Hunters advised on deer transportation, consumption

After hunters get their deer, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Michigan State University Extension have a few tips in safely transporting and aging the carcass before it is processed. (Pioneer file photo)

MECOSTA COUNTY — Opening day has come and gone, meaning hunting season is in full swing in Mecosta County.

While those heading out to bag a buck may know they must wear hunter orange and practice safe gun-handling, they also should keep in mind a few carcass care and transportation tips.

“Mecosta County is one the five core Chronic Wasting Disease counties this year,” said Pete Kailing, Michigan Department of Natural Resources biologist for Oceana, Newaygo and Mecosta counties. “There are carcass restrictions this year.”

Kailing said hunters who get a deer in Mecosta, Newaygo, Montcalm, Kent and Ionia cannot transport the carcass out of these counties unless the meat has been deboned or the deer has been brought to a designated drop-off area.

According to the DNR website, carcasses also may be transported if no part of the spinal cord is attached to the meat; antlers attached to the skull cap are cleaned of brain and muscle tissue, hide and upper canine teeth; or are a finished taxidermist mount.

Along with safely transporting the meat, Kailing said hunters should remove the entrails as soon as possible and hang the carcass to help keep it cool.

“Hanging a deer can assist in cooling the carcass quickly. When cleaning a carcass, Michigan State University Extension recommends using sanitary utensils to lower the risk of cross-contamination. It is important to thoroughly cut away any visible contamination and then rinse the cavity of the deer with cold potable water before storing,” according to the MSUE. “These practices also will help clean away debris and bacterial contamination.

“To safely store the carcass, it must be kept at a temperature below 41 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent bacterial growth. It is advised to transport your carcass to a processor as soon as possible. Packing the cavity with ice is another way to help cool the venison carcass quickly or for long distance transport. Aging the meat is a method of enhancing and tenderizing the meat while dispelling the gamey taste of venison.”

MSUE advises hunters aging their venison to not exceed two or three days.

For more information on CWD guidelines and carcass safety, visit


Posted by Meghan Gunther-Haas

Meghan is the education reporter for the Pioneer and Herald Review. She can be reached at (231) 592-8382 or by email at

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