Disclosure: We may earn commissions if you purchase products after clicking on a link from our site.

Do you want to know how to preserve game meat? After scouting and finally taking down the big buck, it becomes obvious that you have to get it home, clean and cut it up, and store it for consumption. It is a lot of meat and you can’t shake off what it entails to preserve the meat.  In this article, we will discuss the different ways you can preserve the game meat that you worked so hard to get.

deer hunting tips
Deer Hunting Tips

How To Preserve Game Meat

1. Clean the Meat

Cleaning the meat is a fundamental skill when learning how to preserve game meat. After a successful hunt, proper cleaning ensures that the meat remains fresh and safe for consumption. The process involves removing any excess blood, dirt, hair, and organs from the carcass.

Hunters typically begin by field dressing the animal, which involves opening the body cavity to remove internal organs promptly. This helps to prevent the meat from spoiling due to bacterial growth. Once field-dressed, the meat can be further cleaned by rinsing it with clean water to remove any remaining debris.

It’s essential to handle the meat with care to avoid contamination and to maintain its quality. Properly cleaned game meat can then be processed further for cooking or preservation, ensuring that hunters can enjoy their harvest for an extended period. How to field dress a deer is explained in this article.

2. Use the Sunlight

Using sunlight can be a valuable technique when learning how to preserve game meat. Sunlight has natural drying and antibacterial properties that can help to effectively preserve meat in certain conditions.

One method is sun-drying, where thinly sliced pieces of meat are laid out in direct sunlight to dry. The heat from the sun helps to evaporate moisture from the meat, inhibiting the growth of bacteria and fungi that can cause spoilage.

Additionally, the ultraviolet (UV) rays in sunlight have a sterilizing effect, further reducing the risk of contamination. However, it’s important to note that sun-drying meat requires specific environmental conditions, such as low humidity and consistent sunlight, to ensure safe preservation.

Proper hygiene practices, such as thoroughly cleaning and seasoning the meat before drying, are also essential to prevent foodborne illnesses. While sunlight can be a useful tool for preserving game meat, it’s essential to follow proper techniques and precautions to ensure food safety and quality.

tips for hunting whitetail
Tips For Hunting Whitetail

3. Curing/Corning

Curing or corning meat is a traditional method of preserving game meat that involves treating it with a mixture of salt, sugar, and sometimes additional spices or seasonings. This process draws moisture out of the meat, creating an inhospitable environment for bacteria and inhibiting spoilage. The salt also helps to prevent the growth of microorganisms by reducing water activity and disrupting their cellular structure.

Additionally, sugar can contribute to the preservation process by helping to balance the saltiness and adding flavor to the meat. After applying the curing mixture, the meat is typically left to cure for a period of time, allowing the salt and other ingredients to penetrate the flesh and impart flavor.

Once cured, the meat can be further processed or stored for extended periods, often in a cool, dry environment. Curing or corning is a time-tested method that can result in delicious and shelf-stable game meat products, such as jerky, corned venison, or cured hams. However, it’s important to follow proper curing techniques and recipes to ensure food safety and quality.

4. Wet Cure

Wet curing is a preservation method that involves immersing the meat in a brine solution containing salt, sugar, and sometimes other seasonings or spices. The brine penetrates the meat, imparting flavor and helping to inhibit bacterial growth.

Wet curing is particularly effective for larger cuts of meat, such as roasts or hams, as it ensures thorough penetration of the curing solution. To wet cure meat, a brine solution is prepared by dissolving salt and sugar in water, along with any desired seasonings or flavorings.

The meat is then submerged in the brine and allowed to soak for a specified period, typically several days to a week, depending on the size and thickness of the meat. During this time, the salt in the brine draws moisture out of the meat, while the sugar helps to balance the saltiness and add flavor.

After curing, the meat can be rinsed and further processed as desired, such as smoking, drying, or cooking. Wet curing is a popular method for preserving game meat, as it results in flavorful and tender products that can be enjoyed for an extended period. However, it’s essential to follow proper curing techniques and safety guidelines to ensure the meat is safe to consume.

whitetail deer hunting tips
Whitetail Deer Hunting Tips

5. Smoking

Smoking is a traditional method of preserving game meat that imparts a delicious flavor and helps to extend its shelf life. The smoking process involves exposing the meat to smoke from burning wood chips or logs, which not only adds flavor but also helps to dry and preserve the meat by inhibiting bacterial growth.

To smoke meat, the meat is first seasoned with salt, spices, and sometimes sugar or other flavorings to enhance its taste. It is then placed in a smoker, which is a specialized cooking appliance designed for smoking food. The smoker generates heat and smoke, which slowly cook and infuse the meat with smoky flavor over several hours or even days, depending on the type and thickness of the meat.

During the smoking process, the meat is cooked at a low temperature, typically between 180°F to 225°F (82°C to 107°C), allowing it to slowly absorb the smoke and develop a rich, smoky flavor while retaining its moisture. Smoking not only preserves the meat but also enhances its taste, making it a popular method for preserving game meat such as venison, elk, or wild boar.

Additionally, smoked meats can be enjoyed on their own or used as ingredients in various dishes, adding depth and complexity to recipes. Smoking the meat also gives it flavor. Smoking the meat is similar to grilling today.

6. Pickling

Pickling is an age-old method of preserving game meat that involves immersing the meat in a mixture of vinegar, salt, spices, and sometimes sugar or other flavorings. The acidic environment created by the vinegar helps to inhibit the growth of bacteria, making pickled meat resistant to spoilage.

To pickle meat, it is first trimmed of excess fat and cut into smaller pieces or slices to facilitate the pickling process. The meat is then placed in a container or jar, and a pickling solution made from vinegar, salt, and spices is poured over it.

Common spices used in pickling meat include peppercorns, mustard seeds, bay leaves, and garlic, which impart flavor and aroma to the meat. The container is sealed, and the meat is allowed to marinate in the pickling solution for several days or weeks, depending on the desired level of flavor and preservation.

Pickled meat can be stored in a cool, dark place for an extended period, making it a convenient and flavorful way to preserve game meat for later use. Additionally, pickled meat can be enjoyed on its own as a savory snack or used as an ingredient in salads, sandwiches, or other dishes, adding a tangy and flavorful element to recipes.

best whitetail deer hunting tips
Best Whitetail Deer Hunting Tips
How do you preserve wild game meat?
You can preserve wild game meat by curing, smoking, drying by sunlight, or refrigerating it.
How do you keep meat from spoiling in the wilderness?
You can preserve meat in the wilderness by drying it in the sunlight.
How do you store deer meat long term?
You can store meat long-term by refrigerating it, smoking it, and curing it.
How do you preserve meat without refrigeration in the wild?
You can preserve meat without refrigeration in the wild by smoking, curing, or using the sunlight to dry it.
Should you rinse deer meat before freezing?
Rinsing deer meat before freezing is not a bad thing to do. It helps to clean the meat of dirt, excess blood, and remnants of the animal’s organs.

The Bottom Line

How to preserve game meat is a very important aspect of hunting. After working hard scouting, tracking, and taking down the deer, you want to preserve the meat so that it lasts for a long time.

In this article, we discussed the different methods of preserving game meat to give you the information you need to preserve your game meat. Moreover, you can also read how to tan a rabbit hide, how to ship meat after a hunt, and how to tan a deer hide. If you are interested in learning how to smoke fish, then read this article.