Deer hunting in the heat


August 27, 2013, 05:28 PM
I am going to be bow hunting in Missouri this year in mid September. Usually it is still pretty warm here at this time and I am wandering how others age their meat. In the fall/winter I hang em from a tree for a week or so but this is not an option for mid September. Only thing I can think of is coolers of ice??

Any ideas or experiences would be greatly appreciated. I would hate for any of the venison to spoil or not be able to age it at all.


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August 27, 2013, 05:42 PM
Just bring it to the butcher. No sense in taking the chance of your meat spoiling.

On a side note, I've never tasted the difference in an aged deer against a non aged deer.

August 27, 2013, 05:43 PM
Old fridge? Make a rack to hang quarters. Set temp to match temps when you normally age the meat.

We butcher our deer as well, though we really don't age it. But we skin and quarter, then toss everything into an old fridge in the garage overnight to cool it before we process it.

August 27, 2013, 05:55 PM
I would add to get that thing to a place to butcher ASAP... If you've never dealt with "blow flies" before, be prepared to. Best to haul butt to a garage or someplace indoors to clean/butcher it.

A cooler full of ice does well, put something on the bottom to keep the meat up, add meat, then ice, replace ice as needed and keep the drain open, this will also do a decent job of washing the blood out as well.

I like the old fridge idea too, that would work well I'd imagine.

August 27, 2013, 05:58 PM
I know the butcher is probably the safest route but I take pride in butchering my own animals, plus its free.

August 27, 2013, 06:01 PM
I hunt in Florida and in the hot weather you have to cool it down quickly. A large cooler and frozen 2-liter bottles work fairly well. Skin and quarter it quickly and age on racks in an unused refrigerator.

Edit ADD: Using actual ice is risky if it's going to be a couple of days. The problem is the ice melts leaving the meat in water which is an excellent medium for bacterial growth. If using ice, place it on the bottom and have some sort of racks, or bottles to keep the meat above the collected water. That's why I use Frozen 2-liter bottles. It melts but stays dry. Placing a bag of ice in the gut cavity is an emergency way of cooling a carcass right after gutting. It helps but a cooler is really needed.

August 27, 2013, 06:06 PM
Lots of ice and yeah a cooler

August 27, 2013, 06:11 PM
I know the butcher is probably the safest route but I take pride in butchering my own animals, plus its free.

I do to but in the spring I take it in.... I would feel sick if the meat went bad and I'm 3hrs away from home and 15min to the butcher.

August 27, 2013, 06:24 PM
I also hunt in Florida where it's always hot. As soon as possible we but, skin and quarter then put on ice til I get home then process it accordingly. Aging IMO is not necessary with deer however letting it cool in a walk in fridge makes processing it easier the next day.

August 27, 2013, 08:03 PM
A 120 quart ice chest will keep it for as long as I am too lazy to butcher. :D I've kept it for a week in the ice chest on ice before. Normally, several days and I go to cuttin'. I just got done with 3 pigs. It's August, temps near 100. An ice chest is a must have.

August 27, 2013, 09:58 PM
Cooler with ice is key. Sucks that you have to buy ice every time you go out but you never know when your going to harvest one. I always took at least 1 bag with me in a 120 qt ice chest to throw in the carcass after gutting. Should of done the 2 liter bottle deal to save money though....

In Georgia, we'd gut, skin and quarter and get in cooler asap. Keep flies off of it and cool the meat down. I processed my own so I'd keep the meat on ice overnight and process next day.

August 27, 2013, 10:41 PM
When we moved into this house, there was an old fridge. We put it on the back porch, doesn't ever redneck have a fridge on his back porch? :D The freezer has 10 milk jugs of ice in it now and there's replacement jugs at the ready when I remove some.

I COULD rig the ice maker up and fill up bags to keep in the freezer, but this is less work and more tidy. :D 2 liter jugs would be less bulky in the ice chest, but we don't drink a lot of cokes and what we do is cans in the fridge. Why keep coke on the back porch if ya gotta go inside for a glass?

Arkansas Paul
August 28, 2013, 12:15 AM
Cooler with ice. Deer camp is 2 hours from home, but we have a skinning rack right there, so the deer get skinned and quartered immediately, then put on ice for the ride home. The liquor store is 3 minutes away for the ice.

I would never give someone $75 to clean a deer for me, then not even know for sure I'm getting the deer that I took in. No thank you.

August 28, 2013, 11:47 AM
There is a specific temp range that it needs to be at to properly age the meat.

It needs to be at 40 or below.

Here is an article

I would also add, that when it's warm...we don't age the meat either. The wife tends to complain when she is butchering warm meat. I do the skinning and quartering, she does the detail butchering while I run the vacuum sealer. I will also state that we freeze our meat for 30 days before eating it. It's not a big deal as long as you bring it up to proper temp, but for Jerky there is a window of high bacteria.

I also agree with the cooler methods. Sometimes I will quarter and wrap in plastic bags, then it goes into an ice chest until we can get it butchered. Just remember to drain the water frequently and refresh the ice.

41 Mag
September 1, 2013, 05:30 AM
I usually take at least two coolers and a box of gallon zip locks with me to the woods. I keep ice in both of them. One is full to the top, the other just has a couple of bags in it to keep it cold. IF I get something, I get on ASAP skinning and quartering. I put the whole quarters straight into the chest that only has a little ice in it, then add the trimmings in the bags around the open areas, then add ice as needed to form a layer. Once I fill one, if needed I start on the other. Where we hunt the chances of getting a hog(s) is about two to one of getting a good deer, so I come prepared.

The old fridge or chest freezer is great. I had one sitting on the back porch of our place in the country with six 20# bags of ice in it. Last trip up we actually got a hog and when I opened it up, well nothing but water and funk. I guess all good things come to an end. I had it set up with wire baskets that allowed us to stack in hams and shoulders on them and let the air circulate around them which cooled them quicker. I kept the thermostat set to around 30 degrees so that it would chill really well but took over night and then some to freeze stuff solid.

Another option is to simply take it to the closest processor to put it into their cold storage locker. That will usually only run $10 per night or so, sometimes less if you know the fellow your taking it to. I did that with my mule deer when I was in CO, and it only ran me $30 for a 4 day chill. It gave me time to hunt another couple of days, and then get everything ready to bring it home, plus pick up some dry ice to put on top for the trip home. Where we were at it was close to an hour one way to go get ice, so the storage was well worth the money.

Like mentioned above, I do the shooting, and cleaning and the wife does the cutting and trimming and she likes it solid so it holds it's place and don't get all mushy while she is working on it. That ol freezer had been passed around to at least 4 other people before I got it and set it out there close to 5 years or more ago.

If your in a position to hunt hogs and deer in the heat, it is something to possibly look into. Even purchased new a small one isn't that expensive when compared to spoiled meat or the cost of a couple of trips tot he processor even if it is to simply put it cold storage for a day or two.

jim in Anchorage
September 1, 2013, 10:11 AM
Couple of things here from a Alaskan hunter who shoots moose 3 days from the road:
Skin it immediately. Get rid of the body heat.
Cut it up, but do NOT bone it. That creates more surface area for bacteria to work on. Leave it in large pieces like quarters and ribs.
Wrap it in game bags[cheesecloth]That will stop the flies. put in the shade and elevate it off the ground so air can circulate. Mostain the cheesecloth with water from time to time. The evaporation of the water will cool the meat.
I never lost a once of meat.
Edit: pour 151 everclear on it. DO NOT drink the everclear!

September 2, 2013, 05:46 PM
i have hunted in SW MO all my life. and yes the heat can be a pain in early bow season and often in gun season. i dont hunt a lot early in bow season because of the heat.but i have killed a lot of deer on really warm days.

i dont age venison and i dont take it to the butcher either. i hunt within a mile of the house so what i do wont work for everyone. as soon as i kill one i get it to the house and hang it and skin processing stuff is already set up so i immediately quarter it and start cutting it up.cutting up a warm deer is a lot harder than one chilled overnite but it has to be done quickly when its warm.normally i wont grind burger if its too warm just because of the extra time it takes to get the meat in the freezer.the meat that normally goes to burger is cut in strips for jerky instead.anything that wont go to jerky ,steaks or roasts is frozen and ground later when making brats.

as soon as i get a few packages done they head to the freezer.i space them out in the freezer so they get chilled quicker.

ive cut up a lot of deer on 80+degree days and honestly cant tell the meat from deer killed later during cold temps.having a buddy to help is also and my hunting buddy can usually get a animal from the ground to the freezer in 1.5 hrs at the most.

September 3, 2013, 08:57 AM
I put about 2" of ice in the bottom of the cooler, quarter the deer and put the meat in the cooler adding ice as I add meat. Once all the meat is in the cooler, I cover it to the top with more ice then add/fill water to the top of the cooler. usually 2 gallons of water. Next day drain all the water, flip meat around, add more ice and water. Repeat for at least 5 days. Bone meat, vacuum seal, freeze.

Been doing this in FL and GA for at least 17yrs with no problem. My wife and I process around 5 deer each year.

September 3, 2013, 10:02 AM
If you don't want the meat drowning in ice, here's a lil salt water fishing tip for keeping clams that should work, But you need a deep cooler. Load the bottom of the cooler up with very densely packed ice, even in the 40lb bags will work. A good two or three sheet layer of newspaper and then a layer of burlap. Keeps em cold without being wet, for fishing it's how you keep the clams alive on ice without killing em with the fresh water.

September 3, 2013, 10:32 AM
Well...something I ran into while preparing for the hunt this year....seed ticks! I came out okay because I had treated my clothing with that Sawyers clothing treatment. But my wife and father-in-law were too stubborn to wear treated clothing and they kept getting seed ticks. Now I am thinking I need to treat a set of camo, but I am not sure if it will make me smell too funky.

September 3, 2013, 10:37 AM
I give my hunting gear a good dousing of that sawyer permithrin a few days before the hunt, it lasts about a month and a half. After it sets in and dries it's odorless, and you can put your normal scent killer stuff on. Keeps ticks and spiders off like a force field!

September 3, 2013, 10:50 AM
glad to hear you do that too. I was going to treat some anyways...I am sitting 16 feet in the air on a ladder stand, so my odor won't be much of an issue. I would rather take my chances with a little funny smell than get ate up with ticks.

Texan Scott
September 3, 2013, 03:37 PM
For me, in south central Texas:

Age, schmage.

Field dress it where it falls; haul butt to the nearest tree+ hang, skin, quarter. The goal is to have it in pieces and below 40 right to the bone in under 3 hours.

Time at room temp is good for bacteria, bad for you.

September 4, 2013, 08:38 PM
i really have never seen the need to age deer meat. ageing with beef helps break down the intramuscular fat or make it more tender.since deer dont have marbleing it jus seems like a waste to me.also as ive eatin litterally tons of deer meat over the years and none of it was aged and all of it was good if i processed it. im going to keep on with the way i do it.

now a huge stinky buck could be a prob.or so i used to think. last year i shot a big 8pt that had been fighting and broke off one horn and was actually chaseing a was warm like in the 80's. got him in the freezer and really cant tell his meat from the small does i shot.

i think its more about the handleing and the cooking than anything else.but heck i cud be wrong.

September 4, 2013, 08:54 PM
i can pass on a small tip i got from my neighbor the butcher who has done a 100 deer a year for as long as i can remember if yuall would like to hear keeps the meat from smelling during cooking and always works for me.

September 5, 2013, 07:28 AM
Aging a deer definitely helps the tenderness in my experience. I've butchered over 125 deer over the years and it wouldn't matter with the young tender ones. But the old gnarly bucks definitely benefit from 7-10 days at 35-38 degrees. It turns "rope-textured" deer into semi-tender fare.
Age a hog and you'll be throwing it in the garbage pit. Get those guys cold and frozen ASAP.

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