How much venison will your deer produce? Quality? by Ed Hale

All else being equal, you are successful like we all hope you are, and kill your deer. Congratulations!

Now take it to a deer meat cutter, aka butcher. Or cut it yourself as I have done. What can you expect? There are many ways to estimate the amount of meat you will get. The measuring tape method is widely used at or near the time of kill. A chart (see website below) was produced with data collected by the Pennsylvania State University-Department of Science, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission-Division of Research. 

By measuring the chest girth you can come up with an estimate of your deer’s live weight. You can use a string too, and then measure the string. Also, if you know the dressed weight, you can come up with the amount of freezer meat as well. Many NH registration stations have a weight scale. If you know the dressed weight then using the chart at the website you know the amount of approximate meat you will get provided your shot or shots did not ruin any quantity of meat.

Some quick stat’s: 40% loss is a round estimate

Dressed Wt (lb) Meat Wt (lb) ratio meat to dressed wt
60 38 63.3%
100 57.5 57.5%
120 67.3 56.1%
150 83.3 55.5%



The Quality question; how fast did the deer succumb to the shot? Immediate? 2 hours? 10 hours? What? How far did it run after the hit? 100 yards? 500 yards?

A deer that succumbs (is killed) immediately within minutes is the best you can possibly achieve and is immediately retrieved and gutted to cool the surrounding meat will produce the best tasting venison. This is so because there was little time for the deer’s system to react to the wound e.g. fever, hormones, adrenaline etc which produce the heavy gamy tastes.

A while back I killed two Pennsylvania deer with bow and arrow that died within a few minutes and the deer ate the best greens and corn later in summer. My wife was so impressed with the lack of gamy flavor and the tenderness of the meat that she demanded I go back and get more the following year. Of course I complied, happily!

In the case of a big older buck that has been chasing does for a month, you are likely to have gamy and tougher meat any way because his body is full of hormones and in some cases loses weight because he is so concentrating on reproduction that he is not eating. Yes all that for a large rack of antlers! You bet and I will eat all of it too!

All that said with a gamy animal; make lots of hamburger and place frozen ground meat or steak  in whole milk (buttermilk is best) overnight in the fridge. This is done to drain away the blood which carries much of the gamy flavor. It even tenderizes the meat as buttermilk has enzymes to tenderize the meat.

It is best to vacuum seal your meat because it lasts the longest in your freezer. Freezing fresh venison for a month or more aids in reducing gamy flavors so I freeze all my meat before cooking.

If cooking venison steak, anything more done than medium rare will be tough as there is little fat in the meat.

Good Hunting! © 2013


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About Ed Hale

I am an avid hunter with rifle and Bow and have been hunting for more than 50 years. I have taken big game such as whitetail deer, red deer, elk, Moose and African Plains game such as Kudu, Gemsbok, Springbok, Blesbok, and Impala and wrote an ebook entitled African Safari -Rifle and Bow and Arrow on how to prepare for a first safari. Ed is a serious cartridge reloader and ballistics student. He has earned two degrees in science and has written hundreds of outdoor article on hunting with both bow and rifle.