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Thread: Care Of Game In The Field

  1. #1
    Member cusackla's Avatar
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    May 2006

    Default Care Of Game In The Field

    I got a couple of PM's about the care of meat in the field. So! I took the liberty of copying what Indian Valley has on their website. It's a great document.
    Here are my comments about Kotzebue and Float trip meat care, along with Indian Valley's info:

    The best answer is to go as late as possible. Let the weather help you with the meat. If you go to Indian Valley Meats website or stop in at Alaska Sausage, they both have a pamphlet on proper field care for meat. (Indian Valleys Link below)

    What I do:

    • Clean the animal as soon as possible and get the meat cool quickly. If it is fairly warm, I will put it in garbage and in the river for a while to cool it quickly.
    • Than hang it and let it air dry. Meat develops a hard outer crust called a skein which protects the meat and allows it to age. Contrary to popular belief, this is why F&G requires you to keep the meat on the bone. The less surface area the less opportunity for spoilage,’
    • Hang the meat or like with some places out of Kotz, cut some willows and make a stack to place the meat on. Use a gravel bar that gets good wind currents, build the rack or stack and pile the meat on the stack so that the wind can dry it and develop a skein. Contrary to popular belief sometimes a stack of willows on the end of a gravel bar works better than a pole across two trees, because in the trees, you don’t get the circulation.
    • Once cooled, keep the meat dry!
    • Use good cotton game bags, heavy duty not the cheap cheese cloth bags.
    • In the field, you can setup and control your meat, In Kotz, it ends up stacked on a pallet and if the weather is hot and it is a weekend, your meat could end up on that pallet for several days before flying out of kotz. So plan your pick-up to be on a week day. If you are done early and it’s a weekend, stay in the field till Monday if you have too! Of course if it is dropping below freezing every night, than Mother Nature is on your side and you can’t hardly go wrong, no matter what you do.
    • My trips are usually 15 days; any 7 day trip following the above tips will be just fine for you.

    CARE OF GAME IN THE FIELD By Doug Drum - Indian Valley Meats

    In order to make the best products from your game we need to start with game that has been well taken care of. There are many theories on the best way to take care of game in the field. Personally, I use a proven method that is based on the principles used in the meat processing industry. The aim of this method is to make life harder for bacteria and flies by creating a cool, high-acid environment to slow their growth, limiting their food sources by bleaching out blood, making a protective glaze and by controlling flies.

    Never use plastic or woven plastic bags because they tend to hold in the heat and don’t allow for proper air circulation. Always use cheesecloth or a cheesecloth-like material which is strong to carry the meat while it allows for maximum air movement yet still has a tight enough weave to keep flies out. You can find the bags at most sporting goods stores.
    TREATING THE BAG: I developed a food-grade citric acid game bag cure that keeps flies off and helps to fight bacteria growth. It’s really helpful in Alaska on long hunts where flies and bacteria are a real threat to meat quality. Ask your local hunting store about it or you can call out to our shop. The cure is a dry concentrate that you mix into one gallon of water. Soak the game bags in the solution for 20 minutes to one hour. Then let them air dry completely (not in the dryer). Finally seal them in a zip lock bag.
    RESULTS: Flies may light on the bag but the citric acid burns them and they will not hang around. Also the citric acid helps to reduce bacteria growth. Bacteria grows rapidly at a pH level of 7.0, the natural level of meat. The pH level contained in the cure is around 2.35. The cure will help lower the pH of the meat to around 5.3. The higher the pH the more chance there is of spoiling.
    REASON pH LEVEL WILL BE HIGH: If the animal has been running a long way and is excited, its blood sugar level will drop which causes lactic acid in the muscle tissue to be higher and the meat will be darker in color and have an off flavor and texture to it. This is why a clean kill is important.


    COOL THE MEAT QUICKLY IN WATER: In the field, you want to cool your meat quickly because the sooner the meat is cool, the better the meat will be. You should bleed, gut and skin your animal as soon as you can. Next you need to reduce the temperature of the meat. If you are near a river or lake you can submerge the quarters to bring down the temperature. Do not cool completely in water. Retain enough heat to dry the meat when it comes out of the water. For water cooling, I carry a sheet of visquine and spread it out in a lake of stream. Once the animal is quartered, I lay the meat on the visquine and let it cool for twenty-five minutes to an hour (depending on the mass of the meat).
    WHY WATER COOL YOUR MEAT? A bath in a stream or lake speeds the cooling process and bleaches out excess blood that feed bacteria and attracts flies. Alaska game animals have a very large meat mass. Consequently, if takes a long time for the meat to cool down. The cold water temperature of the lakes and streams in Alaska helps expedite the cooling process.
    WATER COOLING CONCERNS: (1) I’ve been told by several hunters that you should avoid getting meat wet. This is partially true, you don’t want to leave the meat wet. This is why you retain enough heat in the meat to cause drying once you remove it from the water (also see air drying for procedures to remove excess water). (2). I’ve also heard concerns about Giardia in the water getting into the meat. While I can’t guarantee the purity of the water or possible transfer of bacteria to your meat, I can say that I have never heard of anyone getting sick from water cooled meat, and I talk with a lot of hunters. The decision is yours based upon the conditions at your location, cleanliness of water and outside temperature. Tests have also been done in Canada by Bailight which show the strong acid in citric acid should take care of Giardia and will also help kill types of bacteria.


    AFTER WATER COOLING: After you have brought the temperature of the meat down, you’re ready to begin air drying in the breeze. If you are near water, there is normally a gentle breeze at all times.
    Hang the meat in such a way as to take advantage of this air movement. Protect the meat from the warm sun and rain with some sort of shelter. I bring a lightweight tarp for this purpose.
    REMOVE EXCESS MOISTURE: Once the meat is hung under the tarp, run your hands down it to squeeze out and remove any excess moisture.
    APPLY LEMON JUICE MIXTURE OR CITRIC ACID: Lightly coat the meat with a citric acid mixture (see game bags). This will create a high acid protective glaze over the meat while it is drying. If storing for several days in warm weather, reapply citric acid daily to help reduce bacteria growth.
    PLACE IN GAME BAGS: When the meat is dry, it’s ready to place in the game bags and re-hang


    Flies can spread bacteria and lay eggs, so I keep them down by making a flytrap using Golden Marlin (commercial fly bait, available at Alaska Mill and Feed) and a small piece of black plastic (a black plastic garbage bag is fine).
    BUILDING THE FLY TRAP: Eight to ten feet away from your meat lay a couple branches on the ground. Pile scraps of meat on and around the branches. Pour Golden Marlin on and around the scraps of meat. Cut a slit in the center of the garbage bag or black plastic and place the bag loosely over the pile.
    HOW IT WORKS: The sun heats the plastic, which heats the meat. The flies are attracted and crawl through the slit in the plastic to the meat. The Golden Marlin kills the flies.
    WHEN YOU LEAVE THE AREA: Put the black plastic and the scraps of meat with the Golden Marlin on it in a zip lock baggie and carry it out with you.


    WHEN HUNTING IN FREEZING TEMPERATURES; The animal should be skinned as soon as possible and then covered with a tarp or plastic after cooling for 20 minutes to 1 hour. If the surface starts to freeze cover the plastic covered carcass with snow to insulate it so that freezing does not occur until rigor mortis sets in. Rigor mortis is the process where the muscle tissue starts to stiffen up, and this may take up to 12 hours. If the carcass freezes before rigor mortis sets in the pH will not drop down to around 5.3 and your meat will not be tender and have as good a flavor.
    Good Hunting!

    Last edited by cusackla; 02-26-2009 at 16:22. Reason: typo's

  2. #2
    Member CGSwimmer25's Avatar
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    Jan 2009
    Kodiak, Ak

    Thumbs up

    Good info, Thanks

  3. #3
    Member tboehm's Avatar
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    Nov 2006
    Hubert NC

    Default second that

    Thanks for taking the time to put this together and repost for the members, I'm sure that it's much appreciated

  4. #4
    Member danattherock's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006


    No doubt one of the best post I have read in months. Thanks man!
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    NorthWest Alaska


    Good info.

    There are many ways to treat your meat to get the best end result, just depends on how you like it and what your gonna do with it.

    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

    "Dam it all", The Beaver told me.....


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