Hunting deer is a popular outdoor activity that many people enjoy. However, once you’ve successfully killed a deer, there are several important steps you need to take. Knowing what to do after killing a deer is essential to ensure that the meat is safe to eat and that you are complying with hunting regulations. In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide on what to do after killing a deer, from field dressing to processing and cooking the meat.
Transporting the Deer
After field dressing the deer, you will need to transport it back to your vehicle or hunting camp. You can either drag the deer or use a deer cart or sled to make transportation easier. Be sure to cover the meat with a plastic bag or tarp to protect it from dirt and debris.
Tagging and Reporting
Depending on the state you are hunting in, you may be required to tag and report the deer. Check your state’s hunting regulations to see what is required. In most cases, you will need to attach a tag to the deer’s ear or antler and report the kill to the appropriate agency within a certain timeframe.
Skinning and Quartering
Once you’ve transported the deer back to camp or home, you will need to skin and quarter it before processing the meat.
Skinning the Deer
To skin the deer, follow these steps:
- Hang the deer by its hind legs from a sturdy tree branch or meat pole.
- Make a shallow cut around the legs and remove the skin from each leg.
- Make a cut from the chest to the deer’s neck and peel the skin away.
- Use a knife to separate the skin from the meat, being careful not to cut into the meat.
Quartering the Deer
To quarter the deer, follow these steps:
- Use a bone saw to cut off the legs
- Use a bone saw to cut the deer into four sections: front shoulders, backstraps, hindquarters, and the rib cage.
- Separate the backstraps from the spine by making a cut along the backbone and pulling the meat away.
- Cut the hindquarters into smaller pieces by removing the hip bone and cutting through the meat and bone.
Aging the Meat
Aging the meat is a process that improves the flavor and tenderness of the meat. To age the deer meat, hang it in a cool, dry place for several days. The ideal temperature is between 34-40 degrees Fahrenheit. Aging the meat for at least three days but no more than 14 days is recommended.
Processing the Meat
Once the deer is skinned and quartered, you can start processing the meat.
Butchering is the process of cutting the meat into different cuts, such as steaks, roasts, and ground meat. Follow these steps to butcher the meat:
- Cut the front shoulders into roasts or steaks.
- Cut the backstraps into steaks.
- Cut the hindquarters into roasts or steaks.
- Remove any excess fat or connective tissue.
Grinding and Packaging
If you want to make ground venison, you will need to grind the meat using a meat grinder. Make sure to remove any silver skin or connective tissue before grinding. Once the meat is ground, package it in freezer-safe bags or containers and label with the date.
Cooking and Enjoying the Meat
Deer meat can be cooked in a variety of ways, including grilling, roasting, and frying. Before cooking, make sure to thaw the meat completely if it has been frozen. Venison has a leaner profile than beef, so it is recommended to cook it to a medium-rare or medium doneness to prevent it from becoming tough.
Knowing what to do after killing a deer is essential to ensure that you have safe, delicious meat to enjoy. Remember to follow all hunting regulations and take proper precautions during field dressing and transportation. With these tips, you can make the most of your deer hunting experience.
- How long can you wait to field dress a deer? It is recommended to field dress the deer as soon as possible after the kill, ideally within the first hour.
- How long should you age deer meat? Aging the meat for at least three days but no more than 14 days is recommended.
- Can you eat deer meat raw? It is not recommended to eat deer meat raw due to the risk of bacteria and parasites.
- Do you have to report a deer kill? Depending on the state you are hunting in, you may be required to tag and report the deer. Check your state’s hunting regulations to see what is required.
- How do you store deer meat? Deer meat should be stored in a freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower for optimal freshness.