Depending on the temperature, deer should be dressed,
skinned, and cooled within an hour at 60 degrees or higher and within three
hours at 30 degrees. Ideally, when a deer is shot, it should be hung, skinned, gutted, and placed in a cooler or refrigerator between
32 and 40 degrees for 4 or 5 days before freezing or cooking. Skinning
before gutting will prevent a lot of hair from getting stuck to the inside
of the body. Avoid spraying cold water on the carcass before it cools down.
Cold water will clot blood and prevent proper drainage from tissue.
Avoid using a saw when cutting up your deer. Bone dust is
not only hard to wash off, but it will give the meat an odd flavor. Use a
fillet knife to disjoint hams and shoulders. Experts also advise de-boning
venison before freezing since the bone, although uncut, can also flavor the
adjacent meat. This also saves freezer space.
Use several layers of freezer paper (not plastic) for
wrapping. Venison's low fat, high water content make it extremely
susceptible to freezer burn. Date packages and use within 8 months of
Always wear heavy rubber or latex gloves when field dressing
If intestinal contents contact meat, consider the meat
contaminated; cut off and discard affected area.
Handle carcasses properly. Cool carcass rapidly in the field
(bags of ice can hasten cooling). Age carcass at or below 40°F for no longer
than 5-7 days. Hang birds by feet at less than 40°F for 2-3 days maximum.
Hold meat at or below 40°F at all times. If you don’t plan
to consume or process meat within 3-5 days, freeze it. Thaw frozen meat only
in the refrigerator, never at room temperature
Sanitize equipment and work surfaces often during handling
and processing meat and poultry with a bleach solution (1 Tbs. bleach to 1
Use a meat thermometer to cook meat to proper internal
temperatures (see chart). There are several types of meat thermometers
available, which are easy to use and can be read instantly or remain in meat
while it cooks. This helps ensure harmful bacteria are killed and meat is
not overcooked. The color of meat is an unreliable indicator of doneness.
Internal Cooking Temperature
Type of meat
|Ground venison, sausage, bologna
|Fresh venison (chops, steaks,