NDSU Extension - Griggs County

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November 2

The Extension Connection

By Megan Vig

                 Are you ready for deer hunting?   This week I share tips from NDSU Extension publication Field to Table: Deer and Elk to help you prep for the big opener next week.

Be prepared for the hunt.  Remember to bring a sharp knife, a small hatchet, a knife sharpener, about 12 feet of light rope or nylon cord, plastic bags and clean cloths or paper towels.  Other essentials include proper clothing, binoculars, fresh water, compass, map and matches.  In warm weather, pack a can of ground pepper and some cheesecloth.  The carcass may be sprinkled with pepper and covered with cheesecloth to repel flies. 

                Once the deer is down.  Bleed, field dress and cool the carcass promptly.  Improper temperature is meat’s worst enemy.  The surface of the carcass may be contaminated with bacteria that can spoil the meat unless the growth is stopped by chilling.  Clean your hunting knife frequently with clean water and cloth to prevent contamination of the meat.  Cool the animal quickly.  Cooling the carcass can be done by propping the chest open with a clean stick and allowing air to circulate.  Filling the cavity with bags of ice will also enhance cooling.  To aid cooling in warm weather, the deer may be skinned if you have provisions to keep the carcass clean.  Use ground pepper and cheesecloth to protect the skinned carcass from contamination by flies.  Conversely, in cooler weather wrap the carcass or quarters in a sheet and hang in a ventilated shed.  Do not allow the carcass to freeze before processing the meat.  Wipe out excess blood in the gutted cavity with a paper towel or clean with cloth and clean water.  Use as little water as possible, because damp meat spoils faster than dry meat.

                Transporting and processing.  Be sure to keep the carcass cool until processing.  Keep the carcass out of direct sunlight and allow for adequate air circulation.  If you choose to process your own game, do not cross-contaminate during processing.  Wash your knife, hands and cutting board often with warm, soapy water, and wear rubber gloves.  Aging meat is the practice of holding carcasses or cuts of meat at temperatures of 34 to 37˚F for 10 to 14 days to allow the enzymes in the meat to break down some of the complex proteins in the carcass.  Aging is not recommended for carcasses with little or no fat covering as they may dry out during aging.  It is best to leave the hide on and maintain the proper temperature when aging a carcass.  If you have do not have the proper cooler space, spoilage or dehydration may result.  Aging the carcass for two to three days is sufficient and if you intend to grind the meat into sausage, aging is unnecessary.  Once processing is finished, make sure to avoid overloading the freezer.  Freeze only the amount that will become solidly frozen within 24 hours.

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