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#3182431 - 03/03/13 06:10 PM What is the best age for harvesting deer?
DSL_Connector
Spike


Registered: 03/02/13
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Loc: Knoxville, TN

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Question. If you were going to use a deer for food what is the best age/size to hunt?

Question. If the buck or doe is too old does the meat have a wild taste?

When I was a child we used to raise one or two heads of beef per year for slaughter. We would take the calf to the slaughter house at about nine months to one year old.

We would always put the calf in a barn stall keep it there about two or three weeks before slaughter. If you don't keep the calf pinned up for a few weeks the beef has a wild taste.

This thread here on TnDeer in the Quality Deer Management forum has pictures of different age bucks:

Field-judging buck age examples

I have eaten venison before. It's been years ago. I can't remember much about what it tasted like.
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#3182440 - 03/03/13 06:20 PM Re: What is the best age for harvesting deer? [Re: DSL_Connector]
lpo1981
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Registered: 01/20/12
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My personal opinion on venison is that its all in the way it's prepared and cooked.. I've eaten older bucks, younger bucks, does and yearlings.. Just all in how st prepared and cooked in my opinion.
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#3182537 - 03/03/13 07:42 PM Re: What is the best age for harvesting deer? [Re: lpo1981]
timberjack86
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Registered: 06/20/11
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Button bucks
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#3182542 - 03/03/13 07:47 PM Re: What is the best age for harvesting deer? [Re: timberjack86]
cecil30-30
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generally speaking,the more spots,the better eating.. \:D
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#3182546 - 03/03/13 07:52 PM Re: What is the best age for harvesting deer? [Re: lpo1981]
hunter0925
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Registered: 01/21/13
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 Originally Posted By: lpo1981
My personal opinion on venison is that its all in the way it's prepared and cooked.. I've eaten older bucks, younger bucks, does and yearlings.. Just all in how st prepared and cooked in my opinion.


Agreed
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#3182559 - 03/03/13 08:03 PM Re: What is the best age for harvesting deer? [Re: cecil30-30]
WestTn Huntin'man
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Registered: 11/19/06
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You will be getting a lot of different opinions on this one.Personally I try to shoot 2.5 or 3.5 year old deer for the freezer. No doubt a smaller deer is is more tender,but not hardly worth the trouble.
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#3182578 - 03/03/13 08:15 PM Re: What is the best age for harvesting deer? [Re: DSL_Connector]
catman529
spiderboy
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Registered: 11/10/10
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I killed deer from 0.5 to 5.5 years old last season and they all taste like deer to me. The fawns are more tender but less meat. my philosophy is that if you want to shoot it and its legal then shoot it. If you want to let it grow then let it grow.

Oh and welcome to the site!
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#3182613 - 03/03/13 08:51 PM Re: What is the best age for harvesting deer? [Re: catman529]
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Mud Dauber
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1.5 to 2.5 year olds tend to produce the most tender meat, however I have yet to meet a deer that wasn't tasty. Low and slow cooking will make break even the toughest muscles down to delicious roasts and stews. I have cooked mature buck shanks (toughest muscle on a deer) down to the consistency almost equivalent to brisket.
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#3182651 - 03/03/13 09:34 PM Re: What is the best age for harvesting deer? [Re: Poser]
catman529
spiderboy
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 Originally Posted By: Poser
1.5 to 2.5 year olds tend to produce the most tender meat, however I have yet to meet a deer that wasn't tasty. Low and slow cooking will make break even the toughest muscles down to delicious roasts and stews. I have cooked mature buck shanks (toughest muscle on a deer) down to the consistency almost equivalent to brisket.
you are forgetting the fawns they are the most tender \:D


Another note - letting the meat sit in a cold fridge (mid 30s) will make better meat. I have had tenderloins straight from a yearling buck that was killed the same day. They were good, but tougher than I expected. The meat that sat in the fridge and aged several days was more tender, cut and cooked the same way.
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#3182790 - 03/04/13 07:38 AM Re: What is the best age for harvesting deer? [Re: catman529]
Mike Belt
TnDeer Old Timer
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Registered: 03/26/99
Posts: 17879
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I suppose a young deer eats better than an older deer but I really can't tell the difference most of the time. How you handle the deer after the shot has alot to do with the resulting taste as does the shot placement (quick killing the deer versus wounding). I also believe that possibly a buck killed in a more relaxed state probably eats better than a buck that's been running a doe/s for the last several hours.

For the most part, you'll not notice any difference in any deer you kill and eat as long as you cook it right (don't overcook).
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#3182850 - 03/04/13 08:49 AM Re: What is the best age for harvesting deer? [Re: Mike Belt]
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Mud Dauber
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One thing I like about mature deer is that they have entire cuts of useable meat that younger deer do not. For example, the flank steak, which is a thin cut of meat that covers the rib cage. On a mature deer, you can peel that steak off like a piece of velcro and it makes a great, slow cooked cut of meat if done right. Only mature animals have that layer of muscle, though.

At the same time, I was helping a buddy butcher a doe and fawn this Winter and the fawn hams revealed absolutely zero silverskin or fat and they were perfect Crock Pot size with the bones in. -nothing to be done there, just wrap and freeze. You put an entire fawn's ham in the Crock Pot for about 3.5 hour and you'll have some good eating. Of course, you can have just as good eating with a mature deer, its just going to take longer for the silverskin to breakdown and the meat to "break." Not to mention, its difficult to find a pot that a whole mature ham will fit in. Heck, I killed a large doe this season who's rear shank had to be forced into the crock pot.

So, from a pure meat hunting stand point, its a tradeoff. Mature deer will produce a much higher yield of meat, but young deer are easier to butcher and require less cooking time. If you just grind the whole deer up anyway, it does not really matter as the meat grinder will tenderize meat.
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#3182882 - 03/04/13 09:16 AM Re: What is the best age for harvesting deer? [Re: Poser]
woodsman87
8 Point


Registered: 09/27/12
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I like grinding most of the big old deer, and cutting up the younger ones. It always made sense to me to do it this way. I use probably 5x more burger than I do anything else anyways.
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#3182971 - 03/04/13 11:26 AM Re: What is the best age for harvesting deer? [Re: woodsman87]
Good time Charlie
TnDeer Old Timer
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Registered: 10/08/99
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Honestly, If handled just like a young heifer or steer you are good.
I prefer a Doe about a year old .hung up for about 2 days...and field dressed properly.
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#3183056 - 03/04/13 12:40 PM Re: What is the best age for harvesting deer? [Re: Good time Charlie]
Wes Parrish
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Registered: 06/12/02
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 Originally Posted By: Good time Charlie
I prefer a Doe about a year old .hung up for about 2 days...and field dressed properly.

I prefer to field dress mine first, before I hang them up for about 2 days.

 Originally Posted By: Mike Belt
I suppose a young deer eats better than an older deer but I really can't tell the difference most of the time. How you handle the deer after the shot has alot to do with the resulting taste as does the shot placement (quick killing the deer versus wounding).

For the most part, you'll not notice any difference in any deer you kill and eat as long as you cook it right (don't overcook).

Couldn't have said it any better.
Young or old, big or small, we eat them all.

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#3183059 - 03/04/13 12:45 PM Re: What is the best age for harvesting deer? [Re: Wes Parrish]
Football Hunter
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Yeah,I bet so^^^ \:\)
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#3183245 - 03/04/13 04:21 PM Re: What is the best age for harvesting deer? [Re: Football Hunter]
redblood
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Registered: 01/22/06
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it has less to with age and more to do with time of year, body condition and diet IMO
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#3183384 - 03/04/13 06:27 PM Re: What is the best age for harvesting deer? [Re: redblood]
catman529
spiderboy
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 Originally Posted By: redblood
it has less to with age and more to do with time of year, body condition and diet IMO
how can you tell a difference when it is cooked to a crisp? \:D anything more than medium is over cooked. ;\)
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#3183390 - 03/04/13 06:29 PM Re: What is the best age for harvesting deer? [Re: redblood]
plinker22
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Registered: 02/07/05
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For the time spent processing, I would say at least a 2 1/2 year old. More meat for the time/effort!

Processed correctly, I would say any 4 1/2 year old. Lots more meat for the time/effort.

Welcome to TnDeer. Are you going to be new hunter, or just new to TnDeer?
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#3183614 - 03/04/13 09:42 PM Re: What is the best age for harvesting deer? [Re: plinker22]
DSL_Connector
Spike


Registered: 03/02/13
Posts: 53
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I'm new to TnDeer. But I've been a hunter since back in the 1960's. My father's family were loggers in Union County until the Great Depression.

Daddy went off to World War II. His family moved to Knox Co. - but they still owned a tract of mountainous land in Union County (Ailor Gap Road).

We used to go small game hunting over in Union County. Daddy's dead now.

I'm getting close to retirement age. I figure I might do a little hunting here when I get the time.
.
 Originally Posted By: plinker22
For the time spent processing, I would say at least a 2 1/2 year old. More meat for the time/effort!

Processed correctly, I would say any 4 1/2 year old. Lots more meat for the time/effort.

Welcome to TnDeer. Are you going to be new hunter, or just new to TnDeer?

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#3183968 - 03/05/13 08:58 AM Re: What is the best age for harvesting deer? [Re: lpo1981]
BSK
Jerkasourous of the non-typical kind
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Registered: 03/11/99
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 Originally Posted By: lpo1981
My personal opinion on venison is that its all in the way it's prepared and cooked.. I've eaten older bucks, younger bucks, does and yearlings.. Just all in how st prepared and cooked in my opinion.


Exactly. Other than fawns, which are notably more tender, adult deer (male and female) can all be made to have the same consistancy and taste with proper care of the meat as well as proper aging in a controlled environment (cooler).
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#3184002 - 03/05/13 09:30 AM Re: What is the best age for harvesting deer? [Re: BSK]
Swole Neck
4 Point


Registered: 11/06/11
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Loc: TN

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I liked harvesting them when I was 20. It was a lot easier dragging them out of the woods back then.
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#3184878 - 03/06/13 05:12 AM Re: What is the best age for harvesting deer? [Re: Swole Neck]
bowriter
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Whenever the kids are capable of handling firearms. However, they do not harvest, they kill.
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#3185212 - 03/06/13 10:48 AM Re: What is the best age for harvesting deer? [Re: bowriter]
Winchester
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How the meat is handled from the time of trigger pull is much more important to the taste than the age will ever be!
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#3185282 - 03/06/13 12:17 PM Re: What is the best age for harvesting deer? [Re: Winchester]
BSK
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 Originally Posted By: Winchester
How the meat is handled from the time of trigger pull is much more important to the taste than the age will ever be!


What Winchester said.
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#3185873 - 03/06/13 09:28 PM Re: What is the best age for harvesting deer? [Re: Winchester]
DSL_Connector
Spike


Registered: 03/02/13
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Loc: Knoxville, TN

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Exactly. You have got to drain the blood first thing. You don't want the blood clotting in the meat.

When we used to hunt small game (quail mostly) the first thing we did was to cut the head off then gut the bird.

 Originally Posted By: Winchester
How the meat is handled from the time of trigger pull is much more important to the taste than the age will ever be!

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#3185904 - 03/06/13 09:57 PM Re: What is the best age for harvesting deer? [Re: DSL_Connector]
Poser
Mud Dauber
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Registered: 07/28/10
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 Originally Posted By: DSL_Connector
.
Exactly. You have got to drain the blood first thing. You don't want the blood clotting in the meat.

When we used to hunt small game (quail mostly) the first thing we did was to cut the head off then gut the bird.

 Originally Posted By: Winchester
How the meat is handled from the time of trigger pull is much more important to the taste than the age will ever be!


Draining the blood has nothing to do with proper handling the meat. In fact, by draining the meat you are depriving the meat of precious moisture.
_________________________
It doesn't have to be fun to be fun.

Wild & crazy, can't be stopped. Only the strong will survive.

Keep your knife sharp and your skillet greasy.

http://www.GoCarnivore.com

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#3187712 - 03/08/13 06:13 PM Re: What is the best age for harvesting deer? [Re: Poser]
timberjack86
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Registered: 06/20/11
Posts: 7941
Loc: Grundy county

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 Originally Posted By: Poser
 Originally Posted By: DSL_Connector
.
Exactly. You have got to drain the blood first thing. You don't want the blood clotting in the meat.

When we used to hunt small game (quail mostly) the first thing we did was to cut the head off then gut the bird.

 Originally Posted By: Winchester
How the meat is handled from the time of trigger pull is much more important to the taste than the age will ever be!


Draining the blood has nothing to do with proper handling the meat. In fact, by draining the meat you are depriving the meat of precious moisture.
Agree^^^ Venison needs moisture and is best served rare.
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