One of the motivations for mincing our last harvest of roo meat, other than simply loving roo sausages and meat balls, is that this last haul has all proven to be a little tough.
That has had me perplexed for a couple of months but, this morning, as I was soaking up some early morning sunshine and sipping a strong black coffee, I dwelt on it some more and in my mind worked through how the meat had been harvested.
Suddenly, it became obvious why it was a bit tough and I was annoyed that I had not recognised the reasons earlier.
I had planned to shoot one or two roos a day and accumulate my harvest of roo meat over my two week stay with an old bush-dwelling hunting buddy. However I just did not get the chance as we had been up pre-dawn every day and, after returning for a meal and an afternoon nap, we were out again in the afternoon until well after dark. Wild dogs had appeared in numbers and were taking a big toll of livestock so we had dedicated ourselves to pursuing them vigorously.
With only a couple of days before I had to return home, we decided to clean up his retired roo shooting truck and do a quick evening shoot. We spent the afternoon scrubbing and disinfecting the specially built roo harvesting setup on the tray of the old truck. He has only recently given up shooting roos professionally for human consumption after more than thirty years. He has always been a perfectionist in his technique and scrupulously hygienic in his approach, so the truck had to be perfectly clean, even for my few roos.
It would be a quick trip because I was targeting the half to three quarter grown bucks, of which there was a multitude. The professional roo shooters target the largest commercial grade bucks, and would typically pass up dozens of animals of a size I was happy with.
We were gone less than an hour and back at the house with eight dressed-out roo carcasses. These were put straight into the big chiller room. And, that is why the meat is a little tough. The carcasses were all still quite warm with residual body heat. The sudden exposure to the blast chiller room dropped their deep core body temperature too quickly and they all suffered cold shortening as a result. I really should have picked that up at the time, especially since I researched game meat quality years ago and summarised the essentials in Processing Game Meat.
This would not be an issue to a professional shooter who would work most of the night and then put a full load of carcasses into the cold room at dawn. The meat would have cooled in the night air hanging on the truck and by the time it entered the cold box would have cooled sufficiently to avoid cold shortening.
When I shoot one or two animals during daylight I bone them out hot in the field. I place the meat in freezer bags to protect it from flies and dirt and place it under shaded cover, never into a cold box, to cool naturally until I get back to camp. Then I place the meat in the refrigerator for a day or so, before transferring to the freezer. My technique avoids the cold shortening issue due to that procedure.
For hunters in cold, snowy climates I expect that is an issue they have to deal with as well. That is, not letting their carcass chill too fast and risking toughened meat.
After a fair quota of morning chores, including some more gravel shovelling and a bit of gardening, and before we had afternoon visitors, I spent an hour or so setting up my 7×57 and 458 Winchester dies to the appropriate length (about 20 thou short of lands) for my Nosler Partitions. I am now ready to load a small batch of each and test at the range on Wednesday.