Venison Care: Hang or Cut Your Deer?


Mike, maybe the Big Deer Team can help with this. What is too warm to hang a deer overnight? We have 60s in the day and low to mid 40s at night. Some guys hang the deer overnight and some are butchering right away. I lean towards butchering if it’s over 45 degrees. What are your thoughts? Thanks, Flatlander

The weather has warmed back up in many areas, so Matt’s question is perfect timing. I recommend skinning and cutting your deer asap, no matter the temperature really, but definitely when it’s above 40. Beef experts say that the only way to hang and age beef safely for any period of time is in a refrigerator that maintains a steady temperature and constant air flow between 32° and 38° F. So unless you have access to meat locker, skin and cut your deer, sooner rather than later when the temp is above 40. This is probably being a little conservative, but why take a chance that your deer will rot?

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David in NC's Gravatar You are definitely better off butchering the deer if there is any question. Don't risk spoiling a whole deer for convenience. Every time you eat some you will be thinking about it in the back of your mind. It's like milk that's past the date - even if it is still good, it's just not the same. In the south, it really only stays cold enough to hang deer overnight later in November and December. I don't like it when hunters choose to leave the deer overnight even. If you have reason to believe you made a lethal shot, you should follow up that night.

We have acess to a walk-in cooler, and we hang our deer 7-10 days to age, which allows enzymes in the meat to act, resulting in more tender cuts. Of course we butcher ourselves also and that allows us to be particular about how it's prepared. I wouldn't hang a deer overnight unless the low temp. is below 40 degrees.
# Posted By David in NC | 10/27/09 6:14 PM
ian in wisconcin's Gravatar get them tenderlions on the grill asap lol the rest cut em up that night or stuff em with ice and hangem if u have to
# Posted By ian in wisconcin | 10/27/09 7:35 PM
Chad S.'s Gravatar I hang them when i can. If the temps get too warm, we converted an old fridge by adding a hanging rack and it'll hold one deer if you halve it. Not the prettiest solution, but it works really well. Typically, I don't have more than one deer down at a time, so this meets my needs until I can afford the walk-in. I've never tried to brine one, but it's an interesting idea.
# Posted By Chad S. | 10/27/09 9:02 PM
Aaron from IN's Gravatar I would agree, butcher it right away, or at least bone it out and put in the fridge, if you can make room and then butcher in the next couple of days.

We use a walk in cooler and hang them for 7 days with the skin on, to keep the outside from drying out. Beef are skinned before hanged to age , but have enough fat on them that you can skim the outside 1/4" of fat off and not get into the muscle . Deer on the other hand have very little fat and the muscles are small enough that you waste a lot of meat if you age them skin off, because of having to cut away what dries out while hanging for 7-10 days .
# Posted By Aaron from IN | 10/28/09 8:40 AM
Curt's Gravatar If it's cold enough, I hang it over night, then skin it, debone it and freeze it. If it is too warm, I skin it, debone it & freeze it immediately. When I go to cook it, after it is thawed I soak it in salt water for two days. It has always tasted great. Does anyone think I should change my approach? I appreciate your comments.
# Posted By Curt | 10/28/09 10:04 AM
TDHoward's Gravatar How many people have ever had "Gamey" tasting venison?
If so the skin was probably left on and hung in a garage for a week.
The gaminess is the bacteria waste.

Get the skin off, get it at least quartered, in to an ice chest if you have to wait more than a couple of hours.
Remeber the three things that cause spoilage are, heat (obviously) dirt, especially woods humus (full of digestive bacterium) and moisture.
putting a carcass on a warm truck hood, hanging for days at a time with the skin on in marginal >40 temps, flies, dirty hands, cut gut contents. It'll all start to spoil it, and quickly. ACT FAST!
# Posted By TDHoward | 10/28/09 10:13 AM
TDHoward's Gravatar BTW,
what keeps a deer warm in the winter?
It's hollow hair coat and the layer of fat between the muscle and skin.
That same coat , skin and fat will also prevent the carcass from cooling.
I've seen deer, left overnight and when you get to them the next morning
you open the cavity and it will still steam. Think about all that simmering bacteria, feeding on your venison
under that nice warm hide. Skin it ASAP!
# Posted By TDHoward | 10/28/09 10:17 AM
Rodger's Gravatar It is NEVER cold enough down here in TX to hang a deer overnight. We skin, butcher and put them in an ice chest as soon as possible. They'll keep in the ice for 3 or 4 days if you drain the water off daily and add more ice. Then they're either boned or taken to a processor.
# Posted By Rodger | 10/28/09 10:58 AM
pappa necbone's Gravatar I don't like to let one hang over 48 degrees. I have, but I don't like it. Our hanging post is in the shade much of the day, direct sun and flies will spoil you faster than anything. We have a pump that is set up on our boat dock that supplies the cabin with H2O. After we hang it we wash the deer off, inside and out, no chemicals added, then if it's cool enough we will let the deer hang as long as possible, then skin and bone out. On the warmer days we have packed the chest cavitiy with ice and that helps cool the meat and keep cool, try this it works. Also I mentioned we have a strip cut in our front yard, the water temp is 40 or below, so I have taken the deer and put it in the cut at our boat ramp and then the next day skin and bone out. But one thing over the years I have figured out is the longer you can leave the hide on the better cut of meat you will have and better flavor.
# Posted By pappa necbone | 10/28/09 12:59 PM
David in NC's Gravatar We do leave the hide on while hanging it as Aaron said. If you skin it first the entire deer will dry out and it becomes a major pain. You also open up the possiblility of the meat getting dirty or contaminated. The hide actually serves as a barrier somewhat to keep dirt out. If the deer has been field dressed, you should have no problem with the hide retaining heat. I have always heard that it is best to keep the meat from getting wet also. Warm, moist environments encourage bacteria growth, so I never soak the deer in water or wash it out, unless the chest cavity was contaminated from a gut shot. Keeping it cold and dry is best.
# Posted By David in NC | 10/28/09 4:47 PM
Cody's Gravatar We rarely cut up our own meat, we only do it out of necessity. The meat processor's in our area all close at 7. That's not bad once the time changes but during bow season, if you kill one late in the afternoon there's no way you'll get to them before they close. In those situations we always cut it up that night, rinse it all off put it big bowls of cold salt water and set the bowls in ice in a cooler to keep it cold for a day or so, sometimes longer. After that we usually finish cutting it up if need be. We try to take them to processor's though because we give a lot of it away and people tend to like it better when it doesn't come to them in a ziploc bag. The warm temperature though is the only reason I don't like bowseason. If you shoot one you don't hardly have time to really enjoy it because your rushing to get the meat taken care of. But it's all part of it so no need to complain.
# Posted By Cody | 10/28/09 8:43 PM
Aaron from IN's Gravatar Another good tip, especially if you are going to let it hang with the skin on is to remove the tarsal glands. After gutting i remove the skin and tarsal glands from the back feet up about 5" past the tendon where you insert your gambel to hang them from (up just far enough where you don't expose the upper leg meat). I won't hang one upside down until the glands are removed. The tarsals in my opinion are what cause the "gamey" flavor.
# Posted By Aaron from IN | 10/29/09 10:09 AM
Curt's Gravatar Gettin' some good tips. I appreciate everyone's input. Muzzleloader starts on Saturday. The rivers will run red!
# Posted By Curt | 10/29/09 10:28 AM
Tom's Gravatar In Wisconsin, the DNR requires you to register the whole deer(gutted). This is especially tough during warm weather, when you take a deer late in the day. By the time you get the deer out of the woods, you're to late to get to drive to a registration station that might be many miles away. I know many people that are ethical hunters, and rather then allow the deer to spoil, they will butcher their deer and not register it. All of them, will then rip up the tag they would of used for the deer. In questioning the DNR about the warm weather registration problem, the response is that WI. DNR has always done it this way.
# Posted By Tom | 10/29/09 11:14 AM
Curt's Gravatar Well, we can't argue with logic, now can we?
# Posted By Curt | 10/29/09 11:23 AM
blackwolfdog Cie's Gravatar and you are happy ??? !!!!! pffff ...................
# Posted By blackwolfdog Cie | 10/29/09 6:38 PM
D.L.'s Gravatar papa necbone+grandpa is RIGHT,if its below 45 let that deer hang w/hide on for a week ,let it break down for tenderness,NOT TALKIN LOINS
# Posted By D.L. | 10/30/09 11:29 PM
Sean MO Bow's Gravatar I prefer the hang, as its been handed down for generations, so I cant speak to the science of why but it adds to more hours of hunting thats not wasted going to the processor right away. Our family always field dress immediately and hang w/hide. If it in the 60/70's we'll get it to butcher with in 4 hrs, lower temps well hang 1-2 days prior to delivering to the butcher. We've have never had a game taste and I was taught that tainted/gamey flavors had to do with the 'amount of time' it took to field dress and 'how' the animal was field dressed (heres your added exposure to bacteria TDHoward). Also we take great care to remove any oil/scent glands, organs and bladders with care as Aaron from IN mentions.
# Posted By Sean MO Bow | 10/31/09 8:33 PM