We’ve all heard it a thousand times, “Wild Meat Tastes Gamey”. Not if you use a little common sense it won’t! Follow a couple of basic guidelines and you will never have a problem with “Wild” or “Gamey” tasting meat. Gamey tasting meat is the direct result of poor handling. Once the animal is down deterioration starts immediately, bacteria begin multiplying and the breakdown process is underway. You guessed it; the meat is starting to rot. Fortunately this process can be controlled with sanitation and refrigeration, so “CLEAN IT” and “GET IT COOLED” as soon as possible. Whether natural or mechanical, temperature can help control the rate of bacterial growth and the natural breakdown process.
There are several factors that must be added into this equation: Heat, moisture, bacteria and flies. Heat and moisture create the perfect environment for bacterial growth. It allows pH levels to rise. Bacteria, protozoa, microorganisms, maggots, mold and mildew all require certain pH levels to survive. All of these living organisms continuously threaten the edible quality of our game meat after the harvest. Since blood has nearly the same pH as pure water (neutral pH 7-7.5), it becomes important to understand how the pH scale will help us understand, finally, why each of the organisms readily thrive on decomposing meat. And the more we defend against them the better our game meat will taste once it is prepared for the table.
Heat: All hunters know we must keep game meat cool and dry, among other things. By reducing the core temperature of the animal below 40°, we can control or at least slow the growth rate of bacteria.
Moisture: Moisture levels also determine the rate and level of bacterial growth, as water provides a perfect (neutral pH 7-7.5) environment. Blood can also be a contributing factor for growing bacteria and microorganisms.
Bacteria: Once again, pH levels determine to what extent bacteria and microorganisms can survive. Studies revealed that the breakdown of animal tissue is fostered when the pH level is 6.5- 8, but the decomposition slows drastically with a pH of 5.5 or lower. However, you can’t discuss bacterial growth and microorganisms without mentioning the other contributing factors that provide a perfect environment, such as heat and moisture.
Flies: Insects such as the blowfly, quickly locate a carcass in warm weather and deposit eggs onto exposed meat surfaces. Within 24 to 48 hours those eggs transform into maggot larvae, which quickly become hungry if allowed to grow. It is interesting to learn that flies are sensitive to acid (pH levels). It is suggested that flies require pH levels of 6 or higher to survive. The preferred range for blowflies to land on any surface is 6.5 to 8, but the higher the pH the better for them because they not only feed on meat but also on bacterial growth, and they thrive on the effects this growth has on decomposing flesh. Therefore, the cooler we can keep the meat, the more acidic (lower pH) the meat surface, the better prevention of flies and maggots.
You’ve heard it said that once the animal is down the real work starts. Not only has the work started, the deterioration process has started before you get your knife out. You have to do two things immediately, clean it and get it cooled down. Example: The core temperature of a deer is 101° Fahrenheit. So gutting the animal immediately exposes it to the outside air, which in turn will allow it to cool down. If it’s warm outside, you might as well ring the dinner bell because everything has access to it now.
Once the animal is down, deterioration starts immediately. At:
32° it takes 20 hours for bacteria to double
40° it takes 6 hours
60° it takes 2 hours
70° it takes 1 hour
90° it takes 30 minutes
One bacterium kept at 98.6°, if left for 6 hours in an enclosed environment, can multiply into 131,072 bacteria. That’s incredible! Yet people still continue to treat the animal like it’s an old piece of luggage, throwing it in the back of the truck or on a trailer and leaving it exposed to the outside elements for hours, if not days.
The growth of bacteria at lower temperatures can be a good thing, it’s called aging. Let me pose this question to each of you. Would you eat meat if it were hung in a cooler for 3 days at 35°? You bet! And it would be great. Now the same question, would you eat meat if it were hung outside in 60°, 70° or even 80° weather? Not a chance!
It’s the hunter’s responsibility to provide the best quality care for the animals they harvest each and every time. It makes no difference if you’re 5 miles or 500 miles from home, that animal sacrificed its life for the table fare we crave each and every year. This should require us as hunters to make the commitment of taking every measure and precaution to prevent or at least reduce the chance of losing edible meat from unseen forces of nature.
In today’s fast paced world, the processors don’t have the time or the space to let your deer hang in order to age properly. They skin it, cool it down, process it, freeze it and get it out the door. It’s all about them making money!
In this article, we have addressed the common problems we all face during hunting season. Heat, moisture, bacteria and flies! Now we want to introduce you to the solution.
Trophy Bag Kooler™ is a revolutionary new product with “PATENT PENDING” technology that is scientifically developed and hunter tested.
“THE ORIGINAL SHORT-TERM PORTABLE STORAGE UNIT FOR TRANSPORTING OR AGING HARVESTED GAME” A MUST HAVE PRODUCT FOR EVERY HUNTER!
The Trophy Bag Kooler™ can maintain temperatures of 36° to 40° or even colder, we recommend using KoolerGel™ or with double-bagged ice. This helps keep moisture to a minimum and by reducing the temperature to below 40°; you can slow the growth of bacteria and preserve your harvest.