Dealing with the high steaks of preparing venison
AMONG THE MEMORIES THAT haunt me most is the image of a big buck hanging in my cousin’s barn about 25 years ago. My brother had shot it and it was the only deer taken in a deer-scarce season. My cousin, my brother and I were to split the animal since we hunted as a party for it.
Having just hung it from the rafters, we were in the barnyard having a beer when my brother looked towards the barn and said, “Why is that deer swinging so hard from the rafters?”
It took all of us about two seconds to realize that King, my cousin’s mischievous German shepherd, was not in sight. By the time we raced over to the buck, King, in a remarkable feat of speed eating and gluttony, had consumed the better part of that buck’s hind quarters – or, as it was known thereafter, my cousin’s share of the deer. I’m convinced he would have consumed it, antlers and all, had we provided
a step stool and two more minutes.
I only mention this horrific incident to explain why I can never sleep well at night when I have a deer hanging in the yard – as I do now. For those who do not know, you hang an animal to tenderize the meat. For my buck, this is day three of a four-day hanging period.
I have done everything humanly possible to ensure that the deer does not get eaten before its time by some critter that did not buy a tag or put in the time and effort. I have hung it fairly high off the ground. I have tarps all around it. I have the lights on during the night.
The buck also hangs near the back door where my dogs sleep (though they do not have access to it) so they will alert me if any intruders come near it in the night. It’s also within sight of my home office window so I check on it about every 30 seconds. Most importantly, I do not own a gluttonous German shepherd.
If all goes well, as it does every year, I’ll be able to butcher that tender, young buck tomorrow and sleep well that night knowing that the freezer is full and some thieving animal is not.
I know what you are thinking. I should hang the deer in a shed, barn or garage. That’s true, but I don’t have a suitable shed or any other outbuilding on our property. So, instead, I hang it below our upper back deck which makes my anxiety worse because any passing animal without a conscience could be tempted.
Thus far, I’ve only had to shoo off a few ravens who gathered in the surrounding trees. They left for good after I stepped out on the back deck with an unloaded shotgun. Ravens are smart that way.
In the mean time, I will get up about half a dozen times tonight and shine a light on the animal to make sure it is not being consumed by some night visitor. And tomorrow, as I mentioned, I will skin it, cut in into manageable pieces and butcher it so I have many delicious, boneless packages of venison in our freezer.
All this is worth it because venison, in my opinion, is the one of the finest meats a person can consume. In fact, you wouldn’t be lying if you said sometimes it is a meal fit for a King.
Trust me on that.