Deer processing question...


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gspn
December 1, 2012, 05:55 PM
I process a few deer on my own each year. Sometimes I get a problem with a tenderloin or backstrap called "cold shortening". This makes the meat impossibly tough...you can't chew it...even if you run it through a meat grinder it's inedible. I've done some research on the topic but I'm still uncertain as to the best way to avoid this.

The experts say this is caused by the carcass cooling too rapidly. However...if you don't coo the carcass the meat starts to spoil.

For example...this morning there were two doe shot within 30 seconds of each other. They were both immediately brought to the rack, gutted (skin left of) and hung in a meat cooler.

After the first deer was in the cooler I gutted the second one and then immediately cut out the tenderloin...this deer hadn't yet been in the cooler...and the loin has become very tough.

The second deer had been hanging in the cooler for perhaps 20 minutes before I cut the loin from it...and that loin is as tender as tender can be. This seems to run contrary to what the experts have to say about cold shortening as the one that was cooled faster was more tender.

I really don't know why one would have toughened and the other not.

I have the animals hanging head-down with the skin on in a cooler set at 38 degrees. I did not cut the throat...just left it as is. My initial plan was to finish the butchering tomorrow but after some research I'm thinking it may be better to leave them til next weekend (won't be able to do it during the week).

I guess i have at least two questions for you:

1 - why do you think one loin got tough and the other didn't?

2 - do I need to cut the throat of the deer that are hanging or leave them as is?

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rcmodel
December 1, 2012, 05:58 PM
#2 = Too late now.
You need to cut the throat and bleed them out while they are still warm.
Once they cool off, they can't bleed out.

rc

MCgunner
December 1, 2012, 06:23 PM
That's a problem I never had. Of course, it rarely is cool down here, LOL. I skin ASAP and soak on ice water for a few days to bleed it. Just how I do it. I never have a gamey deer that way. My wife's cousin, rich fellow that he is, kills it, don't even gut it, just takes it to the processor. Even his sausage is gamey. Heck, most times he just gives it to the locals at his south Texas lease. He's a trophy hunter, not into the meat.

LJH
December 1, 2012, 06:32 PM
To tell you the truth there are many too many reasons the meat could be tough. If you are only waiting 20 min to process then that might be a factor. The meat might be in the process of rigor. We usually hang the meat in a cooler for a few days at almost freezing. (38 - 42f) If you freeze it too soon you can end up with what is known as freeze rigor. Think along the lines of delayed rigor. MCgunner's method works well if you dont have acces to a walk in.

Cocked & Locked
December 1, 2012, 08:39 PM
#2 = Too late now.
You need to cut the throat and bleed them out while they are still warm.
Once they cool off, they can't bleed out.

rc

Must be a regional thing. I've been deer hunting since the mid 1960's and have seen very few folks cut the throat to bleed a deer.

The ones I did see were years ago. We just gut them in the woods where they fall and remove the organs. Lots of blood. :scrutiny:

rcmodel
December 1, 2012, 08:51 PM
Regional or not, my old dead daddy taught me when I was 6 years old, when you butcher a hog or steer, you kill it, cut it's throat, and getting it hanging to bleed out ASAP.

If you don't, the meat will have all kinds of bad tastes and other problems once the blood coagulates and you can't get it out of the meat.

I followed his advice and always did the same thing with wild game.

Never had any problems with "gamy" or tough meat either.

But I have never tried it by leaving the blood in the meat while it was cooled, so what do I know what happens if you do?

rc

MCgunner
December 1, 2012, 08:55 PM
The ones I did see were years ago. We just gut them in the woods where they fall and remove the organs. Lots of blood.

You know, might be a good idea if you use .223 or something, but with an adequate exit wound and internal organ damage...............ROFL! Sorry....:D

Seriously, though, there's a lot of bleedin' when you cut 'em open. I cannot see how they could bleed out any faster from cutting carotid in the neck.

Cocked & Locked
December 1, 2012, 09:16 PM
Centerfire rifle bullets in one side and out the other bleeds them out pretty quick. If they run a distance they will drop when they are bled out.

Some of the blood goes out the entrance and exit wounds and LOTS of blood remains in the body cavity...until it is field dressed.

Not many hogs (excluding feral ones) and steers are shot with .30-06. A .22 in the head of livestock that either stuns or kills them is a good case for cutting the throat quickly and hanging them head down.

rcmodel
December 1, 2012, 09:18 PM
If you hang them up to gut them, or shortly after?
The blood pools in the neck and shoulders.
And it can't get out fast enough before it congeals there.

Same as pulling the head off a gamebird or chicken as soon as you kill it.
So it can bleed out completely ASAP.

Never mind.

Do it however you want to do it.

rc

MCgunner
December 1, 2012, 09:27 PM
Whatever works for you, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

I don't hang the deer, I gut it right there on the ground and feed the bobkitties. :D I have to line the trunk of my car to haul it home, blood all over the place. Don't have a truck, but I have an all terrain Toyota Echo. :D I hang it soon as i get back with it and skin/quarter and get it on ice. I've always gutted it first and foremost on the spot.

gspn
December 1, 2012, 09:35 PM
I read earlier today that a lot of the large beef processors are now using a high voltage system to "bleed" the animals. Apparently the voltage causes the muscles to contract over and over and it squeezes all the blood out of the muscles.

My redneck outlook made me wonder if a set of jumper cables couldn't do the same thing down at the farm.:) Or it could be a great reason to buy a Taser.:D

MCgunner
December 1, 2012, 09:40 PM
My redneck outlook made me wonder if a set of jumper cables couldn't do the same thing down at the farm. Or it could be a great reason to buy a Taser.

http://www.clicksmilies.com/s1106/lachen/laughing-smiley-014.gifDon't guess Jay Leno could use the vid. PETA might shut him down.http://www.clicksmilies.com/s1106/lachen/laughing-smiley-014.gif

Cocked & Locked
December 1, 2012, 09:44 PM
If you hang them up to gut them, or shortly after?
The blood pools in the neck and shoulders.
And it can't get out fast enough before it congeals there.

Deer...I gut them flat on the ground where they drop. I don't hang them to gut them...but just to skin them...later, at home.

Everyone doesn't have to do it the same. That's just the way I do it.

JonathanE
December 1, 2012, 10:27 PM
Re: tough tenderloins:
I now bring two ziplocks to be used while field dressing: a large one for the liver, heart & kidneys, and a smaller one just for the tenderloins. They come out while I'm gutting in the field; not when I'm butchering in the garage.
I used to celebrate that same night with the tenderloins, and they were always tough. Now, I celebrate with fresh liver and let the tenderloins sit in the fridge in the ziplock for several days. They are always very tender when I do it this way.

jrdolall
December 1, 2012, 11:17 PM
I always wait several days before breaking down the deer if possible. I try to field dress within an hour. Processors usually let them hang for at least a few days before processing.

Cocked & Locked
December 2, 2012, 12:00 AM
Processor in my area leaves the gutted & skinned deer hanging a minimum of five days prior to making burger etc.

If I do it myself I leave the quarters, shoulders, backstraps in a cooler full of ice for 7-8 days....water draining off of course.

Andrew Leigh
December 2, 2012, 12:32 AM
My 0.02c

The importance of dropping an animal in it's tracks cannot be overstated. You don't need testosterone coursing through the veins while the deer tries to escape.

We have a saying here which is "if it runs make jerky, if it drops straight to the pot".

The second most important thing is to field dress immediately where possible, if you cannot field dress then cut the throat and let the animal bleed. We always load the animal such that is can also bleed out enroute to the lodge. If the animal has not been field dressed we immediately field dress it back in the lodge and hang the meat with skin on (or off if you prefer) but we prefer to get the deer chilled ASAP. Our coolroom is set to 37 - 41 deg F.

Our hunts normally are a minimum of 4 days and we like to shoot on day one and quarter on the evening of day before we leave which is still insufficient time to hang. We then take the meat to a butcher (while still being chilled)who further hangs it before processing.

Some think that deer needs to be treated different to beef, it must be treated the same. The purpose of dry ageing is to begin the process of breaking down the structure of the grain of the meat thus tenderising it. This process is even more important with game as the meat is already inherently tougher.

Older bucks are also used almost exclisively for jerky, sausage and patties. If we want cooking meat we get ourselves ewes.

DM~
December 2, 2012, 10:26 AM
I've never had any of those problems... I gut them in the field, and they are bled out from the wound... Once you open them up, out comes all the blood.

I like to skin them warm, as they skin much easier then, but i can't aways do that. I do split the chest and push a stick between the sides to hold it open, to get rid of the heat ASAP. Around here, it's cool enough in deer season that i don't need a cooler, ice or anything else.

I process it over the next several days as i feel like it, it's just no big deal at all...

DM

MCgunner
December 2, 2012, 11:06 AM
The importance of dropping an animal in it's tracks cannot be overstated.

So, I take it, you don't bow hunt?

buck460XVR
December 2, 2012, 01:31 PM
My 0.02c

The importance of dropping an animal in it's tracks cannot be overstated. You don't need testosterone coursing through the veins while the deer tries to escape.


I don't think it's testosterone you're talking about, but adrenaline. Testosterone is gonna be there regardless. Stressed animal always are tougher and taste stronger than animals that are relaxed when slaughtered. This is the same with beef cattle. One reason farm killed/butchered beef is more tender and flavorful than store bought slaughterhouse beef. Bow shot deer many times run after shot but for the most part are relaxed before being shot, thus there is no time for the adrenaline to get into their tissue. Deer than have been heavily pressured by hunters or bucks/does running for hours from rutting activity will be tough and gamey even when dropped in their tracks. Without knowing what the animal has gone thru before they were shot, one cannot say it was the processing or handling that had all the effect on the tenderness or the flavor. Proper handling and processing will always make the most of your wild game, but it cannot guarantee it will always be tender.

Andrew Leigh
December 2, 2012, 03:42 PM
[quote/] So, I take it, you don't bow hunt?[quote]

Correct, only talking about my own experience.

Suppose bowhunting gets a little more tricky. I still believe that the sooner the animal dies after the stress of being shot the better. Certainly tests on beef would indicate that there is an impact on meat quality as well as blood retention http://www.beefcentral.com/u/lib/cms/effect-of-slaughter-method-on-animal-wel.pdf

As a bowhunter what is your experience of the meat quality once a animal runs a distance? Do you think there is a difference as compared to a rifle kill? I would not know.

In my experience it does make a difference as to how rapidly the animal perishes from a rifle shot.

Can't believe I used testosterone rather than adrenaline, should really concentrate more.

MCgunner
December 2, 2012, 04:05 PM
As a bowhunter what is your experience of the meat quality once a animal runs a distance? Do you think there is a difference as compared to a rifle kill? I would not know.

Oh, I haven't bow hunted, but once back in 1974 and didn't shoot anything. I just know that most bow hits require some tracking. They don't always flop DRT with a bow.

I have bows, love to shoot 'em, it's just that bow season is HOT, there's lots of mosquitoes, and to borrow from Ron White, I don't wanna go. :D Besides, here, it falls right in the middle of dove season and I LOVE my dove hunting. :D Most "hunting" I've ever done with a bow is shooting gar and buffalo suckers with a harpoon. That's a lot of fun. :D I'm hoping there's lotsa gar on the Colorado (Texas) cause our new house is only 10 miles from a ramp on the river. :D I like running trot lines, too.

Lloyd Smale
December 2, 2012, 04:14 PM
Ive never bled out a deer. I rely on the bullet to do that. Cattle are usually shot in the head and need to be bled out. A deer hit in the vitals will bleed out about imediately. Ive processed many many deer. Ive never noticed one bit of differnce between meat that was put in the freezer two hours after shooting to one put in the freezer a week after shooting. I shoot to many deer to let them hang around so there mostly taken care of the next day at the latest. I cant explain your problem other then maybe you just got an old tough buck. I kill and process at least 50 deer a year and dont remember the last time i ate tough venison but it hasnt been since i was a kid at least 40 years ago. Like i said we shoot alot of deer and to be honest ive never noticed a differnce in the taste of it when a deer is wounded and runs either. Now that said I have seen it effect the taste of buffalo. My buddy shot a young cow a few years ago and made a marginal shot and we chased it for about 2 miles. It was tough and it just didnt taste right.

308win
December 2, 2012, 06:30 PM
I agree with RC. I have only processed a few deer but a lot of beef and pork. Kill it, cut arteries and veins in neck and hang it head down ASAP to bleed, remove entrails and organs. Never had an issue with off tastes, toughness, or any of the things others here are describing. Never soaked anything in water for any period of time, just used water to clean. We also removed as much of the membrane that covers the muscle as possible.

Patocazador
December 2, 2012, 09:45 PM
We had a 6000 acre deer lease and killed about 150 deer/year. We had 4-wheelers that we loaded the deer on and drove to the skinning rack where the deer was hung by the hocks on a gambrel. The deer was skinned immediately and caped and/or the head removed. Then the deer was gutted while hanging. It was transported whole to the walk-in cooler and hung at 38-40 deg. until the hunter went home. On the day of leaving it was quartered and put in coolers with ice jugs on top. It was not cut up and ground until the hunter arrived home. The deer usually hung at camp for 3-5 days.
We never had tough or gamey deer.

WYcoyote
December 2, 2012, 11:41 PM
I try to hang the deer/elk/game for 5 to 10 days depending on if I can keep it at 32 to 40 degrees or not. They are skinned as soon as possible.
My theory is if the heart stops beating it's done bleeding, I don't slit throats.
I believe the previous post about rigor mortis and would avoid cutting loose any meat/ muscle groups until an aging period has taken place. I then complete the processing myself.
I have used this proceedure for quite some time and I won't give a body count except to say it is substantial. It has worked out well and if it didn't I would have changed it long ago.

Andrew Leigh
December 3, 2012, 03:20 AM
We had a 6000 acre deer lease and killed about 150 deer/year. We had 4-wheelers that we loaded the deer on and drove to the skinning rack where the deer was hung by the hocks on a gambrel. The deer was skinned immediately and caped and/or the head removed. Then the deer was gutted while hanging. It was transported whole to the walk-in cooler and hung at 38-40 deg. until the hunter went home. On the day of leaving it was quartered and put in coolers with ice jugs on top. It was not cut up and ground until the hunter arrived home. The deer usually hung at camp for 3-5 days.
We never had tough or gamey deer.
Could not agree more, we have the same experience except yours is a somewhat more extensive.

Without being contentious I would like to debate this a little more to get clarity and other opinions.

1. I understand that the reason for removing as much blood, as quickly as possible, is that while the muscles are still warm and relaxed one is likely to get much more blood removed. As rigor mortis sets in and as the muscles cool the blood retention increases.

It was also my understanding that blood will begin to decay far quicker than flesh, it is for this reason that we remove as much blood as possible. Also the absence of blood reduces the mass and therefore the meat chills faster.

2. The reasons for cooling are simply to retard the rate of decay of the flesh and to have control over the rate of decay. So one would want the meat in the chiller as soon as possible. Control of the duration leads to "ageing / maturing" of the meat. A process that is well understood, you know the lazy aged steaks you buy. One can dry age or wet age. I age normal beef steaks, vacuum packed, at normal fridge temperature for two weeks, after that the taste get a little "sour" for me. My BIL likes them at three weeks.

3. When the animal takes flight post a shot that does not drop it immediately then adrenaline and other stress hormones are secreted and will course through the body as this is a stressful time for the animal. As the stress levels increase so to does the lactic acid content of the meat. Being an acid this changes the pH and the meat becomes more acid affecting the quality. Now most studies refer to the normal slaughter of beef but to me are still relevant as they relate to stress. Game may not be stresses beforehand but a poor shot will result in flight and all the corresponding stress syndromes.

4. I also think that it is the preference of many to have copious amount of gravy / sauce with their meat which can greatly mask the true flavour of the cut. I like it either way but tenderloins and the likes go onto the BBQ with salt and pepper only and need to be medium rare.

5. I also think that some of the toughness of meat is due to poor butchering. Here I include myself. I have gotten better through watching very good video's on the web and correct handling of the butchers knife can do wonders. Most of the animals we shoot are for jerky and dried sausauge which we love here.

6. I also think that African game has a different diet and does tend towards being more gamey. Have eaten locally specially raised Fallow Deer (raised on sweet grasses) and have eaten deer in England, Germany and they are much less gamey than ours, don't know if it was in the preperation though.

When it is especially bad for us is at the end of the season and one is hunting plains game. The stuff is so spooked and skittish as they can see you from as proverbial mile away that this form of hunting normally involves a lot of flight from the deer before a successful shot is made. This is the extreme I know but that makes meat tough.

Any further thoughts?

Mike J
December 3, 2012, 02:20 PM
I do what McGunner posted. I don't have access to a place to hang my deer in a cooler so I quarter & cooler them. I keep the plug pulled on the cooler & let the water from the ice melting wash the blood out of the meat. After three days of this I cut the meat up & put it in the freezer.

MCgunner
December 3, 2012, 02:33 PM
I'm on day three, two hind quarters down, going to start on the rest after my break. :D Meat is good and bleached out and looks WAY tasty.

There's more'n one way to skin this cat...or deer....I reckon. :D

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