Over the years, I have seen numerous hunters quarter their deer and then place it in a tub of ice water to soak.
They claim that’s the way their father always did it and that it rinses the blood from the meat. Some will soak it overnight while others prefer to soak it for a few days.
It may be what their fathers did, but in reality it’s a really bad thing to do to any animal you butcher.
Putting the meat in water allows bacteria, know as E. coli, to grow and spread over the entire carcass. In addition, the water removes all of the flavor from the meat, rinsing away the juices many assume is blood. Now think about this a minute: would you eat a good beef steak after soaking it in water for a week?
Ask any chef if he soaks a side of meat in water before portioning it into the desired cuts and he’ll look at you as if you swore at him. He’ll tell you that it rinses the protein juices from the meat and gives you a less desirable steak to eat.
Ask yourself why you don’t see large water tanks for overnight soaking in any butcher house.
I’m an avid hunter myself and this is the method I personally use to clean and prepare my kill every time.
After the shot, the first thing I do is properly bleed the animal. Cut the jugular vein as soon as possible as it helps minimize blood clots and bruising that occur around the shot area. As well, it helps to cleanse the meat of lactic acid buildup that occurs when a deer runs off after being shot. Lactic acid adds to the gaminess of the meat.
When removing the entrails from the deer, be sure to do so by cutting it free in the upper inner chest and pull it out intact. If any feces, dirt or leaking guts get in the cavity, be sure to wipe it clean quickly to avoid tainting the meat.
Once you have it home and hanging, you should get it skinned. Skinning helps the meat cool down quicker. While you’re at it, go ahead and make sure to remove any loose hair left behind, trim away any bruised or bloody meat and double check it for any feces both inside and out.
Then, depending on the outside temperature, it’ll hang for a day or two either outside or in a cooler. As I have time, I’ll quarter, cut and wrap it to my preference. Did you notice that there’s no soaking anything in water? I never have soaked venison in the 63 years I’ve been hunting and I never will.
Some hunters will say they just take theirs to the butcher shop, but that doesn’t mean it’s not up to you to make sure it’s gutted properly, wiped clean of anything that may taint it and cooled properly before it’s delivered.
Good tasting meat in the freezer starts when you pull the trigger and follows through with the proper care.