The satisfaction of hunting goes way beyond pulling the trigger and accomplishing a nice, clean shot. Any hunter worth their salt experiences a thrill at being able to fill their freezer in the most natural way.
It is pointless harvesting a truckload of venison if you don’t have a plan for its long-term shortage. The best way to enjoy your steaks in the off-season is to process and freeze them for future enjoyment.
How to Choose a Deer Freezer
You can’t shoot half a buck, so unless you want to debone an entire carcass, I wouldn’t recommend anything smaller than 7 cubic meters.
Of course, this also correlates closely with what type of prey you are targeting and how many you hope to harvest in a season. For instance, you are going to need a much bigger freezer for elk compared to whitetail.
Keep in mind that you will still need to leave freezer space for frozen meals, vegetables, ice, and the like. If you are anything like my family, you might also need to take into consideration the occasional deer cape that is being kept frozen before sending it to the taxidermist.
Chest vs Upright freezer
Chest freezers can pack more inside them when compared to the same volume upright freezers, generally, they are more energy-efficient and less expensive.
Mobility can be an issue as one must bend and lift in order to unpack everything to get to items in the bottom.
Upright freezers are easier to keep organized and remove items without rummaging through them every time.
They take up less room in the house, if that is a limiting factor for you. You can increase volume without sacrificing floor space as the additional space goes up.
You can’t fit large cuts of meat or whole carcasses into upright freezers as the internal space is divided into smaller shelf compartments.
If you try to pack too many products in, they will start to slide off the shelves and no one wants meat falling out every time they open the door.
A quick comparison
|Lid opens||Top opening||Front opening|
|Energy usage||More efficient||Less efficient|
|Floor space||Less efficient||More efficient|
|Packing capacity||Can contain more||Can contain less|
|Cost||Slightly cheaper||More expensive|
One large freezer vs numerous smaller freezers
Having more than one freezer can be beneficial to spread the risk, so to say. If one freezer packs up, you do not lose an entire year’s worth of meat in one incident.
It is also an efficient way to keep different types of venison separate, as we all know how difficult it becomes to identify frozen meat after a few months have passed.
The drawback, however, is that your electricity bill will be higher to run multiple small freezers as opposed to one large one.
Temp control alarm
It is very handy having a temperature control alarm, should you experience a fault. Nothing is more disheartening than tossing out hard-earned meat because you didn’t notice that your freezer was not running at its optimal temperature.
Most appliances are run off of electricity, but there are more suitable options for you if you are living off of the grid. It will be beneficial to invest in a propane freezer for a camping hunting trip or if you live remotely.
If you are living in an area with unreliable or extreme weather conditions, it is a good idea to invest in a well-insulated freezer that comes with a few days worth of power outage guarantee.
This will buy you some time until either the power is restored, or to make a backup plan and move your meat to a friend’s house or propane freezer.
Recommended freezers for deer
Frigidaire 14.8 cubic feet chest freezer
I am going to start with my favorite size, a 14 cubic meter chest freezer. It is spacious enough to store large-sized antelope carcasses while not taking up the entire basement.
This well-known American-based brand has developed a no-frill chest deep freeze that works consistently and reliably.
Dimensions: 55 3/4” W x 29 9/16” L x 32 1/2” H.
- Caster wheels make for easy mobility, even when packed full of elk meat
- 2 x Plastic baskets for storing preferred cuts at the top of the freezer so that you can grab them easily without sifting through every time
- Keep that venison safe with a lid locking mechanism
- Interior LED light and external power-on light so you always know the freezer is on and meat is frozen
- Additional inner baskets would be welcome, I can fit 4 to 5 baskets in the top of my 14 cu ft freezer side by side, it would help separate meat cuts or even separate elk from whitetail
- Short power lead (5 feet) so make sure there is a power outlet in the immediate vicinity
- Adjustable temperature control situated on the outside is a con because it means anyone with a child of 5-years and younger is at risk of having them fiddle with that dial and putting your entire year’s worth of meat at risk
Frigidaire 24.8 cubic feet chest freezer
If you are a regular moose hunter, or are just eternally optimistic, you might be interested in the Frigidaire 24.8 cubic meter chest freezer.
It shares the same pros and cons as its smaller cousin mentioned above, but with such a large capacity you will have to be up for the challenge to keep it fully stocked.
Dimensions: 83 1/8” W x 31 1/2” L x 31 3/4” H.
- It’s huge, so book that bison hunt in confidence! You won’t run out of freezer space, no matter how big the carcass is
- Sturdy caster wheels add support and mobility, just in case you want to take this to deer camp during hunting season
- 2 x Plastic organizational baskets, one for roasts and one for BBQ cuts
- The lid has a key locking mechanism so no-one is stealing that elk backstrap
- Handy lights to see what’s still left inside and a power light so you always know its in operation
- The cost of running such a large freezer may put a dent in your camo budget, especially if you are running it all year round. I fill mine with large blocks of ice to keep in cold and running optimally when my venison supplies are low, however it still bugs me to waste the extra energy on non-food related items. Simple fix, shoot small, hunt often
- Adjustable temperature control situated on the outside, again watch those kids. I would suggest making a mark on where the temperature should be and telling everyone the control is out of bounds
Danby 11 cubic feet chest freezer
This is a slightly more manageable size if you don’t want a monster freezer dominating your space but still intend to store a large amount of frozen venison.
Dimensions: 44.125” W x 29.5” L x 33.25” H.
- 5-year parts and labor warranty, you won’t get a better deal than that
- Maintains a constant freeze through a wide range of temperatures, from 0 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. This is especially important for larger cuts of meats that still have the bones in tact, you will need a deep and consistent freeze
- The quick freeze function allows you to process large amounts of meat at one time, and we all know just how much meat comes off of an elk
- Power-on indicator lights, because even though it would make for a great excuse to go hunting again, no one wants to waste meat from a freezer that has switched off
- Front situated manual defrosting drain, always a good idea to give the freezer a good clean once the meat is finished
- It is on caster wheels that roll easily
- No interior light source, so bring a headlight at least that way you can pretend you are out in the back country and packing out the meat
GE Upright 17.3 cubic feet Freezer
As I mentioned in the considerations, an upright freezer is infinitely more easy to access and organize your meat packs, and at 17 cu ft this one is still big enough to fit a whole deer carcass without needing a second freezer option.
Dimensions: 32 7/8” W x 31 3/8” L x 64 3/4” H.
- It comes with a power outage guarantee to keep your food frozen for 48 hours – a must if you experience regular power failures, and everyone knows deer camp power is not the most reliable
- It comes with an audible alarm that alerts you if the temperature rises inside the freezer, drop whatever you are doing at the sound of this alarm and save those tenderloins
- Interior LED light lights up when the door is open
- Wire shelves and bottom basket for easy organization and access to those prime cuts. Handy tip, store the best cuts at the top and those less desirable ones such as the offal (if you into that) at the bottom
- Operates within temperature range from 0 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, this is great for when you are having withdrawal symptoms from the Yukon, you can put on your Kuiu and climb in to remember how cold it was (don’t do that!)
- It has a turbo freeze feature to quickly cool down your meat if you are processing and freezing your carcass at home
- You have the option to reset the alarm but not permanently disable it. If you have any issues with the temperature control you will have to put up with insistent beeping until it can be repaired, or empty the freezer and power off. Which is still not as bad as Uncle Gary’s snoring below you in the bottom bunk at deer camp.
Arctic King 7 cubic feet chest freezer
Although this is the smallest option of all the freezers that I would consider for deer, it is also considerably cheaper. You could buy two of these for a fraction of the price of a single 14 cu ft freezer.
Dimensions: 32.1” W x 21.7” L x 33.5” H.
- Low price! More money to spend on hunting equipment
- Compact size, if you have limited space in your house or hunting cabin
- Color preference will come down to personal taste, and while I would prefer a camo option, the black looks sleek and is a great alternative to white
- Dents easily. Check for shipping damage during unpacking
SMETA propane 7.1 cubic feet chest freezer
For those of you living off the grid or planning on staying at a remote deer camp, this is the perfect option as it runs off of either propane or electricity.
Dimensions: 39.6” W x 32.6” L x 35.8” H.
- Most effective on propane but can also be plugged into a 110v AC, so solar power is also an option or hook it up to your truck if you have an external port
- Runs quietly on a 2-way absorption system, with no compressor or fan so you’ll hear that first bugle in the morning no problem
- Convertible from freezer to fridge with a temperature range between 10 and 32 degrees Fahrenheit, sorry that should of read “converts from cold beer ready to freezing deer meat at the turn of a switch”
- Side handles make it easily maneuverable, but always remember to bend at the knees
- Doesn’t work as effectively on electricity as it does on propane
- Propane canisters should be kept outside, so keep that in mind when working out the logistics of where to put your freezer, yes that means a couple of those deer shoulder mounts are going to have to move from the wall to make space near the window for the freezer
One or more of the considerations covered might sway you either towards a chest freezer or an upright freezer. Or you could just cover all your bases like me.
I have a large “bulk storage” chest freezer, an upright freezer with a selection of meats for everyday use, as well as an “overflow” 7 cu ft freezer, that I use for surplus meat at the beginning of the hunting season. This gets converted into a drinks fridge for the rest of the year.