I'm not sure about everywhere else, but hunting season here in Virginia has been unseasonably warm this year. This can make it difficult to allow meat from your hunt to bleed out and hang for any great length of time.
I approach meat care from two angles: Getting it from the field to the house and then again, once it's safely back at home.
I always use Caribou Gear game bags to transport my meat for many reasons. The most important reasons for me are that they breathe incredibly well and because they are synthetic, they are hydrophobic. This means that they naturally repel moisture. Dry meat is safer meat. Cotton (being a plant fiber) is hydrophilic, it likes water. So if you've ever wondered why leaving a cotton game bag on your meat for a few days will result in a musty smell, it's because the cotton game bag is providing an awesome breeding ground for mold and bacteria to grow on your meat. Gross. An important note: using any synthetic bag is not the end of the story. Typical synthetic bags will not breathe, thus allowing moisture to collect on the inside if the bag, against your meat causing spoilage. So, if your paramount concern as a hunter is meat care, get yourself a set of these bags and use them over and over again for years and years. You will not be disappointed. www.biggamebags.com
Now, what to do when your hard earned harvest is back at home? Personally, if the outside temperature is in the low to mid 30's, I allow Deer to hang, uncovered to dry age for 4-6 day (depending on the size of the Deer). I use this technique to dry age the meat. If you've never had dry aged venison, it is likely not at all what you are expecting. Dry aged meat is delicate, tender, complex and sublime. When done properly, there is no gamey taste whatsoever and completely transforms the meat into a very special delicacy.
This warmer weather here in Virginia has prevented me from simply allowing the Deer meat to hang and age naturally without the risk of spoilage. So, as you might expect from a woodsman (or woman), I built my own solution.
I bought a medium sized refrigerator on Craigslist and modified it to serve as a dry aging unit by cutting out the divider between the fridge and freezer portions, allowing plenty if room to hang the Deer.
The fridge I selected had the cooling unit tucked away at the back of the freezer. This is important, as some fridge/freezers have the cooling unit situated between the freezer and fridge, making it impractical to remove the divider between the two spaces.
Then, I took the light, fan and thermostat and repositioned them so that the thermostat rested very close to the cooling unit at the back of the freezer. This way, it senses that the temperature is plenty cold and shuts off after a few minutes, instead of trying to make the entire dry aging unit as cold as a freezer.
So now, my thermostat controls my fan ventilated dry aging fridge at a constant 38 degrees. No bugs, no dirt, no moisture, no warm temperatures.
At the end of the five or so days it takes to age the venison, I butcher, vacuume seal and freeze my precious harvest to enjoy throughout the year.
From preparing before the hunt by building the dry aging fridge to many hours sitting or staking during the hunt to the joys of sharing such lovingly cared for meat with your family and friends...the feeling is without compare. I wouldn't have it any other way than to live my life as one extremely grateful hunter.