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Why hang deer/age meat?

Old 12-05-2008, 11:16 AM
Fork Horn
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Default Why hang deer/age meat?

The question was asked in the middle of a post but nobody answered so I will ask. I have heard of guys doing it but a buddy of mine who has hunted around 20 years says you don't have to so we butcher the deer ourselves as soon as we get to it. All we eat as steaks are the tenderloins and backstraps sometimes the same day and it tastes great!!! The rest of it is ground, summer sausage, breakfast sausage etc...

Two cents?
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Old 12-05-2008, 11:58 AM
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Default RE: Why hang deer/age meat?

copied and pasted;

There are some persistent myths about aging venison that may cause you to stock your freezer with inferior meat this season. I'm sure you've heard them: Deer meat can't be aged like beef, because it dries out if left hanging. Or: Aging is simply "controlled rot," and why let good venison rot? And: You only need to hang deer a day or two for tender meat, so any longer is a waste of time.

None of this is true. To understand why, and to find out the best methods to age venison, we have to turn to science.

A Chemistry Lesson
Despite its different taste and lower levels of fat, venison is very similar to beef. It contains the same basic enzymes, particularly lactic acid, and goes through similar changes after the animal dies.

First, the muscles go into rigor mortis, a stiffening lasting at most 24 hours. Butchering a deer during rigor mortis is one of the worst things you can do. It can cause a phenomenon called shortening, where the muscles contract and remain tougher than if butchering took place a day later.

Proper aging begins as soon as rigor mortis ends-and this process is definitely not controlled rot. Rot is zillions of bacteria eating the muscle cells, their waste products creating the familiar stench of decaying flesh. Bacteria attack only after meat is exposed to the air, and bacterial rot is accelerated by higher temperatures. It doesn't happen at all if the meat is frozen. To properly age your deer, you must keep it at temperatures above freezing and below about 40 degrees. This holds bacteria (and rot) at bay, allowing natural enzymes to do their work.

Venison, Restaurants, and Supermodels
Meat is made up of long muscle cells connected by a fairly tough substance called collagen (the same stuff plastic surgeons inject into the lips of supermodels to make those lips full and "pouty"). Collagen causes most meat toughness. Young animals have little of it between their muscle cells, but as an animal gets older, more develops. Natural enzymes break down this intercellular collagen as meat is aged, so the longer it hangs, the more tender it becomes. (Commercial meat tenderizers, such as papaya juice, do the same job-but natural aging is more flavorful.) This is why beef served in fine restaurants is aged a couple of weeks or more. It's also the reason a prime restaurant T-bone costs so much; it takes money to cool a large aging room.

Supermarket beef is aged perhaps two to three days. This isn't bad, since beef-or a deer-hung that long does age slightly. But neither becomes as tender or flavorful as after a week or more.

Aging at Home
Maintaining a consistent temperature is the main problem with home-aging venison. I live in Montana, where outside temperatures during the firearms season normally range from around 20 at night to 40 during the day. My garage provides some protection against cold and sunlight, so deer that I hang there won't usually warm to more than 40 degrees and won't freeze at night. If your weather isn't ideal, you can home-age venison in a spare refrigerator. Skin the quarters and bone-out other large sections of meat. The quarters from a typical deer (or even two) will fit in an average-size refrigerator.

Young deer don't have much collagen, so aging for a couple of days is plenty. Older bucks benefit most from the extended period, and many hunters who do it properly actually prefer the taste of mature bucks. After aging, the steaks are as tender as a young doe's-but with a rich flavor reminiscent of the best restaurant beef.

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Old 12-05-2008, 12:01 PM
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Default RE: Why hang deer/age meat?

When a mammal dies, Rigor Mortis sets in. This is a buildup of lactic acid in the muscle. It is good for this acid to breakdown for tender meat. Or hang it until the rigor mortis has passed and the muscles are very limber like right when the animal died.

Aging, first, moisture is evaporated from the muscle. This creates a greater concentration ofmeat flavor and taste. Second, themeat's natural enzymes break down the connective tissue in the muscle, which leads to more tender meat.

What they do in the cattle industry is run a/c current thru the muscles and this prevents cold shortening. And keeps them from having to hang the meat for long periods.

Its rare that I get the oppotunity to hang my deer more than a day or two. So I end up having to butcher within 6-10 hours. Rigor mortis is still in the muscles. I can definately tell a difference in meat that has been hung between 32F and 40F for 3 days compared to one that has been butchered immediately.
Old 12-05-2008, 12:01 PM
Nontypical Buck
Join Date: Mar 2004
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Default RE: Why hang deer/age meat?

Tenderloins can be eaten without aging, as can loins of young deer.

To get the best flavor and tenderness out of other steak/roast cuts you really need to age.

You can age the deer before processing by hanging in suitable weather or a cooler. Or, you can thaw and age after processing inthe fridge if you take the meat out of the freezer at least a week before you use it.

If you plan to grind it, it probably doesn't make any difference.

I have heard you shouldwait a few hours before freezing venison or other game meat, toget the rigor out of the carcass.

That's what I know.
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Old 12-05-2008, 02:35 PM
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Default RE: Why hang deer/age meat?

I agree the deer is much more flavorful and tender with some hang time and around here I let them age about 3 to 5 days B-4 butchering if the temps allow.
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Old 12-05-2008, 03:29 PM
Nontypical Buck
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Default RE: Why hang deer/age meat?

Guess you guys would freak knowing I soak my steaks in several salt water baths for a few days to draw the blood out. It really removes the game flavor and doesn't seem totoughen the meat. IMO

The other side of the coin is that maybe I have never had a truly "good/aged" venison steak. I would tend to argue, but I have been wrong a time or two.

One other way to get around the issue is to shoot only deer w/spots!
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Old 12-06-2008, 03:15 AM
Fork Horn
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Location: moore oklahoma USA,right now in Korea
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Default RE: Why hang deer/age meat?

i dont hang mine it goes straight to the freezer most of the time if i do hang it it is to get the meat cold and stiff to help cut it up but my wife says the meat smells and taste better than the meat we use to take to the butcher.said it dont get that blood smell and taste from the meat locker

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Old 12-06-2008, 11:50 AM
Fork Horn
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Illinois
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Default RE: Why hang deer/age meat?

ORIGINAL: rogerstv

Guess you guys would freak knowing I soak my steaks in several salt water baths for a few days to draw the blood out. It really removes the game flavor and doesn't seem totoughen the meat. IMO

The other side of the coin is that maybe I have never had a truly "good/aged" venison steak. I would tend to argue, but I have been wrong a time or two.

One other way to get around the issue is to shoot only deer w/spots!
I really have to question why you would subject that excellent venison to salt water. Illinois Whitetail is some of the best venison known to mankind. There is absolutely no "gamey taste" to corn and soybean fed deer. A very slight irony aftertaste maybe, but definitely not "gamey".

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Old 12-06-2008, 01:15 PM
Fork Horn
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Default RE: Why hang deer/age meat?

OK....next question....What do most of you do? Skin and hang the deer for a few days...? Or butcher it and age the meat that way? And how?
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Old 12-06-2008, 02:02 PM
Typical Buck
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Default RE: Why hang deer/age meat?

most experts will say your wrong about aging venison,it only helps when the meat has fat marblized thru it ,beef does ,venison does not. having said that ,i keep a extra frig in my shop. all of my deer get quartered and go in a plastic pan on a rack to help remove blood and cool. i may leave it for up to 5-6 days. i see no differents in deer thats been left for a day or a week. its all a matter of when i get time to cut and wrap. we eat lots of deer ,there have been more then 20 in my frig this year so far.
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