How to Use a Vac-Sealer for Wild Game Meat

Wild Game Cook • October 30, 2023

I use a vac sealer to store my wild game meat and I feel that every hunter who processes his or her own game should definitely have one in the kitchen. One of the biggest benefits of a vacuum sealer is that you can see the quality of your meat. If you have a bad seal, and air is getting in your meat, you'll be able to see that through these clear bags. With butcher paper, you might make an unpleasant discovery when the meat thaws out. Some people do use Ziploc bags to store game meat in the freezer, but they run the risk of their meat becoming freezer burned due to the air in the bag. Some people will also add water to their Ziploc bag to deal with the air issue, with the obvious drawback there being additional size and weight added to the meat in your freezer, as well as dealing with the ice when it's time to thaw the meat.

I've used all the different methods over the years and ultimately found that a vac sealer is the best option. When you're using a vac sealer, it's important to be wary of the bones in your cuts of meat. A sharp leg bone protruding out, for example, can puncture the bag during the vacuum process. Game shears come in handy for trimming those sharp bones off. It's certainly not a foolproof system - you will get sharp bones on the end of your squirrels or your ducks or your pheasants and, from time to time, you will get a punctured bag. The more you quarter your game and expose bones, the greater the likelihood. Sometimes it helps to cut the bones off at the joint because the joins usually have rounded edges. The best you can do is just to be conscientious about those bones and do your best to cover them or trim them off before vacuum sealing.

There's another benefit of vac sealing: when you're in your freezer to get your meat out each week for dinner, you can see if a bone punctured one of the bags while you're in there. You just simply take it out, let it thaw out slightly, and then reseal it. You're going to get a really firm seal because that meat is semi-frozen. A well vac-sealed cut of meat (especially if it has been dry aged) can last a couple of years in the freezer.

The process of using a vac sealer is pretty simple. After you prepare your meat and deal with any potentially hazardous bones, you trim your vacuum bag to length on the vac sealer, seal one end, and place the meat inside the bag. Then you place the open end of the bag under the sealer lid, press the button and wait for it to finish. Yes, it is that simple, but some finer points of it come with a little bit of practice; such as knowing where to cut the bones, estimating the right bag size and length, and working the bag around the meat as it seals, etc. I would recommend having both 11-inch bags and 8-inch bags to start with since you will probably need both. I would also recommend getting a Sharpie to write on the bags what type of animal it is, cut of meat, date you put it in the freezer and maybe even what you intend to use it for as well as how you plan to prepare it -- "smoke," or "braise slow and low," etc. Last but not least, I would also recommend having some shears handy to trim those bones.

In the video above, I demonstrate how to use the LEM MaxVac 500 Vacuum Sealer Kit on some wood ducks and squirrels to give you a better sense of the process in action. Give it a view and if you process your own meat but don't have a vacuum seal, I hope this presentation encourages you to invest in one!

--Wild Game Cook