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Safe Deer Processing

December 2, 2011
Erie County (PA) Department of Health

ERIE, PA - As fall arrives, so does the start of deer hunting in Pennsylvania. As all you hunters begin scouting your hunting grounds and preparing your equipment, don't forget proper planning for processing your deer.

Whether you decide to process the deer yourself at home or send it to a commercial processor, there are important steps to consider.

Field dress the deer carefully to reduce as much contamination of the meat as possible. Chill the carcass and maintain at 40 F or below until processing. For home processing, wash hands often. Start by thoroughly cleaning all knives, cutting boards, and work surfaces. Store deer meat separate from other foods in a refrigerator to avoid cross-contamination. To avoid freezer burn, use freezer wrap or freezer storage bags. Do not overload the freezer. Properly frozen meat will store 9-12 months. Cook meat to at least 160F.

Article Photos

James Fitzgerald took this 10-pt buck in Columbiana County (OH) during bow season 2011. Green scored at 129 2.8, 21' spread.
Bow: Diamond - Iceman
Arrow: Gold Tip XT Hunter
Broadheads: Rage 100gr. 3 blade
Call:Primos Buck Roar

Before deciding on a commercial processor, pay them a visit. Ask to tour the facility to ensure the deer will be handled, processed and stored properly. Make sure the facility has adequate refrigeration for the number of deer they will accept. They should have good recordkeeping practices to track each deer brought in for processing. Tools, utensils, cutting boards, and tables should be clean, in good working condition, and made of a material that is easy to clean and sanitize.

Click for the full brochure 'A Guide to Safe Deer Processing' and links to Penn State's Pocket Guide to Field Dressing Deer and proper canning and smoking procedures.

After leaving the woods, be sure to check for ticks. Inspect yourself and all clothing before entering vehicles or your home. Some ticks can carry diseases such as Lyme disease. If you encounter a tick that is attached to your skin, use pointed tweezers and grasp the tick by its mouthparts where it enters the skin. Pull slowly and firmly until the tick releases. Ticks that have been attached to the skin can be brought to the Health Department for identification. Contact us at 814-451-6700.

Fact Box

Field dress the deer carefully to reduce as much contamination of the meat as possible. Chill the carcass and maintain at 40 F or below until processing.

This information is distributed by Erie County Department of Health, 606 W. 2nd Street, Erie, PA 16507, 814-451-6700, www.ecdh.org

Karen Tobin

Environmental Supervisor

Erie County Department of Health

 
 

 

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