Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences

Committee Chair(s)

Ethelwyn B. Wilcox


Ethelwyn B. Wilcox


Outdoor recreational activities dealing with the pursuit of game is exceedingly popular today and its popularity is increasing each year. Annually over 180,000 hunters go afield in Utah in search of deer. There is harvested in the state over 12,000,000 pounds of dressed venison from Utah deer herds each fall. These hunters contribute 10.5 million dollars to the economy of the state for licenses, lodging, transportation and other expense of hunting.

Deer hunting is often done by the amateur, who with little or no experience has few or improper tools or information for dressing and caring for his game, and in addition, must transport the carcass oft e n for long distances. Even for the seasoned hunter it is sometimes not easy to overcome the adverse conditions of the site of kill t o properly care for his game. Many of the processes for caring for the meat after the kill are "trial" and too often "error" methods which do not enhance the quality of the meat taken. In Nielsen's (7) study 45 percent of the hunters cut up the carcass, and wrap the cuts for freezing, while the remainder had it cut and wrapped for them. Having it cut into steaks was preferred by two-thirds of the hunters, and into roasts by one-third.

Scientific studies on venison are limited. Cook et al. (2) reported on the influence of seasonal and other factors on acceptability of Columbia black-tailed and California mule deer and antelope. Smith (14) reported the findings of the effect of thawing, level and kind of fat , and degree of doneness on ground venison. Information on care and use of venison has appeared at times for the hunters use, in newspapers, magazines and in some publications such as Gorton's book (4) on how to dress, cut up, and cook deer. Utah State University Extension Service's publication (9) has general information on the dressing, care and transporting the animal, and has some recipes for the preparation of the meat.

There is little scientific information available to indicate the influence of such factors as age, season, sex, range , and field care on the quality and palatability of venison. Other information necessary for the consumer to better utilize and enjoy this wild game , such as the effect of aging at 34-36 F. , rapid aging , and freezer storage of meat, and the factors which contribute to the preservation of the distinctive , unique flavor of venison, is not available for the hunter or for those associated with the management of hunting activities. Much research work on some of these factors has been reported for other meats, including that of Deatherage and Harsham (3) and Lowe ( 6) on the effect of aging time; Sleeth et al. (12) and Ayres (1) on rapid aging; Simpson and Chang (11) and Winter and Trantanella (15) . . on packaging and freezer storage. While many of their results can be applied to venison, it is desirable to obtain information on venison directly under conditions existing in normal hunting situations.

A study of the factors influencing the quality and palatability of venison was initiated in 1959, by the Utah Cooperative Wildlife research unit, with the cooperation of the Department of Food and Nutrition at the Utah State University. The Department of Bacteriology and the Department of Wildlife Resources cooperated in promoting the study.

This paper is a summary of the investigation of many causative factors which may influence the variation in the quality and palatability of venison on Utah tables.