Clean, cool and quick are the watchwords of good venison care. A clean shot, clean field-dressing and quick cooling of the carcass are the key steps to good-tasting venison. Immediate field dressing is best, as this starts the all-important cooling process. Postpone field-dressing only if the carcass must be dragged through dirt, leaves or swamp water.
If it was a clean kill and a clean field-dressing job, do not wash the carcass with water. Water promotes harmful bacteria growth. If the animal was gut-shot or contaminated by dragging, wash and butcher quickly. "Hanging" or aging venison for extended periods causes considerable weight loss by drying. However, the carcass should be thoroughly chilled at 35 to 40 degrees and go through rigor mortis on the bone before final butchering. Otherwise, the venison will be tough.
A fat deer is generally a good-tasting deer. However, much of the "wild" taste is in fat and bone. Boneless, lean meat has a milder flavor.