Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Safe Consumption of Non-Recovered Game

Rodney from St. Louis, MO asked:
This is a question that I have been unable to find anyone who could answer and I hope you can...When hunting in cold or warm weather, what is the time limit for safe human consumption of an animal that has been shot and not found? I hope that you have an answer for me.


This is a very good question and I'm glad you asked. Often times you will hear hunters on TV saying they made a less than perfect shot so they decided to let the animal go overnight, meaning 8-10, sometimes even 12 hours later. Here is the issue: I have made many "less than perfect shots" and had animals expire very quickly. I have also made shots that looked to me to be perfect and never recovered the animal at ALL!

I can only provide you with what the USDA has given to us in the meat processing industry. Their information says that you have 2 hours to get the hide and internal organs out of the animal. 

Is this reasonable in a hunting condition? Probably not. 

Therefore, I would simply say this: Recover the animal as quickly as possible and remove the internal organs and hide as quickly as possible. No matter if I BELIEVE I have made a perfect shot or less than perfect shot, I always give the animal 45 minutes to an hour to expire and then I go the first 100 yards and see what the blood trail is looking like. Give the animal and your meat the benefit of the doubt and go the first 100 yards to see what you have. If you have to back out and resume tracking the next day then so be it but you owe it to the animal and your meat to try and recover the animal as quickly as possible.

If you do get into a situation where you must leave the animal overnight and then you do in fact recover the animal, never save the inside tenders (fillets) as they lay next to the intestines and often times gas will be released from the stomach and intestines into this area. I always check between the hind legs for off color meat on the inside of the thighs so to speak. In the pelvis area, this meat will take on a green tint, If I see spoilage in this area I automatically assume I have lost my hind quarters. I would rather be safe than sick!

So in closing, I would say always give the animal the benefit of the doubt and try to recover the animal as quickly as possible. I have even recovered gut shot animals that went less than 100 yards and expired in less than 1 hour. If you do have to let the animal go overnight, do a complete inspection of the meat coloration before consuming. I hope this helps answer your question.

"The Meat Man"
Brad Lockwood

Friday, November 15, 2013

Is Aging Required for Ground Products?

Ryan from Saskatoon, Sask wrote:

Just purchased and watched your Deer and Big Game Processing Volume 1 DVD. I enjoyed the DVD and feel like it has given me confidence for field dressing.

I have a question regarding aging. Is aging required if I plan on grinding up all the meat for jerky and sausage?

Thank you

Thanks for the great question Ryan!

Aging changes the moisture content and flavor of the meat. It also affects the tenderness of the product. If you are grinding the meat for sausage and/or slicing it thin for jerky, then breaking the muscle fibers down during the aging process may not be necessary because you are not looking for a tender product.

However, the flavor of the product will vary between an aged animal and a fresh processed carcass. I'm not saying one would be more desirable than the other, this would be personal flavor preference. I'm just saying that if you make a processed meat product like jerky or sausage, you will taste a difference between a product made with aged meat and the same product made from freshly harvested meat.

You may want to age one front shoulder for 3-5 days and then process the other fresh and see which you prefer. Let me know your thoughts on the results please.

I look forward to the results and findings on your experiment!

Thanks again for the great question!

"The Meat Man"
Brad Lockwood

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Aging, Cold Smoking & Food Safety

Dave from Elk Ridge Maryland wrote:

Brad: A quick question... Here, we get plenty of does and my cousin wants to skin and hang a whole deer for about three days in the barn (temp in barn stays around 40 degrees and no more). But, he wants to let it dry and just cold smoke it for five hours, then process the meat after 3 days. How safe would that be? Thanks for your help!


If I'm understanding your question correctly then yes, aging a deer in the barn at 40F for 3 days will be perfect! That's the correct amount of time to age and the proper temperature. There are several questions on the blog under aging that will really help you to understand the aging process. This link will direct you to all of of my posts on aging: http://www.loveofthehunttv.com/search/label/Meat%20Aging%20Questions.

On cold smoking... Check out this other post regarding cold smoking procedures and understanding the cold and hot smoking process: http://www.loveofthehunttv.com/2013/08/cold-smoking-vs-hot-smoking.html.

During cold smoking you will need to further process the meat product after the smoking process because you have never applied heat to reduce, eliminate and kill bacteria. If you simply cold smoke then consume the product, you are eating pretty much 100% raw meat, which is not good. If you are going to cold smoke then be prepared to fully cook the product later. 

One of my favorite processed meats is cold smoked sausage. I use a breakfast sausage mix, then stuff into standard natural hog casings. I make sure the casings are wet to the touch so they will absorb a lot of smoke, then I apply 3 hours of cold smoke, keeping the smokehouse cabinet temperature below 100F. I remove the product and immediately refrigerate. Then I pan fry and serve. Great product! On jerky, which is an item that is generally consumed immediately, I would not recommend cold smoking the product.

Good luck with all the does this season and try some cold smoked sausage! You will love it!

"The Meat Man"
Brad Lockwood

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Fat Ratios for Venison Sausage

Matt from Bancroft, IA wrote:
I have been making sausage for the last two years and in both years they have been dry. The mixture is 50/50 venison and pork. What should I do to have it be more juicy?

Thanks for the question Matt,

Try using a blend of 50/50 pork trim. This blend will consist of 50% pork fat and 50% lean pork. This will increase your fat content and give you a much juicier and more flavorful product. You can also purchase 50/50 beef trim as well for beef based products. This is the blend I use for all my game meats. I prefer this over lean beef and pork as well as straight beef or pork fat. Look into 50/50 beef and pork trim and use it at a ration of 6lbs of lean game meat to every 4lbs of 50/50 trim. Try that and I believe you will be very satisfied with the results.

Thanks for the great question and good luck this season!

"The Meat Man"
Brad Lockwood