aging mule deer

robby denning

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When I first got married, my wife hated venison. I attended a seminar on aging wild game put on by world class chef who hunts.
Wow!
What a difference aging meat makes. I'd always aged my mule deer a week, but this guy suggested 21-28 days. I tried it and it works. You lose some of the meat to drying, but like he said at the seminar, "I'd rather have 100 pounds of succelent meat I can feed to anyone than 125 I have to share with the dog."

Anyone try aging? Any luck? It's not all about the antlers to me, I love to cook and am always winning people over to wildgame when I find better ways to cook it.
 
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bearguide

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the time of year you harvest them in seems to make the biggest difference to me. early season deer being better than late. but in early season i have not been able to hang them for long because of the heat / guess i will try hanging them longer when temp. will let me
 
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robby denning

robby denning

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bearguide, you're right aobut later in the year being easier to hang them.

They have to age between 33-40 degrees, and that is hard to do until after November 15th unless you have a meat locker.

However, I asked around town here, and I got a meat locker to hang it for $2 per day. So I spent $42 for 21 days. It was worth it. I cut my own meat. The butcher said if I'd get it cut there, he'd drop the hanging fee. So make sure you ask around. The $42 bucks is worth it when I see my wife's mother and sisters (non-hunters) raving over how good the meat is.

Also, later in the year, even in the rut, I personally have had just as good of meat by aging it. The problem with the rut, the deer or elk is a much smellier animal and you have to be more careful in gutting/skinning, i.e. don't touch the meat with gross hands, and remove scent glands, etc.

I killed a good buck in Montana in '09 on November 23rd. He lab-aged at 6 years old, was all rutted up, chasing does and was a great piece of meat to eat! I aged him 28 days.

Also killed a 360 pound, 6-year old buck in Colorado in 2010. Rutted up, too. Had some yesterday, and no off flavor. I aged him 30 days. So in my sample size of two deer shot late season, both have eaten very well.

you'll know you've aged them right when you can put a package of burger or steak in fridge to unthaw and you don't have to use a plate to catch the blood pooling.

my two cents...
 

JSonn

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interesting topic- I have always been afraid to try this figuring I would ruin the meat by having it spoil. But you just hang it in a chill box and let it do it's magic?
 
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robby denning

robby denning

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JSonn,
as long as it's 33-40 degrees and is not air tight, it's pretty easy.
What you are really doing in the "dry aging" process is ridding the meat of blood through the drying process, and letting natural hormones in the meat start to break down tissue.
What you have to be prepared for is that you will lose some meat (10-20%) in drying and you will see some mold appear. It's more work butchering it, because you have to trim that layer of dry/moldy meat (this is why most commercial butchers don't recommend aging- it's more work for them). What is left over though is a much better product.
 
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bearguide

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it sounds like a good idea , i will for sure give it a try this year
 
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robby denning

robby denning

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bearguide, just talk to the local butchers and see if you can work out a deal for hanging in case you get something down before cold weather comes. Be prepared for some "old thinking" too. Some butchers are against it. However, you can ask them why all beef is agesd at least 14 days (and cattle aren't muscle bound like wild game).
 
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Jodi

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Is there a link to this "hunter chef's" website? Do you recall his name? I'm looking for recipe ideas.
 

evan williams

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I compete with a a guy whose dad is a butcher by trade in Montana!!! He lets his game hang until a VERY thin layer of mold appears. He then says its ready and takes of the mold and PRESTO his meat is ready.

Now we didn't talk about temps or days or anything like that so Robby, thank you for that!!
 

Lawnboi

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here in wi we age our whitetail, usually only 4 or 5 days depending on the weather. I suppose it would be easier if you had a walk in cooler of some sort
 

evan williams

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I have access to one at one of the upland game preserves and they have a WHOLE building just for butchering and processing!!! Make some calls and check in your area there are walk-ins around like robby posted. Some may have a small fee but for better meat its well worth it!!
 
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