Warm weather could affect deer meat quality

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MADISON/AUGUSTA, Wis. (AP, WEAU) -- State officials are warning deer hunters that the relatively warm temperatures predicted for opening weekend across Wisconsin can affect the quality of their meat.

Hunters young and old gathered in search of this year's trophy bucks Saturday morning for Wisconsin's gun deer opener.

Eleven-year-old Iain Gilby of Ellsworth bagged his first ever buck.

"It felt pretty good when I first saw it, because it's a buck," Gilby said. "I was shaking really bad ... My cousin got a six-point, so I can rub that in his face."

But with temperatures in the 50s, many made trips to meat markets, like Augusta Meats and Catering in Augusta, to prevent the venison from spoiling.

"We wouldn't be in at this time of day on the first day of hunting, if it wasn't warm," hunter Larry Smith of Green Bay said.

"You've got to take care of venison quite promptly. A lot of people don't realize that. The quality of your meat depends on how you get it in here and how you get it taken care of after it's brought in," Augusta Meats owner Garry Pettis said.

The state's bureau of meat safety and inspection says temps above 40 degrees can cause harmful bacteria to spread quickly, and recommends immediate field dressing, washing the body cavity and refrigerating it as quickly as possible something that Gilby and Smith made a priority.

"It's very important to (get the meat refrigerated) right away, and they'll have a quality product when they get done."

"You come in (to the market), and get it taken care of, and then go back to do some more hunting later (Saturday)," Smith said.

Cindy Klug, manager of the Bureau of Meat Safety and Inspection, says when temperatures are above 40 degrees harmful bacteria can grow quickly.

She says there are some things hunters can do to ensure the venison doesn't spoil quickly.

It also recommends not leaving venison or other wild game in a car trunk and avoiding hanging the carcass in the garage in warm weather.