Reader Trevor made a comment and asked a few questions about butchering buffalo in the NT bush.  I wrote what turned into a fairly long reply and then I figured I may as well make it a post and add some photos.

Butchering buffalo in remote tropical locations has its logistical challenges.  I bone them out where they are.  As you can appreciate there are generally no trees for hanging and a buff can weigh over a tonne anyway.  Sometimes we have been able to shoot smaller bodied wild cattle and pull them up against a tree for more convenient and complete butchering.

field butchering a buffalo

Most of the meat is given to the local community, if there is one within say three hours drive.  When I lived in Arnhem Land I would keep about 10 kilos for my own consumption.  It makes excellent curry and casserole.  Steaks can be hit and miss.  I have had steaks from a young bull, that died instantly and was treated right, which were nonetheless inedibly tough.

making buffalo biltong

At other times I have processed a lot of biltong when in a remote camp for more than a few days.  Now that I live in Queensland I only bring home a little biltong for personal consumption.


Meat can be handled in hot climates without refrigeration and not spoil.  The outside of the meat quickly dries and forms a tough, fly-proof layer.  Hung in the shade it will keep for a week or more quite easily.  You can trim off the dried outer coating and cook as normal.  I am talking fresh, unsalted meat here.

These buffalo fillets hung to dry will be fine to eat

The worst thing you can do with hot meat fresh from a carcass is to freeze it.  That causes cold shortening – the meat becomes unretreivably tough.  For more detail on that read my page on Processing Game Meat.