Game Meat Myths Expelled

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Constable Bill Manning
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Game Meat Myths Expelled

Post by Constable Bill Manning » Sun Nov 14, 2010 10:34 am

How's that for a catchy Subject title.... :o)

To qualify my statements below, I have lived almost my entire life on wild game meat. My dad was a very good hunter and I have always been quite lucky myself. So with that said, I will give you my opinions on game meat. It's for free and as you know, you get what you pay for.

Years ago, my brother-in-law and I (he got to shoot first as he had spotted it) shot a very large mule deer buck one day (turned out to the be the Montana State Record) and I shot a second mule deer that same day that was not far out of the book, his was with a large herd of does and mine was with a single doe in estrus. They both were very aromatic to say the least.

Me with Fran's Buck. About 1980
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Me with my buck.
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My buck from last year. Shot about 1/2 mile from other two but 30 years apart.
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I butchered and ate all three of these bucks and the meat on all of them was very good. I let the first two hang in the garage for about 4 days or so. Since deer meat is quite lean, hanging generally doesn't do anything like it does with beef. Hanging allows the fats to break down and if there is no fat, hanging generally doesn't do anything other than let the blood completely drain out. Not sure if hanging these two helped or not but they were wonderful to eat. These bucks were up over alfalfa fields above a large ranch.

I also shot a small whitetail buck one day that I found back in the woods behind my house that you could hardly shoot through the smoke off the pan he was so tough. Not sure what makes the difference. Shot an old mule deer doe one time above Ovando, MT that the Fish and Game aged at 11 plus. She had no teeth left. She was quite good eating.

I used to sort out the meat on my game, saving the best roasts, trying to cut the most steaks and hamburgered the rest. My wife finally told me that she would just as well prefer me to cut the tenderloins and back straps into thin steaks (makes them easier to eat if they are thin) and hamburger the rest. Now they all are about the same amount of tender... :o)

I have recently started to rinse the few steaks I do cut out in water and let them stand for awhile, then do it again. This takes almost all the gamey taste out of the meat. My dad would occasionally soak steaks overnight in soda water. I think most of the gamey taste is from the blood and you can wash it out. This may also take out a lot of the value of the meat (vitamins and minerals and stuff) but I don't know anything about that.

If the meat is still too tough, about 4 hrs at 325 in the oven in a well sealed bakeing pan over a bed of rice and laddled over with cream of onion or mushroom soup will make boot leather tender. Canning it works quite well too.

I generally try to take good care of my meat. I was over antelope hunting and a wildlife biologist stopped in to get data from our antelope and we questioned him about the "proof of sex" requirement and he told us that we could be fined if we boned the meat and brought back the hides and heads as proof. Since then, I leave mine whole until I get back home. I have friends who insist on getting the hides off almost immediately and others that let antelope lay 3 deep in the back of a suburban and don't get to them for several days before they skin them. I have eaten meat from both and can't really notice the difference. I try to do a careful job of gutting, if I have water I rinse the insides (head and neck shots keep the insides a whole lot cleaner but there's risk involved), get the hides off as soon as I can, and keep the hair and trash off and out of the meat. Gut shooting can do wonders for the taste of the tenderloins and definitely has an overall affect on the quality of your experience! A little care up front can improve the whole situation tremendously.

There's a lot of folks that talk about not running the piss out of them before you shoot one. Who knows what the last guy that was on them did. All they know is if they shot them quiet like. You may have a case if it is first thing in the morning but after that, who knows how long that antelope or deer has been running. I have shot running antelope before but would prefer them to be quiet and unaware. Not due to taste but due to ethics I suppose.

And if economics are involved, shooting one large buck equals about 3 little bucks or does. A large buck in rut will have about 40 lbs of hamburger in his neck. And if you still need to improve your cost ratios, cut a load of firewood on your way out and pay for the whole trip... Truly free meat!!!

Just don't wreck your truck on the way home. Two brothers locally here rolled their pickup on the way home from hunting the other day and killed them both. Left two wives and a bunch of kids. Most dangerous part of the hunt is coming and going...

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madisonvalleywapiti
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Post by madisonvalleywapiti » Sun Nov 14, 2010 1:00 pm

My wife would much rather me focus my energy on trying to get an elk rather than messing with mule deer. We have also found that usally whitetails are better eating as well. Im sure it has something to do with what they are eating as much as good field care. Alot depends on the particular animal though. I shot this buck friday in an absolute hole. He is being canned right now. My wife experimented with canning some of my moose and it turned out great, so we will see how it goes with "stinky muley".
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pete
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Post by pete » Sun Nov 14, 2010 1:20 pm

Bill;
You weren't a bad looking guy back in the day.. :wink: :lol: . I agree with most of what you said. There have been more than a few mature bucks both antelope and mule deer that have been good to eat. I think alot depends on what they ate and their condition when they were killed. A hot, adrenaline pumped animal won't be as good as a calm one.
I skin/cool them out as fast as I can and I think it does make a difference. When it comes to evidence of sex I skin around and leave the testicles or vagina (Can I say that on here ? :) ) attached and there's never any question.

Madison;
Nice buck congrats. I think whitetails and mule deer are equal table fair given the same food.

Dakota Dick
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Post by Dakota Dick » Sun Nov 14, 2010 4:43 pm

Great posts guys...nice animals you harvested there.
My experience tracks along with yours...gut it, clean it, cool it as quickly as you can for the best possilbe meat...yet I have still had some tough young critters and some mighty tender and tasty old ones.

Thanks for sharing...

Cheers
Dick Savage
aka
Dakota Dick
Keystone, SD

Brent
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Post by Brent » Sun Nov 14, 2010 5:31 pm

Interesting comments. I also agree that hanging doesn't do much except allow one to procrastinate. I excel at that at times.

I am eating some of the best antelope I have ever had and these were shot in 80+ degree weather, butchered within hours or less, iced and then frozen the next day. No hanging. I've had TERRIBLE antelope that was butchered quick enough but then put in a warden's evidence freezer (he was a friend) and that freezer couldn't have cooled a beer, much less have frozen 4 antelope. That stuff was terrible by the time we got home.

I have shot unsuspecting deer that died before the echo from the shot died away, and I have shot some that ran like hell for too damn long and both tasted just fine.

I don't get to shoot bucks in rut very often. I did shoot a mulie or two that way in Nebraska and Wyoming and they tasted good. Again, they were shot, butchered super quick and then cooled on ice or snow immediately.

But now it time for the last of the pumpkin antelope stew and then I have to polish a barrel.

Brent
Just straddling the hard line between "the arrogance of dogmatism and the despair of skepticism"

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Post by mdeland » Sun Nov 14, 2010 7:07 pm

I had an interesting experience probably thirty years ago now with a moose I killed down in the little Susitna bottoms right at dark. I killed a 51 inch bull and as I was only a couple hundred yards from camp I took off my T shirt and hung it in a sapling directly above the kill in a small opening, sure I could walk right back to it with a flash light and gut it out.
Well we made it back to camp and as it was pitch dark with no moon anyway we ate supper before the long butcher job by a campfire light.
We wondered around in that black swamp forrest until 2 AM and never did find the moose. Finally our head lamps gave out and we banked a fire on a hummac up out of the water and got some sleep.
At day light we quickly found the moose and camp.
That moose laid all night without being gutted in about 40 degree weather and I was sure would be soured. NOt so, he ate as good as all the others I had killed and the meat was not sour.
Actually one of the worst tasting moose I ever ate was one of two I dropped in the water and was force to cut a lot of meat submerged. Muddy,bloody swamp water definitely does not add to the good taste of wild game meat.
If I can I always skin out a quarter and keep it absolutely clean if possible and immediately slip it into a good quality meat bag.
You can pepper them if you want to keep the flies off but a few maggots don't hurt the taste of any meat and they don't mean meat is spoiled either as some believe.
I always try hang my meat for about a week if possible and I do think it makes it more tender overall plus as has been stated it drains really well. MD

Marathonman
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Post by Marathonman » Sun Nov 14, 2010 8:08 pm

I'd almost forgotten about hanging meat without skinning. My dad did that on mule deer and others did too in NW Colorado in the 1960's and 70's. I remember skinning deer that had frozen almost solid after hanging a few days. Winters seemed tougher then. I killed a moose 3 years ago and packed it out myself. It was in a high country bog and I quartered it with an axx and left the hide on the quarters to keep the meat clean until I got it to dry ground. My own personal experience over the years is to be as clean as possible and get the hide off and the meat cool quickly. Since all animals are mostly water I think you get regional differences in the taste of the meat simply because of the drinking water supply in their area. Stinky drinking water means stinky eating meat.
I had gotten possession of a big "50" gun early in the fight, and was making considerable noise with it.

~Billy Dixon~

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Don McDowell
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Post by Don McDowell » Sun Nov 14, 2010 9:30 pm

No to sure on the stinky water thing. The deer from west of Hulett are pretty tasty , and unless you carry your own water in there, there's damn little fit to drink except for beer and whiskey in that part of the world. :lol:
AKA Donny Ray Rockslinger :?

Marathonman
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Post by Marathonman » Mon Nov 15, 2010 6:23 am

Don McDowell wrote:No to sure on the stinky water thing. The deer from west of Hulett are pretty tasty , and unless you carry your own water in there, there's damn little fit to drink except for beer and whiskey in that part of the world. :lol:
I'm not sure either Don but I like the beer and whiskey idea for an apetizer! :)
I had gotten possession of a big "50" gun early in the fight, and was making considerable noise with it.

~Billy Dixon~

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Constable Bill Manning
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Post by Constable Bill Manning » Mon Nov 15, 2010 9:43 am

Pete,

Those first pictures were when I was 23, fresh out of college. Like the song says, "Like all good things that come an end, so with the wild wood weed". That was back in the days when I was still cool... :o)

I agree with you that I haven't seen much difference between Mule deer or Whitetail. Funny about your lack of concern about mentioning testicles but your over concern about vaginas... I guess your mom did a good job raising you too.

I asked the wildlife biologist about leaving the sex organs attached as your suggest as I had heard that was ok but he said if the meat is all boned, you could get an over-zealous gamewarden that could question just how much meat there was versus the tags. He said they could even question the number of quarters if they were still quartered as you might throw away shot up ones, shoot another animal, and keep the good ones from it. He said it was best to leave them whole. It's too bad we are down to this these days. The fish and game have reduced their check stations considerably but I think they are more difficult to deal with and make the fines considerably higher. Kind of like in India, they have no thievery as the punishment of having your hand cut off is so great that the people won't risk it no matter what the possible gain... :o(

MadisonValleyWapiti,

Nice buck. I can't get the wife to do much canning anymore as our business totally consumes her and then some. Suppose I could break down and do it but I'm not that desperate yet.. :o)

Mdeland,

Moose can be a problem, that's for sure. I once read an article by Bob Milek in Guns and Ammo years ago where he mentioned he came across some guys out in Wyoming that had shot a very large bull moose out in a pond and couldn't get out to it so they were waiting for a guy to drive the 80 miles back to town on dirt road to get their boat. Seems like a long ways on dirt road but that's what I remember he wrote. That's why you spook them out of the pond and kill them on the bank.

Milek said they were many hours with the bull in the water. If it was nasty swamp water, maybe not so good. The bull would cool out fast and wouldn't spoil for probably a number of days, though.

I shot this bull and pulled him out of with my 4 wheeler. If you tie the torns up tight to the carrier, then take a dally around his neck and then tie that to the hitch, which is normally off the bottom of the rear axle, they pull really easy. You want to insure you're pulling from the bottom of the axle to their neck. If you tie them to the carrier, all you do is wheely and you run the risk of tearing off your carrier.

Image

To load him into the truck, I drove my 4 wheeler in, moved it over to the side as tight as I could, then tied the rope to a tree out in front of the pickup. I then backed the truck up while my hunting buddy kept things from hanging up. This works quite well. If you tie the rope up as high as you can, it helps start the bull into the back. If you put your pickup in 4 low it helps too as it gives you better control on your speed (nice and slow) and lots more torque. You need a strong rope as the pickup has massive amounts of power and the bull weighs a lot.

That was a load with the bull whole and the 4 wheeler in there. It's always fun bringing out animals whole. We did this same trick years ago with two bull elk we shot down by Hebgen Lake. We loaded them into Herb Leslie's old Carry-all by running the rope in from the back and up through the driver's window. When we stopped in West Yellowstone to get gas with these two bulls dangling out the back, the tourists were wheeling in off the road so bad we created a bit of a traffic jam.

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Post by Brent » Mon Nov 15, 2010 9:48 am

I shot an eland in Namibia in 2006 and somehow we (more like they), managed to winch the entire animal (ungutted) into the back of a Toyota Land Cruiser. Eland are the world's largest antelope weighing 1800-2200 lbs. Still not sure how they managed it but it was a cable from the front bumper over the hood and roll bar. Even got the tailgate up in the end.
Just straddling the hard line between "the arrogance of dogmatism and the despair of skepticism"

mdeland
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Post by mdeland » Mon Nov 15, 2010 1:16 pm

I would do the same if hunting with vehicles but on raft or canoe trips you are obliged to quarter them up in pack size pieces and cart them out on your back. I can get a moose in 6 or 7 trips with a back pack. Four quarters, neck, ribs and antlers. The liver alone will weigh 40 lbs if you keep it and I always like and take the heart.
On top of that you need to rehang them each night when you pull out of the water to make another camp.
It's really poor practice to leave them in the raft at night as bears cruise the river banks after dark in search of food and will destroy a raft getting at the meat.
A large Keni bull moose will go 1600 to 1800 lbs and stand 7 feet at the shoulders.
I have killed several in the water in swamps and two of us could not move them completely out of the water onto hummicks for butchering. Usually the best thing is to use their long legs as levers and roll them to where you want but that has limitations as well. In these treed swamps you drop them were you see them our you usually don't see them anymore. There is no shooing them to a good shooting spot! MD

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Post by bobw » Mon Nov 15, 2010 8:13 pm

Well Bill that is a fine looking bull and I'll bet he looked even finer loaded in 1 piece in the back of your outfit :lol: . Some don't get it and some do. If a guy has to cut them up well that is what you got to do,but when you can get them out in one piece and loaded by yer self that is as good as you get. Not bragging just full accomplishment. I loaded back in the sticks the last 3 elk in 1 piece, one of which was a 5x5 in my old Suburban by myself. I never go hunting elk without a chainsaw,2 come alongs and lots of rope and chain in the vehicle. Only thing I regret about the 5x5 was instead of putting him in the Sub ,I should have put him on top of it :lol: . Damn ole thing was just a beatup gas hog anyway. :roll: Great posts thank you. bobw

pete
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Post by pete » Mon Nov 15, 2010 9:12 pm

Bill;
Thanks, I think she did although like most mom's I'm sure she had her doubts sometimes.. It's funny how somebody doesn't think they've changed over the years until they look at a photo they haven't seen in awhile.
I understand the evidence of sex thing but commonly quarters or halves are the only way and some leeway needs to be given. On the other hand I'm sure most every trick has been tried too. Nice moose.

Bob;
You're not fooling anybody you take the chainsaw to cut down the trees so you can drive up to the animal. :lol:

mdeland
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Post by mdeland » Mon Nov 15, 2010 9:31 pm

I'd get a real kick out of watching you pull the whole goat, sheep or moose carcass "He Man" trick up here Bob, even with horses!
Ever drag a 1600 pound bull moose 50-60 miles behind a four wheeler through streams and up and down mountains before you can get to a vehicle or simbalance of a road , assuming a four wheeler could even budge a bull that big which I doubt.
How about fireman carrying a gutted goat or sheep on ridges you can barely keep from falling off of with just your hunting gear before shooting anything. Your horses if you are lucky enough to have them are usually 4 or 5 miles away down off the crags where you can picket them.
I don't doubt it can be done where you are used to hunting but Alaska is entirely different in most cases and I had no clue about hunting big game here after shooting mule deer in New Mexico for two seasons bringing one out whole, fireman carry style. MD

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