Most deer hunters think that older, bigger deer are tougher to eat than younger, smaller ones, and that some cuts of deer make better steaks than others. But most of us don’t know exactly why it’s true.
By Dr. Phillip Bishop
A Polish study, in a very scientific manner, tested what most of us believe. Eight female deer were tested. Four of them were 6 months old, and four were 4 years old. Meat samples were taken from the surface of the ham (biceps femoris), deeper in the ham (semimembranosus) and backstraps (longissimus). The samples were rated based on values for chewiness, hardness, viscousity and elasticity.
The meat from the surface of the ham had the highest values for each category, plus the biggest muscle fibers and muscle fiber coverings. The inner ham was second, using these same characteristics. The backstraps had the lowest values.
Thus, the backstraps had better characteristics than the other two cuts, regardless of deer age. However, the meat from the younger deer did have better food characteristics than the meat from the older deer. The older deer had bigger muscle fibers and muscle fiber coverings, but a lower percentage of fast-twitch muscle fibers than the younger deer. Consequently, the younger deer were indeed more tender than the older deer.
So, science has painstakingly shown what we knew all along.
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