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Butchering your own deer, how to age?

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Butchering your own deer, how to age?

Old 11-17-2004, 01:14 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 10
Default Butchering your own deer, how to age?

Reading a recent thread about butchering costs (http://forum.hunting.net/asppg/tm.asp?m=829705) has made me think of butchering my own deer next time. I paid 55 cents on the final hanging weight (no head, no legs, no skin). On 102lb hanging weight I paid $51 and got 85lbs of meat.

Anyway, about butchering, how does one age the meat? I have a book about cutting the deer up but it mentions nothing about aging the meat. I have read that the deer should hang for 7 days in 38-42 degrees F. How does everyone regulate that temperature? Bow hunting I routinely hunt in 60-70 degree weather here in Ohio, obviously can't just hang it in the barn.


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Old 11-17-2004, 01:28 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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Default RE: Butchering your own deer, how to age?

hey jeremy,
If you hang it up skin as soon as you kill it will be fine. its when you wait a half or day or so this becomes a problem. Skin it cut the meet off the bone. put it in the freeze. gut it right away thoug h when you kill it. its apart of the hunt. anything you don't want cut up cook and give to the dogs. they will love it. and it so much easier if you do it right away then letting it site in some freezer. if you need any pointers about cutting them up send me an email . I do most deer for our hunting club and we kill about 40 a year. I can do one deer with another guys help in about 10 minutes time as far as cutting it up then it porably take me by myself 20 minutes of so to debone each piece but usually do that later. Then off to the afternoon hunt. let me know.
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Old 11-17-2004, 02:22 PM
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Default RE: Butchering your own deer, how to age?

Are you saying that aging is not necessary? Just field dress, check-in, take home, butcher and freeze?
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Old 11-17-2004, 02:25 PM
Join Date: Aug 2004
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Default RE: Butchering your own deer, how to age?

I dont age mine any more as I found it to make the meat more gamey tasting
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Old 11-17-2004, 02:43 PM
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Default RE: Butchering your own deer, how to age?

There are lots of ways to do these things. Aging is thought to make the meat more tender. What I read leads me to believe that this aging process causes connective tissues between and among muscle fibers to breakdown, making the meat more tender. One process which takes place is rigor mortis, which is associated with a chemical pH lowering process in the meat which is desirable. I'm guessing rigor mortis -- a transient stiffness of dead bodies -- comes and go and its beneficial effect takes place within 18 to 24 hours. After this beneficial process completes it is a matter of judgment how long you want to continue to let your meat age. Further aging results in other chemical processes continuing to breakdown the connective tissues and further tenderizing the meat.

While the above processes are going on, other processes are also affecting your meat. If the meat is warm enough, bacteria is growing and excreting their wastes in the meat. Enough bacteria excrement in the meat sours the meat and makes it taste bad. If it is warm and you don't keep your meat covered, flys will lay their eggs in your meat which will transform in time into maggots which eat the meat.

I have read that cutting and freezing the meat very shortly after the kill may result in cold shortening of the muscle fibers themselves which makes the meat tough. This kind of meat is NOT responsive to tenderizing processes such as aging and/or marinading, because these processes are directed to breaking down the connective tissues.

I have read that you want to cool your meat to below 60 degrees in the first four hours and down to 45 degrees in the first twelve hours. After this, keep your meat in the shade in air temperature ranging from freezing to 50 degrees. Does and young deer need less aging than bucks and old deer. 24 hours to 48 hours may be optimal for does and young deer. Maybe five days is best for big bucks and old deer.

Because you do not have a temperature controlled environment you are somewhat at the mercy of the weather. In hot weather, immediately gut, skin, and quarter your meat and get it on ice in an ice chest to cool it down. You can leave the meat for several days in the ice chest where the meat ages, since it is above freezing when on ice.

The above information is a dump of the information I have read. I don't have enough experience to comment based on my personal experience. I did kill an pronghorn antelope at 10 AM, cut it up, and had it packaged and sitting in a cooler with a bunch of dry ice (separated from the dry ice by lots of newspaper) by 10 PM the same day, which probably means it should suffer from the cold shortening phenomenon. We have eaten one roast of this and it didn't seem unusually tough. At the same time I cut another pronghorn up about 36 hours after it was killed and put it in the same dry ice. Maybe the pronghorn which was not put on dry ice for 36 hours will be substantially more tender? Who knows. The 36 hour animal is a buck and the 12 hour animal is a doe, so this may not be a sound basis for comparison. I froze this meat because I had to drive the next day to another location and because if I didn't cut up and package the meat that night I might have had to wait another six days to cut up and package both animals. So sometimes external circumstances force you in one direction or another.
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