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Butchering game too soon after the kill?

JerryBobCoJerryBobCo Senior MemberPosts: 7,930 Senior Member

I read somewhere that one should wait for about 36 hours before butchering any game animal.  The reason was that this was about how long rigor mortis lasted.   During the first 36 hours after death, while rigor in in full swing, the meat will likely be tough.

Thinking back, I can say that the toughest game meat I have ever eaten was from the bull elk in my avatar.  We butchered it less than 36 hours after I killed it.  Even the back strap and loin were tough, though the meat had a good flavor.

I can't really say how soon after death other animals I've killed were butchered, but I'll bet very few were cut up less than 36 hours after taking them.  And, I know a lot of people like to hang their animals and let them age.


Jerry

Gun control laws make about as much sense as taking ex-lax to cure a cough.

Replies

  • Six-GunSix-Gun Senior Member Posts: 8,148 Senior Member
    Now that you mention it, I can only gather a couple of cases where I had no choice but to butcher an animal quickly after the kill (both times due to early season heat).  Both were definitely inside of that 36 hour window.  One definitely did not taste as good as deer that I’ve hung, but wasn’t noticeably much tougher.  The other had no noticeable ill effects in flavor or toughness at all.
    Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.
  • earlyagainearlyagain Posts: 6,748 Senior Member
    For me, time constraints of employment, family obligations, and ambient temperature were the ruling consideration. Postponement was a luxury I could not afford. Im not a griller. All my meat was cooked in a pot. So I guess if it was tough, I didn't notice.
  • CaliFFLCaliFFL Senior Member Posts: 5,486 Senior Member
    All the years of hunting in southern climes, animals were butchered immediately. I never hung an animal until I moved up here. The southern animals tasted gamier than the animals that were hung for a few days. I do not recall anything being tougher or more tender. 


    When our governing officials dismiss due process as mere semantics, when they exercise powers they don’t have and ignore duties they actually bear, and when we let them get away with it, we have ceased to be our own rulers.

    Adam J. McCleod


  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 23,972 Senior Member
    I live in Hell. 

    Butcher as soon as possible and often instantly. Due to heat. 
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • Six-GunSix-Gun Senior Member Posts: 8,148 Senior Member
    edited August 2019 #6
    CaliFFL said:
    All the years of hunting in southern climes, animals were butchered immediately. I never hung an animal until I moved up here. The southern animals tasted gamier than the animals that were hung for a few days. I do not recall anything being tougher or more tender. 


    That right there is the big reason I willing pay a processor to cold store and cut my game when I kill something in the early season.  After years of testing various ways to make game taste better/less gamey, ensuring that the meat is completely drained of blood has become the most consistent producer of quality meat, and hanging helps that process.

    In the same regard, blanching meat using repeated soaks in refrigerated water until it turns up virtually clear after a several hour soak all but assures no gamey taste.  Conversely, cutting meat quickly and soring it before the blood drains could be a contributing factor to the gamey taste more so than the effects of rigor mortis.
    Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.
  • jaywaptijaywapti Senior Member Posts: 4,958 Senior Member
    In warm weather, 40 - 45 F or above, gut, clean excess blood, skin, butcher, and get it on ice, in cold weather gut, cut thru the sternum and prop open rib cage, clean excess blood, hang and age. I have let game shot on the first day hang until after the season is over than butcher, rarely ever had any bad meat, the exception was game feeding primarily on sagebrush. Speed Goats, we always had huge igloo coolers filled with ice and lots of water to clean them, gut, skin, quarter, and ice as fast as possible.

    JAY
    THE DEFINITION OF GUN CONTROL IS HITTING THE TARGET WITH YOUR FIRST SHOT
  • GunNutGunNut Posts: 5,764 Senior Member
    When I lived up North I hung deer (from a tree, in the shade, skin on and of course field dressed) for a MINIMUM of 4 days and often as long as 10 as long as the temps allowed for it (sub 45 dare highs).  It not only gives the meat a better flavor but also tenderizes it considerably.  I read a few studies about aging meat and it's natural enzymes in the meat itself that do it, all they need is time and the different studies basically said that anything after 11 days had little to no affect, that seemed to be the magic number.  Every deer I ever treated that way was tender and delicious eating, from old bucks to young yearlings of either sex.

    When I moved south I figured I was going to loose that advantage but then I went hunting with Capt Stan in GA.  The first deer I got with him he field dressed, skinned and quartered.  We then filled a BIG marine cooler with ice and laid the meat on top with (REALLY IMPORTANT) the cooler drain open so the water from the melting ice would drain swiftly.  Every day we'd check the level of ice and add ice accordingly keeping the meat on top.  At the end of 5 days we then butchered the meat.  It was one of the best deer I ever had!

    If you need to butcher fast there is another way to age some cuts of meat.  Wrap big cuts in a clean towel and put in the bottom drawer of your fridge (or wherever is your vegetable crisper drawer).  Change the bloody towel next day for a clean one and do that every day there is blood on the towel.  Once you have a clean dry towel you can stop changing them.  You can do this with big beef roasts too and it works GREAT!

    BTW my experience is that wild pig will not age as well as venison or beef.  Any more than 2-3 days and it will start spoiling on you.  Maybe there's a trick to it I don't know about.
    Old West Saying: God created men, but Col. Sam Colt made them equal.

    General George Patton:  “Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.”

  • JerryBobCoJerryBobCo Senior Member Posts: 7,930 Senior Member

    GN, I've used the cooler trick on antelope a number of times.  They only difference is that I added salt, and put ice on top.  It seemed to work pretty well, as I could leave one for up to a week like that and it would be ok.

    With antelope, though, I've often found that I can be eating a delicious cut of meat and get on bite that was so bad I simply could not eat.  I would spit it out, and continue with the rest of the cut.

    Jerry

    Gun control laws make about as much sense as taking ex-lax to cure a cough.
  • GunNutGunNut Posts: 5,764 Senior Member
    Wow, that’s never happened to me.  I wonder what the reason for that is?
    Old West Saying: God created men, but Col. Sam Colt made them equal.

    General George Patton:  “Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.”

  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 16,916 Senior Member
    GunNut said:
    When I lived up North I hung deer (from a tree, in the shade, skin on and of course field dressed) for a MINIMUM of 4 days and often as long as 10 as long as the temps allowed for it (sub 45 dare highs).  It not only gives the meat a better flavor but also tenderizes it considerably.  I read a few studies about aging meat and it's natural enzymes in the meat itself that do it, all they need is time and the different studies basically said that anything after 11 days had little to no affect, that seemed to be the magic number.  Every deer I ever treated that way was tender and delicious eating, from old bucks to young yearlings of either sex.

    When I moved south I figured I was going to loose that advantage but then I went hunting with Capt Stan in GA.  The first deer I got with him he field dressed, skinned and quartered.  We then filled a BIG marine cooler with ice and laid the meat on top with (REALLY IMPORTANT) the cooler drain open so the water from the melting ice would drain swiftly.  Every day we'd check the level of ice and add ice accordingly keeping the meat on top.  At the end of 5 days we then butchered the meat.  It was one of the best deer I ever had!

    If you need to butcher fast there is another way to age some cuts of meat.  Wrap big cuts in a clean towel and put in the bottom drawer of your fridge (or wherever is your vegetable crisper drawer).  Change the bloody towel next day for a clean one and do that every day there is blood on the towel.  Once you have a clean dry towel you can stop changing them.  You can do this with big beef roasts too and it works GREAT!

    BTW my experience is that wild pig will not age as well as venison or beef.  Any more than 2-3 days and it will start spoiling on you.  Maybe there's a trick to it I don't know about.
    Spot on advice...
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • JKPJKP Senior Member Posts: 2,246 Senior Member
    I've seen what amounts to a homemade walk in cooler built in the corner of a garage that works great for aging one or two deer. Basically an insulated small room cooled by an AC unit. 
  • JerryBobCoJerryBobCo Senior Member Posts: 7,930 Senior Member
    A friend of mine had an attached one care garage.  I had a back door.  He would remove the back door and replace it with a sheet of plywood that had a hole cut in it to accommodate a window AC unit.  It worked pretty well if it wasn't too hot outside.
    Jerry

    Gun control laws make about as much sense as taking ex-lax to cure a cough.
  • bullsi1911bullsi1911 Moderator Posts: 11,146 Senior Member
    Zee said:
    I live in Hell. 

    Butcher as soon as possible and often instantly. Due to heat. 
    Some of us consider it the opposite of hell ;)

    We gut, skin and quarter almost immediately, usually due to ambient heat.  but then we have the quarters, backstraps, and tenderloins in game bags stored in a dedicated fridge for several days before disassembly and final processing,

    Never had tough meat from that.  

    Now, at the ranch, where there is no electricity, I will probably have to do a modification of the ice/ cooler trick that GunNut posted.

    I do have some horror stories of how some people treat the animals post kill, and then complain about how ‘gamey’ whitetail was.  That’s not a ‘gamey’ taste- that’s bad meat.
    To make something simple is a thousand times more difficult than to make something complex.
    -Mikhail Kalashnikov
  • FreezerFreezer Senior Member Posts: 1,755 Senior Member
    I hunted Northern California for many years. The law there is you must have a separate cooler for game meat, that said there weren't any butchers to process your meat. 

    When I harvested a buck I would immediately field dress it then get it back to camp. I would then get it in the air and remove the hide. If the yellow jackets were harassing me I would cover it in a game bag with the cavity propped open. If the bees weren't a problem I would quarter it and break it down into manageable sections. I'd wrap the meat in blue shop towels, then a plastic bag and place the meat in a cooler with ice with the drain plug open. I changed the paper towels every day for about five days. After that I'd butcher it myself. I never had a gamey flavor in my meat and it was always tender. I used everything except the lower legs and skull including most of the bones. They made the best minestrone soup! 
    I like Elmer Keith; I married his daughter :wink:
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