LAST EDITED ON Sep-28-17 AT 12:17 PM (MST)
LAST EDITED ON Sep-28-17 AT 12:14 PM (MST)
I am currently eating a 2014 cow elk that I field dressed, cut-up, took home, butchered, and froze in my freezer. This meat tastes and looks excellent. I do not hesitate to eat it myself, to feed it to my family, or feed it to my guests. Your antelope meat is fine.
It is not my intention to keep the meat this long. I agree that it would be more prudent to eat it quicker. Having said that, I'm glad I still have it because that was the last elk I shot!
I don't think I do anything exceptional with my meat, but I'll describe it anyway, because this may be the only example of three year old game meat you hear about in response to your query.
(1) I get the meat to my table at home in good condition. I get the meat cooled down timely in the field. I skin and quarter the meat at the kill site. I leave the bone in the thigh and shoulder quarters. I wash it off and dry it off when I get down from elk camp back into town. I carry it home in game bags in ice chests that are cooled by dry ice. I put dry ice in the bottom, 1/4 inch of newspaper on top of the dry ice, the game bag on top of the newspaper, more newspaper on top, more dry ice at the top of the ice chest. I close the chest and tape the edges with duct tape. I try to use just enough dry ice to keep the meat cold but not frozen. Sometimes the meat is partially frozen when I'm butchering it at home.
(2) At home I cut off blood shot meat. I cut off pieces of meat that don't look good for whatever reason, like a lot of sinew or gristle, and save that for a large stock pot. I do not take a lot of silver skin off the surface of the meat. I leave silver skin on because I assume that it preserves the meat under the silver skin better. I cut the meat up into the kinds of portions I like to eat. These are roasts of 2 LBS to 3 LBS in weight, smaller pieces that I use in making stews, even smaller pieces than stew meat I save for making terrines (these are ground meat seasoned pies that are baked in a mould and severed cold -- pork fat is mixed in to make it less lean -- think of it as a sausage cooked in a mould rather than in a casing). I double wrap the meat in heavy saran wrap. I then wrap in butcher paper. I put it in the freezer.
(3) The backstrap and tenderloin I usually process in my hotel room where I station at immediately before and immediately after going up to the mountain to elk camp. I cut this into continuous chunks that are meal sized -- 1 LBS to 2 LBS. I don't cut the meat into individual steaks when butchering and freezing: I do that after I thaw out and am going to cook them. I then place these packaged backstrap and tenderloin packages in a separate cooler that has ample dry ice to sharp freeze these items.
I guess I process the backstrap and tenderloin near the hunting camp because I imagine them to be more vulnerable than the bigger pieces of meat and because I also think of them as being higher quality, higher value pieces of meat. Also, processing these pieces of meat is practicable in a hotel room; processing the whole elk is not, in my view, practicable in a hotel room.
I use my roasts for other things besides roasting, by the way. I can slice thinly across the grain of the meat of the roast to make scaloppini. I can cut the meat up into chunks to make stew meat. I can cut the meat up to make elk chili. I don't care much for ground elk, so I don't make any ground meat.