Shawn's tips to improve your meat quality and quantity.
How you handle your game carcass following harvest can impact the quality and quantity of meat that you will get back. Remember, we are meat cutters, not magicians. We will make every effort to give you back the best quality we can, and will save as much of the meat as possible. However, if the carcass is excessively dirty, hairy, or even worse, spoiled, there will be much more waste. Following are a couple of suggestions that can greaty improve your chances of getting the best value from your animal.
Do NOT pressure wash!
Unless your carcass has been rolled through the swamp and is covered with mud and dirt, it is generally not recommended to wash the carcass down. Water removes the natural surface and prevents propper crusting and drydown of the carcass and speeds spoilage. The carcass can become slimey and spoil very fast. Using a pressure washer also pushes dirt, hair, and water deeper into the meat and any openings. This speeds spoilage, as well as drastically increases the amount of trim waste. It is often better to just trim the surface a little more than create more damage by washing. If you deem it necessary to wash the carcass, just use a wet rag and wipe it down. Alternatively, use a low pressure garden hose and gently wipe the carcass with your hand while rinsing it off.
Open up the back of the neck.
When harvesting wildlife in warm weather, the heat must be removed from the carcass as soon as possible to prevent spoilage. Even in cold weather, the neck can sour very quickly, especially with large elk carcasses. Even when skinned immediately after harvesting, large necks can hold heat and lead to sour necks even in cold weather. One tip to try and release excessive heat is to run your knife down the back of the neck, from the head, right to the shoulders, and all the way to the bone. This will help and release some heat. This is especially helpful with large animals, as well as if it is going to be an extended period before the carcass will be skinned.
Bigger is better!
Every cut that is made to the carcass, opens up the meat to more contamination from dirt and hair, as well as spoilage from mould and drying out. All of this leads to more trimming and excessive waste of good meat. Ideally, whole is better, however, we realize that in some circumstances this is not possible. Take every precaution to keep any exposed meat clean. It is often better to keep the hide on until removed from the bush and skin after, as this will keep the covered areas clean.