To get the best flavour from your game you need to hang the meat so that it matures. But how long should you hang venison for?

What is the recommended time to hang venison?

We asked keen stalker Hugh van Cutsem (Instagram page @uk_huntergatherer) how long he’d recommend hanging venison. He said: “People should experiment with hanging game. You can butcher and cook it straight after shooting if you want and equally hang for a few days as long as it’s at the right temperature and fly free. Most important I think is to bleed an animal out properly as soon as possible after shooting.”

It’s hard to give exact timings for hanging venison as much depends on where it is stored, the age of the beast, how you want it to taste and whether it has been skinned. However here are a few tips for hanging a deer carcass.

  • Venison needs to kept clean and hung in order to improve texture and flavour .
  • The length of hanging depends on the temperature and on your own taste buds.
  • The longer the venison hangs, the more tender it becomes.
  • Hanging a deer causes the enzymes in the meat to break down the fibres.
  • Older beasts need longer to tenderise.
  • The length of hanging can mature the taste from a mild to a more gamey taste.
  • Never hang a deer by the neck or the antlers, it should be hung by the hind legs which allows residual heat to escape and air to circulate.
  • If the temperature in your fridge is just above freezing, then the carcasses can hang in the skin for around three weeks.
  • A wipe inside the carcass with a cloth dipped in water with salt/and or vinegar added and then wrung out removes a lot of the taint often associated with hanging meat.
  • The skin protects the meat and helps to prevent it from drying out too quickly, so many stalkers like to leave it on until they are ready to butcher the carcass. However this is open to debate. Some believe it is better to skin the beast first as the surface dries and encourages a meat with more flavour.
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It’s worth taking a professional game meat course

The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation frequently runs game meat hygiene courses which cost around £120 and qualify you to sell game meat to game handling establishments, which is a legal requirement if you want to sell game to game dealers.

It’s regarded as the industry standard and not only covers wild deer and wild boar but also small game including pheasants, partridge, duck, rabbit and hare.

The game meat hygiene courses are certified by the National Gamekeepers Organisation and the Food Standards Agency and even if you aren’t planning on selling on your venison you will learn how to handle game safely and efficiently.