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Take care of your meat
Now that hunting season is under way and elk season starts for most in a few days, here are a few pics of what not to do.
Oh man, that's criminal - what a waste.
All too common. And then they expect prime meat back from the shop. AND lots of it!
Chad, I am intrigued by the vacuum seal method of wet aging game meat that you mentioned in the other thread. I've seen those big bags of meat come into Costco for cutting and they sell some big chunks still sealed up.
Is it possible or advisable to vacuum pack right at camp and put on ice? Bag and seal before cooling? Thanks.
You can vacuum pack at camp most definitely but i would not do it before cooling. The heat needs to be completely gone before you seal it. I always hang my quarters on some kind of meat pole to cool out before I even start packing the meat out. I even hang it without game bags so it will get a dry skin on the outside of it. Once the outside is dry the blow flies don't bother it. there will still be meat bees on it but if it cools out nice overnight and you start packing out first thing in the morning, then there will be no issues.
The reason I vacuum seal the backstraps and loose meat is because I want it aged but not dried out by the time the animal gets processed a few weeks later. If the bag seals well and doesn't pop then it can be aged for 4 weeks easily and possibly even a little further. Most wild game already has some age on it by the time it gets into a cooler or ice chest. A few days of warmer temps can cut the aging time down significantly. Another option is to debone the carcass into smaller muscle groups, vacuum seal, then age in the bag in your cooler with the ice. You won't have as quite as much of a mess but the water also won't displace any of the blood since it's in a sealed bag.
Here’s how I hang it before deboning and packing out.
Here’s how I hang it before deboning and packing out.
Whoa! What a dam waste. That ball joint discoloring is crazy.
Thats what we call bone sour. It's also called gangrene. The blood will be septic as well and it ends up ruining a lot of meat. I throw away an average of 6-7 elk per year because of it. My employees checked one in last year while I was out taking kids to school. I opened the cooler door and immediately called the customer to either come get it or if he wanted me to discard it. I ended up throwing it into one of our offal barrels. My employees didn't really know what to tell the guy so they just checked it in and then showed it to me when I came in.
Do you want to actually pull a good vacuum on the bags that you are wanting to wet age, or will it hurt anything by just sealing those bags?
I would pull a good vacuum on it. You don’t want the oxygen in a bag if you are wet aging this way. In big packing plants the meat is vacuum sealed with a MAP (modified atmosphere packaging) by removing the oxygen and replacing it with a combo of nitrogen and CO2 then ran through a heat shrink tunnel. It will allow the enzymes in the meat to break it down and be more shelf stable without the oxygen. Of course, we can’t do it this way so the best option is to pull a hard vacuum.
Thanks Chad, good info. I typically quarter everything and hang, but there's alway quite a bit of meat in pieces that don't hang well. And boneless meat on backpack trips can be a nuisance once your home. In hot weather we've put whole bone in quarters in cold clear creeks. Or game bag, then plastic bag and submerged in a lake with the open end above waterline to get the temp down fast.
Killed a bull a couple years ago at last light. Wasn’t positive on the shot so we let him sit. Ended up dying 100 yards from the shot. He had some bone sour around the ball joint. The butcher knew it immediately and was able to cut it all out. He got his nose about 1” from the meat and smelled it all over. I don’t want to think what would have happened if someone with less experience would have taken in that hind quarter.
Yeah, I know that sniff test very very well! Lol some you can see and smell immediately. Others may give me some pause so the sniff test starts or opening up the meat right then to look at the bone or smell the inside. The spoilage always starts in the hip joints, neck, and shoulder areas then moves down the backbone and every where else. I’ve had some much worse than the pictures I posted and some customers don’t believe me and can’t smell it!
A friend uses Citric Acid to soak his meat bags then dry them prior to starting his hunt. Then when he shoots something he has a spray bottle full of it and sprays down the meat to keep flys off.
Does this treatment harm the meat or creat any other issues?
When I worked out of both Douglas and Rawlins I made regular trips to the local processors. It was appalling what was brought in. Many of those hunters should have been charged with wanton waste.
The worst was a good 6 pt bull that had been slit from anus to the head to gut it and then drug across dirt and gravel for a long ways. The insides (tenderloins intact} was filled with dirt. They hadn't bothered to flip to protect the down side and it was worn right through the hide into the meat.
When I commented to the operator he said he sees much worse.
It’s amazing what people will drop off and what they did to their meat. I’ve had them come in completely black from snow and road grime kicking up from the highway. Completely blue ones because they are wrapped up in an old blue tarp. Had one wrapped in newspaper and the paper was stuck to the carcass. Have had them come in not skinned or gutted. Plus many more I have forgotten over the years.
The funniest was when someone showed up with a pig to slaughter and process. The gal had it in the back of an old Ford Econoline van. Had her back up to the unloading shoot and opened the doors and the smell knocked me over. I kept looking for this pig as my eyes adjusted to the interior of the van. I finally heard it snort below me and when I looked down it was inside of a sleeping bag with a rope wrapped around it and tied tight! WTH?!
I killed a cactus buck this year and it has been some of the best eating venison I've ever had. I'm assuming from the lack of testosterone? Similar to how a steer typically eats better than a bull. Haha I dont mind pigs in a blanket, but pig in a sleeping bag sounds a bit suspect....
I can literally smell the stink through those pics.
All that hard work of getting an elk and then that happens, ouch!!
That third picture makes me wince. Green is not good!
This is an excellent post. Thank you very much for the pics and stories. Makes you really appreciate when you see it done right and get all the meat out in pristine condition. :)
Yes, excellent post. Could you please elaborate more on why you don’t use game bags (early).
Few things irritate me more than people who don't care for the meat. Great post!!
It is so simple to take care of ones hard earned meat. I always put in my kill kit a chunk of plastic. Usually either painters or some 2 mil. 4' x6' works great to lay meat on. I always bone out cause I'm usually a ways in and am not going to carry bone out. If I'm working on it and there are flys or bees I can then fold over the plastic to help keep them off the meat before it goes into a bag bag.
I'll bet the smell of that meat pictured in the beginning is bad.
I'll bet the smell of that meat pictured in the beginning is bad.
I don’t use the game bags right away because I like the quarters to get a little dry skin on them. If you have an accident and drop a quarter then the dirt doesn’t stick to it and it will wipe right off. Sticks and grass won’t stick to it either. I hang the backstraps and rib meat to cool then pack that out in a plastic bag in my pack. Transfer it to a good quality bag at camp or the truck. I then come back the next morning after a good meal and nights rest and debone the quarters in one big piece. It drops right off the bone into a quality game bag and then a plastic bag to keep my pack clean. Take plastic off at camp or the truck. I will then hang everything at camp and make shade so it’s covered all day anytime of the day. A lightweight silnylon tarp works really good for this and also vary one in my pack. I lay it down while quartering in case of that accidental drop. Use the same tarp under the quarters while deboning for the same reason. Also, always hang the meat about 20 yds or more from the leftover carcass. Flies will gravitate to that more. If any fly blow on the quarters it won’t hatch out in the open and you can knock it off with your hand before going into your game bags. I think people get in too much of a hurry and just don’t have a good plan laid out before they start whacking away.
All the pics except for the first dirty quarter and the last ones all have bone sour. One is a front shot of the neck and a side view of the ribs.
Also, paracord is your best friend. I use it to tie up my game pole and hang the quarters. Just be sure to wrap it around the pole twice. It will create a bind and it will allow to let go of the quarter with one hand on it to lift while the other hand pulls the cord to hang the leg higher.
Got this one in today. This is the cause of most spoiled elk.
What the hell happened there? They took off the hind quarters?
The hind quarters were removed with the skin on. I skinned those in the back of their truck. Put the rest in the cooler until my guys were finished slaughtering pigs then finished skinning it. Most elk spoil because the hide is left on the carcass. An elk hide holds a lot of heat in, especially the side laying on the ground. This turned out to be a lucky one with no spoilage that I know of yet.
Some of the worst ones are usually from Bowhunters and muzzleloader hunters. Always a few with rifle hunters too but doesn’t seem to be as many. Rifle kills usually deal more with shattered bones, gutshot, and bloodshot.
I have done exactly what Butcher boy has stated above for the last 25 years And never had an elk spoil. Even in Southern New Mexico. Don’t be in a hurry and bust your ass all night to get an elk out. You are losing the best part of the day to cool your meat. And using up good ice at camp when the night air can do it quicker and more efficiently. I’ll wait 16 hours before putting any quarters into a cooler.
I will add to butcherboys awesome post..regarding hanging the bone quarters, I like to start the debone process and expose the leg bones. Then take a debarked stick Or sticks and web it between the bone and meat to keep it separated. The meat will be so cold in the morning you will have to warm your hands during the final Deboning into bags.
Great posts butcherboy!
I didn’t bring game bags one year and killed a bull in the evening. I hunt the skinned quarters in a huge fir tree. The next morning the meat was so hard I couldn’t trim the fat with my havalon. It was chilled to the bone.
Nothing better than the cold night air to cool the meat down. I’m thinking about running this post through the season adding photos when I get in animals worthy of a picture. That is if I keep taking in WG. Cutting domestic 5 days a week is so much better and less stress.
Yes do it! Great idea. My dad has a ranch and was considering selling some beef direct vs the auction yard. One hiccup is that all the processors are so backed up right now you can’t get someone to cut up a beef.
Dirty part where it was started to be skinned, left and then dragged out. Clean part is where I skinned it
How do you drag an elk? I can barely turn the bastards over!
It was probably dragged with a four wheeler or side by side. Possibly a truck. It was a midsize cow and most likely shot off of a stock tank.
Thanks for the effort in putting this thread together. It should be shown in Hunters ED.
This thread is brutal to page thru. Aye yie aaaa!
I have never seen anything like these examples, would be embarrassed to bring something like that to a butcher.
Good for a diet plan because it sure takes my appetite away.
Been using your plastic bag technique for 40 years after awhile never mention it to anyone as the word plastic and meat makes the uniformed go bonkers. Done right it makes for much cleaner end result. Meat looks fresh and red not that dark dull appearance that I seen on most videos ..
Gallon and 2.5 gallon ziplock plastic baggies are in my kill kit.
Great thread!! Always a shocker what some guys will do. And then you hear them say "I don't like wild meat." Well no kidding. If someone treated your beef that way you'd be a vegetarian I guarantee it!
Oldie but goodie:
Controversy has long raged about the relative quality and taste of venison and beef as gourmet foods. Some people say that venison is tough, with a strong "wild" taste. Others insist that venison's flavor is delicate. An independent food research group was retained by the Venison Council to conduct a taste test to determine the truth of these conflicting assertions once and for all.
First a Grade A Choice Holstein steer was chased into a swamp a mile and a half from a road and shot several times. After some of the entrails were removed, the carcass was dragged back over rocks and logs, and through mud and dust to the road. It was then thrown into the back of a pickup truck and driven through rain and snow for 100 miles before being hung out in the sun for 10 days.
After that it was lugged into a garage, where it was skinned and rolled around on the floor for a while. Strict sanitary precautions were observed throughout the test, within the limitations of the butchering environment. For instance, dogs and cats were allowed to sniff and lick the steer carcass, but were chased away when they attempted to bite chunks out of it.
Next a sheet of plywood left from last year's butchering was set up in the basement on two saw horses. The pieces of dried blood, hair and fat left from last year were scraped off with a wire brush last used to clean out the grass stuck under the lawn mower.
The skinned carcass was then dragged down the steps into the basement where a half dozen inexperienced but enthusiastic and intoxicated men worked on it with meat saws, cleavers and dull knives. The result was 375 pounds of soup bones, four bushel baskets of meat scraps, and a couple of steaks that were an eighth of an inch thick on one edge and an inch and a half thick on the other.
The steaks were seared on a glowing red hot cast iron skillet to lock in the flavor. When the smoke cleared, rancid bacon grease was added along with three pounds of onions, and the whole conglomeration was fried for two hours.
The meat was gently teased from the frying pan and served to three blindfolded taste panel volunteers. Every one of the members of the panel thought it was venison. One of the volunteers even said it tasted exactly like the venison he had eaten in hunting camps for the past 27 years. The results of this scientific test show conclusively that there is no difference between the taste of beef and venison.
That’s hilarious! I was already laughing at “grade A choice Holstein Steer”
Nasty!!!! That green is bad news. I helped a guy pack out a bull. Not sure what happened but the meat had spoiled. I could smell the smell from 30 yards away. I have a steel stomach, but this stench made me gag. The white game bags were even turning green
Dwight Schuh had an interesting method on downed animals that had to be packed out later. He recommended laying them just off the ground on sticks in a low depression. We’ve all had the experience of walking in the bush and suddenly the temp drops several degrees in a low spot.
His contention was that it’s cooler and the scent is more contained in the hole (mini inversion) than high up in any breeze, so less likely to be found by bears. This wouldn’t work in coyote infested areas, but mostly for bear problems. Cooler and safer, in his experience.
I’ve done something similar a few times. Gutted the elk, skinned it down both sides. Opened the ball joints and front shoulders. Placed rocks and logs under the hide up close to the carcass to keep it from rolling and logs under the backbone to elevate it slightly off the ground. Came back the next morning to quarter and pack out. Meat was nice and cool except for the neck. It still had a little warmth in it.
Inside of one from the other day. This shows the skirt that I talked about in the sirloin post. This one is filthy though.
On a late season mule deer last year, I cut the entire belly off in one piece. After removing quarters and loin from one side, I carefully cut from pelvis to ribs then followed them to half way. I dumped the guts and retrieved some organs at that point then flipped the carcass over and repeated.
Then I really had no idea what to do with this substantial chunk of meat. My original plan was rouladin(?) but I ended up just rolling up crock pot string roasts with spices and bacon in the layers.
I will take all the rib meat in one big chunk. Then take the flank (belly meat) in one big piece. Open the belly and roll the stomach and intestines to one side and pull the full tenderloin. Roll over and repeat. It simply amazes me the amount of meat hunters leave in the field then use the excuse of coyotes and other scavengers gotta eat too. Umm, they do just fine without the extra help. Lol
Here’s one we did today. The green is visible right where the meat laid on the bone and in the ball joint.
The last picture shows the ST removed and the bottom round separated from the top round. Notice the odd bright pink color. It will look like this right before it turns green. It’s still spoiled and stinks bad. This one got the “sniff” test on every piece from these areas. Stunk my whole meat plant up and the trim barrel went into the cooler that stores all the guts from domestic animals.
Did you salvage anything off the animal? What was the story behind it?
We salvaged what we could but a lot of the meat just has an off smell to it. It’s hard to even smell good meat because the spoiled fills your nostrils and makes everything smell bad. I don’t know the story but I can almost guarantee that it was left with the hide on or whole elk left with hide and guts in. May have not found it till morning. Some guys purposely leave them overnight and only gut them leaving the hide on.
It was big 7 X 7 from NM.
Such a shame. Thanks for posting these pics. A good lesson in what not to do and why it's so important to get them cooled off quickly.
Great info, I know several processors and they have told me these stories for years.
“Hunters” bring in an animal that has been gut shot 5 times, drug around by Achilles behind a chariot then wonder where their 200lbs of processed meat is from a 150lb live weight whitetail.
I have suggested that they band together and make flyers to show the process and the difference between live weight, hanging weight and finished product weight. Before the Achilles, Hector treatment.
Grade A (Holstein) :^) Now I’m wondering, has a Holstein ever made that grade?
Ugh, that green stuff turns my stomach, I've never seen that...
I find it really sad the amount of waste that does go on. Butcher boy points out that it was of a large 7x7. And to me, it’s just incredibly sad. It’s sad whether it’s a cow or a bull. But it’s incredible to me how many people don’t value the meat and what they’re actually doing as a hunter. I Have had people tell me that they’d actually be ok just taking trophy photos and leaving the animal.