Deer hunters like two things in particular generally. Big bucks and good tender meat.
The funny thing is, those two things don’t typical jive well together.
So, how do we achieve the tender steaks that we all desire. Shoot a young buck but that doesn’t necessarily help your local population very well? You want to shoot an older one…
The answer is hang it.
Yup, as hard as it is to watch that delicious harvested animal just hang, it is the best option to tenderize the meat.
The real question is how long?
Lots of people butcher it up immediately, process it and store it. Yes, it works but why not make your yearly meat as good as possible? A little bit of patience goes a long way.
So how long? Well, personally I would say nothing less than a week, but preferably 2 plus.
Field and Stream seems to agree with me to a degree. They recommend letting an old mature deer hang for up to 14 days while closely monitoring the temperatures.
This is important to monitor the temperatures, you do not want to foolishly let your harvest go to waste.
However, if temperatures do act in your favor staying around 40 degrees and below, you can age it to up to 21 days for what will be the best deer you ever eat, especially if you cut it off the bone.
Yes, it seems like you are almost letting it rot at that point, but that rot tastes some good.
The best part about this, is all you really need is a garage to hang it in and temperatures that cooperate. Nothing special at all and you will thank yourself for the patience you had watching it every day for a couple of weeks.
Yes, you do add some minor waste to the animal having to cut off rind following the aging process, the dark stuff the forms on the outside. But, once you properly do it and try aged deer, or any aged hoofed animal, you will be very impressed and probably won’t look back.
And again, it’s not that unaged meat is bad, it’s just that aged meat is better. Why not get the best bang for your shot with your hunting meat?
It might be a little scary to try, but the longer you wait the better it will be.
And if you’re for a lesson on field dressing, here ya go: