Hunting can be an exhilarating thing. You spend hours out in the field waiting, watching, and preparing for a huge catch and the excitement when you finally bring down a deer or bear can keep you wanting more. But how do you keep on hunting when you’ve got pounds of fresh meat to worry about? Here are some tips on how to keep your meat fresh on your next long hunt.
To Bone or Not to Bone?
Yes, that’s really the question. Aside from the fact that boning your kill is illegal in some areas due to laws against wasted meat, it also makes it harder to keep your meat cool if you place too many different chunks in one game bag. To keep your meat fresh, leave it on the bone and hang it above the ground in a cool, damp place. Throw a tarp over it to keep it out of direct sunlight.
On the other hand, in warm temperature the areas closest to the bone are usually the first to spoil, so it might be necessary to at least cut a slit near the bone if you decide not to bone the meat entirely. It’s kind of a personal choice, and depends a lot on the weather.
Keep it Clean and Dry
An excess of hair or bodily fluids on your kill causes bacteria to grow more rapidly so it’s important to remove the hide as soon as possible. Once you’ve cleaned the meat thoroughly place it in cotton game bags, not plastic, to help keep it cool and keep the bugs away.
Depending on where your kill takes place you might need to rinse the meat off in a riverbed. That’s fine, just be sure to hang your meat out to dry immediately afterwards, otherwise the moisture built up inside will cause it to spoil.
Coat It In Seasoning
There are a few options if you want to hang the meat in the open air but don’t want bugs to gather around and spoil your next dinner. Coating the meat in a citrus acid and water mixture to help slow down bacteria growth. You can purchase food-grade citrus acid at most local grocery or gaming stores.
Another option is to season your meat ahead of time with black pepper or chili powder. These spices will act as a barrier to help keep gnats, flies and other critters away from your kill.
Spray It With Chemicals
Okay, that sounds more awful than it actually is. Try purchasing a product designed to protect your meat like Meat SavR. It’s supposed to be more effective than using black pepper or citrus acid and is designed specifically to help prevent fresh game from spoiling. Some of the benefits include the following:
- Repels flies and other insects that spread bacteria
- Dehydrates flesh surfaces to keep moisture from spoiling meat
- Reduces oxidation
- Forms an organic crust to help protect your meat from outside damage
These are only a few of the perks that products like Meat SavR tout, so they’re worth looking into.
Properly preserved meat can last years if frozen before it has a chance to spoil, though it’s recommended you eat it within a year.