Summit Treestands
Tough cows?
Elk
Contributors to this thread:
Ucsdryder 18-Mar-19
cnelk 18-Mar-19
SB 18-Mar-19
Ucsdryder 18-Mar-19
WV Mountaineer 18-Mar-19
NoWiser 18-Mar-19
drycreek 18-Mar-19
Tdvorak 19-Mar-19
Spookinelk 19-Mar-19
Lost Arra 19-Mar-19
Cazador 19-Mar-19
Mt. man 19-Mar-19
wytex 19-Mar-19
Boreal 19-Mar-19
Norseman 19-Mar-19
Tdvorak 19-Mar-19
Lost Arra 19-Mar-19
Cornpone 19-Mar-19
Norseman 19-Mar-19
APauls 19-Mar-19
Yellowjacket 19-Mar-19
Kurt 19-Mar-19
PushCoArcher 19-Mar-19
Norseman 19-Mar-19
LKH 19-Mar-19
BullSac 19-Mar-19
LKH 20-Mar-19
oldtimer 20-Mar-19
oldtimer 20-Mar-19
oldtimer 20-Mar-19
oldtimer 20-Mar-19
BullSac 20-Mar-19
Kurt 20-Mar-19
oldtimer 20-Mar-19
Ucsdryder 20-Mar-19
Spookinelk 20-Mar-19
trophyhill 20-Mar-19
Ermine 21-Mar-19
Kurt 21-Mar-19
Tdvorak 21-Mar-19
PushCoArcher 22-Mar-19
PushCoArcher 22-Mar-19
PushCoArcher 22-Mar-19
patience2spare 22-Mar-19
Lost Arra 22-Mar-19
Lost Arra 22-Mar-19
Bowfreak 22-Mar-19
Tdvorak 22-Mar-19
Lost Arra 23-Mar-19
Bowfreak 23-Mar-19
From: Ucsdryder
18-Mar-19
I’ve seen a few posts about killing cows that were surprisingly tough. I killed a cow in November this year in the middle of a snow storm. Quick kill, 0 yard recovery, the meat was kept cold and clean. She hung 6 days before being butchered. The steaks are shoe leather. Great flavor but they’ll wear out your jaw! The only thing I can think is that cows probably live a lot longer than bulls and without antlers to judge young from old, it’s a real crap shoot with a cow. Maybe the best plan is a nice fat 1.5 year old cow?

From: cnelk
18-Mar-19

cnelk's embedded Photo
cnelk's embedded Photo
LEM is your friend :)

From: SB
18-Mar-19
A cow what? Holstein,Angus?

From: Ucsdryder
18-Mar-19
Brad, I burgered most of it but it’s hard to bring myself to burger the backstraps! Oddly enough the sirloin steaks melted in your mouth.

18-Mar-19
Did you debone it on the spot?

One thing I've noticed is when meat is deboned when warm, its tougher then when the meat sets up with rigger before cutting it off the bone. To the extent that I rarely debone a deer anymore unless I got a long ways to go.

I started noticing this a while back. I killed a cow elk right after first light and had no pack frame with me. I gutted her like a deer, drug her into a depression out of the sun and went after one in camp. It took me 3.5 hours to get back to her and ever cut was the most tender elk meat I've ever eaten. All other elk kills I've been apart of consisted of getting it broke down while the animal was still very warm and loose.

Some were a complete debone and some were partial jobs with the rear hams let whole. While the taste was great on all, they were chewy on the cuts that got deboned. Even the back straps. And, tender on the cuts brought out on the bone.

From: NoWiser
18-Mar-19
Did she freeze? I got one a couple years ago when it was 3 degrees out. I built cribbing to lay the quarters on and came back to get them the next morning. Obviously the meat was froze solid. That cow was so tough you could barely chew her. I thought maybe because she froze solid in the middle of rigor?

From: drycreek
18-Mar-19
I killed one that the guide said was 18 years old near Raton, NM a few years ago. Nothing wrong with it that I could tell. The stupid processor GROUND IT ALL except for the backstraps, but boy was that burger tender........

From: Tdvorak
19-Mar-19
Ucsdryder, you’ve got it figured out perfectly. Don’t over think it. A 7 year old anything is tough as heck. The cow could have been 15! A 2 year old anything is going to have the potential to be awesome. Bulls, bucks and board included. I have a great working relationship with a professional butcher that’s been butchering buffalo for years. A neighbor sells cow buffalo hunts for meat and They always turn out to be terrible meat as far as steaks and roasts but always great burger. The reason is no buffalo outfit is going to sell you a YOUNG cow, that’s the factory. You’d be getting an OLD cow. There is an idea that a “cow(doe) is better eating than a bull(buck)”, period. It is true often enough (for example if you compare a YOUNG cow to an old bull) that people will argue the point until it comes to blows. In today’s world people like to believe rules of thumb, especially if they rhythm...ha. Usually there is a bit more to it. In fact I’ll get sniped on this comment most likely...but science is on my side. The same goes for “the way I cook it I can make it really tender...”. There are things you can do to improve it but you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear my grandad always said. There is also the difference in personal preference...just watch a guy eat a dog turd he picked himself and tell you it’s the best thing he’s ever put in his mouth. Your definition of good eating is a bit different from a guy that is willing to chew for an hour before he swallows. I’d say go with your gut on this one. Thumbs high.

From: Spookinelk
19-Mar-19
I think body condition of the animal has a lot more to to do with meat quality than age after an animal is fully mature(4+). I have eaten a couple of cows that were in their teens (12-14 yo by their teeth), one was killed in September and in in really good condition(had a half inch of fat on the top of her hams), the other was killed on new years day and was really lean. The fat one killed in September was outstanding eating, the January cow was a lot tougher and even the burger wasn't as tasty . There are a lot of physiological and hormonal changes in animals when they start burning fat to survive, these changes definitely affect meat quality.

From: Lost Arra
19-Mar-19
Agree ^^^^^ A 12 year old Wyoming cow I shot was delicious. Maybe those sneaky prions make 'em tender.

From: Cazador
19-Mar-19
Elk can be very inconsistent. I’ve shot old ones young ones and my prep is always the same. Most guys shoot young bulls, early sept that are less than 4 years old. Makes sense they are normally good. Cows, they can be old twice to three times the age of those rag horns.

When it comes to cows I always shoot the young ones and pass the larger ones all the time. Never have a tough one doing so.

From: Mt. man
19-Mar-19
Both my wife and I had extra cow tags for Jan. this year and we processed them the same way we have for years with all game. Let it hang (on the bone) for 5-6 days and then bone it out with steaks cut across the grain. Delicious and tender. Never noticed a difference between cow vs. bull in our house and over the last 15 years that has been about 20 elk. YUM!!!!

From: wytex
19-Mar-19
Hang it for 10 days +.

From: Boreal
19-Mar-19
On tough steaks I use a Jaccard meat tenderizer. It can work wonders.

From: Norseman
19-Mar-19
Don’t freeze and Age age age 10+ days before cutting up If you can

From: Tdvorak
19-Mar-19
Beef gets more tender by hanging and aging because it has an enzyme that breaks down the meat. That is pure science. Elk, pork, buffalo and deer do not have that enzyme. Hanging those does not help. That is pure science. I’m sure you can find a million people that will say it works for them but you can also find nearly 150 million people in this country that believe in global warming but a “testimony” isn’t “science”. I’m not trying to talk anybody out of aging those animals, if you think it is helping by all means do it! I’m just trying to help somebody out that is wondering if they should commit to the time or expense to do it.

From: Lost Arra
19-Mar-19
>> Elk, pork, buffalo and deer do not have that enzyme. Hanging those does not help.<<

Please site the science that says game does not contain proteases and lactic acid both of which contribute to the tenderizing of properly aged meat by breaking down collagen. The collagen can also be broken down by braising so all is not lost if the meat is not aged.

From: Cornpone
19-Mar-19
Most guys, me included, want to shoot a big bull. The ranch I hunt on has a "family hunt" in one of the latter rifle seasons. The family hunts for quality meat and won't shoot a bull or what they determine to be an old cow.

From: Norseman
19-Mar-19
My elk and deer I aged and processed say the contrary

From: APauls
19-Mar-19
Ya, I second wanting to see that "science" tdvorak.

Stress is a biggie too. If the animal is stressed for a while before final death it isn't going to help any.

From: Yellowjacket
19-Mar-19
It's been proven toughness is directly related to age.

From: Kurt
19-Mar-19
I’ve eaten some great tasting and very tender elk meat off my two biggest bulls....same with the old rams I’ve killed with the exception of a NV Desert Bighorn. Not buying that old males are neccessarily tough. Now old females, based on a few I worked with certainly can be!

From: PushCoArcher
19-Mar-19
So beef gets more tender with aging but not a buffalo really. Let's see a link.

IMO if conditions are right all red meat is improved with some aging.

From: Norseman
19-Mar-19
I takes 24-48 hours for rigimortis to stop and tenderizing to begin depending on conditions. Do not let your meat freeze. Freeze thaw freeze will make it tough. Most tenderizing takes place from end of rigimortis to 7-10 days for all muscle. I’m saying this while under ideal hanging temps of 34-36 degrees.

From: LKH
19-Mar-19
Animals are individuals and you can't base toughness solely on age. I've killed and eaten parts of other cows that were easily 10 plus. Teeth almost to the gumline. None were tough.

On moose it's a crapshoot and sometimes the young ones are tough.

From: BullSac
19-Mar-19
Semi unrelated but interesting none-the-less: I shot a cow several years ago right before dark and gave her some time to lay down. It was snowing pretty hard and there was about 6” on the ground. Came back early the next morning and was able to load the entire cow on a 4 wheeler (minus the head, lower legs, and guts). Went straight to the butcher and he told me I lost the entire side that laid against the snow all night. Total time from shot to processor was 16 hours. Temp never got above 30 degrees. Snow is a fantastic insulator. Btw: I trust the processor 100%. The other side was fantastic, but he was right, the side against the snow was already turning due it never cooling down.

From: LKH
20-Mar-19
snow is a great insulator. Both top and bottom. Since you had snow, why wait so long? That might work sometimes but I wonder how many of the TV "back out and return the next day when we have good camera light" are really edible.

From: oldtimer
20-Mar-19
It’s amazing that almost everyone has the best way to process their wild game , and what makes the meat tender. To age or not to age, bone out or leave the bone in, etc. I don’t know it all, but we process hundreds of elk and every year according to the customers wants and the young animals are always more tender than the old ones. I can tell if the meat is going to be tender just by the way it cuts. A sharp knife will easily cut a young animal while the same knife has to be almost forced to make a cut on a more mature older animal. Ageing will make the meat more tender as it begins to break down the tissues. We will hang some for a month per the customers desire and it is very tender. Early season animals are usually tender even an old cow elk or big bull elk while the late December ones are like shoe leather. I could go on and on, but one size doesn’t fit all.

From: oldtimer
20-Mar-19
As BulSac said they will spoil if left out overnight without properly taking care of the meat, on an average year we toss out 6 to 8 elk due to improper field care of the carcass. Some of the excuses we hear are, It was freezing, it was to late in day , I thought the snow would keep it cold, wrong . To many tv shows that are all about horns, they don’t give a rip about the meat.

From: oldtimer
20-Mar-19
As BulSac said they will spoil if left out overnight without properly taking care of the meat, on an average year we toss out 6 to 8 elk due to improper field care of the carcass. Some of the excuses we hear are, It was freezing, it was to late in day , I thought the snow would keep it cold, wrong . To many tv shows that are all about horns, they don’t give a rip about the meat.

From: oldtimer
20-Mar-19

oldtimer's embedded Photo
oldtimer's embedded Photo
Photos of spoiled and dirty wild game that processors deal with

From: BullSac
20-Mar-19
I had come back about 9pm or so and found her (3 hours after the shot), but it was pretty nasty out and I assumed I could wait till the morning. Gutted her and went and got some sleep. It was a hard lesson to learn.

From: Kurt
20-Mar-19
Oldtimer knows! Good posts.

From: oldtimer
20-Mar-19

oldtimer's embedded Photo
Dirty meat
oldtimer's embedded Photo
Dirty meat
Photo of a typical dirty wild game animal that we get to process , you should have seen how bad the area was where it died, that’s what we hear, we always clean it up with a knife and the loss of meat is 25 to 50 % and who gets the blame , because the processor took some of the meat

From: Ucsdryder
20-Mar-19
The butcher I use has told me similar stories about the quality of meat brought to him. Animals drug behind ATVs down dirt roads or left overnight or hanging for multiple days. He said nobody believes him when he tells them the meat is bad, even when it starts turning green. I don’t get it. As soon as an animal is on the ground I start stressing out about the quality of the meat. Last year I lost a little bit due to bone spoil. I did everything I could to save it and luckily I lost very little. It was still disappointing.

From: Spookinelk
20-Mar-19
Anyone else love the taste of backstrap the evening of the kill? That's why I package and freeze steaks as soon as I can after I'm home, get that flavor year round.. I prefer fresh over aged I guess.

Oldtimer, those pics make me genuinely sad, it's a pity to waste the finest meat that money can't buy!

From: trophyhill
20-Mar-19
Never ate a cow, or a bull I didn't like ;)

From: Ermine
21-Mar-19
People always say “well got this cow. At least she will be better eating than a big bull. “ Just because it’s a cow doesn’t mean the old Cow isn’t damn near 20 years old.

A young cow sure..but a old cow could be older than the bull in the group.

From: Kurt
21-Mar-19
After some discussions with my wife on this matter, based on our experience with over 30 bow killed elk, all but one processed by us, the conclusion is:

A young elk is either a calf or yearling, and yes they are tender, easy to pack out and generally great meat.

All other elk are mature elk and most are great! Some dandy bulls (357” for instance were super eating, tender and tasty). Some young 4 and 5 pointers were tougher as were the bulk of the 4 cows I shot.

Aging a few did make them more tender.

From: Tdvorak
21-Mar-19
Science of aging meat link: I am sorry to disappoint those wanting to see a scientific link that show aging things like deer, buffalo, moose, pork et cetera. I don’t want you to think I’m ignoring your requests. Granted, I don’t have time to footnote scientific studies. But you can search them yourself by calling your local Agriculture Extension Agent in your county. I’m pretty sure all counties in the US have them even in urban areas. They’d love to show you some cool university studies including how they test FLAVOR, the process to test TENDERNESS, and about anything else you can imagine that affects your enjoyment of different meats. “No matter how wrong you are, it is easy to prove yourself right.” However, I do have time to post that I have a Bachelor if Science degree from SDSU in Agriculture Extension/Animal Science. If you’re reading this and you are not one to post too often or you just don’t know what person posting has the best credentials... You would be normal if you consider that my experience and formal education is reliable. It is reasonable to think formal education and experience deserves a larger amount of credit than a simple testimonial because testimonials are not reliable because there are too many variables. . “Always give testimonials the credit they deserve.” Ha. Hope your extension agent helps out you guys wanting a link. They have a lot of proven information that saves regular people like us a lot of time and money. It’s their job to help you and they like it.

From: PushCoArcher
22-Mar-19

PushCoArcher's Link

From: PushCoArcher
22-Mar-19

PushCoArcher's Link

From: PushCoArcher
22-Mar-19
So your argument is "I have a degree trust me" even though the few scientific studies out there say the opposite. Both NDSU and Penn state have info that can quickly be found with a Google search that states venison can be made more tinder through the break down of enzymes with aging. At this point your statements are nothing more then a testimonial. You testified that elk, pork, buffalo, and deer don't have the enzyme for tenderizing through aging without citing anything then declared it was "pure science". SDSU huh odd I would have guessed you went to Brown.

22-Mar-19
So according to your study's abstract the trade off for tenderness due to ageing is, "increase of odour, taste intensity, higher scores of gamey flavours and increased aerobic bacterial counts."

Not exactly a trade off that I am ready to make...

From: Lost Arra
22-Mar-19

Lost Arra's Link
My alma mater ag dept only lists high temperatures which lead to bacteria and spoilage as a disadvantage of aging. If you can get it cool, then age it.

From: Lost Arra
22-Mar-19

Lost Arra's Link
I just cannot find anything about game meat lacking the enzymes necessary for aging. But maybe I'm biased towards UW and they don't have enough experience with big game :-)

From: Bowfreak
22-Mar-19
I have never aged elk, but I age deer regularly and I am confident it makes a significant difference. Prominent wild game chefs, like Hank Shaw, will tell you the same. I can also back up my findings like tdvorak since I have a biology degree. :)

From: Tdvorak
22-Mar-19
The links posted contradicting my statement are nice and elaborate testimonials. Some people have a hard time telling the difference between a testimonial and science proof. “No matter how wrong you are it is easy to prove yourself right.” I’m not here to argue with people who don’t understand science, just to help regular guys out. And I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I concede the last word to anyone who wants to have it.

From: Lost Arra
23-Mar-19
Hahahaha The only "science" you have provided is "I say so".

UW measuring sheer values for toughness/tenderness after aging elk for varying times will get a little more of my attention than you just telling us game meat lacks the enzymes necessary for aging to provide any benefit which is an opinion that apparently cannot be substantiated anywhere. You wouldn't happen to be selling pressure cookers?

From: Bowfreak
23-Mar-19

Bowfreak's Link
Link to an article written by a couple of professors from Laramie about aging game meat.

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