Buck venison, which is in season only from June to Michaelmas, is considered finer than doe venison, which comes into the market in October, and remains in season through November and December: neither should be cooked at any other part of the year. The greater the depth of fat upon the haunch the better the quality of the meat will be, provided it be clear and white, and the lean of a dark hue. If the cleft of the hoof, which is always left on the joint, be small and smooth, the animal is young; but it is old when the marks are the reverse of these.* Although the haunch is the prime and favourite joint of venison, the neck and shoulder are also excellent, stewed in various ways, or made into pasties. If kept to the proper point, and well dressed, this is the most tender of all meat; but care is necessary to bring it into a fitting state for table without its becoming offensive. A free current of air in a larder is always a great advantage, as it assists materially in preserving the sweetness of every thing which is kept in it, while a close damp atmosphere, on the contrary, is more destructive of animal food of all kinds even than positive heat The fumes of creosote are said to be an admirable preservative against putrescence, but we have not ourselves yet had experience of the fact.
All moisture should be wiped daily, or even more frequently, from the venison, with soft cloths, when any appears upon the surface; and every precaution must be taken to keep off the flies, when the joint is not hung in a wire-safe. Black pepper thickly powdered on it will generally answer the purpose: with common care, indeed, meat may always be protected from their attacks, and to leave it exposed to them in warm weather is altogether inexcusable in the cook.
Hares and rabbits are stiff when freshly killed, and if young, the ears tear easily, and the claws are smooth and sharp. A hare in cold weather will remain good from ten to fourteen days; care only must be taken to prevent the inside from becoming musty, which it will do if it has been emptied in the field. Pigeons, partridges, and other game may be chosen by nearly the same tests as poultry: by opening the bill, the staleness will be detected easily if they have been too long kept. With few exceptions, game depends almost entirely for the fine flavour and the tenderness of its flesh, on the time which it is allowed to hang before it is cooked, and it is never good when very fresh; but it does not follow that it should be sent to table in a really offensive state, for this is agreeable to few eaters and disgusting to many, and nothing should at any time be served of which the appearance or the odour may destroy the appetite of any person present.