As a chef who has pioneered the use of wild venison in my restaurants, I know all too well the crucial importance of immaculate carcass handling when it comes to producing top quality venison.
The sooner the animal can be exterminated ( bled) after death the better, and the sooner it is gutted or dressed the better the venison will be.
A deer left untouched for 4 hours will taste awful in comparison to one that is gutted and hung up within 30 minutes of death.
Bullet wounds to deer, particularly when the bullet has passed through bone, are highly traumatic and can cause huge amounts of meat damage.
Also if the bullet fragments have punctured the digestive tract, then the blowing up of the gut due to continuing peristalsis will cause widespread contamination.
Ideally we want the following for optimal venison quality:
- A clean shot with minimal damage
- Bleeding within 15 minutes, with the head downhill to help blood flow
- Gutting within 30 minutes, particularly in warm weather
- Hang the carcass out of reach of flies within 1 hour
- have the carcass in the chiller within 4 hours
The actual process of dressing the deer should be done in as clean an area as possible. The hunter should wear gloves to prevent cross contamination, and keep the knife etc clean. Always have water available …
In the UK it is law that the hunter must be qualified to inspect the carcass.
The hunter certifies via a tag that he or she has inspected the pluck ( guts) for disease and is happy the carcass can go in the food chain.
This inspection covers the various lymph nodes, tongue and hoofs of the animal.
After the Hunter…
What happens to the carcass now? At this point the hung, tagged carcass goes to a licensed game dealer who will sell it on, either whole or in parts.
The carcass is skinned in a separate room, then moved into clean room for skinned beasts.
A government vet will inspect the carcass for quality of dressing and condition, and stamp it.