Saving your meat after the hunt

Early season big-game hunters, whether toting a bow, muzzle-loader or rifle, are bound to run into warm weather, requiring special care in preserving your meat.

“The most important thing is to get the animal cooled off as soon as possible,” says Grand Junction taxidermist Darren Powell.” All too often, he says, he sees early season animals whose hide and meat are spoiled from hunters delaying too long in getting the hide off.

“The hides hold a lot of heat,” he adds. “Even a few hours in warm weather means all the difference. It might look okay, but it doesn’t take much for the meat to spoil.”

Tips he recommends include getting the hide off and hanging the animal in the shade; deboning it and separating the large muscle sections; and not hauling it around on your ATV or in the back of your pickup.

Matt Anderegg, owner of Grand Junction’s Old World Meat, cautions that without snow or freezing temperatures for cooling, hunters should put the meat where heat will dissipate rapidly.

“Get it skinned and hang it in the shade or spread it out so the heat disperses,” he says. “Even if it’s in bags, if you stack the meat the heat won’t disperse.” The hind quarters, he adds, are usually the first to go. “Because they’re so massive with so much meat and bones, it’s hard to get them chilled down,” he says.

The key, both experts say, is skinning your animal quickly, no matter what season you hunt.