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So I shot a deer yesterday and all the meat is in a cooler on ice. I originally decided to use the method described by several people here in another thread and keep it on ice, adding more when needed until the water I pour out is clear. Well, we have plans for the weekend and I won't be able to drain it from Friday night to sunday evening.

So what would you do? Butcher and package it for the freezer Friday? Ice it just before I leave on Friday and check it as soon as I get home Sunday? Move it into our refridgerator just for the weekend?

The high Saturday is 70 and low is 40. What do you think?
 

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I like a dry cool like a cooler of refrigerator but I would rather see it cut up and frozen right away. The key with a cooler is to keep it up out of water.

I would butcher and freeze and then dry ice it for the trip

Congrats on getting one.
 

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Butcher it now if you can. I normally will try to separate out the baskstrap, tenderloins, and the large butt chunks into separate piles. I have one of those vacuum sealers/food savers that really come in handy. Be sure and rinse it well to get all the hair, blood, etc. off and then separate it and label the bags so you will remember. I will then put all the other pieces together in however many bags it takes to make sausage with it when I can.

If you can't do it now, or can't finish, keep it on lots of ice.
 

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If you can get some dry ice (Wal-Mart) it will last much longer and be colder than regular ice. What ever you do keep the meat out of the water or it will absorb the water and ruin the meat (well not exactly ruin the meat itself but it will be water logged and soggy) As others mentioned I would get it to a butcher and have them do it and store it in there freezer until you can get back
Darrell
 

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MetalMan, I'm one of the guys who was pushing the idea of putting your meat on ice in another thread. It really works. But I wouldn't leave it that long. If that ice melts and you don't drain it and add more, you'll have bad meat when you get home.

I would go ahead and butcher it at this point. A little early is not a problem. Stinky meat is.

What color is the water that is draining out right now?

Tom
PS Actually, it won't get waterlogged and be ruined. It is funny, but it actually sort of finishes bleeding it. It also removes any strong gamey flavor. I know guys from South Texas and South Georgia who do this. I've done it several times myself, but mostly with antelope. It works.

One more thing. The idea is that it is mostly packed on ice that is constantly melting. You drain the bloody water out and add more ice. That's the reason it doesn't get waterlogged.
 

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It was pretty red this morning when I drained it, but I just replaced the ice and it was pretty clear. I will try and give it until tomorrow. I do have a food saver, so that does make things easier.

The exception is 1 of the shoulders, which I have in a seperate cooler. It was pretty bloodshot and still has quite a bit of blood. I think some of it will be salvagable, but not much.

I did vacuum seal and freeze the tenderloins and and backstrap immediately, because I read somewhere that they don't need to be aged at all.

The theory one the melting ice certainly makes sense. We soak our dove in milk to draw the blood out. That seems similar to ice and water on deer meat.

Thanks for the help!
 

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My opinion is aging is overrated. Up here some let the animal hang outside and then you get the freeze, thaw cycles that make the meat rank. I have always tried to get the guts out in a hurry, wash out the body cavity with a hose and let hang until it mostly dries out. If it hangs a day or two with the hide off at the butcher in a cooler then thats fine but it is also fine if he cuts it up same day. If the meat has a little gaminess once it is frozen it will go away. I have killed rutted up bucks that were good eating and processed normally.
 

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I usually have mine completely boned out and in the freezer within an hour of harvesting, except the parts that get cooked immediately, like the heart and liver in butter with some onion and taters.
 

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MetalMan, now that the water (i.e. melted ice) is basically clear, it is time to butcher. So go for it.

I would question the 'ice thing', but that aside, cut it up and freeze it now.
Humboldt, that is exactly how I felt when I first heard about it from a cousin-in-law who is from South Georgia. Normally, water and meat should not mix. It can spoil the meat. But because the meat doesn't really sit in the water and you keep the ice packed on it until it is ready to butcher, it doesn't spoil at all. I'm not sure you can call it aging, either. Aging is actually the early stages of the meat breaking down - i.e. going bad. But that is not what this does.

The reason you and I are/were skeptical is we don't need to worry about the meat going bad. In MA where you're from, and WI and CO where I hunt and am from, it is often cold enough (except in antelope season). But those guys down in South Georgia and Texas have hot weather even in late November and have to move fast to preserve their meat.

I know several different guys (all who don't know each other) who do this. I've done it with four antelope, some jack rabbits and one elk. The elk didn't need it, but I butcher my own meat and I like the temperature of the meat when it has been on ice. (It cuts up and handles better when properly chilled. Grinds better, too.)

In WI where I hunt on my father-in-law's property, we hang our deer in his barn and skin them there. By the next day when we are ready to start cutting the meat up, they are usually frozen solid. So we bring in a leg and lay it on the butchering table for 15 minutes or so, and then start cutting. The packing-on-ice thing would not work (nor is it needed) in WI.

I hope that all makes sense. :)
 

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I live in Nebraska and when my garage is 40* or lower I let my deer hang for 7 to 10 days. If it gets much warmer than 42* in my garage I cut my deer into pieces I can handle, put them in tubs and put them in my refrigerater down stairs for what ever remains of the 7 to 10 days, Ice tends to brown the meat and some times burns it so I don't like using it. I don't like getting my meat wet especially soaking it because I just don't like the texture and I think it detracts from the flavor. Your best bet is to study how beef is processed. Follow their simple guide lines and you won't regret it.
 

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That ice thing is exactly how I handle salmon when I'm on a 3 or 4 day trip, unless I can fillet it and freeze it instantly, which is always better. I can't imagine doing anything like that with game meat! Sometimes it is quite warm up here in the PNW, especially during the early high mountain buck season in September or during bear season in August, and all I've ever done is wrap the skinned carcass in sheets and let it hang until it's dry and starts to smell "aged", that might be a day or two in warm weather or a week or more if it's cold - actually if it freezes at night and kills the blowflies I even skip the sheet thing.

Now I do refrigerate the cut up chunks of venison before grinding, I do the same thing with the fat I mix with it too, because if you try to grind anything that is approaching room temperature it will plug up the grinder real quick.

The heart and liver - soak them in saltwater until the blood is gone, cut that liver up, flour and season it good and fry it with onions for the evening meal the day you harvest it. The heart I boil and slice real thin for the most delicious cold sandwitch meat you will ever taste when you pull it out of the pack for lunch after you've got your buddy on another big buck that next morning.
 

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I hang it for 5 days or so and butcher.

Heart - same as bagpipe bob, boil and slice and eat with horseradish mustard.

Liver - wash, cut, work on hot fried pieces of bacon and let simmer with red wine and spices for an hour.
 

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i live in n. wi. and deer hunt. years ago i was lucky enough to get a hold of a new , small, walk in cooler for peanuts. i have the luxery of stashing the deer in the cooler if the weather is warm [bowhunting especially] and butcher it on my time schedule.
and if the weather is frigid after hunt season i put the frozen carcass in the cooler and slowly thaw it with a portable electric heater i put in the cooler . weather doesn't force me to drop what i am doing to save meat.
as i am done with my 10 year airplane building project the shop is available again to thaw the carcass.
bob noffs
 

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I live in Nebraska and when my garage is 40* or lower I let my deer hang for 7 to 10 days. If it gets much warmer than 42* in my garage I cut my deer into pieces I can handle, put them in tubs and put them in my refrigerater down stairs for what ever remains of the 7 to 10 days, Ice tends to brown the meat and some times burns it so I don't like using it. I don't like getting my meat wet especially soaking it because I just don't like the texture and I think it detracts from the flavor. Your best bet is to study how beef is processed. Follow their simple guide lines and you won't regret it.
Hm, nope. It is not best to do as they do beef. There is a vast difference between farm raised, fatty beef and wild game. I've read many times and in many places that wild game should not be handled like beef. That is not the best advice.

As far as ice turning the meat brown, you've got me puzzled. I've done this a bunch of times, and I've never ended up with brown meat. It won't burn it, either. Maybe you mean dry ice?

There are lots of guys who use this icing method where the weather is simply too hot. It means you get high quality meat, with basically none lost to spoilage, and for really gamey critters, it even knocks the edge off of that.

Don't use the method if you don't want to. But it works where the weather is hot. If you are where it gets sub-freezing during the hunting season and following, then you don't need this method. But hanging the meat for that long... hmm, seems you're letting it dry out. How do you keep it from drying out and losing some to being raw jerky?
 

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I don't keep it in a cooler with water at all. First off, there is a lot of "myths" and old wives tales and "you gotta soak it, you have to hang 'em and bleed 'em out, the meat tastes gamey," I heard so much b.s. about deer meat and none of it was true.

When I started hunting, I would religiously gut the animal, hang it, skin it, take the meat off it, whole shoulders and whole hams, and put them in the fridge in trash bags for up to 14days. That aged the meat, turned it real dark purple inside, but for the life of me I can't really say that it did anything fantastic for the flavor, or making it more tender.

Now I don't even gut them or field dress them. Laying on the side I cut down the back and skin it back some, I take some neck meat if it's a decent deer, I peel the shoulders out from under the hide and take them, take the backstraps off, and I debone the hams right there in position.

There's nothing inside the abdominal cavity to eat save two tiny tender strips that if you don't gut him within half an hour they taste like rumen anyway so I don't even bother with them. It's the fastest cleanest way to harvest the meat, and nature has provided it's own "trash bag" as long as you don't cut into it anywhere.

The biggest mistake made with deer, are 1. Touching the scent glands on a buck, getting that smell on your hands THEN touching the meat, 2. Cutting into the pee sac or urinary tract on a buck OR a doe. Best way to get around that, if you are gutting the animal, is to cut around the parts on the outside but don't cut them off, cut the connective tissue loose from the "tunnel" or the round open part between the hams, and simply pull it through from the inside. That way no urine spills on the meat which will spoil it beyond belief, in a nanosecond.

When you are putting meat in freezer bags, run it under your own nose. If it smells strong, or like pee, cut that part off and throw it out or throw it to the dogs, you can't soak or cook that smell out. The venison you put in the freezer will have a clean smell to it, very faint meaty smell, not strong smelling in any way, and up next to beef bought in the store, the beef generally smells MUCH stronger.

That, is for the deer we get here in the Eastern US, farm fed with peanuts, corn, beans, alfalfa hay, acorns, and whatever mast they browse on in the woods. I have been told that deer out West tastes different, stronger in flavor because of what they eat.
 

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I gut my deer within 30 minutes. When back in camp, usually within an hour, I skin and wash out the bodly cavity and prop it open with a stick The deer then hangs a night in a game bag. The next day at home I butcher it, wrapping the best eating portions and puting them in marked zip-lock bags that go into the freezer. The rest is cut up into pieces, bagged and frozen until my German butcher calls to say he is ready to make sausage. We eat excellent venison all winter.
 
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