As a hunter, one of the most important things you need to consider after harvesting a deer is how to properly store and transport the meat. One of the most popular ways of doing this is by using a cooler.
However, determining the right size of cooler for your deer can be a daunting task. In this article, we will guide you through the process of selecting the right size cooler for your deer.
Understanding the Factors that Determine Cooler Size
Several factors determine the size of the cooler you need to fit a deer. Some of the most important ones are:
The size of your deer will largely determine the size of the cooler you need. Bigger deer will require larger coolers, and vice versa.
Number of Deer
If you're harvesting more than one deer, you will need a larger cooler to fit them all.
The outside temperature will also play a role in determining the size of the cooler you need. If you're hunting in colder weather, you may be able to get away with a smaller cooler. However, if you're hunting in warmer weather, you'll need a larger cooler to keep the meat at a safe temperature.
The amount of time you plan to keep the meat in the cooler will also determine the size of the cooler you need. The longer you plan to store the meat, the larger the cooler you'll need.
Calculating the Right Cooler Size for Your Deer
Now that you understand the factors that determine cooler size let's look at how to calculate the right size cooler for your deer.
Step 1: Measure Your Deer
Measure the length, width, and height of your deer. This will give you an idea of how much space you need.
Step 2: Calculate the Total Volume
To calculate the total volume of your deer, multiply the length, width, and height measurements. This will give you the cubic inches of the deer.
Step 3: Determine the Cooler Size
To determine the cooler size, you'll need to consider the length, width, and height of the cooler. Ideally, the cooler should be at least one and a half times the size of your deer to allow enough space for air circulation and ice packs.
Best Coolers for Deer
Now that you understand how to calculate the right size cooler for your deer, let's look at some of the best coolers available in the market.
The Yeti Tundra is a popular choice among hunters for its durability and ice retention capabilities. It's available in various sizes and can fit most deer.
Engel Deep Blue
The Engel Deep Blue is another great option for hunters. It's a heavy-duty cooler that can keep ice for up to 10 days.
The Pelican Elite is a high-performance cooler that's perfect for hunters. It has a durable construction and can keep ice for up to 10 days.
Tips for Properly Storing Deer Meat
After you've selected the right size cooler for your deer, it's essential to store the meat correctly. Here are some tips to help you do that:
Gut and Skin the Deer Immediately
Gutting and skinning the deer immediately after harvesting it will help prevent bacterial growth and keep the meat fresh for longer.
Keep the Meat Cool
It's essential to keep the meat cool at all times. Make sure to pack the cooler with enough ice packs to maintain a safe temperature.
Use Game Bags
Game bags can help protect the meat from bacteria and insects.
Don't Wash the Meat
Washing the meat can introduce bacteria to it.
Tips for Keeping Your Cooler Cold
Keeping your cooler cold is essential for ensuring your deer meat stays fresh and safe for consumption. Here are some tips to help you keep your cooler cold for longer:
Make sure to pre-cool your cooler by storing it in a cool place for a few hours before use. This will help ensure the inside of the cooler is already cold before you add your deer meat.
Use ice packs instead of loose ice. Ice packs last longer and don't create a mess like loose ice. Make sure to pack the ice packs tightly around the meat to maximize the cooling effect.
The Importance of Cleaning Your Cooler After Use
Cleaning your cooler after use is crucial for maintaining its lifespan and preventing bacterial growth. Here's why you should clean your cooler after use:
Not cleaning your cooler can lead to the growth of bacteria, which can contaminate your next batch of meat. Make sure to use a disinfectant cleaner to clean the inside and outside of the cooler thoroughly.
Cleaning your cooler after use can prevent foul odors and mold growth. Leaving meat residue in the cooler can create an unpleasant smell and promote mold growth, which can be harmful to your health.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Storing Deer Meat in a Cooler
Storing deer meat in a cooler is an effective way to keep it fresh and safe for consumption. However, there are some common mistakes to avoid when storing deer meat in a cooler:
Make sure to pack the cooler tightly with ice packs to maintain a safe temperature. Leaving gaps or using too few ice packs can lead to spoilage.
Avoid overpacking the cooler, as this can prevent proper air circulation and increase the risk of spoilage. Make sure to leave some space for air circulation and ice packs.
Additionally, avoid opening the cooler unnecessarily, as this can cause the temperature inside the cooler to rise. This can lead to spoilage and reduce the freshness of the meat.
Selecting the right size cooler for your deer is crucial to ensure the meat stays fresh and safe for consumption. By considering factors such as deer size, number of deer, temperature, and time, you can calculate the right size cooler you need.
Additionally, choosing a high-quality cooler, such as the Yeti Tundra, Engel Deep Blue, or Pelican Elite, can further ensure your meat stays fresh. Properly storing the meat, including gutting and skinning the deer immediately, using game bags, and avoiding washing the meat, will help keep it fresh for longer.