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

No comments:

Post a Comment