ORIGINAL: Woods Walker
Have you ever actually hung/aged one in the method I described? Not someone elses deer, where you have no idea of how it was handled, but yours. I've done over 4 dozen this way and have yet to have a bad one. I will say this, and it's from personal experience. Hanging them for a while DOES increase the tenderness of the meat. Even bucks in the 2 and 3 year age range are tender this way. A good friend of mine had killed his first deer (in the early morning), and we took the tenderloins out that night after hanging the deer to cook for a celebratory meal. I went on and on about how good they were and all, and they were TOUGH! That was the only time I'd ever cooked meat from a deer on the day it was killed, and the only time I've ever had tough tenderloins. I do think that you don't really gain a whole lot more tenderness after 5 days or so, but IMO, I think you need at least 2 days from when it was killed, if conditions are good for it (high temps of the day not more than 45 degrees).
If memory serves, D&DH rean an article some years back that debunked the notion of aging deer in a tree or garage. I think it appeared in the 25th Anniversary book. I'll try to look it up later.
I have found the taste of the meat I butcher is most influenced by how fast I get it off the bone and on ice and how carefully I trim the fat.
Aging actually does make the meat more tender, as enzymes within the meat break down the muscle and connective tissue making it tender. It`s fact.
I`m talking to a local slaughter house, trying to get the owner to train me as a meat cutter. I`ve spent time on the kill floor, as well as much time in the boning room with a knife in-hand.
This guy ages beef 10 to 14 days between 38 and 42 degrees. And proper ventilation is critical. Also, don`t hang to age around gas, paint, etc., as the meat will absorb those orders.
I`ve had venison unaged as well as aged, and aged is the ticket for me.