How Long to Hang Elk before Butchering

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 After shooting an elk, the process of quartering is usually the next step. It will involve dressing and skinning from this point; it’s all to do with butchering the elk. However, how long to hang elk before butchering is a question that remains in most hunters’ minds. It’s advised to leave the elk meat to dry naturally for a few days but shouldn’t exceed two weeks.

Nevertheless, this will be influenced by a few factors that dictate hanging the elk meat.

Factors That Determine How Long To Hang Elk before Butchering

Before butchering an elk, you should understand that meat care is a priority when hunting the diverse big game. It’s imperative to always have the necessary measures in place to ensure that elk meat remains decontaminated. Here are dynamics influencing time duration for hanging elk before butchering.

The Temperature

Time and temperature are the decisive factors when considering elk’s meat hanging duration. The best temperature to hang elk meat is between 37-40 degrees Fahrenheit. Consequently, when the temperature is below this level, the elk meat will freeze, slowing the aging process.


The setting you intend to hang the elk meat is an essential consideration to factor in. Most individuals will hang the venison in their garage or a different space around the house. The area needs to be clean, free from bugs or flies. If you’re doing it outdoors, hanging it for three or four days is enough.

If the meat stays there for long, it’ll get contaminated. Also, ensure you use a tenderizer with a timer, which keeps better track of how the meat is tenderizing.

Elk Age

The elk’s age determines how long you’ll hang the venison. It takes fewer days, two or three with young elks, and the meat muscles will have completely become tender. For old bulks, the more days it’s left hanging, the better the meat will become.

Meat Aging

This is a marvel for hunters who wish to have their venison in the best edible condition. When an animal dies, the mortification process takes over. This leads to the muscles getting rigid immediately after dressing and skinning. However, when given the right duration, biological reactions will improve the meat’s consistency.

Nonetheless, there are two types of meat aging; these are dry and wet.

Dry Aging

It involves hanging the elk for a specific time interval, which is usually hours or days. This is the most common form of meat aging. Usually, the meat has to be stored at a controlled temperature, and it shouldn’t fall below the freezing point. For the meat to age correctly, there should be zero moisture.

You can do this through the use of vacuum-free bags to keep bacteria away. If the elk meat comes in contact with bacteria, it’ll be rendered bad for consumption. Dry aging can take up to fourteen days, which is the recommended time duration. It’s advised to age the elk meat in full and not in pieces if you want it to age properly.

Wet Aging

This meat aging technique is new, and it aids butchers in storing meat before it reaches consumers. Safety from contamination is always a priority with this aging method. And just like dry-aging, the elk meat is stored in vacuum storage bags. But with wet aging, just like the name suggests, the venison is usually wet.

The elk meat is immediately stored in vacuum bags before it completely drains the blood. This blood aids in the aging process. This process will start from day four, and by day ten, the meat is more than ready. If refrigerated correctly in the vacuum bags, it’ll be suitable for consumption for up to week six. This is from the day the elk was slaughtered.

Can You Age Elk Meat At Home?

Hanging elk meat may be complicated, although, with the right equipment, it’s possible to age the meat at home. However, after dressing and skinning your elk, it’s essential to get it checked for diseases such as CWD. In case there’s an outbreak, the Wildlife Department will put up a notice and warn the public. But, just to be on the safe side, it’s vital to have it checked.

It’s a process you must undergo in some states before taking the game at home.

Why Is It Important to Hang Elk Before Butchering?

Hanging venison is essential if you want your meat to be tender and improve flavoring and taste. This happens biologically, and the process continues after dressing and skinning the elk. Enzymes will aid in breaking down the meat fibers, which consequently helps in turning the meat tender. Hence, when you cook the venison, it comes out mushy but firm, and if it was wet-aged, it gets so juicy.

Does Hanging an Elk before Butchering It Influence the Meat’s Quality?

If it’s a question of whether the venison will be safe for consumption after hanging it, then it is. Hanging improves the meat’s quality; you shouldn’t miss this step before processing the elk meat. It’s the easiest way to tenderize the meat but observing proper hygiene is imperative. This is so that they do not mess up the meat’s quality.

Should You Clean Elk Meat before Hanging?

Washing the elk meat after skinning is crucial because it will help eliminate the gamey taste. But, dry the elk meat after cleaning it, especially if you’re going to age the venison through drying the venison. The purpose of cleaning this meat is to get rid of any dirt or bacteria. Being wild, the possibility of carrying bacteria is very high, and safety is significant when dealing with venison.

Final Verdict

When you butcher and cook venison immediately, it tends to be tough and lacks flavor. It’s easy to tell the difference between hanged venison and one butchered immediately after skinning. Many individuals will wonder how long to hang elk before butchering while ensuring it doesn’t go bad. The suggested duration is fourteen days.

It’s significant to let the process take place to completion in those few days of hanging suggested. By not doing this, your meat will lack when it comes to quality. Nevertheless, you should note it’s impossible to find elk meat, which has been aged accurately in your meat store. Usually, companies that sell elk meat will let it age as it is in transit.

It will probably be hanged for two to three days maximum. But if done at home in the right conditions, your venison will be perfectly aged and have the taste you want.

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