way: How many butchers, who handle beef, leave the animal to sit for several hours before they begin the gutting process? The answer is: None! There isn’t one professional butcher around that will kill cattle without immediately gutting it. If you were to kill a cow and leave it lie there for a few hours before gutting it, you’ll also have “gamy” tasting meat. Get the point .

When bringing your freshly killed deer home, some people like to age the deer a few days before they decide to cut it up. Aging, like they do with beef, is a natural process that tenderizes the meat. Aged venison is an absolute treat to eat! When letting your deer hang, or age, make sure the temperatures are cool enough to prevent spoiling though. Usually in the fall, your chances are pretty good it won’t, unless you have an early season bow kill. Once your deer is aged, cut as much fat off as possible. Venison fat isn’t tasty like beef fat! In fact, it’s not desirable at all. By removing the fat, you can assure your meat will taste a whole lot better. If you are grinding your own burger, or even if you have your butcher do it, adding about 10% beef or pork fat to your grind will add flavor and keep your naturally lean venison from falling apart when forming and cooking burgers on the grill.

If you are fortunate enough to kill a buck worth mounting, it’s best to remember to cool that cape down as soon as possible, not to drag the buck anywhere the hide will be showing on the mount and not cut too far up the brisket when field dressing it! Cooling down the cape will stop the bacteria from growing. Bacteria not only cause meat to spoil but cause the hair follicles to detach from the hide itself. This process is called “slipping”. Most of the time slipping won’t be detected until after the tanning has been done to the cape. At that point, you’re already money and time consumed. Finding another cape will be costly! Under all of the excitement of killing a trophy, many hunters forget and drag the deer out by the hind legs. Under these circumstances, the weight of the deer is condensed to the front of the deer and creates an undue load on the hair. This load will wear the hair off and form bald spots. Bald spots are not an easy fix, if they can be fixed at all. Finally, when field dressing the deer, there’s no need to cut the hide all of the way up the middle and through the chest. You need to stop the incision right below the breastplate. You can still easily get to the organs for removal. If you do decide to cut through the chest area, your taxidermist may charge you more to sew it up. Sewing is something you try to avoid if at all possible when putting together a quality mount.

Taking proper care of your deer in the field can mean a mount you can be proud of.

Just by following a few simple steps can make the difference between great tasting meat and horrible tasting meat, a quality mount or a costly mount and lastly, will insure a properly executed hunt from start to finish. They say you can pay once for an education or pay the rest of your life for the lack of one. Why pay at all when you can do these simple things for free?

For more go to: Marc Anthony