Guns, bows and camo! Hunting season is right around the corner. Whether you hunt small or large game, the way you field dress, handle and store the game meat makes the difference between spoiled and fresh.
Harvesting meat properly after a kill will help make it safe to cook and eat once you get it home. Salmonella and E. coli are types of bacteria that can cause severe illness. They both occur naturally in the gut of animals, therefore, can be found in or on wild game in the field. If possible, avoid puncturing the intestines of wild game to lessen the infection risk. Also, by wearing gloves, using clean water and soap to clean knives and cooling wild game properly in the field can go a long way to protecting the harvested meat.
Placing wild game in a cooler with traditional wet ice will help keep it cold for a while but that ice will melt and leave the meat in jeopardy of warming and possibly sitting in dirty water. A better alternative is dry ice. Because dry ice (solid carbon dioxide) is -109o F it will rapidly freeze the meat in the field. The dry ice will sublimate, or turn from a solid directly into a gas. Because it skips the liquid phase, it will leave the wild game meat frozen and dry. You can buy dry ice in solid block, cut block or pellets allowing you to cover the wild game completely. For a list of Continental Carbonic locations where dry ice can be purchased, please click here.
How do you use dry ice in the field?
The easiest way to use dry ice to keep your wild game at a safe temperature while hunting is to bring a cooler filled with the type of dry ice you prefer and some large plastic bags with a secure zip on them. When choosing whether to use solid block, cut block or pellet, consider the sublimation rate (the rate in which the dry ice changes from a solid to a gas). Forms of dry ice with more surface area like pellet can be spread over a wider area and tend to cool more quickly than a solid block. Solid block, however, last longer since there is less surface area per pound exposed to air. If you need longer staying power, the block form of dry ice is recommended.
After your kill, proceed to skin and clean the wild game as you normally would. Again, using gloves and using clean water and soap available will help keep minimize the risk of contamination. Place the wild game in the large plastic bags, then place them into the cooler of dry ice.
When using dry ice in the field it is important to know all the safety precautions. Be sure to always wear gloves while handling dry ice and be sure it never touches your bare skin as it can cause burns. Be aware that dry ice is constantly sublimating, turning from a solid to a gas. Therefore, do not place dry ice in airtight containers. For additional safety considerations, please see our Safety Precautions that can be found here.