In 2013 when I was preparing to drive west for a deer hunting trip to Kansas, I knew without a doubt that I wanted to bring home my buck to enjoy the delicious meat.
Fortunately I was able to kill a nice buck, as did the rest of our crew. It had a big body with plenty of fabulous, aromatic venison. I suspect it’s because of the different vegetation that buck had been eating but it smelled more rich and deep than other bucks or does I’ve killed before. Just a really good, hearty and earthy aroma.
Temperatures had plunged into the low teens and wind chills were below zero, so cleaning the deer, cutting them up for bagging and transport in my cooler, and freezing the portions darn sure wasn’t a problem. Tall Tines Outfitter owner Ted Jaycox did a great job breaking down my buck — he wanted to, said he had a good and quick routine, and that was that — and then I spent a couple of hours trimming sinew, fat and bagging everything to freeze overnight.
The next morning, my cooler was ready to pack with delicious venison. My bagged portions fit pretty well and stayed frozen for days. Even after I got home to Alabama they were fine. The best rotomolded coolers, like those from Yeti, with thick walls of insulation, airtight gasket seals and reliable durability, keep frozen meats and other items rock solid.
I grew up with my father using the old red Igloo coolers. They worked until the lid latches broke off and then, not so well. I’ve had scads of coolers over the years, too, from inexpensive to investment prices. Personally, I believe the latter is a very wise choice if you’re interested in long-lasting quality and year-round performance.
Yeti’s coolers, for example, have specific features that may not look sexy but darn sure are beneficial. Like a lid with a freezer gasket seal that is air-tight, meaning whatever’s inside stays inside. And a pitched bottom in the cooler so it drains easily without leaving that little bit in the corner, along with a one-turn drain plug (which also has a gasket seal). The lid has integrated holes for locks, too, in case you need to secure something at camp or for travel.
My deer meat from Kansas, and also from a trip to Ohio, was fine and dandy. After the Kansas trip I had to leave it in the cooler for a couple of days so I could get a small chest freezer. Temperatures in Alabama weren’t as cold as Kansas but they were in the 30s or lower at night, and my cooler kept everything frozen. It was great to not have to worry about it.
Having a reliable cooler you’re confident in during deer season may be even more important. When you’re driving from camp or that special trip out of state and returning with your deer or other game, you want to get it home fresh, cold or frozen, and ready to process and enjoy.
Once you get home with your deer meat, give this super gumbo recipe a try and add some venison sausage to it.
Pat’s of Henderson
1 cup shrimp1 cup crawfish
1 cup oysters
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped bell pepper
1/2 cup roux
1/4 cup chopped onions
1/2 clove chopped garlic
2 tsp salt
1 tsp red pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 quarts water
Dissolve roux in water over medium heat. Add chopped vegetables and cook over low heat for one hour. Add seafood and continue cooking for 1/2 hour. Serve over cooked rice. Serves 8-10
Do You Love Slow-Cooked Venison? If so, you don’t want to miss out on fantastic meals by using all of your deer meat. Don’t toss the shoulders and necks! Check out how you can convert those into super meals your family will love with Scott Leysath’s Better Venison Cookbook. Click for more information.