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Letting a deer hang
I rarely ever kill my deer after archery season, and in archery her in PA, it seems the temps rarely stay below 45 degrees throughout the day. I have a deer "fridge" in the garage that i keep around 32-34 degrees and usually quarter them up and store them in there for up to a week working at a shoulder here, the ribcage there as i have time through the week to cut up. I killed a doe yesterday and let her hange overnight and today as the high was 36 today.
Tomorrow it is to be partly sunny and get to 43 or so though, should i quarter it up and put it in the fridge before work or can i let her hang? Thanks in advance for any input
the high of 40 degrees seem to be the upper limit for out door hanging. I would think 43 degrees as a high should be ok if protected from sun and wind. I am sure you have skinned the doe .
Keep it in the shade with airflow and it'll be just fine. I like to let mine hang unskinned if it's going to not get above 45. The hide will help keep the cold in, as well as helping to prevent it from freezing if the temps do take a nosedive.
Out of the sun and skin off it can hang for 2 weeks and be fine if the High is in mid 40’s during the day .
I agree with above posts. When I get concerned I just put a small fan on it to keep the air moving.
I've done a bunch of both, but if possible I like to leave the hide on until just before I cut it. Beats having to trip the "jerky" off the outside.
Of course I eat the "silverskin" which some seem to think should be cut off. Wonder if they've ever done a blind taste test to see if they can tell it's there. Also wonder if they insist the butcher does the same for their pork and beef.
Yes, hung and skinned down within 3 hours after shot, was only a high of 32 yesterday. Thanks fellas!
Out of the sun and, if it is getting to or below freezing every night. You could trim it as you eat and, it'd be fine, it if it doesn't freeze rock hard preventing you from cutting it. I love late season because I can let them hang for a long time. I shot a doe 5 years ago the day after Christmas and she froze solid by the 4th night with an unforeseen weather front. I finally butchered her on the 18th of February. The absolute best deer meat I have ever had. Tender and Yummy. Hard to get really tender when you debone them and the muscles are twitching it's so fresh. :^)
The only downside to a fridge is it dries it out. You gotta do what you gotta do in warmer temps. I do it too. Next year, try an unscented trash bag to slow down the drying out of the meat process on the ones you gotta put in the fridge.
Thanks for the tip WV, thats a good idea. I usually have them butchered within 7 or so days after the shot, and pretty much always wait at least 3 or 4 before i start. I dont generally have them get too dried out, bit that will certainly help keep them from drying out much at all.
Keep in mind the amount of non- daylight hours that the temp is colder. If your meat is not in the sun the cold meat will never get to the daytime high temp. Internally it will stay at the colder temp. not the air temp.
I like to debone the meat and put it above ice in a good cooler for a minimum of 5 days before final butchering. Anything above 40 degrees worries me, and if it's hanging frozen, maybe not accomplishing the desired goal of aging either. Cooler aging allows me to have a more controlled environment, and the results speak for themselves.....
I like to hang mine as long as possible. The best venison has been aged and will be better than any beef steak in my opinion. Our late season temps range from below freezing to 50 degrees. If we in the colder side I leave mine up for a week or two. Sometimes with humid weather you may get a little mold spores starting to show and that is when I cut. Wipe her down and cut her up. Just keep a close eye on your deer. I check mine every morning and night to make sure doesn’t turn. I also like to age on the bone wenever possible. Seems the meat comes out better. But when we are in September and you got 90+ daytime temps I debone and fridge or hang in a cooler for a week. Best of luck.
Several schools of thought on deer "aging". And, it varies from one country to another. I have been processing my own deer for as long as I have been killing deer. That is over six decades. I have hung or "aged" deer in about as many ways as it can be done. Given my druthers, I would like to hang one, head up, hide on, at about 34-degrees for a week to ten-days and if possible, outside with good airflow. Several reason for doing ti this way but I won't get into that. That said, truthfully, I can see very little difference between "hanging" a deer and putting it in a fridge in quarters. And, if I were to be totally honest, I am not sure this pre-butchering, aging, does a great deal of good in terms of tenderness or flavor. But, if you want to naturally tenderize any meat, try freezing and thawing several times. Freeze it, let it thaw and freeze again. I'm serious. Some years ago, on a New Mexico elk hunt, we hung elk quarters for four days. Night time temps were in the low 30's, daytime in 60's. We had it in mesh bags, hung in the shade and it did just fine.
When I have to put the quarters in a cooler I use frozen liter pop bottles of water instead of bagged ice. I don't like the meat sitting in water and with the sealed bottles the only moisture you get is condensation and not melt water.
And 2X Franklin. That's been my experience also. The initial cooling of the carcass is VERY important also. For that I will sometimes use bagged ice in the body cavity if it's really warm.
Quick cooling is essential. I use frozen liter bottles for that. I also wash thoroughly with hose. Cold water cools them quickly. Then drain and put frozen bottles inside.
As Bowriter and some of the others have said. As long as it gets down in the 30's - low 40's at night and its in the shade during the day, you can leave it hanging with the hide on for several days. We have left them hanging like that for a week in mid November with daytime highs getting into the 50's. NEVER, a single problem with the meat going bad. Daytime highs in the 60's is when we would starting thinking about cutting them up. Then it depended on sunny vs. cloudy, etc... It used to blow my mind what we would get away with. Just hang them by the head and stick something in the rib cage to prop it open and you're good to go.
you skin before hanging right ?
nobody hangs a deer 1-2 days with skin on do they ?
"you skin before hanging right ? nobody hangs a deer 1-2 days with skin on do they ?"
We obviously can't hang our deer outside in FL, but we do hang them for two weeks in the cooler with the hide on.
OK, so a spinoff question that doesn't necessarily apply to this situation but I have always wondered about. You butcher the deer and either just chunk it up and put in a perforated container to drain the blood or grind it into burger, how long is it OK to keep in that 32 to 34° fridge Before you either have to freeze or Cook? Time. Would be from time you killed the deer not when you butchered it and put it in the fridge
I'll let deer hang for a week or more until I can get to it if its 38 degrees or colder, many times with the hide on... with the hide on, as long as it cools, will keep the meat from overly drying out, however, it is hard to skin ... if its warm out, it goes to the processor as I usually dont have time to mess with it right away.... plus, I like the way he does the packaging... regular cuts and lots burger is only $100... not bad, even in a big buck.... as for Does, I want at least a 100lber so I get my monies worth if he does it ... he did my 115lber earlier in Nov. for me... I have quite a bit of burger, but want another to add to the chest freezer.. I'll blow thru what I have now before the 4th of July ...
I can’t remember the specifics, but there was a guest on the meateater podcast that runs a world renowned restaurant in San Francisco, and he had a refrigerator setup one time with fans in it where he aged an animal for a year one time. I believe it was episode 73
I would not do this because I've seen it go bad. I always get mine in a cooler as fast as I can. If you have a controlled temperature situation that's one thing. But when it goes up and down it will every day, you don't have any control over the "aging" process.
Do what you will, but as for me I get them in the cooler as quick as possible.
For me, the bigger the animal the quicker I get the hide off. In warm weather, I’ve even put in water proof bags and submerged the quarters. Guys here on early season hunts in the north will quarter and submerge in clean, cold streams without bagging. After several hours take them out and wipe dry.
I shot a whitetail twelve days ago and it was several degrees below freezing. It has been hanging, hide on since then, in a heavily insulated shed. The temps are below freezing at night and just above during the day. The last few days Ive had to have a small heater going to keep it from freezing. I plan to skin today and cut tomorrow. Never hung an animal, hide on, before.
I always hang for as long as possible. The longest was thirty five days for a rutted up moose that was fighting with another bull when I shot it. Excellent meat!
So many opinions and many are from local traditions. Not sure there is a wrong way, except quick cooling. That is critical, IMO.
Aging meat is an art as much as it is a science and when done correctly the results are incredible. As long as you check the inside of the cavity daily and don't let it get nasty, there is no problem hanging a deer, hide on, for a week or two when the average 24 hour temps are in the mid 30's. The meat will be noticeably more tender than if the same deer had been processed within a day or two. Once you've done a few, you'll find that you can leave them hanging for quite a while longer than you think you can. Some of the best venison I've ever tasted has come from deer that have hung with the hide on for more than a month.
I've read two different opinions from credited experts on aging deer. One is from a well renowned chef from checkloslavakia (sp wrong) who's won several culinary awards in wild game chefery, he sais to age the deer up to 2 weeks ( considering you can control the temp at a suggested temp. The other expert advice I've read is from a book I have called Gut it, Cut it, Cook it a well written book on processing deer. These fellas say to skin it asap, hang overnight if need be, but cut it up as soon as possible and get it cooled and frozen; no aging. The expert chef says that beef is aged, it is not according to the book writers. Beef is processed and shipped quickly to prevent spoilage and keep up with the demand. Another downside to aging is it dries the meat out and a hard outer layer will form on the meat, which will have to be cut away, hence loosing a substantial amount of meat. I have personally done both, and hanging the meat for any more than a day is risky and not worth it to me. I prefer to cut mine up and cool it asap, if I choose to age it, I'll leave it in the fridge for a day or two and marinate it.
Have a very good friend who hunted at a camp in Northern Maine for nearly fifty years. He said in the old days- 1940's- 70 and before bag limits etc 4 hunters in camp would routinely bring home on average 10 deer in total. When a deer was shot it was dressed and hung where shot high enough to avoid bears. At the end of the week a tractor with a hay trailer would go around and deer would be cut down brought back to camp and loaded on top of 2 station wagons for the trip back to Masssachusetts and the processer. He said never any problem with the meat.
I usually skin and quarter deer if weather above 45 degrees and much to my wife's chagrin keep quarters in fridge and cut up one quarter every night. Of course inside loins and straps done first night.
“The expert chef says that beef is aged, it is not according to the book writers. Beef is processed and shipped quickly to prevent spoilage and keep up with the demand.”
That pretty much sums up this whole discussion. Most people buy beef from the supermarket, take it home and cook it within a day or two and think it’s good, which it very well may be. But turn those people on to a prime dry aged steak at a premium steakhouse and their minds will be blown.
"you skin before hanging right ? nobody hangs a deer 1-2 days with skin on do they ?"
We do it all the time as long as the temps are in the 30's and 40's. The deer I just did hung hung for 8 days in the barn before we skinned it. The weather was perfect for hanging deer. If you cool the animal initially and it's cold at night then during the day the hide will help keep the cold in as long as it's in the shade in a well ventilated area. We've been doing them like this for decades.
I don't worry at all if the high temps are in the 40s if temps at night are colder. I'll let them hang for a few days with skin on.
I quarter mine and hang them from a rack in a spare fridge no matter the weather. I trim and wrap the backstraps and loose meat within a few days or they get pretty dried out. I've let the quarters go up to 10 days. I've noticed after about a week, if there is any blood left in the hindquarters, where the femoral is, that blood starts smelling a little funky, so I like to get them before then ideally.
Really I just do it for convenience, so I can butcher on my schedule. I have done some in depth reading on aging meat and a lot of guys that claim to be aging their meat really aren't. As long as you let rigor mortis subside I don't think there is much potential to improve after that. I've always wanted to age one longer with the skin on because that method reduces trimming loss, but I always get paranoid about temps even in the 40s. Maybe next year.
in those temps in a garage or shed hanging a clean, skinned carcass will be fine
On the coast of OR we kept a deer for 6 days. Temps never below 40, 60's during day. Deer was skinned, bagged and each morning was wrapped in 2 old sleeping bags which were removed each night. Kept in shade all the time.
Deer was fine.
"you skin before hanging right ? nobody hangs a deer 1-2 days with skin on do they ?"
Several factors involved. Temperature being the main one. If it is cold enough, I never skin them before hanging and may let them hang for as long as ten-days. If I had a walk-in cooler that I could keep at a steady 34-degrees, I would not hesitate to hang, skin on for two weeks. The temperature and the facilities dictate what I do. In WY when it was freezing or below every night, I have hung elk quarters, skin on for over a month.
I've always used the mold as my guide. 20 years of hanging deer skin on until the mold appears. Try not to let it get too fuzzy. If it's warm that could take 3-4 days, when it is cold could easily be a few weeks.
Last couple deer I have cut up quickly and I am trying to determine if there is any difference to the deer that I've always aged. So far, I have not noticed a difference. Very tough to tell, because there are also so many other variables animal to animal. One thing is for sure, the animal is easier to work with fresh. Skin comes off nicer for sure.
I wish I could find it, but I remember an article about aging deer and that it didn't really help. Something to do about an enzyme missing.
We shoot them one day and cut the next if possible. Only had 2 tough deer in my life and both were very old whitetail does.
I quarter and de-bone my deer immediately cool in the fridge for a while or until I can cut and freeze. Tastes great.
Walk in cooler skin on for a month is even better.... a famous Chicago Chef told me once...seems plausible to me .For me and my house,I ain't waiting a month to cut up a deer.Ill hang at camp and cut it up within a day
Steve: What is the purpose of hanging with the skin on? I guess that I could see keeping the skin on when hanging outside, but I thought that you would want the skin off as soon as you can - particularly when hanging in a cooler. I hope to have a walkin cooler system up and running for next season.
It keeps the meat from drying out, especially if you like to age it like some of us do, so you don't have to "skin it" twice and waste a lot of meat. The hide will also act as an insulation blanket to keep the cold IN if it's been chilled right and in the shade, as well as help keep the carcass from freezing solid if it does dip well below freezing overnight.
Other then getting the body cooled faster in warm weather, I don't understand why one would take the hide OFF if their going to hang it for a week and it's cold enough.
Mad: If you take the skin off you can wrap the deer with a two foot wide, giant roll of Saran Wrap to keep from drying. Jackets off for me if I hang in a walk in cooler. Walk in coolers serve two purposes, when it’s too warm outside and when it’s too cold outside. Personally I only eat about three deer a year so I quarter, de-bone and package immediately.
Exactly what Charlie said. Get the hide off ASAP and get the meat cooled quickly, wrap in saran wrap if you want to hang it for a few days, it keeps the meat from drying out and still allows it to cool quickly. Once cooled you can wrap it in a old sleeping bag if its too hot or cold out. I do all my own butchering and personally I cant tell the difference from butchering in the same day to butchering the end of a week. I do the above with my deer and Elk for my own convenience of butchering time. During hot days I will wrap the quarters and loose meat in Saran wrap directly after skinning and put it down in a cooler loaded with ice. leave the cap off the cooler to drain, add new ice as needed and rotate the meat. Works just as good as a walk in cooler.
I also assume hanging the deer with the hide on is why most folks still gut rather than doing a no gut quarter? I haven't gutted any big game in years. Im even asked by the property owner that I hunt on to bring out the whole deer guts and all as they still gun hunt it after the archery season and don't want it attracting yotes into the area or to have to smell what doesn't get consumed. I still do a no gut quarter on the spot, then the remainder of the bones and guts get rolled onto a trap and drug out which makes it so much easier to drag out by yourself.
You guys are correct in stating the hide on keeps it cool...once it finally cools.
However it also keeps the heat in. Next time you have one hanging in the garage in cool temps and you go out the next day and the cavity feels cold, for shits and giggles, strip some fur off the back strap area (or strip back some from neck) and put your finger in the meat. It will not be as cool as the cavity and will probably still be warm.
I hang a late season deer in my barn where it freezes pretty much overnight. I leave the hide on and when I want to butcher it, bring it in my mud room to thaw. I cut up a roadkill hit in late December in March a couple of years ago. Back in the day, during hard times, we would pop a deer and hang it in a tree and every so often chop a quarter off and bring it home.
"Steve: What is the purpose of hanging with the skin on? I guess that I could see keeping the skin on when hanging outside, but I thought that you would want the skin off as soon as you can - particularly when hanging in a cooler. I hope to have a walkin cooler system up and running for next season."
I know that was directed at a different Steve, but I'll chime in. I have a walk in cooler that I keep at 34-36 degrees. If you're putting a deer into those temps within a couple of hours there is no need to skin it to cool it down. Leaving the hide on keeps the meat protected from contamination and from drying out during the aging process. If the deer is cleanly killed and field dressed there is no issue leaving it in there, hide on, for 4 weeks and the meat will be incredibly tender. If a little mold in the cavity makes you squeamish, cut it up after 3 weeks.
I would never tell a guy that skinning a deer and cutting it up within a few days is a bad idea, and that meat can absolutely taste good, but aging the deer dramatically improves the taste and texture. I've aged hundreds and hundreds of deer for my family and my friends and there has never been a single person who thought it didn't make a world of difference. If it didn't work, my cooler wouldn't be packed with deer all season. Those who knock it either haven't tried it or didn't do it properly.
If you like your deer meat the way you are doing it, then why change? There is no good or bad way if you like it that way. In some countries, they hang waterfowl by the head until it rots enough for the body to fall off. I guess they like it that way. Personally, I aint wrappin no deer in Saran wrap for any reason until I have cut it up and it is going in the freezer. But if you like it that way, go for it.
In Texas it is common practice to skin and quarter a deer and put directly into a chest and cover with crushed ice. Add ice daily and drain the bloody water. We do this for 5 to 7 days. Then we cut it up to your liking. As someone above stated, there isn't a right or wrong way if it works for you
Bowriter that is so funny, I have a neighbor who lives on the lake, big waterfowler, he hangs ducks, at least for several days,,,,,, like you said, if it works for you go ahead......
If it's cold enough I hang birds for a day or so, but I GUT them first and rinse the body cavity with cold water.
In Europe they do the same but ungutted (YUCK!). I've heard that some will hang them by the feathers until the feathers pull out. That is considered to be the epitome of 'haute cuisine' of the first order. And many say the same thing about eating raw fish.........not for me. If God wanted me to be a seagull He'd have made me one.
I’m not sure how you guys know that aging game tastes better. If you didn’t hang it then you couldn’t know the difference lol. I agree with the downside being that the meat dries out on the surface. I never left one hanging and they tasted great to me. LKH I used to be a meat cutter and yes we removed the silver skin on some parts. It is a little different with a cow due to the larger size. People just cut around it where as a deer it is not as noticeable so probably chewed on.
I age large cuts in the frig for a week wrapped tightly in 'cling wrap' and suffer very little to no loss due to dehydration on outer surface. I once left a deer hang through a day at 50 degrees on a shaded screened porch and lost a lot of meat....it had been hanging a couple of days prior in the high 30's prior to the day it went up to 50. Stupid mistake on my part. Back in the days when I REALLY needed the meat too.
The old "ageing" a deer argument.
Everyone forgets that most beef that is aged comes from an animal that is 18 months old (or younger). That's right - 18 months old. It also comes from an animal that is genetically predisposed to have rich fat layers throughout the animal.
Knowing the est. age of your animal is far more important as studies have shown age of animal significantly impacts the tenderness. For me, anything under 2 1/2 will be butchered for searing (as many steak cuts as possible for medium rare to black-and-blue). 3 1/2-4 1/2 Only choice cuts are turned into steaks. 4 1/2+ Backstraps/Loins only for steaks - everything else is burger, roasts and stew.
I know some will say they shot a big old buck and the steaks were tender. All I say is take that steak and come sit next to me with a steak from a yearling.
I love to cook and have found that butchering a deer right after or aged makes no real positive difference in flavor or tenderness. We eat venison (or wild game) for almost every meal that isn't fish which I have caught.
Whatever you do - enjoy those meals that come from that animal because there are very few in this country who enjoy wild meats.
Stekewood is telling it like I know it to be. Science may say different but, it simply tastes better. Science also says bumble bees can't fly. How's that working out? bowriter s also correct. Freezing and thawing meat tenderizes it. There is no downside to hanging a deer if temps permit. Only pluses.
Yes young deer are tender. All deer can be if hung long enough. The biggest thing that affects that is cutting them before rigamortis has set in. All deer are good tasting unless you handled it improperly. However, if you hang them and let them age a bit, they taste better. Its just the way it is. No science needed. Try it. You'll see for yourself.
Without a walk in cooler, you gotta get real lucky to do it perfectly. But, there are perceived benefits in doing it however you gotta do it. God Bless men