How Long Does Venison Last In The Freezer?

Have you ever wondered why almost ever state has their deer hunting season during the winter?  Well some people might say it’s to help manage the deer population, but that’s not the real reason.  The main reason we hunt during the winter is to reduce bacteria buildup in the meat.

Before we all had freezers, fall and winter hunting allowed hunters to preserve their meat before it all went bad.  Now that we all have freezers how long will venison actually last?

How Long Does Venison Last in The Freezer?

So how long can you expect venison to last in your freezer?  Many factors are going to come into play depending on how well it was prepared.  As a general rule you should be pretty close to finishing off all your meat at the 1 year mark if vacuum sealed.  Get yourself a NutriChef Vacuum Sealer so you know your venison will last til next hunting season.

  • Vacuum Sealed:  Lasts At Least 1.5 Years
  • Freezer Bag:  3-6 Months Until Frostbitten
  • Freezer Paper: 6 Months- 1 Year

From small does to monster bucks every deer you shoot offers a up a ton of prime venison. As a hunter, it’s your job to make sure you take care of all that meat. Don’t waste the life you took by not taking care of all that meat.

Properly Wrapping Your Venison

Wrapping your meat properly will significantly increase it’s longevity.  When properly stored your deer should last well into the following hunting season.

Protecting Your Meat

  1. Air:  Air is the number one enemy of frozen meat.  If you don’t vacuum seal your meat it’s only a matter of time before you get freezer burn.  Reduce the amount of oxygen that touches your meat to stop it from drying out.
  2. Keep Larger Chunks:  Larger chunks of meat reduces the overall surface area exposed to oxygen.  If you have a big family freeze big chunks of meat to guarantee it lasts as long as possible.  After you thaw out the meat cut it up into smaller more manageable chunks.
  3. Colder The Better:  Make sure you keep your meat as cold as you possibly can.  Keep your freezer as close to 0 Degrees F as possible for long term storage.  Long power outages happen and you wouldn’t want all your meat to spoil before you get a chance to eat it.

Different Wrapping Options

  1. Vacuum Seal (Best Option): Unless you plan on running through your venison fast, seal up all your meat using a vacuum sealer. This is by far the best option for preserving butchered venison. Vacuum sealers are cheap, easy to operate and significantly extend the life of your meat. (This is The Vacuum Sealer I use)
  2. Freezer Paper (Good Option): Personally I’m not a huge fan of using freezer paper to wrap meat. If you only plan on keeping a few pounds of venison for yourself this option is fine. With a full deer you’ll have quality issues before getting through all the meat.
  3. Plastic Freezer Bags (Decent Short Term): If you put meat in a freezer bag you’re almost guaranteed to eventually get freezer burn. Meat won’t last more than 6 months in a freezer bag.

Best Way To Wrap Venison

The absolute best way to wrap venison is to use a vacuum sealer. Unless you’re only keeping a few pounds of meat you need to look into long term storage.

I don’t care who you are, you won’t be able to eat a full deer in 6 months. We might go crazy at first eating venison with every meal, but two weeks later you get sick of it.

For long term meat storage you almost have to get a vacuum sealer. Vacuum sealers have gone so low in price that you no longer have an excuse not to buy one.

Personally I use my NutriChef Vacuum Sealer at least once a week, but there are cheaper models out there.  Last week I saw a vacuum sealer for $20 at Walmart, but I’m not sure how good it is.

Vacuum sealers are the perfect solution for long term storage because it completely removes all the air out of your venison.  They’re extremely easy to operate and take less than a minute to use.

Consider All Your Effort

Think about how hard it actually was to hunt and harvest your deer. Why would you take all that time and effort to harvest if you aren’t going to properly store the meat. Do yourself a favor and buy a vacuum sealer.

How to Use a Vacuum Sealer

Hunters have a hard time visualizing just how much meat you actually get out of a deer. Considering you normally get about %40 of the live weight out of the animal, that’s a lot of meat.

With so much meat you basically have two options. Have a big party with all your friends, or figure out long term storage. Luckily it’s really easy to use a vacuum sealer.

  1. Fill up your vacuum seal bag with your venison. (Check out these cheap vacuum seal bags) Most bags have one sealed end on the bottom, but you might have to close the one end. Make sure You have a couple inches of clearance at the top of your bag to use the vacuum sealer.
  2. Place the top 2 inches of your vacuum seal bag into your machine.
  3. Turn on the machine and wait for all of the air to be removed. Most vacuum sealers have a indicator that indicates that the bag is done.
  4. Remove the sealed venison bag and your ready to put it into long term storage. If properly stored your meat should last at least 1.5 years.
A Few Concerns
  • Don’t overfill your bag. Wasting a little bit of bag material is a lot better than waisting all that meat. If you don’t get a good seal the process isn’t going to work.
  • Try to smooth out all the wrinkles in your bag before and during the vacuum seal process. This is going to help keep air out of all those little pockets.
  • If the packaging doesn’t look right redo the process. Vacuum seal bags are cheap(like 15 cents a piece). It isn’t worth wasting a couple pounds of meat because your to cheap to waste a bag.

Different Freezer Options

When I first started hunting I never realized how much meat you actually get out of one deer. I shot a decent sized doe my first year and it quickly became clear that the top part of my freezer wasn’t going to do the job.

I didn’t even have enough room to fit one full boned deer into my freezer, yet alone everything else. Plus my refrigerators freezer wasn’t staying as cold as I would have liked. They really aren’t designed for long term food storage, especially in a power outages

Chest Freezers

Chest freezers aka deep freezers are designed specifically for long term food storage. Shaped like a box with a hinged lid on top, these freezers are my choice for long term meat storage.

Remember back in high school when your science teacher told you heat rises? Since cold air sinks it’s very difficult for all that cold air to escape the freezer. This makes a chest freezer the best option for long term food storage.

The only real downside of chest freezers is access. Opening up that lid and digging through a pile of frozen food isn’t going to be easy. Luckily most freezers have stackable racks to quickly sort through your food.

Upright Freezers

Upright freezers look just like a refrigerator, but they only have one compartment. Since you have shelves upright freezers are much easier to organize, giving you easier access to your food.

There are two main disadvantages. They don’t stay cold as long in a power outage and your food is exposed to warm air every time you open the door.

Freezer preference is a personal choice, but if you’re limited on space go with a traditional upright freezer.

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