If we are to do this, are we required to donate a whole animal or can we keep part of it, like the tenderlions and a rear quarter?
We don’t require that you donate the entire animal, but we do require that you donate a “whole half” and you take the other half if you are wanting to keep some of the meat. We do this because the people we donate to are local natives, we want to ensure they get a good selection of meat – it keeps them happy and willing to take the donations.
So, for example, we say you take a half and we’ll get someone lined up for the other half – or – donate the entire caribou. That way everyone gets the prime cuts and the other parts that may end up as ground meat.
Butchering, Storing, & Transporting Your Harvest
Harvesting your own meat can be a powerful experience. Once your hunting trip is over, it’s time to prepare the meat for storage and consumption. The first step is to age and then butcher the meat.
Aging is an important step in making the meat flavorful and edible. In the aging process, a crust forms around the meat and this crust keeps bacteria away from the meat. The length of aging time depends upon the animal, the hanging temperature, and the humidity level. Once aged, which can take from one day to several weeks, the meat is ready for butchering.
You can butcher the meat yourself or have a professional operation take care of it. If you decide to butcher it yourself, learn about meat cutting and storage before you start the process. As you progress, wrap the cuts well for freezer storage, and be sure to label each package clearly so you know what you have once it’s in storage. Properly prepared and packaged, game meat can last several years, though most cuts are best used within a year of harvest. Game meat is rich, lean, and tastes best when not overcooked.
In Alaska, it is illegal to buy, sell or barter game meat. Unprocessed meat and other game parts may be gifted to others permanently or may be transferred temporarily for the purpose of transport. Any meat you give away must be in the same or better condition as meat you would keep for yourself. Additionally, you must complete a “Transfer of Possession” form; keep a copy and give one to the recipient of the meat. If you accept meat as gift or to transport it, be sure you know that it has been legally harvested. It is your responsibility to salvage all edible meat from any game that you accept.
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