Caring For Venison

Carol B. from West Virginia asked why some venison she cooked tasted bad.

There could be a myriad of reasons for venison not tasting good, but the primary one probably has to do with the hunter, how the deer was gutted, and subsequently taken care of after the animal expired.

Dr. Dave Samuel

The key is to remove the innards and get the animal cooled as soon as possible. After gutting, I wash out the body cavity, and then take a clean cloth and wipe it out. If it is a constant 40 degrees outside, I’ll prop open the cavity and let the deer hang for several days without skinning it.

However, in bow season in my region it is often hot outside, so I immediately skin the deer and put the four quarters into the refrigerator for a week to age. And then I bone out the meat. Remember to never cut through the backbone with a saw. There are two reasons for this. First, I believe this gives the meat an unusual taste. And second, chronic wasting disease is found in the brain, and perhaps the spinal cord of some animals. I don’t want to take a chance, so I do not cut through the spinal column.

Finally, I remove all the fat before freezing. Deer fat is not tasty and when venison with fat is left in the freezer for several months, the fat gives the meat a bad flavor.

Take care of the venison and you will have great eating for months to come.

Dr. Dave writes a weekly column for If you have a deer question for Dr. Dave, e-mail your question to Dr. Dave in care of Tom Kacheroski, senior editor of‘s content at

Dr. Dave studied deer for 30 years as a wildlife management professor at West Virginia University. In addition he has been a bowhunter for over 40 years, with deer being his main prey. He’s also an outdoor writer and has been with “Bowhunter” magazine for 30 years.

Leave a Reply

Commenting Policy - We encourage open expression of your thoughts and ideas. But there are a few rules:

No abusive comments, threats, or personal attacks. Use clean language. No discussion of illegal activity. Racist, sexist, homophobic, and generally hateful comments are not tolerated. Keep comments on topic. Please don't spam.

While we reserve the right to remove or modify comments at our sole discretion, the Sportsman's Guide does not bear any responsibility for user comments. The views expressed within the comment section do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of The Sportsman's Guide.