Proper Meat Care for Antelope

Firedude

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I gotta go with Doug on this one. you have to skin and quarter it sooner or later, why not do it sooner? It only takes 30 minutes, maybe on a
I gotta go with Doug on this one. you have to skin and quarter it sooner or later, why not do it sooner? It only takes 30 minutes, maybe on a lope.
The hide helps keep moisture on the meat. You can test it by putting 2 steaks in the fridge. 1 wrapped in saran wrap and 1 not. Leave it for a day or 2 until one dries a little on the outside. Then cook them, 1 will be more tender. You get a better test leaving them both on the counter for a day. Try it and see which you prefer.
 

Bigjay73

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I agree with you if the outside temps are low 40s or lower, but a lot of antelope hunting is in warm temps.
 

Keeptrying

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My favorite is a tongue hitch full of antelope screaming down a South Dakota Interstate in early October. I hear that exhaust gives them a unique, smoky flavor.

Honestly, we have coolers and ice with us anytime there is a question to temperature. Chop up the animals we shoot immediately, put them in coolers. All of our meat is excellent.
 

sbhooper

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One of the biggest problem with antelope, is that many are shot when it is very warm. I 100 percent agree with Doug. You may get away with riding them around in the back of a truck, but you will eventually have meat that is "gamey"-take that as rotten! Antelope are different than deer and cooling IS necessary. The faster that you cool it, the better the meat will be.

I immediately de-bone-or at least quarter- the antelope and put it on ice. If the weather is cool, then the ice part is not as critical. I do this, even when hunting in cool weather. It is better to be safe, than sorry with antelope. The meat is too good to take a chance on wasting it, just because you want to ride it around all day in a truck. There is really no legitimate reason not to field strip them and be done with it.
 

WyoDoug

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I agree with doug and many others on this one. Skin and quarter immediately. Be sure to avoid glands. Make sure to change knives/blades so your not cutting into meat with the blade you skinned with when you get done skinning. Get the meat in a cooler ASAP, but don't freeze it right away. That's a sure fire recipe for some of the best game meat in the west.
This is more for those who don't know where the glands are. Many of them you remove when you clean the cavity and remove all those fat modules. They are retained in globs of fatty tissue and if you remove all the fat, you are going to remove all the glands because of that. There's one in the folds folds of meat at the top of the shoulder blade, scent glands on the rump (which you should avoid touching during handling), adrenal glands, there are several. I could name them all, but it is really not necessary. If when you are butchering, you remove all or most of the fatty clumps, you will get the glands too because that is where they are. Most reputable processors will remove the glands for you when they cut up your meat. The gland in the clumps of fat gives your meat a gamey taste, sometimes strong. If you ever get an antelope that smells bad mainly coming from the blood, that is because it was pumped full of andrenalin from the andrenal glands. Key to getting all the glands is get all the clumps of fat and be aware that some of the glands are inside the legs between muscle groups. There is also a yellow cord that runs along the backstrap from the neck. This not only taste bad, it's tough to chew on. End story, if you cut your own meat, I highly recommend removing all the fat in elk, deer and antelope.
 

WyoDoug

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My favorite is a tongue hitch full of antelope screaming down a South Dakota Interstate in early October. I hear that exhaust gives them a unique, smoky flavor.

Honestly, we have coolers and ice with us anytime there is a question to temperature. Chop up the animals we shoot immediately, put them in coolers. All of our meat is excellent.
Not only that, exhaust includes unburned gasoline and some solid waste matter. Not good for hauling meat that way.
 

wyoelkfan15

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One reason I love antelope hunting is I can do 50% of the meat processing in the field relatively quickly. Usually, I quarter them, but if I can get them to the truck whole that's fine. I skin, debone and cut the major roasts apart right on my tailgate. All the fresh meat goes straight on ice. Makes the packaging when I get home super quick as well.
 

WyoDoug

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One reason I love antelope hunting is I can do 50% of the meat processing in the field relatively quickly. Usually, I quarter them, but if I can get them to the truck whole that's fine. I skin, debone and cut the major roasts apart right on my tailgate. All the fresh meat goes straight on ice. Makes the packaging when I get home super quick as well.
I have never been told my antelope was gamey. I have been asked what kind of meat it was because "it can not be antelope cuz antelope has a gamey taste". I love to hunt antelope too because I can skin and quarter those really quickly and when I get home, I can butcher them within an hour not including the sausage, hamburger patties, and jerky that takes more time.
 

MTPUBLICLAND

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Antelope is by far our favorite meat. We try to shoot antelope first thing in the morning if possible, skin and quarter them at kill site and put in game bags. I prefer to leave quarters bone in because bags of boned out meat can clump up in game bag and take longer to cool. When we arrive at the truck we will hang the quarters in the wind and have lunch and let them cool naturally as much as possible. Then we have two large coolers filled with frozen water bottles, I like to layer a row of bottles on the bottom then stack quarters, then bottles again, so no meat is in contact with each other. Probably overthinking it but it’s so delicious, we do our own processing too.
 

BuzzH

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I can only think of 2 pronghorn that I've ever put in a cooler on ice, both in New Mexico and the temperature was in the 90's.

Never have put one on ice from Montana or Wyoming that I've shot. Never have had a bad tasting one either. I always quarter them though, and they cool very quickly.

I don't think there's anything wrong with putting them on ice in a cooler, but IMO, you have to be more careful doing that. There is zero for air circulation in a cooler, its always damp, and a prime place for bacteria growth and spoilage.

I've had more luck maintaining air flow/circulation and keeping the meat dry and letting a "skin" form on it. As long as the quarters cool out right away, the air temps at night are getting into the 40-50 range, and you keep the meat in the shade during the day...you wont have any problem.
 

WyoDoug

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One thing to keep in mind when icing in coolers. The plug should be open to drain excess water with something to elevate the meat an inch of so from the bottom. You really don't want meat soaking in water. Keep in mind that cold air drops so the ice underneath don't really help much. I would put the ice on top and leave space at the bottom so water can drain out and not pool. In good coolers (not necessarily expensive ones), your ice will last 2-5 days closed and covered with a blanket, plenty of time to get it to camp or home. I use pieces of PCV pipe and cooking grills I found to elevate the meat from the bottom of the cooler. You can put ice on the bottom for that and achieve the same effect. Ice at the bottom will melt slower than the ice on top but you want it to drain out is the main thing. Water is a very efficient transport of bacteria.

Deboning is not really necessary, but it does help IF you don't pack the meat so much so it clumps up. The biggest benefit of deboning meat is not so much in the cooling process but in weight and mass when you are packing it out or short on cooler space. Bones because of it's mass does hold a bunch of heat, but not enough that deboning is really essential to the cooling process. I debone simply because if I took the bones home, I would have to dispose of them anyway in the trash. My preference is to leave them at the kill site for the birds and predators instead. Where possible in cases where you have some mileage to do before getting to where you process the meat, you should layer meat so it stays relatively dry and is not clumped up in one big mass.
 

WyoDoug

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My experience as well.
I can only think of 2 pronghorn that I've ever put in a cooler on ice, both in New Mexico and the temperature was in the 90's.

Never have put one on ice from Montana or Wyoming that I've shot. Never have had a bad tasting one either. I always quarter them though, and they cool very quickly.

I don't think there's anything wrong with putting them on ice in a cooler, but IMO, you have to be more careful doing that. There is zero for air circulation in a cooler, its always damp, and a prime place for bacteria growth and spoilage.

I've had more luck maintaining air flow/circulation and keeping the meat dry and letting a "skin" form on it. As long as the quarters cool out right away, the air temps at night are getting into the 40-50 range, and you keep the meat in the shade during the day...you wont have any problem.
Putting them on ice is not critical. Cooling them is. That is what this post is after. If you are hunting in temps of less than 70, simply skinning and maybe quartering will do the trick. Quartering and icing is a personal preference which to me seems to have improved the quality and taste of the meat. I also hunt archery antelope which starts in just over 3 weeks for me. Temps in August here in Cheyenne often range into the 90s. What I do not recommend is driving around half a day with an antelope in the back of a pickup. That not only draw flies, it accelerates rot. Some have do do get away with it, but that one mistake and letting meat begin to spoil can land you in the hospital or maybe kill you.
 

JLS

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Quartering and icing is a personal preference which to me seems to have improved the quality and taste of the meat
Glad this method works for you.

What I do not recommend is driving around half a day with an antelope in the back of a pickup.
I certainly don’t either.

I don’t think Buzz or mtmuley or I are advocating poor meat care. I rarely debone antelope in the field, and sometimes the don’t skin them until the next day. I also don’t pack them on ice.

I hunt elk in 80+ degree temps when I don’t necessarily have direct access to ice and coolers.
 

madtom

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This is more for those who don't know where the glands are. Many of them you remove when you clean the cavity and remove all those fat modules. They are retained in globs of fatty tissue and if you remove all the fat, you are going to remove all the glands because of that. There's one in the folds folds of meat at the top of the shoulder blade, scent glands on the rump (which you should avoid touching during handling), adrenal glands, there are several. I could name them all, but it is really not necessary.
To be honest, I kind of wish you would.
 

WapitiBob

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I shoot them, quarter them, pack them back to the truck. I then hang them off my camper jacks on the shade side of the camper. Next morning they’re glazed and cooled out. I toss them in a cooler and head to town for ice. If it’s not antelope no1, it goes in the cooler when I get it to the camper as the Wyoming wind will usually glaze them over while I’m working them up.

I did see an antelope one time, gutted with hide on, laying on a cooler, against the sunny side of a big motorhome. All four legs were splayed out like a bloated cow laying dead in a field. Kick myself for not turning around and taking that picture.
 
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