The care of any game begins with planning prior to the hunt. Game must be cooled as soon as possible to preserve its natural taste. Gamey flavor associated with venison in particular is associated with improper care after the kill as well as game being run for long periods.
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 deboning 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.
Don’t let your deer be part of the estimated 50% that never reach consumers’ stomachs.