I am a firm believer that the culprit in the dreaded liver flavored leather some refer to as venison can be laid at the feet of improper field preparation, butchering and overcooking. This month, I'll pass along some tips which will result in deer steaks you'd swear were high dollar beef.

First, don't cut out the tarsal glands. Instead, simply avoid touching the odorous patches on the inside of the deer's knees. If you are of the opinion those glands must be removed, keep in mind you will need to have with you in the field a way to wash your knife if it is to touch any of the rest of your deer during processing. Prior to field dressing, I strongly recommend the use of one of the "plug" products which greatly simplifies the removal of the deer's lower intestinal tract (once broken free, tie off the end with a piece of twine to make sure no waste escapes into the body cavity when the gut pile is pulled from the deer). Having a hooked, gutting specific blade in your pack will make life much easier, as well.

Hand boning is a must. Besides being expensive, having your deer processed at a slaughterhouse will result in your meat being sawed up with industrial efficiency. As said deer is sawn up, bone meal and marrow will give your meat a good coating. I am of the opinion that such a coating is responsible for that terrible liver flavor many hunters' deer arrive with at the table.

After having immediately field dressed your deer, locate a sturdy overhanging limb on which to suspend your kill using a gambrel (CRCT makes a nifty, self-locking one). From here, it is easiest to direct you to the source for detailed instructions on skinning and boning your deer (or brain surgery, for that matter): YouTube. Using your drop point skinning knife, packable bone saw, butcher paper, freezer tape, and Sharpie marker from your kit; separate your individual tenderloin, backstrap and ham cuts; as-well-as shoulder and neck cuts for jerky and stew meat.

Once your deer has aged for about five days (either unskinned hanging outside in cold weather before boning, or in an iced cooler after boning); use a filleting knife to cut away the silver skin from your cuts prior to consuming or freezing for long term storage wrapped in clean, labeled butcher paper. Thick, freshly aged deer backstrap steak; rubbed with Montreal Steak seasoning; and grilled medium rare closely over hot charcoal (we cannot guarantee the flavor of any overcooked steak) surpasses even the finest cut of beef. Now, get out there and put some (delicious) venison on the table!

Shane Morris is a retired soldier and teacher. You may contact him at sigm11@yahoo.com

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