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Hunter’s Handbook is the official student “how-to” information pipeline of the International Hunter Education Association. As the experts in teaching safe, ethical and successful hunting, we are here to provide tips, tools, and great video content as well as offer you a place that you can learn more about your love and favorite past-time—hunting.  Spend some time with us.  New content is added monthly, and we are excited to share our expertise with you.  We wish you a lifetime of safe and memorable experiences in the outdoors.

The Greatest Trophy

Why meat has become the most important reason for going afield

In the early to mid 2000s, there was a nationwide interest bordering on obsession with big antlers. A hunter’s skill level, it seemed, was dictated by the size of the deer or elk that he could harvest and the photos that were posted on social media. Thankfully though, that period of measuring worth as a hunter against inches of antler is in decline. Instead, hunters are now focusing on what really matters—filing the freezer.

Winter is prime time for laying in a supply of free-ranging protein for the year. But what are the key things that you need to know to gather nature’s groceries?

Winter reduces spoilage: Winter is prime-time for harvesting game because spoilage will be reduced. Cold weather slows the growth of bacteria and increases the odds that your meat will make it to the table in prime condition.

You still have to do your part: That doesn’t mean that you don’t have to take the time to properly care for meat, though. Be sure to get your meat cooled quickly. This usually begins by gutting the animal right away and getting the meat hung if you’re going to butcher it yourself or to the processor as quickly as possible

Have the right tools: If you’re going to properly care for game, you need to have the right equipment, and that starts with knives. I like to have a kit that contains a few different knife styles and offers a few options. Something like Buck Knives’ PakLite Field Master Series works very well. You’ll also want a sharpener and latex gloves as well. If you’re going to quarter the animal, you’ll need a bone saw, rope, and a comfortable pack that can support the weight.

Reduce contamination: Contaminants ruin meat. To begin, you need to ensure that you don’t accidentally open the GI tract—primarily the stomach and small and large intestines, which contain harmful bacteria. In the winter you often have a layer of snow to help prevent contaminants like leaves and dirt from getting onto the meat, but when you are opening the animal it’s often best to lay the hide down to add a barrier between the meat and the ground.

Make a good, clean shot: This is very important for several reasons. For starters, you don’t want the animal to suffer and it’s your responsibility as a hunter to dispatch your prey as quickly and efficiently as possible. Second, bad shooting dramatically increases the odds that your meat won’t taste as good. Why? Because you have a better chance of opening the GI tract with a bad shot and the animal is likely to take longer to expire. Injured animals run farther—making them hard to find—and the hormones that are released during that time will affect the taste of the meat.  

The Greatest Trophy

Why meat has become the most important reason for going afield

 

Brad Fitzpatrick

 

In the early to mid 2000s, there was a nationwide interest bordering on obsession with big antlers. A hunter’s skill level, it seemed, was dictated by the size of the deer or elk that he could harvest and the photos that were posted on social media. Thankfully though, that period of measuring worth as a hunter against inches of antler is in decline. Instead, hunters are now focusing on what really matters—filing the freezer.

Winter is prime time for laying in a supply of free-ranging protein for the year. But what are the key things that you need to know to gather nature’s groceries?

Winter reduces spoilage: Winter is prime-time for harvesting game because spoilage will be reduced. Cold weather slows the growth of bacteria and increases the odds that your meat will make it to the table in prime condition.

You still have to do your part: That doesn’t mean that you don’t have to take the time to properly care for meat, though. Be sure to get your meat cooled quickly. This usually begins by gutting the animal right away and getting the meat hung if you’re going to butcher it yourself or to the processor as quickly as possible

Have the right tools: If you’re going to properly care for game, you need to have the right equipment, and that starts with knives. I like to have a kit that contains a few different knife styles and offers a few options. Something like Buck Knives’ PakLite Field Master Series works very well. You’ll also want a sharpener and latex gloves as well. If you’re going to quarter the animal, you’ll need a bone saw, rope, and a comfortable pack that can support the weight.

Reduce contamination: Contaminants ruin meat. To begin, you need to ensure that you don’t accidentally open the GI tract—primarily the stomach and small and large intestines, which contain harmful bacteria. In the winter you often have a layer of snow to help prevent contaminants like leaves and dirt from getting onto the meat, but when you are opening the animal it’s often best to lay the hide down to add a barrier between the meat and the ground.

Make a good, clean shot: This is very important for several reasons. For starters, you don’t want the animal to suffer and it’s your responsibility as a hunter to dispatch your prey as quickly and efficiently as possible. Second, bad shooting dramatically increases the odds that your meat won’t taste as good. Why? Because you have a better chance of opening the GI tract with a bad shot and the animal is likely to take longer to expire. Injured animals run farther—making them hard to find—and the hormones that are released during that time will affect the taste of the meat.