In two surveys, thighs of a total of 137 hunted hares were tested for the presence of intramuscular shots and femur fractures, which were detected in 42.7% and 29.2% of 274 thighs, respectively. Femur fractures were significantly associated with the presence of intramuscular shots. In the second survey (46 hares), 92 thighs were grouped into three categories, "A" (no fractures, no intramuscular shot), "B" (one intramuscular shot), and "C" (multiple shots and hematoma), with 49.0%, 33.6%, and 17.4%, respectively. Category "C" was found unfit for human consumption. During 7-day storage of vacuum-packed "A" and "B" thighs, total aerobic counts increased from initially 3.3 +/- 0.3 (mean +/- SD) and 4.1 +/- 0.6 log cfu/g by ca. 2 log units when stored at 3-4A degrees C, whereas the increase was clearly < 1 log unit at 0A degrees C. In comparison to temperature, differences between "A" and "B" category were less pronounced. Similar dynamics were observed for Enterobacteriaceae. In all categories, muscle pH values (mean = 5.83) were similar. It is concluded that storage at temperatures of ca. 4A degrees C, although in compliance with EU legislation, does not afford keeping microbial contaminants in check, and thus will not preserve microbiological quality of vacuum-packed hare meat.