Make the Most of Your Venison

Do these things during your venison prep to ensure it will be its tastiest later on.

By Terry Madewell

September may not be the top trophy month in many states, but a lot of deer are harvested during early season.

To get maximum benefit from your venison prep, South Carolina deer processor Chip Hamilton has some suggestions.

venison prep
Move quickly after you take down a deer to make the most of your venison. (Photo by Ron Sinfelt)

"First, as soon as you recover your deer start taking care of the meat," he said. "In the typical hot weather of September, get the deer cleaned, field dressed or to a processor as soon as possible. Quick action here means much better venison later on."

Once recovery and these first steps are complete, Hamilton said for the very best venison it needs to be aged, and his process is to age the meat for 12 to 15 days.

"The key to the way I age venison is to field dress the animal but leave the skin on when I hang it," he said. "I keep my coolers at just above 32 degrees, but less than 34 degrees. This keeps the meat cold, allows the blood to drain but the skin keeps the meat moist. Skinning the animal may require that it has to be processed sooner because of the meat drying out and some of the meat may be lost if it over-dries."

Hamilton said venison can't be aged as long as beef, but aging is just as important to a quality product. 

 "Leave the skin on, age it for around two weeks and the meat will be moist and tender. This makes a huge difference," he said.

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