Monday, November 14, 2011

Hanging Deer

It's that time of year again. Deer hunting season means that the deer have to be "dressed" and hung from trees or rafters to age the meat. This image - a deer dangling from a rope - has always made me uncomfortable, despite having grown up the loyal daughter of an avid hunter. I very much believe that proper conservation of wildlife includes carefully regulated hunting even though I personally could never shoot a deer or rabbit or even bird. If I am uncomfortable with the sight of hanging deer, I can only imagine how much it must enrage those who are against hunting, further fueling their hatred for those who harvest animals for human use.

Why do the deer get hung from trees after being dressed, anyway? Apparently it is to age the meat and let chemistry do it's thing. I found an excellent article from Field & Stream which succinctly explained why. Here is an excerpt:

Proper aging begins as soon as rigor mortis ends-and this process is definitely not controlled rot. Rot is zillions of bacteria eating the muscle cells, their waste products creating the familiar stench of decaying flesh. Bacteria attack only after meat is exposed to the air, and bacterial rot is accelerated by higher temperatures. It doesn't happen at all if the meat is frozen. To properly age your deer, you must keep it at temperatures above freezing and below about 40 degrees. This holds bacteria (and rot) at bay, allowing natural enzymes to do their work.

So hanging a deer before butchering is necessary, but do all of us have to see it? You may be proud of your success, but please show some respect for the animal that has given it's life for you and hang it in privacy -- at least your BACK yard, not right out by the road. It amazes me that people also photograph these hanging deer -- it looks violent and ugly and reminds me of a lynching. I understand photographing your deer, but hold it's head up to show the beauty and dignity of the animal that will be feeding your family this winter. 

In my opinion, human beings are a part of nature and the circle of life, but we must use our power and our position at the top of the food chain thoughtfully and with respect for the rest of nature. 

random internet photo of hanging deer

random internet photo of a deer that looks a bit more dignified

No comments:

Post a Comment