The Importance of Hanging Deer

Have you ever tasted venison, particularly deer meat? The taste is hard to beat and healthier too. 

Nothing comes healthier than the pure-protein provided by white-tailed deer venison as it’s packed with high proteins and low fat. 

Aged venison has a much better flavor and texture than unaged venison. Enzymes in the muscle tissues break down over a longer period and it results in tender and flavorful. 

An aging process of 5-7 days is the ideal time to let the meat age. Let us look at Hanging meat and why it’s so important.

Why Do People Hang A Newly Killed Deer?

The purpose of hanging a newly killed is to allow the carcass to cool and meat to age, and it allows the enzymes in the muscles to break down the complex proteins. 

If it is done correctly, this increases the flavor of the venison. Soon after the death, the deer will go into rigor mortis, where Rigor mortis is the stiffening of muscles and joints. 

Butchering your deer is done only after when the rigor mortis phase is faded completely.

Usually, it may take 12-24 hours to fade and sets in when a carcass begins to cool. 

If you cook your meat at this period, you may end up with a type of steak that is like a belt or shoe leather, and nobody likes to chew tough pieces of meat. 

One of the important things to remember that no muscle is being stretched, tightened, or it may become tougher.  

It’s recommended to hang your deer for at least 48 hours before butchering and cooking it.

What Temperature is Right For Hanging A Deer?

Temperature plays a vital role, where and how long you should hang your deer. 

After killing your deer, try to get it cooling down as soon as possible, and make sure the temperature is suitable below 42 degrees, and above 32 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. 

Heat is the number one enemy of the meat. So, you need to freeze your venison and keep it cool until you can butcher it. 

You can use a cooler and ice to age your meat and control the temperature. If you are hanging your deer for a longer time, you can use a meat thermometer to monitor the proper temperature. For, this digital thermometer is highly preferable.  

If you are planning to age your venison, then age it on ice or in a refrigerator. Most of us don’t have that spare fridge, so you can quarter the meat, reserving the tenderloins and backstraps for the freezer. 

For this, you will require enough ice to lay quarters and to cover the meat, and to keep it cold. 

If the temperature increases, you can put a bag of ice inside the deer cavity and wrap the carcass using a blanket. The ice will help to preserve the coolness, and the blanket will help the meat to an extent.

The Best Way To Hang Your Deer

Hang the deer with the head up or down. Some of the hunters like to hang their heads up, and some may prefer to hang their heads down. 

The key is to hang the deer. If you want to hang your deer by the hind-legs, first remove the scent glands, then cut off the head and hide. After that, allow fluids and blood to drain, and let the meat cool. 

Moreover, hanging the deer heads up is easy to skin and butcher the deer. Some may prefer head-down, as they believe that it allows heat to escape more quickly from the body.

Take off the hide and scent glands as soon as possible because the hide contains oils and fats, and the scent glands are the other source of fluids. Both contribute to a strong wild taste in your meat.

Removing the hide gives you lots of difference, but most of the hunters tell that it won’t make any difference. To reduce the strong smell from the meat, remove the hide and get the meat cool down quickly. 

When you take off the head, the scent glands are also removed, as they are in the cheeks. 

By doing this, you can have good-tasting venison. Also, you need to remove the scent gland in the hind -legs before you hang your deer. 

Hang the deer in a good ventilated area, and protect it from dust, dirt, insects, weather, and scavengers. You can hang them on a tree, in a shed, or a garage. 

Proper hanging can make an older deer more tender like the young ones, and also, it gives you a flavorful taste.

How Long To Hang Your Deer?

The size of your deer plays a huge role in the hang time. A large deer can be hanged for a week, and a small deer can be hanged for four days, under a proper and controlled room temperature. 

An aged deer will require much longer hanging time. It’s better to wait at least one or two days to hang the deer and allow it for aging. The reason behind aging is to be more tender and tastier.

It’s better to avoid butchering your meat before the rigor mortis phase is completed. 

This period may last for 12-24 hours, and if you butcher your deer at this time, the meat becomes tougher as the muscles are contracting.

Once the deer is hung, cut through the deer’s rib. A hack saw is best to cut the meat. 

Another important thing is to remove the rib cage with a wood, stick, or any other tool to keep the inside cavity cool and open.

After hanging your deer for 5-8 days, you can start cutting and processing your meat. This can be done by yourself, or you can bring it to a professional butcher. 

You can use a sharp knife to separate the muscle groups. It’s easy to cut and also saves your time too. 

Cover the carcass with cheesecloth for protection. Once your processing of the meat is done, take care to wrap and free it properly so that your meat can be stored for a longer time.

Field Dressing

It’s a must to field dress your deer. Field dressing means removing the animal’s internal parts, and it’s necessary to preserve the meat and to cool down the meat. 

Moreover, it helps to remove blood and stomach materials, thus preventing slow bacterial growth.

Field dressing should be done as soon as possible. This should be done carefully without damaging the internal organs, or it may be ending up with tainting of the meat, and it affects the flavor too. During this process, focus on any fur or dirt getting inside the deer.

Final Thoughts

Special care must be taken after hunting your deer from the field until to your table. The taste and quality of the meat depending on how we handle the meat during the butchering process. So, it’s important not to damage the internal organs of your deer. Generally, wild game meat is delicious and healthier too. 

You can age your meat if you have a refrigerator, and it allows aging your meat under controlled temperature. So, you don’t need to worry about bugs, spoilage, and moisture building up. But, don’t store the meat in the freezer for years. The flavor and quality of the meat will be only under a year old. Finally, learn how to cook venison properly so that you can enjoy it at your table. Nothing satisfies like providing your family with an entire dinner plate of food you have hunted and prepared by yourself.

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