The average West Virginia deer will produce about 40 pounds of meat, and the process of preserving that meat begins even before a hunter pulls the trigger.
"You want to make a good, clean shot. Make sure the animal dies as quickly as possible," said Curtis Taylor, chief of wildlife at the state Division of Natural Resources.
Taylor said studies have shown stress hormones released by frightened animals can taint the meat. It's also important to avoid puncturing the deer's intestines.
After field dressing the animal and removing all of its organs, Taylor said it's time to cool down the meat. The venison will begin to spoil if it is kept too warm for too long, creating that "gamey" taste some people complain about.
"You wouldn't go to Kroger and pay $10 a pound for a roast and ride it around on the hood of your truck, would you?" he said.
A dark, cool garage will do the trick. Aim for about 38 degrees Fahrenheit.
It is now time to butcher the meat. Hunters can hire processors to cut the meat, but Taylor recommends a more hands-on approach.
"You need to learn how to do it, because it's very simple," he said "If you do your own you know how the whole thing's being handled."
The process requires little special equipment, aside from a very sharp knife.