So you bagged another buck. Lucky you! Venison is an excellent source of protein and if prepared correctly can actually be pretty tasty. A lot of hunters harvest their deer and store it in the freezer to help supplement their food supply for the next year.

What happens though if you still have venison in your freezer from last year's hunting season? How long does it really last in your freezer? You hate to throw out food, but it can happen, especially if you have picky eaters in your house.

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I know in my home, I only really eat venison when I'm not cooking for the rest of my family because my kids won't eat it. I know I have a few pounds of chops and steaks in my freezer from last year, so I wondered what the actual guideline is for keeping venison.

Ken Hayes
Ken Hayes

You should always keep your venison frozen until you prepare it for cooking.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has a guide on how to properly handle and cook venison. Some of it I don't necessarily agree on, but I'll give you what the experts recommend. You should keep it frozen until right before you are going to prepare it. If you microwave it to thaw it, prepare it immediately after. If you thaw it in the refrigerator, you should use it within 2 or 3 days.

Minnesota Department of Agriculture says you can keep frozen venison for up to a year.

They say 9-12 months. I know for a fact I've gone longer than that, but the quality does go down over time.

Never refreeze thawed venison.

It's actually a pretty common rule for any frozen meat is that once you thaw it, don't refreeze it. There's more of a chance of it getting contaminated and the quality will go down.

You may be able to freeze it for longer than a year.

If you properly prepare and freeze the venison, you may be able to still consume it after a year. I've eaten wild game that has been frozen for a couple of years and haven't had an issue. But, you should look out for signs that it has gone bad. Those could include:

  • meat is sticky
  • foul odor
  • change of color
  • slimy texture
  • green or black spots on the meat
  • mold

You can find even more tips on how to get the most storage out of your meat from this Hunters Wholesale article.

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Gallery Credit: Meagan Drillinger