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 Vinegar - Water - Nothing - What Do You Use?
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Oregon Elk Hunter
Senior Member

205 Posts

Posted - Sep 26 2005 :  18:18:39  Show Profile Send Oregon Elk Hunter a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Greetings All: Just wanted to hear some opinions about what (if anything) you use to clean off an animal (deer/elk) after harvest.

Do you use: 1. water. 2. vinegar. 3. lemon juice 4. mixture of these or
5. nothing? Would your decision differ in warm vs. cold weather?

My hunting group has used vinegar for years. We believe it cleans, resists bacteria/mold and help (a little) to keep off flies. I just talked to a butcher who say NO vinegar and water. Clean off dry with rags or paper towels.

What do you use and why?

Thanks, in advance, OEH.

New Member

20 Posts

Posted - Sep 26 2005 :  18:45:31  Show Profile Send cayuga a Private Message  Reply with Quote
If it's an elk and it takes me a few days to pack it out I'll use pee! Of course I don't pee on it but around it to keep scavengers away as much as possible. 2 years ago I got a 4 X 5 and it took me 4 days and 32 total miles to pack it out to the truck. My camp was a mile away from the elk so I peed around it and put a mil chem light stick on the elk. I also took off my t-shirt each time, left that there and nothing bothered it. I've always heard to never use water or anything. Just paper towels to wipe dirt etc off. When you cook it you'll kill anything that may be on the steaks. Where I elk hunt it freezes every night so there isn't much of a fly problem. I think I heard of someone using black pepper to keep flies off?

SMSgt Dean Werner
US Air Force Reserve /
Weapons of Mass Destruction Analyst
Science Application International Corporation
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Advanced Member

1613 Posts

Posted - Sep 26 2005 :  20:33:52  Show Profile Send Robert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I agree. You can use vinegar for short term to keep off flies and bees...but it will ruin the meat if you use it for any extended time.
The very best thing I have found is to dry towel any dirt or hair, and then just cut away any dirty areas as you butcher... It really does help if when you skin the animal out...dont take off the outer layers of muscle can cut that away after you 'bone out' your animal and butcher it, and the meat underneath will be clean. And of course...try not to get the animal dirt in the first place....completly skin one side and then pull the skin back over the skinned portion before you flip it over.....but you probably already knew that....

Make it count.
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Advanced Member

2807 Posts

Posted - Sep 27 2005 :  09:33:42  Show Profile Send skyline a Private Message  Reply with Quote
This is a many pronged question as it depends on circumstances. In a killing plant animals are washed with very hot water immediately after skinning and gutting, then they are placed in a blast cooler. It all takes place in a very short period of time, before the meat can start to dry and harden on the outside.

In the field the air gets at it as you skin and the outer surface begins to dry immediately. This occurs quite quickly, especially if there is a breeze. This crust or 'pelical' is your best line of defence in protecting your meat and the removal of the hide accelerates cooling, which is of great importance.

You can sprinkle black pepper on or use cheese cloth to protect it from the flies. When you butcher, trim the crust off of your meat.

It is NOT a good idea to use water, vinegar or anything else to wash down the carcass after the crust has started to form. The butcher you talked to was correct. I worked at a killing plant and cutting facility for 5 years when I wasn't guiding.

You will find that much of the hair/debris you accidently get on the carcass will brush off easily once the outer surface is dry. I use a clean horse brush for this purpose and it works very well.
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Advanced Member

1581 Posts

Posted - Sep 27 2005 :  10:27:01  Show Profile  Visit ricciardelli's Homepage  Reply with Quote
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Average Member

75 Posts

Posted - Sep 27 2005 :  17:56:03  Show Profile Send cynicrit a Private Message  Reply with Quote
We don't gut or skin until we get back to a meat pole, so my technique is lightyears from what you wilderness elk hunters have to deal with. Anything we get on the meat is washed off with clean water. Most of the guys put the meat in a clean cooler and cover with ice ASAP to cool the meat. It will keep like this for around 5 days if you keep ice on it. Personally I like to dry any wash water off of the carcass before butchering, then I drop the meat into unscented trash bags and seal with twist ties, mini cable ties or what have you, then put it on ice. Never heard of putting lemon juice or vinegar on the meat, but my experience in the kitchen teaches that these are tenderizing agents and will produce a layer of chemically digested meat if left on too long. I've never had to butcher one just to get it out of the woods, though, so take my experience with a grain of salt.
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1513 Posts

Posted - Sep 27 2005 :  18:59:44  Show Profile Send WILLIAMDOERSAM a Private Message  Reply with Quote
the vinegar idea sounds good. think venison sauerbraten. i don't think i would want the whole animal that way though.


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