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Thread: To Age Deer Meat or Not

  1. #1
    Boolit Master

    Join Date
    Feb 2018

    To Age Deer Meat or Not

    A friend who was a professional butcher, once told me beef and all dear are not the same. The make up of the proteins and enzymes are different. Beef can be greatly improved with aging, but it doesn’t do anything for deer family meat.

    Anyone else heard this? Anyone have facts to prove otherwise?

  2. #2
    Boolit Grand Master
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Central Virginia
    I think it has a LOT to do with the individual deer.
    A young deer that was cleanly killed, didn't run a long time before it was killed - the meat doesn't benefit from aging.

    A large old buck that has survived a few seasons or a deer that was run hard right before it was killed - it's going to be a bit tougher.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master Tripplebeards's Avatar
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    Apr 2017
    Well if you look at my post directly above yours I just went through this. I have a lot of people that say they age them for a week to two weeks and I have some that say they don’t. I can tell you firsthand after aging the first year that I’ve call that I’ve really “aged” I can tell a big difference in the “taste” of my meat. After a week of draining the blood out of it on ice I fried up a few pieces of steak that I cut off the front and rear quarters yesterday and the day before and can tell you there is no “off” or “gamey” after taste I experience with cutting my deer up within 24 hours or less. I believe leeching the blood out makes it taste better. My pieces were nice and soft as as well. I fried them up in virgin oil I’ve oil about 4 min on each side side till they were barely pink in the middle.

    I can tell you when I was processing this meat after a week of aging it was A LOT softer and peels right off the silver backing and tendons very easily with just my fingers sliding through. I had to be careful because it was almost to the point where it was too soft that I would tear some good looking meat. I took my knife and instead of running it flat like filleting a fillet I held it at a 45 just pushing it along the silver and it would pull the meat right off nice and clean without any effort at all. IMO it makes the taste of the meat a lot better. I would tell you take one of your quarters an age it in a cooler for a week like I didn’t test it along with me that you didn’t age and you can be the judge for yourself. I’ll always be aging mine from now on. IMO it looks, smells, and taste cleaner.
    Last edited by Tripplebeards; 01-18-2020 at 01:48 PM.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master

    Winger Ed.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Just outside Gun Barrel City, Texas
    I never thought about it much, but I used to end up with mine hanging in a cold locker or quartered
    and in the garage refrigerator for a few days before they found their way into the small white wrappers that went into the freezer.

    I never had any complaints.

    Something I did notice to remove a lot of the 'gamey' flavor:
    I'd trim off everything that wasn't red.
    Also, up at the top of the quarters, in all that white mess were little brown things that looked like a pinto bean.
    It was real critical that they be removed.
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  5. #5
    Boolit Master

    WebMonkey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    missouri ozarks
    unfortunately, this thread will quickly get into name calling, even if passive aggressively.

    red meat, is just that, red meat.

    yes, venison is most certainly NOT beef.

    it is still red meat.

    aging, breaks down collagen and makes different types of 'tissue' separate easier.
    it is not dependent on 'marbling', 'diet', etc.

    will there be different 'degrees' of benefit, you betcha.

    but since this is an 'observable science', the aging benefit is provable.
    over and over. we are not guessing at what fossils are but observing in real time the effects of properly aging red meat vs not.

    most deer hunters wet age, or close to it.

    toss the quarters in a cooler with ice and let it go.
    nothing wrong with this if you let it drain away while it sits.
    most commercial meat ends up this way whether you believe it or not.

    those shrink wrapped packages with the the blood soak on the bottom?

    the way i prefer is dry aging.

    no mystery, or difficulty here at all.

    simple stated, the quarters are hung or lifted or whatever so it is not touched by anything in the cooler, fridge, spring house.

    the quarter drains away and no 'liquid' is re-introduced into the meat.

    easy to see the difference when trimming those quarters 4 days later than the 'next day'.

    nevertheless, someone is the best friend of a butcher who cuts up 1000 deer a season for the last 95 years and swears everyone that ages venison is stupid.

    meat cutter and butcher, the terms may not be synonymous.

    now, full disclosure, i'm just a guy.
    i don't know nothin' about nothin'.

    i hunt on my own land, i process my own deer, and i cook it myself.
    along with our herd of goats, rabbit/squirrel hunting etc.

    goats are not beef yet there is a distinct difference between aged and non aged product.

    that's all i got for ya OP.

    aging is observable and repeatable regardless of what 'side' someone might be on.

    some people can eat anything, my father-in-law will fry up backstrap until it's like a hockey puck and tell you it is SO GOOD.
    other people will turn up their nose at food 1 degree 'off' or 1 minute cooked too long/short.

    what's up with that?

    good luck!
    Retired 19D
    Psalm 91:9
    Honda 919

  6. #6
    Boolit Master Tripplebeards's Avatar
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    Apr 2017
    My aging cooler I set up in the house with a bunch of frozen 2 L bottles in the bottom and some of my smoker grates on top of them to basically make a shelf to keep the meat out of the bottom of the cooler. I kept adding ice every day for a week and of course it kept melting and I had a sea of blood in there that I drain twice when I got almost to the top of the meat. After the six day and I completely drained it the watered down ice was clear after that.

    Here’s some meat I cut up after aging. You can see zero traces of blood as it all leeched out from aging.

    I guess to me it’s more important to get all the blood out that it is the age it but you’re doing both at the same time. I believe that’s where you get that rancid off gamy taste from his all that blood that doesn’t properly gets slowly drained from the meat by aging.
    Last edited by Tripplebeards; 01-18-2020 at 03:56 PM.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master Tripplebeards's Avatar
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    Apr 2017
    “those shrink wrapped packages with the the blood soak on the bottom?”

    I call those steak tampons.

  8. #8
    Boolit Grand Master

    M-Tecs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    As I stated in the other post I have tested the same animal and the same cut and I no longer age. Done properly I don't oppose aging, however, I am am not seeing the benefits some are seeing. I have a large standing refrigerator only that works well for dry aging. I have split the same animal and compared the same cuts while I dry added verse cut and frozen. Since I generally have some bonus tags or when I hunted with dad scheduling sometimes mandates aging. Based on my tests I no longer believe lack of aging is responsible for leaser cuts of meats.

    Tripplebeards does raise an interesting point that have not considered. That is blood drainage. I am partially color blind and at best I am a poor tracker. I am also a competitive longer range shooter but I only take shots that ensure I will have a very short easy track. I lost my first deer with a bow at 10 years old in 1970. I have not lost one with a bow since. That is about 60 with the bow. I did lose one with the rifle in the 80's but that was the only one out of about 150. The reason I bring that up is normally I see or hear them crash. As soon as they are down I go over and field dress them. I did hit one with the bow a little far back and I waited on that one but that I the only one I can remember waiting 20 minutes.

    Now to the effects of blood drainage. About 15 years ago I had a buck and a doe tag and I was hunting with dad who had a severe cold and he decided to stay in the truck but told me to fill his tag if possible. I was in my tree stand we a med. to large buck and a fork horn were chasing a doe. The doe's tongue was hanging out so my guess is all three had been running for awhile. I dumped the biggest buck with a double lung shot. I was using a 270 Winchester. Both the other deer were off at the shot but the doe turned around and come back and stopped. I neck shot her. At the second shot the little buck did a 180 and came back. He also stopped but it was behind a tree. The only shot I had was a head shot. I normally am not a fan of head shots but I took it. All three deer were down with 10 yards of each other and within 40 yard of my tree.

    I drug them together and started field dressing. I did the big buck first the doe second and the little buck last. It was maybe 30 or 40 minutes when I got to the head shot buck. I did note that when I field dressed the headshot buck that every vein and artery was full and hard with blood. Even when I remove the heart and lungs I got very little drainage.

    At this location the land owner expected you to continue to hunt to help with deer drives. He wanted as many deer taken as possible. We would stand hunt until 9:30 than have drives the rest of the day. Anyway the three that I killed were on Friday and we skinned them that evening so they would hang and cool until Monday when mom and I would cut them up while dad was at work. Even thing seemed normal with all three deer but shortly after skinning the headshot buck started oozing blood over the entire carcass. Same for when we cut it up. The blood would just oozed from every cut of meat. That was the worst venison I every have had the displeasure of eating.

    Back to aging is it possible since normally I start flied dressing within 5 to 10 minutes of the shot that I am getting better blood drainage hence the different results?
    Last edited by M-Tecs; 01-18-2020 at 04:24 PM.
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  9. #9
    Boolit Master Tripplebeards's Avatar
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    Apr 2017
    That would make sense why some of mine don’t taste good a lot of times. Because I’m Normally party hunting During rifle season and sometimes I end up shooting a deer on opening day right at first light and lot of times I will wait and field dressing towards the end of the day Staying in my stand waiting to fill more tags. It doesn’t happen all the time like this but it has happened in the past a few times. Im sure that it obviously can’t be good for the meat taste either. But I know a lot of guys that shoot one bow hunting and leave it overnight and go get it the next morning so I don’t see what the difference would be other than their dear probably doesn’t taste good either. That’s why I was soaking it in earths salt water and apple cider vinegar brine last year to leech out the blood and break down the enzymes just like speeding up the aging process and it took care of any rancid taste I was experiencing.

    During archery season, antlerless only, and muzzleloader season I’m on my own so those deer get field dressed immediately. If the deer sits for a while and not being dressed out it’s normally an opening weekend of gun season trying to fill more tags I guess I need to stop being greedy and get out of my stand and get that baby field dressed next time ASAP.
    Last edited by Tripplebeards; 01-18-2020 at 04:37 PM.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    West Tennessee
    I do gutless field dressing on all mine, so about half the butchering is done in the field. I age in a cooler, completely covered with ice, with the drain plug open to allow liquid drainage. I use to hang them hide on, but Tennessee weather just isn't predictable, so I switched to a cooler and ice. I have eaten them both ways, and I prefer them aged as I think the meat is better and more consistent from deer to deer. Your deer, your meat, do what you wish.

    About processors around here. I've never gone with someone else to take a deer to a processor that wasn't so far behind it's aged by the time they get to it! There's a very popular Mennonite processor here. I went with a friend to drop off two deer. They said "drag them to the cooler". We did, and I swear I'm not lying, they had deer stacked like cord wood 20 feet long, 6 feet high, and 2 deep! You better bet every deer they proceed was in some stage of aging by the time they worked them up!

    If you where a butcher, would you want to process them as soon as you can move them, or hold on to them a week or two before you made room in your cooler?
    Last edited by Thundarstick; 01-18-2020 at 09:29 PM.

  11. #11
    Boolit Grand Master GhostHawk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Fargo ND
    I prefered to let mine hang overnight before skinning/deboning "If I could do so without the meat becoming too warm or freezing"

    Only skinned a deer frozen once, learned my lesson on that one quick.

    I will admit I hunted for the table not trophy, and most of mt kills were younger and not run at all.

    The best was a young forkhorn 3 of us jumped out of a cattail patch in shortgrass prairie. He made exactly 3 jumps. Top of the 3rd my 20 ga slug knocked his right horn off half inch above the fur. He flipped, went down hard. But as I walked up I saw the horn piece, and an ear wiggle and quickly put one in the back of his head.

    Hung that night, skinned and deboned and cut up the next morning.

    His loin chops cut 3/4 " thick, 3.5 minutes each side on a hot grill were fork tender. No knife needed.
    And yes those would be a hot pink center.

    I miss that little guy, just no longer able to do the walking required, and I'm not sure I could pull the trigger.

  12. #12

    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    to me, the most important thing one can do is to get them gutted as fast as possible. this helps get the meat cool much quicker. after that, its nice to let them hang a few days if conditions permit.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master Tripplebeards's Avatar
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    Apr 2017
    Goes talk to you mentioned a hot pink center I actually grabbed a thermometer this year when I was cooking for the first time and stuck it in while I fried up pieces of meat to make sure they got hot enough. I believe 150 degrees is the magic number to safely eat rare venison? I can eat bloody prime rib all day long and it doesn’t bother me that’s probably because it was professionally cooked. But when it comes to venison and it’s pink and bloody inside it’s going to go through me like the water slides at Wisconsin dells.

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