If you were to take the time to talk to twenty different deer hunters, and ask them if they love venison deer meat, you will find that there are quite a few that don’t like it as much as they wish they did. For venison, there are several different things that you can do to make it taste better. If your deer meat is tough, dry and gamy tasting, you can make some easy changes in how you are doing it, to fix that right away. Myself, I have had deer meat that tastes wonderful, but I have also had the displeasure in tasting really bad venison. Really bad. A couple of those times I could not even finish it, I cooked it up for a healthy treat for my dog (and she loved it by the way).Good Shot PlacementWhere to start? Right at where it all begins, good shot placement, and give him time to pass on without jumping him back up. When you take the shot and see that you hit your buck, you need to wait him out. Don’t go chasing him down and scaring him up to run all over the mountain. The longer that it takes for your buck to pass on, and the more he runs around, the more adrenaline and lactic acid will build up in his muscles. This makes for poor quality meat. It’s best to take your time to make certain you will have a quick kill with good shot placement. As exciting as it is to run out there and stand proudly with your new trophy, wait him out. Good and Quick Field CareWhen you drop that buck, the timer starts ticking. Field care for any game is the most important part of preparing your meat and making it stay delicious. The quicker the deer hits the ground and passes on, the quicker you need to get out there and start field dressing him. This is very important to having good quality meat. Other important things during the field dressing are also crucial to good tasting, and safe to eat meat. Do your best to not contaminate the meat with urine by not puncturing the urine bladder, or fecal matter from the intestines, etc. It’s best to try not to puncture anything, and get it out of the body cavity as soon and as cleanly as possible. Lastly, don’t forget to pop out the anus and it’s contents. Many first time hunters make the mistake of forgetting about that part, but your butcher will scold you and make sure you never do that again. Ultimate Big Game Bags•Caribou Gear Magnum Pack Game Bags•Caribou Gear Wapiti Game Bag•Caribou Gear Carnivore III Game Bags•…and much more, click belowGet Your Venison on Ice QuicklyOnce game passes on, internal bacteria starts to flourish. Getting the organs out and field dressing your deer to the point where you can get it on ice is of the utmost importance. It has to happen quickly, unless it’s really cold outside. If it’s near freezing, it’s ok to take your time, and even to leave your deer hanging to age. It’s hot in California where I hunt, so I don’t have that luxury. I have to get it on ice as quick as possible. I do my best to get it gutted, skinned, quartered out, and on ice within an hour if at all possible. The over abundance of meat bees in my hunting area help speed me along as well, haha. Good deer and game bags are a must have for storing and protecting your meat in the field. Targeting the Right Buck (or Doe)Most deer hunters understand what it means to have good deer management. Every hunter wants a huge trophy buck. But, for good deer management it’s important to take out the bad genes in the area to ensure good healthy strong bucks with massive racks in their old age. For taste, as long as the deer population is healthy, it’s good to take the younger bucks that show bad genes with bad racks. I don’t mean awesome non-typical racks, but racks that show real deformity. It’s good to take those bucks out of the gene pool, and the younger they are, the better tasting they are. However, don’t target good gene young bucks. It’s important to skip young bucks, as long as they have good antler genes, and go for older more mature bucks. If you have way too many does, and you are in a place you can get a doe tag, young does are great eating. Just don’t thin the herd of does if they aren’t over populating, or young bucks if they have good genes. Deer muscles get tougher and more stringy the older they get, and aren’t as good. If I end up taking an old buck, I usually make it into ground meat for making hamburgers, sausages, and ground jerky sticks. If you are wanting to turn your venison into steaks, you can’t get any better than a young deer that lives next to a good crop of corn, apples, grapes, or other great crops. The lazier, more relaxing, food plentiful lifestyle treats the meat much nicer than sparce food sources in an old growth forest. Ignore the crap talkers that try to guilt the internet into only hunting huge trophy bucks, because they are wrong, and that is bad for the gene pool too. A little freezer buck is good hunting hygiene, as long as the herd can support that. A herd needs to have deer of all age groups, including old trophy bucks. Some of these keyboard warrior guys need a big cup of mind your own business, but I digress. Aging Your VenisonSpeaking of keyboard warriors (my pet peeve), there are a lot of folks out there that say aging your venison on ice is a mistake. Not everyone has a chilly climate to hang their deer in for a week to let it age and flavor up nicely. Most of my hunting days are in the 90’s. If I don’t ice it, it spoils fast. I put a layer of ice in the bottom of my ice chest cooler, layer in my meat, and cover it with another layer of ice so it’s good and surrounded with ice. I leave the drain plug open, on a slightly downhill incline, to let the bloody water drain out, and continue to let my venison age for a few days. I keep an eye on the ice, and repackage it all with fresh layers to ensure it’s good and cold on all sides of the meat. If you forget the drain plug, your meat will sit in bloody water, which will give you the opposite effect of not having good flavor and texture.Good Sharp KnivesIt’s important to have good clean, easy cuts, to get through the skinning and butchering of your deer quickly. Start with good clean sharp blades, and keep them sharp if they get dull during the process. A good hunting knife set for butchering your deer will come in handy. I always have a few good clean sharp knives at the ready when I get started, so I’m ready for whatever comes my way. Good quality knives can take a good edge, will maintain that sharp edge for longer, and can quickly be brought back to super sharp in a jiffy. Clean your knife if you get into some hair from the hide, or anything that isn’t meat. Hunting Knife Sets•Outdoor Edge Cutlery Jaeger Pak Knife Kit•Browning Field Dressing Kit•Work Sharp Benchtop Angle Set Knife Sharpener•Outdoor Edge Cutlery Wild Guide Knife SetTime for a Nice TrimThe worst part of deer meat is the fat. For the best tasting meat you will want to trim all of your cuts down to straight meat, and cut out anything that is not delicious red meat. Cut it all out, even a thin layer of fat or connective tissues, can make the meat go from good to awful in a hurry. Spend the time to clean it all off, down to juicy pure red beautiful cuts of venison meat. Add Fat to Your Meat to be GrindedThe secret to delicious ground meat is good pork fat. If you are going to grind up your meat with a meat grinder, adding some pork fat from the butcher shop or the meat counter at your local grocery store will turn your meat from good to fabulous. Deer meat is super lean, which causes your ground meat and burgers to be dry and fall apart. Adding pork fat into the mix will make it juicy and cling together better. Some people use the cheapest bacon they can find to add to the mix, and some people will buy pork fat by the pound at their local store to plop in there. This will make for the best breakfast sausage, hamburgers, meatballs, beef jerky sticks that you have ever had. It’s important to remove the nasty tasting deer fat and trimmings, even though you have to add pork fat back in for your ground meat. Try it, you will never go back to not using pork fat in your ground venison again. Only a High Quality Butcher Will DoOf coarse, the best butcher is if you have the time and patience to do it yourself, because nobody will love your meat like you do. But, for convenience, and to make it easy, if you can’t do it yourself, a good quality butcher is a must. Never cut yourself short using that stranger that does a post on a social media group to make some extra cash. He won’t love your meat. Take it to a top notch professional. It’s their business model to make customers happy, and love their meat too! Be careful, some lower quality butcher shops will just mix your meat in with everybody else’s meat. How do you know that the other hunters loved their meat as much as your loved your meat. Don’t do it. Tell them thanks but no thanks, and run away! Otherwise you will end up with meat from somebody else’s gut shot, spoiled from aging their meat in warmer weather for a week, even though you treated your meat perfectly from start to finish. You must insist on getting your own meat back and not some unknown deer back. It’s too risky, and you don’t want bad tasting meat. Preparation to Cook Your VenisonNow we are getting close to the fun part. This is where you learn who your true friends are. If your friends and hunting buddies tell you to marinade your venison in italian dressing for two days, smack them right in the face and disown them immediately. You don’t need friends like that. I don’t know why they hate you so much. If you wanted italian dressing you would eat a salad. Don’t get me wrong, salads are good too. There is no reason to make your venison taste like salad. A day or two of soaking in italian dressing, and you will have a salad tasting piece of meat. That isn’t right, it’s a contradiction. It’s definitely good to enhance the flavor of any meat with seasonings and spices, and even some vinegar and oil, but keep the marinade time short, like three hours, so you can enjoy a meat that tastes like meat. My favorite simple marinade for grilling up some venison steaks is a half cup of olive oil, four seconds of a slow pour balsamic vinegar, a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce (or A1 Steak Sauce works too), a tablespoon of minced juicy garlic, some salt and pepper to your liking, and a quick squirt of yellow mustard (not the fancy stuff). High Heat - Short Cook TimeIt’s Grilling time! If you have a fancy barbecue, it’s even more fun. A lot of people make the mistake of over cooking venison, and other meats. Venison that is overcooked turns into a dry and chewy hot mess. Cooking it a few minutes per side will usually do the trick. For me a good thick venison steak, I will cook it about six minutes per side, and of coarse that will all depend on how hot your barbecue is. Turn it up, you want high heat, to sear the juices and flavor in. You want the inside of the venison steak to have a medium-rare cooked to perfection taste for the best in taste and texture. A nice medium rare steak melts in my mouth like butter. If you want the best tasting meat possible, with the capability to bake, smoke, roast, grill, barbecue, braise, and more with the ultimate in hardwood smoke flavor, these top of the line pellet grills from Traeger’s are amazing. Top of the Line GrillsWOOD PELLET GRILLSExperience the evolution of fire with Traeger’s next generation of pellet grillsThis new lineup brings unrivaled wood flavor to the table, unlocking your food’s true potential. No matter which grill you select, Traeger’s 6-in-1 ability means you can grill, smoke, bake, roast, braise, and bbq with pure, hardwood flavor.•Traeger Pro Series Pellet Grills•Traeger IronWood Series Pellet Grills•Traeger Timberline Series Pellet GrillsPackaging Venison for the FreezerGet yourself a good vacuum sealer, to keep your frozen meat air tight. Don’t let that freezer burn set in and ruin your meat. Don’t get a cheap on, and don’t get cheap bags. Get a good quality one, with good quality bags, otherwise when you pull a steak out of the freezer in a month, the seal on the bag will have given way, and your meat will have freezer burn like if you left it out on the ice in antartica for a month. Label your meat with what type of game, and the date you put it into the freezer, so you can rotate your stock in the freezer, and know what you are pulling out to cook.Top Quality Vacuum Sealers•Cabela’s 15” Commercial Grade Vacuum Sealer•Cabela’s 12” Commercial Grade Vacuum Sealer•Cabela’s 15” Pro Series Dual Voltage Vacuum Sealer•Cabela’s 12” Pro Series Vacuum SealerKeep It Simple - Don’t Over Think ItThere is really no big secret trick to find on the internet to get good quality, delicious venison meat that you and your family will enjoy. Follow these tricks of the trade, and you will be happy. Keep it simple, don’t over spice it, don’t over marinade it, don’t over cook it, and don’t over think it on how to prepare and cook your venison. You can easily swap out any ground beef in any recipe for any meal for ground venison (with pork fat added), and it will taste better than the original. Whether it’s meatballs, or spaghetti sauce, tacos, beef jerky sticks, sloppy joe’s, barbecue burgers, just about anything. If you end up with a super tough deer one year, use that in your slow cooker recipes, and you will never know the difference. Love Your MeatThe best piece of advice, that I would like to finish up with, is love your meat. Whether it’s store bought, or wild game, elk, deer, boar, turkey, bear, you name it. Love your meat, and you will make wild game taste great again! Enjoy! Good Luck, and I hope to see you out on the hunting trail! Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Mendenhall Outdoors team. We highlight products and services that you might find interesting. 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