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How to Butcher a Deer
Aging Wild Game
The importance of Aging Meat has often been disputed, here are the facts,
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Aging Meat -
Shortly after the slaughter of an animal the muscles stiffen and the animal goes through a chemical process called Rigor Mortis. This process gradually disappears and the natural tenderizing begins. There are natural Enzymes in the flesh of all animals.
These Enzymes break down the muscle tissue over time
depending on the size of the animal.
A side of beef takes 3 to 4 days at 40 degrees F. for this process to begin.
Quality beef is usually aged for 2-4 weeks before it reaches the consumer.
Aging meat does not mean simply hanging it. It is important to control the following conditions, sanitation, temperature, humidity and air circulation.
Aging meat increases tenderness and flavor. Any off taste or bad smell is not
a characteristic of properly aged and butchered meat.
The following are recommended guidelines for aging your game.
Deer - Quickly
after killing a deer, carefully open the animal and remove all entrails inside
the chest cavity (any sharp high quality knife will work if you are careful, we prefer a German boning knife).
Take your time to avoid puncturing vital organs. Carefully split the hide open
back to the rear, use a Bone Saw to cut open the tailbone (the bone that joins
the two read legs together) and remove all entrails.
The bone saw also works well to split open the upper chest cavity.
As soon as possible flush the deer cavity with several gallons of cold water. It is important to cool the animal as fast as possible. This can be done several ways. If it is cold outside, simply use a clean piece of wood to prop open the chest cavity. If it is warm outside place several bags of ice inside the chest cavity. We also recommend keeping the chest cavity as dry as possible, use several towels to wipe it often. Remove any visible hair, sticks and leaves. Now you have a properly cleaned deer that is ready for hanging. We recommend hanging the deer from the rear legs as high as necessary to avoid touching the ground. It is the easiest position for skinning a deer properly. We remove the hide with a Skinning Knife and cut off the head and front legs with a bone saw. (Many hunters need to begin the aging of their deer outdoors with the hide on,
this is acceptable but be careful of insects, animals, dirt, sticks, leaves, temperature and handling).
It is time to begin the aging of your venison carcass. At 40 degrees F. we find that the meat tastes the best after 5-7 days of aging. This aging time will vary on the size of the deer, temperature and individual preferences. We hang our deer in a walk in cooler with a concrete floor. After several days the enzymes break down the venison muscle tissues and you end up with tender meat. After proper aging the venison is ready for butchering.
We like to break ours down to the Rounds, Tenderloins, Loins, Ribs, Stew Meat and Ground Meat for Sausage and Burger. We use a German Flexible Boning Knife, Skinning Knife, Butchering Knife, Sharpening Steel, Stainless Steel Bone Saw and Meat Grinder. With practice and the right tools, you can achieve these cuts and butcher easily and consistently.(see the Sportsmans Corner section). We put small pieces of meat in stainless steel mixing bowls and cover them, place in refrigerator until ready to grind. Our Electric Meat Grinders will save you time! Our Butchering Posters are a must have item for every butcher.
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