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The way you handle game after it’s harvested can have a significant impact on the quality of the meat. Three factors contribute to spoiled meat: heat, dirt, and moisture.

Heat is the number-one concern. Bacteria grows rapidly in a carcass, especially if it’s allowed to stay warm. Meat begins to spoil above 40° Fahrenheit. The higher the temperature—and the longer the meat is exposed—the greater the chance of spoilage. This is particularly true with large game.

Basic field dressing techniques help cool game by removing entrails, which lowers body heat by allowing air into the body cavity. As a rule, it’s best to field dress immediately.

Field dressing a game animal isn’t a complicated process, but it’s a technique that’s best learned by observing someone with experience. The basic procedure involves cutting open the animal from the sternum to the anus, cutting the connective tissue that anchors the internal organs inside the body cavity next, and then removing the organs.

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