You just completed a successful hunting season by filling your tag. But as all seasoned hunters know, that is when the work really begins! You know how to field dress a deer, but once that’s done you need to consider the best way of butchering a deer.
So what is the best hang time to allow for aging of the deer meat? As crazy as it may sound, there are a few different factors that come into play when making this decision. So, let’s look at it day by day.
Day 1- This is a consideration if the temperatures are high. If you do decide to do your deer butchering today, be sure not to freeze the meat. You will want to quarter or bone out your deer, then age the meat in a refrigerator. Why you ask? After death, rigor mortis sets in and will last between 12-24 hours. If you freeze the meat before this process is complete, you run the risk of having your deer meat being as tough as leather.
Days 2-4- If you filled your tag with a doe or yearling buck this is when you should butcher the deer. These deer don’t need as much hang time because the meat is already naturally tender.
Days 5-8- If you put your tag on a middle aged deer, between 2 1/2 – 3 1/2 years old; this is prime butchering time. During perfect conditions, which means that temperatures are between 33-38 degrees Fahrenheit, this timeframe makes the meat perfect for processing. If temperatures spike, just put a bag of ice into the chest cavity to keep bacteria from growing.
Days 9-13- If you tagged a older deer, then consider letting it hang. The longer your older deer hangs, the better it is for the meat. Your concern when hanging your deer for near 2 weeks is the internal temperature of the meat. You should consider using a meat thermometer to be sure that the meat stays cool enough to retard spoilage.
Day 14- This should be the limit for letting your deer hang. Butcher your deer. If you let your deer hang past 2 weeks your run the risk of spoilage and complete loss of the meat.
As a dedicated hunter, you take an enormous amount of time to prep for the hunting season throughout the year. So when you are able to tag a great deer, you want to be sure that you reap all the benefits. Proper planning with butchering a deer can make all the difference when the time comes to cook the venison. The better the aging of the deer meat the tastier your meal.
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