Adam Mulholland, Director and Co-owner of The Butcher’s Block and Smokehouse, is also a keen recreational hunter.

He shares some suggestions for keeping your game meat in the best possible condition when out hunting in New Zealand’s great outdoors.

Multi-day hunts

When hunting in summer, especially when night-time temps are over 10 degrees, keeping the carcass and/or boned meat and joints clean and cool is vital for best possible meat quality for processing at The Butcher’s Block and Smokehouse.

  • Deer hunting New Zealand First up is, if on a long multi-day hunt in summer, don’t shoot anything in the first few of days unless you are going to eat it on the hill.
  • I like to spend the first few days scouting for animals to find out where they are and looking for the animals I’m keen to get, like a trophy stag stripping velvet or a mature chamois buck in full summer coat. You learn a lot more about your target species from observing them alive than dead!

When you’ve bagged your target animal:

  • Flies and bone taint are the enemy here. Removing the skin helps the carcass drop heat quicker but the trade-off is the meat dries out quicker.
  • I can’t recommend strongly enough how important it is to open the animal’s joints up to allow the carcass to cool as quickly as possible. Cut through to the hip joints, knee joints, shoulder blades, etc.
  • Remove the throat and anus when you gut the animal.
  • Keep the gut cavity open with a stick to ensure maximum air flow.
  • Boning out the animal is my preferred option when I want to keep the meat longer than overnight.
  • Use a fly mesh-style meat safe bag to hang the meat or carcass in trees or forest in all day shade. This can be 10 degrees cooler than out in the open. Find a creek or river if you can, as these normally offer greater cooling and airflow.
  • During the hottest part of the day the cooled, boneless meat can be put in a dry bag with as much air removed as possible and submerged in a shady, fast-flowing part of a creek to keep cool, then rehung at night to keep air circulation on the meat.
  • I have done these steps and gotten 5 days out of some venison which would have otherwise spoiled.

Wrapping up, don’t shoot an animal on the first day of a multi-day hunt and expect to get it home!

Single day or overnight hunts

Don’t waste your efforts of bagging a nice deer or pig by not taking care of the carcass before you drop it off to us for processing. Let us say, we hate throwing away meat because of bone taint! This occurs when the carcass isn’t cooled quickly enough. Here are Adam’s tips to prep your animals in the field.

Tip #1. Cover and chill

  • Once gutted, hang and cover to keep flies off. Consider investing in a portable meat safe.
  • Bring a chilly bin of milk or soft drink bottles filled with frozen water. Put these in the carcass cavity to bring the internal temperature down as quickly as possible.
  • Note: keeping the skin on while transporting helps stop grass, twigs, etc contaminating the meat.


Venison hanging in chiller Tip #2. Prompt drop-off

  • Drop your clean carcasses or trim off to us as soon as you can after your hunt.
  • We will hang the animal for the right length of time for its type and size, and be able to schedule its processing among all other customer orders for best possible meat quality. Please don’t hang it yourself and assume we’ll be able to fit it in when you decide it’s ready for processing.


Tip #3. Call ahead

  • Take a couple of minutes to call ahead on (03) 443-5017 and let us know when you plan to arrive at the shop, so someone is available to accept your game carcass or trim.
  • We’ll complete the meat cutting form with you during drop-off, or do this yourself ahead of time.

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