Many hunters have asked this question after killing a deer. In today’s world of instant gratification, many just load the deer into the back of the truck and take it to a processor who will, for a fee, gut, skin and dress your deer ready for your freezer.
But more and more hunters are choosing to do this themselves. Here are some tips for caring for your game after you’ve killed it.
First, you want to cool the animal down fairly quickly. You have a lot more time than you realize, but not an indefinite amount. Take your photos, but dress the deer as soon as possible.
Many hunters choose to field dress their deer. Chad Simpson of Hendersonville, N.C., said, “I like to get the internal organs out of the animal as soon as reasonably possible.” That’s because he wants the deer’s cavity to cool down. With a little practice, you can field dress a deer in about five minutes.
Second, once the deer is dressed, the carcass needs to be aged. Some hunters choose to age the meat with the skin on and others with the skin off. For safety, it depends on the weather, how cold the environment is. Deer should be aged at around 40 degrees. If it’s too warm outside, you will need to butcher and place the meat on ice to age in a cooler for seven to 10 days. The aging process allows the meat to tenderize naturally, which enhances the flavor.
Last, once the meat is aged, process it according to your personal likes.