Responsible hunters should manage the contents of their freezers at least as carefully as they manage the contents of their gun safes. That means preventing freezer-burn and other wastage of game meat as diligently as you try to prevent rust and theft of your rifles.
The process should start right now, as soon as the fall hunting seasons are over, rather than early next fall when you’re wondering how you’re going to make room for another deer or elk.
Proper freezer management begins with a realistic assessment of how much meat you’re going to use during the next year. Between my own family’s intake and frequent (often large) wild-game parties, I go through upwards of four or five hundred pounds of wild meat every year.
Proper Freezer Management
Your own intake could be smaller or greater than that, but the important thing is to be realistic. How many nights a year do you eat at home? How many people are you cooking for? Do you have a lot of summer barbecues? Once you’ve answered those questions—and ruled out the possibility of buying store-bought meat—then it should take some simple multiplication to figure out your intake.
If your harvest falls within those bounds, then your job is easy. Start out by emptying your freezer into coolers. Defrost the freezer and then scrub it out. When that’s done, refill the freezer in an organized fashion.
I use boxes to separate my game meat by species and/or specific cut. A box for burger, a box for steaks, a box of shanks for osso bucco, etc. Then I have my wife open an Excel document and make an inventory sheet that I can tape to the fridge.
By checking things off when I use them, I know what’s gone and what I’ve got. From there, I practice a first-in, first-out policy. That is, any leftover meat from the 2015 seasons has to be eaten before I delve into my kills from 2016.