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Old 10-14-2010, 02:29 PM   #1
SXS
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Default Tough meat?

This year I shot a forkhorn the first day in the Ochocos. Down @8:30. In camp and skinned out and on ice by 11:00. Drove home and took the meat off of ice and into refridgerator. Cut and wrap 2 days later.

The meat is tough! I mean, backstrap is as tough as round steaks. What causes this? This is not my first rodeo. I'm 63 and have been eating my own deer meat for 50 years. I have never had a young deer that was this tough.

What did I do wrong? Anything I can do now to help situation?

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Old 10-14-2010, 02:34 PM   #2
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Default Re: Tough meat?

Did it die slowly? Or had it ran a bunch before you shot it? Try cutting the steaks thinner, that sometimes "helps"....or buy a crock pot....or grind it.
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Old 10-14-2010, 02:39 PM   #3
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Default Re: Tough meat?

sxs

We run every thing through a cuber (trnderizier), even the backstraps and eithr flash fry or flash grill with marinade.

Flash means very quick on high heat. never had a chewey piece of venisin yet.

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Old 10-14-2010, 02:40 PM   #4
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shoulda shot a sporky
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Old 10-14-2010, 02:41 PM   #5
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Default Re: Tough meat?

on a serious note, i have one of those spring loaded tenderizers, with all of the little blades that pierce the meat, they are no mess and work wonders on tougher meat
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Old 10-14-2010, 02:42 PM   #6
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Default Re: Tough meat?

The only time I have had tough deer meat was when the animal got adrenalin pumped through it from running. Next time you may want to hang it longer as well. We usually hang our meat for 7 days min. You may be able to take it to a butcher and have them run it through a meat tenderizer. Or as stated above, turn it to hamburger. With tough deer meat the hamburger even seems odd though.

If nothing else, cook it with a brick.

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Old 10-14-2010, 03:08 PM   #7
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Default Re: Tough meat?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Diver Killer View Post
Did it die slowly? Or had it ran a bunch before you shot it? Try cutting the steaks thinner, that sometimes "helps"....or buy a crock pot....or grind it.
Died quick; neck shot and down. It was running when I found it. Don't know for how long. Adrenalin may be the culprit here, although I thought adrenalin would give a strong taste. This is mild but tough.

Yes, cut thin and cooked fast. Must be the runnin. Oh well. Maybe I'm getting too old and not remembering what causes things.
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Old 10-14-2010, 03:15 PM   #8
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You can take the toughest wild game and can it, breaks it down and is great for soup, stews or gravy. Need a pressure canner for this.
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Old 10-14-2010, 03:41 PM   #9
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shoulda shot a sporky
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Old 10-14-2010, 04:06 PM   #10
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Default Re: Tough meat?

try a basalmic maranade for a few hours before cooking. vinager usually tenders meat up nicely
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Old 10-14-2010, 04:16 PM   #11
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spent almost 40 years in the meat industry and from my experience the problem lies with the animal on the decline because of something as simple a common cold or small infection somewhere in the animalt. It starts to loose weight and the body reacts by flooding enzymes into the muscles, causing them to protect the decline of tissue. Happens in beef especially and pork to some extent but surely a wild animal without the fat content would be effected even more. Best eating animals are the ones that are on the gain, thats why they put them in a feedlot for a minimum of three days prior to butcher. still good to eat, just tuff.
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Old 10-14-2010, 04:19 PM   #12
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Default Re: Tough meat?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SXS View Post
This year I shot a forkhorn the first day in the Ochocos. Down @8:30. In camp and skinned out and on ice by 11:00. Drove home and took the meat off of ice and into refridgerator. Cut and wrap 2 days later.

The meat is tough! I mean, backstrap is as tough as round steaks. What causes this? This is not my first rodeo. I'm 63 and have been eating my own deer meat for 50 years. I have never had a young deer that was this tough.

What did I do wrong? Anything I can do now to help situation?
needed to be hung in a meat locker for 4-5 days to age before being cut not put on ice for 2 days then cut. cool aging makes for much better eating
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Old 10-14-2010, 05:01 PM   #13
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Default Re: Tough meat?

I saw the post about flash frying or flash grilling above but didnt see anybody ask if it is possible that it is being over-cooked.....??? That would definitely make it tough........
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Old 10-14-2010, 05:15 PM   #14
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Default Re: Tough meat?

If you boned out the backstraps prior to 24 hours it will shrink up and be tougher. That and what drspel said....
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Old 10-14-2010, 06:22 PM   #15
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Default Re: Tough meat?

I have to agree about keeping it cool for longer. The past two years I've kept mine on ice for a week or so before doing the processing. Both have been pretty tender, if fact this year's deer I could cut the sirloin steaks with just the edge of my fork.

From my understanding what happens is that rigor mortis sets in sometime shortly after the animal dies. And if you let is sit for a few days it lets go and loosens up. Then it will be tender. Also, if you have some "before" rigor mortis sets in, it will be tender as well. But if you freeze it before it goes away then it stays tough. I learned about this when I went on a tour through a meat packing plant when I was in high school. I've applied it to the animals I've harvested through the years. I've never had any really tough cuts on anything.
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Old 10-14-2010, 06:34 PM   #16
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Default Re: Tough meat?

Ive killed more deer and elk than I care to remember.Ive had big ol swell neck rutted bucks that ate and tasted great.Ive had 1 elk that stunk so bad I couldnt eat it.And I killed 1 forked horn buck that was lazily feeding along when I shot it.That forked horn should have been an excellent eating deer.It was so tough you couldnt chew through it.Could not believe how tough it was.Sometimes it just happens.Maybe drspel is onto something.

Almost every deer or elk Ive killed other than the ones mentioned above were excellent table fare.Some hung for a day.Some for a week.Deer and elk are a lot leaner than beef so my experience of hanging them over 3 days is uneccesary
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Old 10-14-2010, 07:40 PM   #17
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Default Re: Tough meat?

Try thawing and re-freezing it. Yeah I know you can't do that blah blah blah.....Sure you can and it will break down the meat a little. Just try a pack or two. Might save you some frustration.
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Old 10-14-2010, 07:43 PM   #18
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Default Re: Tough meat?

You have to let it hang for at least a week. That is aging. The animal goes into rigamortis? not sure of spelling. It takes up to a week for it to come out then the meat softens up. It is true dont ever cut your meat that quick.
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Old 10-14-2010, 08:01 PM   #19
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Default Re: Tough meat?

SXS....63....Did you have your teeth in?????Sorry I couldn't resist. I have no idea why the meat is tuff.
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Old 10-14-2010, 08:48 PM   #20
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Some of the toughest game meat I ever had was some elk we got a few years ago. The temperature was in the single digits and the meat froze solid before we had it packed out. Brought it home and had to thaw it out just to butcher it. As my uncle said, "it was so tough, you had to cut the gravy with a knife". I may be way off base but I think you can cool meat down too quickly and then it just stays tuff.
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Old 10-14-2010, 09:15 PM   #21
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SXS....63....Did you have your teeth in?????Sorry I couldn't resist. I have no idea why the meat is tuff.
hahaha i was thinking the same thing.....just because the buck was a fork doesnt mean it wasnt old....we had a fork blacktail in the shop that was 13 years old acording to the teeth!!!! no mass to the antlers, they looked like your typical young fork. but the body was a little bigger than normal and showed some age in the face.

Did the buck look young? it could be a old buck with poor genetics
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Old 10-14-2010, 09:25 PM   #22
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My buddy got a smaaaaaalllll forky this past Sat. morning. Had him hung and skinned before noon. We cut him up on Wed. He was pretty chewey for a young deer like that. We guessed him to be no more than two years old. The does he was with were bigger than he was. One shot drop and dead.....no running. Figured he would be tender, but he weren't. Noticed also, that he didn't have a lot of fat on him.
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Old 10-14-2010, 09:55 PM   #23
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I shot an ochoco forky this archery season. I heart shot it about 6 pm, it ran about 100 yards, was quickly gutted, then skinned shortly after at camp, hung overnight in 45 degree weather then cut up and froze the next morning. It has been very good tasting and tender. I like to hang them for at least 5 days but I don't happen to have a walk in cooler. Not sure why but I have had good luck with my young bucks being very tender even after only being able to let them hang over night.
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Old 10-15-2010, 05:31 AM   #24
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Default Re: Tough meat?

I'll cast my lot with what drspel said. Sounds like he's got a pretty large sample group upon which to base his observation.

I've killed deer and antelope that were cut up after less than a 24-hour hang that came out tender. I've hung them for several days in coolers and had them come out tough.

I've had deer that I had wounded and had to track down and finish off that were tender. I've had deer that dropped stone dead that were tougher.

My last year's balcktail was all antlers and neck with about as much fat as a greyhound. I got him in early December with a muzzleloader tag. His meat had a little extra smell to it, but it was no tougher than any other deer I've gotten over the years.

I don't necessarily think that meat is tough or tender for the reasons we've been taught to think it is. Maybe younger deer are more tender because, like little kids, they get sick and then get well quickly, so the odds of shooting one that's sick are much less. Maybe old rutted out bucks are sometimes tough because they're getting by on no rest, they're not eating much, it's cold outside and they're fighting with other bucks once in a while. And, sickess takes longer to shake the older we get. If a big old buck is the equivalent of a 60-year old human, he'll get sicker and take longer to recover than a deer the equivalent of 20-year old would. That kind of lifestyle would make me more prone to get sick and stay sick anyway.
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Old 10-15-2010, 06:06 AM   #25
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SXS.. I don't think you did anything wrong.
You mentioned you have been eating your own for 50 years, I'd say you know exactly what your doing.
Certainly odd... .
Hard to beat ground venison.
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Old 10-15-2010, 06:09 AM   #26
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I worked in a slaughter house for 105 days(counted) in 1970 after being discharged from the service. It was a new facility and they assigned jobs alphabetically. My last name starts with a B. I was # 2. The first guy herded the cows into the chute. The 2nd guy(me)killed the cow ,hung it ,bled it,removed the head , and removed the tongue from the head.I noticed that when i had a hard time removing the head that during the inspection process the cow was found to be sick(usually cancer)and was a lot TOUGHER to cut.We went through a knife a week(sharpening) and there was a marked difference with the sick ones......
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Old 10-15-2010, 06:17 AM   #27
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I believe this is one of the most asked questions out there in the hunting world. There seams to be as many theories as there are people who give them. I found this document on the internet it is definitely worth the read.

http://pubs.cas.psu.edu/FreePubs/pdfs/uk072.pdf

Strange enough all of my 30 years experience has led me age my animals similar to what this document says. I have aged my wild game just like you would a beef. If you have the right equipment which we do, we have a full walk in cooler and I have found ways to control the moisture in the cooler. I have found that aging or hanging at temps around 36-38 degrees for 7-10 days will result in the most tender meat. Keep in mind you have to control the moisture when aging for extended periods. If you do not control the moisture you can either dry it out or cause spoilage from too much moisture. When hanging I periodically test cuts of meat for tenderness and will cut it if the meat meets my approval before the 7-10 days. If you have the ability to do this you will find as the meat ages it does get more tender. My cow elk I shot this year was about a 4-5 year old cow and when testing it at 4 days it was not acceptable, I hung it for the full 10 days and it is fork tender.



These are my results I'm sure others will vary.

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Old 10-15-2010, 07:29 AM   #28
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Default Re: Tough meat?

I cut the next day after the kill and I have no issues with tenderness. I find the longer you hang deer the more meat you lose to it drying out. They aren't beef and don't have the fat beef does.

To each is own I guess...
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Old 10-15-2010, 12:57 PM   #29
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Default Re: Tough meat?

Let me put it this way...

Hanging an animal for a short period works great if they are tender to start with. The only way to make a tough animal tender is to hang it longer, however aging meat for extended periods needs to be in controlled environments.

Some will argue this and like stated above, To Each His Own...

Aging of meat (also known as seasoning,
ripening, or conditioning) is the
practice of holding carcasses or cuts
under low controlled temperature
and humidity for several days to enhance
flavor, tenderize, and complete
curing reactions. Game meat typically
is aged to enhance flavor and the tenderization
process, which occurs
when enzymes break down or degrade
complex proteins in the
muscle over time.
Meat from game animals is generally
less tender than that of domestic
animals because of the exercise wild
animals exert in foraging for food
and the low-energy diet they consume.
The degree of tenderness is
related to the age of the animal. The
most tender meat comes from young,
healthy, alert animals. The condition
of the animal immediately before
harvest also affects the quality of the
meat. For example, if an animal has
run a long distance before being
killed, its meat may be darker in color
(brown to purplish-black), sticky, or
gummy in texture. The pH of the
meat is also higher in these animals
because the energy stores in the
muscle are depleted, whereas the pH
of meat of rested animals is 5.6 to 5.8.
The increase in pH reduces the overall
meat quality and increases the
potential for bacterial growth.
Meat that is to be ground, cured,
or made into sausage or bologna does
not need to be aged, since further
processing tenderizes the meat. Aging
is not recommended for a carcass
with little or no fat covering, as the
carcass may dry out during the aging
process. If you choose to cook your
game by braising, roasting, or stewing,
then aging is not necessary, since
moist heat cooking also tenderizes
the meat.
If you will be aging a carcass at
home or a camp, leave the hide on
to protect against excessive dehydration,
discoloration, and contamination
from dirt, insects, leaves, bacteria,
mold, etc. State laws require that
the hide be removed before processing
at commercial processors. If you
age at home, remember to do so in
clean, cool, well-ventilated areas free
from gas, oil, or paint odors, as the
meat may absorb them.
Aging for 5–7 days should improve
tenderness without undue spoilage.
It is extremely important, however, to
age game carcasses or meat under refrigerated
conditions (at a temperature
below 40F). Although the action
of the tenderization enzymes is
much faster at warmer temperatures
(greater than 40F), spoilage occurs
more quickly and bacteria of public
health concern (Salmonella, E. coli
O157:H7) also grow much faster.
Aging at warmer temperatures can
present both meat quality defects and
health hazards. “Off” odors associated
with aged carcasses generally are
indicative of microbial growth. Under
these circumstances, it is advised
that the meat be discarded. Even if
cooked, the meat will be objectionable
and may present health hazards.


3Fletch

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Old 10-15-2010, 01:22 PM   #30
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Default Re: Tough meat?

I age my steaks in the fridge for 5-7 days after thawing. Not sure if it makes that much difference. I've also had deer and elk that I was sure would be tough, come out tender and mild. And you ones tough as shoe leather. I think the butcher/meat industry guys are on to something.
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Old 10-15-2010, 04:52 PM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amahnee View Post
I cut the next day after the kill and I have no issues with tenderness. I find the longer you hang deer the more meat you lose to it drying out. They aren't beef and don't have the fat beef does.

To each is own I guess...


The freezing will also tenderize venison.

Hanging requires a constant cool temperature that doesn't dry out the meat. Difficult to pull of.

East coasters in cold climates will leave the hide on and age in the existing climate. I would imagine skinning is a tough task but the hide helps keep if from drying out. If I get my Willamette Deer while its real cold out I'll hang it with hide on just to try that.

Is this a high jack to ask if anyone on here has "aged" deer with the hide on?

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Old 10-15-2010, 04:53 PM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quaka Wacka View Post
I age my steaks in the fridge for 5-7 days after thawing. Not sure if it makes that much difference. I've also had deer and elk that I was sure would be tough, come out tender and mild. And you ones tough as shoe leather. I think the butcher/meat industry guys are on to something.

I think that's a good way to do it.
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Old 10-16-2010, 02:53 AM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SXS View Post
This year I shot a forkhorn the first day in the Ochocos. Down @8:30. In camp and skinned out and on ice by 11:00. Drove home and took the meat off of ice and into refridgerator. Cut and wrap 2 days later.

The meat is tough! I mean, backstrap is as tough as round steaks. What causes this? This is not my first rodeo. I'm 63 and have been eating my own deer meat for 50 years. I have never had a young deer that was this tough.

What did I do wrong? Anything I can do now to help situation?
next time if you can let hang 7 to 11 days
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Old 10-16-2010, 04:50 AM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the_dude View Post
try a basalmic maranade for a few hours before cooking. vinager usually tenders meat up nicely
I think The Dude is on to something! We tried the basalmic on a round steak last night and it was more tender than the backstrap we tried earlier.

BTW, I may be old but I still have my own teeth, you young whippersnappers
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Old 10-16-2010, 12:38 PM   #35
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Quote:
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BTW, I may be old but I still have my own teeth, you young whippersnappers
Lol!

If you want some great flavor on the grill, try marinating a couple steaks in Newmans Own vinegar & oil dressing. You won't be disappointed.
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Old 10-16-2010, 04:48 PM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StevenB View Post

The freezing will also tenderize venison.

Hanging requires a constant cool temperature that doesn't dry out the meat. Difficult to pull of.

East coasters in cold climates will leave the hide on and age in the existing climate. I would imagine skinning is a tough task but the hide helps keep if from drying out. If I get my Willamette Deer while its real cold out I'll hang it with hide on just to try that.

Is this a high jack to ask if anyone on here has "aged" deer with the hide on?

SB
Being one of those East Coasters from a cold climate I'll attempt to field this question... All of the deer I harvested and subsequently butchered myself (10+ deer) were aged with the hide on, for anywhere between 2 and 10 days. Depending on ambient conditions I'd either hang my deer outside at camp for a day or two, then bring it in, or it would go straight into our barn to hang for the whole time. The temperature of the meat would dictate how long I let my deer age for; if I was having trouble keeping it under 40 degrees then 3 days maximum, closer to the 33-37 mark then I'd let it hang 7-10 days. My reasoning for this being that enzymatic and bacterial action both directly relate to temperature, and thus its a fine line between letting natural enzymes do their thing and spoilage causing organisms establishing themselves in the meat.

As for the hide and difficulty skinning your deer when its been left on the carcass while aging, just don't let it freeze on or you'll need an axe to get it off. Otherwise, while yes it is harder to skin a cold carcass than a warm one, the moisture retaining and insulating properties of the hide outweigh the extra 10 or so minutes needed to skin your animal prior to butchering. Hope this answers your question.

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Old 10-16-2010, 06:22 PM   #37
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Could be an anomaly that caused the toughness, but I don't think it was hung long enough. Needs to breakdown a little. Right on ice, right into the frig may have worked against you.
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Old 10-16-2010, 07:32 PM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokerjet View Post
needed to be hung in a meat locker for 4-5 days to age before being cut not put on ice for 2 days then cut. cool aging makes for much better eating

Have to disagree. With deer I never let hang. I butch asap usually that night or th next moning. Never had a tuff pc of meat. Beef is hung to "age" beef has tons of fat. Fat isn't in deer that much in the muscle anyway. I figure my grand father who was the town butcher never thought twice about butchering asap that is good enough for me. "aged meat to me means ROTTING meat"

Another thought would be maybe a old deer?? my father has shot a few nice forkie horns that had grey face old look to them.

Last edited by Hotshot's 4 me!!!; 10-16-2010 at 07:33 PM.
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Old 10-16-2010, 07:46 PM   #39
roosevelt
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Default Re: Tough meat?

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Originally Posted by Hotshot's 4 me!!! View Post
Have to disagree. With deer I never let hang. I butch asap usually that night or th next moning. Never had a tuff pc of meat. Beef is hung to "age" beef has tons of fat. Fat isn't in deer that much in the muscle anyway. I figure my grand father who was the town butcher never thought twice about butchering asap that is good enough for me. "aged meat to me means ROTTING meat"

Another thought would be maybe a old deer?? my father has shot a few nice forkie horns that had grey face old look to them.
they also have a different type of fat that doesn't react the same way in the aging process.
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Old 10-16-2010, 09:39 PM   #40
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Default Re: Tough meat?

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Originally Posted by moosegut View Post
You can take the toughest wild game and can it, breaks it down and is great for soup, stews or gravy. Need a pressure canner for this.

Agreed its probably not too late to can it either.
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Old 10-17-2010, 05:57 AM   #41
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Default Re: Tough meat?

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Originally Posted by SXS View Post
I think The Dude is on to something! We tried the basalmic on a round steak last night and it was more tender than the backstrap we tried earlier.

BTW, I may be old but I still have my own teeth, you young whippersnappers
Wont debate on hang time.But I was taught to wipe it down in vinigar.Helps tenderize meat and helps repell insects.
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