Depending on the temperature, deer should be dressed, skinned,
and cooled within an hour at 60 degrees or higher and within three hours at 30
degrees. Ideally, when a deer is shot, it should be hung by the back feet,
skinned, gutted, and placed in a cooler or refrigerator between 32 and 40
degrees for 4 or 5 days before freezing or cooking. Skinning before gutting will
prevent a lot of hair from getting stuck to the inside of the body. Avoid
spraying cold water on the carcass before it cools down. Cold water will clot
blood and prevent proper drainage from tissue. Aging causes a drying and firming
up of muscle tissue. The outside sheath material will also dry, making it easier
to remove. Since most of the trash and hair that accidentally get on the deer
are on this sheath, it can also be removed with the sheath. When weight or time
till dressing are a factor, field dress as soon as possible.
Avoid using a saw when cutting up your deer. Bone dust is not
only hard to wash off, but it will give the meat an odd flavor. Use a fillet
knife to disjoint hams and shoulders. Experts also advise de-boning venison
before freezing since the bone, although uncut, can also flavor the adjacent
meat. This also saves freezer space.
Use several layers of freezer paper (not plastic) for
wrapping. Venison's low fat, high water content make it extremely susceptible to
freezer burn. Date packages and use within 8 months of freezing.
Always wear heavy rubber or latex gloves when field dressing
If intestinal contents contact meat, consider the meat
contaminated; cut off and discard affected area.
Handle carcasses properly. Cool carcass rapidly in the field
(bags of ice can hasten cooling). Age carcass at or below 40°F for no longer
than 5-7 days. Hang birds by feet at less than 40°F for 2-3 days maximum.
Hold meat at or below 40°F at all times. If you don’t plan
to consume or process meat within 3-5 days, freeze it. Thaw frozen meat only in
the refrigerator, never at room temperature
Sanitize equipment and work surfaces often during handling and
processing meat and poultry with a bleach solution (1 Tbs. bleach to 1 gallon
Use a meat thermometer to cook meat to proper internal
temperatures (see chart). There are several types of meat thermometers
available, which are easy to use and can be read instantly or remain in meat
while it cooks. This helps ensure harmful bacteria are killed and meat is not
overcooked. The color of meat is an unreliable indicator of doneness.
For jerky, steam, boil or roast meat to 165°F using a meat
thermometer prior to dehydrating. Dry at 130°-140°F until thoroughly dry.
Jerky is properly dry when it cracks on bending but doesn’t break.
For sausage preparation, keep meat cold (under 40° F) during
grinding process and ensure internal temperature reaches 165°F with meat
thermometer during cooking.
Minimum Internal Cooking Temperature
|Ground venison, sausage, bologna
|Fresh venison (chops, steaks, roasts)