Field Care of Your Game Meat – What You Do Affects What You Taste
Many people will tell you that venison (elk, deer, moose, antelope) is too “”gamey”” to eat, and that hunters only eat it to justify our sport. I will be the first to admit that some game meat that I have eaten is gamey, and almost inedible. Consider what your beef would taste like if you ran it for 400 yards before shooting it, then drug it through the mud back to your camp, didn’t field dress it for 24 hours, and then threw it in the back of your truck and drove 8 hours to the butcher. Chances are, it would be a bit “”gamey”” as well. Therefore here are a few tips for all us hunters to properly care for that trophy to insure it tastes as good as we know it can:
1. Make a Clean Shot:
This is the first, and most important step to insure that your game meat is tasty. An animal that has been wounded immediately begins pumping adrenaline which ultimately will affect the taste of your meat. Be sure of your shot. Practice so that when your opportunity comes you can be successful and make an ethical shot on that trophy elk or deer.
2. Keep it Clean:
During your field dressing make sure to keep your meat as clean as possible. Keep hair and dirt away from the meat as much as possible. Make sure the bladder and intestines stay in tact and do not contaminate the meat. While this is not always possible, take your time when field dressing your game and your results will be tasted at the dinner table.
3. Cool Your Meat Quickly:
This is very important to preserving the quality of your venison. Once you have field dressed your elk, deer, or bear, prop the chest cavity open to increase cooling of the interior body cavity. As soon as possible, skin the hide off your trophy which will also increase cooling of the meat. If you are going to skin your trophy in the field, take care not to contaminate it with dirt and other debris while working through your skinning process.
4. Keep it Dry:
Nothing will spoil meat quicker than rain or drizzle beating down on your game meat. Locate your meat pole in a protected area and make sure to cover it with a tarp or some other rain resistant cover. This will insure that your meat cools properly while still being protected from the spoiling effects of rain. Rain creates the “”sour”” taste sometimes associated with deer and elk.
5. Use a Reputable Meat Processor:
There is nothing worse than taking all the precautions mentioned above to insure that your game is tasty and delicious, then taking it to a meat processing center that mixes your game with all other hunters game. Inquire as to the procedure for insuring that your deer, elk or antelope is designated as the meat you receive after processing.
As always, if you have any other great tips for insuring that your game meat is the best it can be, feel free to comment and leave your suggestions.
Remember, time in the field is a gift…savor it!
Until next time, Happy Hunting.