Cooking With Wild Game

by Matt Moore on March 2, 2012 · 53 comments

in Cooking, Food & Drink, Travel & Leisure

It is 5:30 a.m. on a cool fall morning, and my phone is incessantly ringing.  In somewhat of a comatose/hung-over state, I rush out of bed to see a picture of my buddy, Miller Gunn, staring back at me on my iPhone. Oftentimes when Miller calls I’m inclined to hit the silent button and go back to sleep, as it probably means he needs a ride home from a long night of honky-tonking on lower Broadway–again.  And the only thing I’ll get as a thank you for this favor is a $1 breakfast burrito.

But this call is different, so I answer it.  I know I stand to benefit from this early morning wake-up call.

College football aside, there is one other event that takes place each fall season that ranks among my favorites: hunting season.  Though as strange as this may sound, I must admit that I’ve never really been into the whole hunting thing myself.  Sure, I’ve taken part in many deer, turkey, duck, and quail hunts during my days, but there’s something about getting up at the crack of dawn and freezing my keister off that just never did it for me.

So what do I like about hunting season?  Well that’s pretty easy: I like to eat.

Perhaps that makes me less manly, seeing as though I let my friends handle the hunting and gathering while I do the cooking.  Hmm, bite your tongue for a second–those could be fightin’ words. So I’d rather just call a spade a spade:  You hunt, I cook.

During this time of the year, I get a lot of calls like these, since my friends know that I’m always willing and ready to handle their meat processing free of charge–well, almost free.  While still in the woods, I tell Miller Gunn (a great name for a hunter) to save me the backstraps and the hind quarter.

Within the hour, Miller arrives with his fresh kill.  Now, even though I live in Nashville, Tennessee, with the looks that he and I receive as we haul a field-dressed deer out of his truck and into my downtown loft, you’d think people were witnessing something out of a Stephen King novel.  Apparently Nashville is filled with a lot more city folk than I’d thought.

What ensued was hours of trimming, butchering, processing, and finally cooking.  Venison chili was the dish of choice to cheer on the Georgia Bulldogs as I watched them squander yet another season.  Oh well, at least the food was good.

And so it goes–I always answer my phone, no matter how early, on a (fall) morning.

As a chef, I’m always thrilled to work with different ingredients.  Fortunately, I have several great friends who provide me with an endless supply of wild game throughout the year.  Just a few weeks back, fellow country music singer Easton Corbin unloaded several elk steaks on me after a stint in New Mexico.  As detailed below, they were fantastic.

But quite frankly, I find that the majority of people are fearful of both cooking and eating wild game.  The comment, “it tastes gamey” is enough to make most folks steer clear of any dish beyond their beloved beef, pork, or chicken.  But, as more and more people join the “local food movement” and learn about sustainable practices, sourcing and preparing wild game is becoming more popular than ever.

Keep in mind I could write an entire book on the preparation and safe handling of wild game.  Instead, I am providing you with my favorite “go-to” recipes when I’m presented with such treasures from the wild.  Of course, if you are offered any such meat, make sure you can trust its source.  Many of your hunter friends probably are also reliable butchers–so go with your instincts.  Otherwise, processing houses and markets are your best bet as they are governed on quality and control.

My advice?  Get out there and enjoy the great outdoors.  Trust me, it tastes good!

MM

Venison Chili

Ground venison is lean and full of flavor.  With that said, because of this leanness, most processors will actually add beef or pork fat into the ground venison to boost its moisture and to impart a familiar flavor.  If you prefer a chunkier chili, skip out on the ground version and slice up the trimmed meat from the hind quarter into ½ inch chunks, and simmer the meat in the sauce for at least 3 hours, or until tender.  For those who’ve never tried venison, this dish is a good place to start, as its bold flavors work well to hide any taste of game. As far as other cuts such as steaks, chops, or backstrap (tenderloin) go, venison is best cooked rare to medium-rare to retain flavor and tenderness.

(Prep 20 minutes, Cook 1 hour, Serves 4 – 6)

1/4 Cup Canola Oil
1 Onion, finely diced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 Jalapeno Peppers, seeded and diced
1.5 lbs Ground Venison
2 Tablespoons Chili Powder
1 Tablespoon Cumin Powder
1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
1/2 Tablespoon Black Pepper
1 Cup Dark Beer
1 28 oz Can Tomato Puree
1 28 oz Can Petite Diced Tomatoes
1 14 oz Can Black Beans
1 14 oz Can Kidney Beans
Shredded Cheddar Cheese (topping)
Sour Cream (topping)
Sliced Jalapenos (topping)

Preheat a Dutch oven over medium heat; add oil. Next add onions and sauté for 8 – 10 minutes, or until tender.  Add garlic and jalapeno peppers and sauté until just tender, about 2 – 3 minutes.  Add ground venison and seasonings and cook until meat is just browned through, about 4 – 5 minutes, stirring on occasion.  Deglaze the pot by adding the beer and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan using a spoon.  Finally, add the remaining ingredients, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer partially covered for 30 – 45 minutes.  Remove from heat and serve with desired toppings.

Pan Seared Duck Breasts Over Brown Rice Stir-Fry

Duck tends to be one of my favorite dishes at most high-end, fancy restaurants.  This at-home recipe adds in bold Asian flavors that perfectly compliment this wild bird.  For those who’ve found duck meat to be oily or tough in the past, this quick pan-seared version will change your mind.  Cooked perfectly medium-rare, the meat turns out tender and moist–without any excess oil.  I’ve plucked the feathers and trimmed the fat for this “lean” version.  Of course, duck fat is the king of flavor and moisture, so you can always sear the breasts with the skin on while basting the breasts in its own fat for added flavor, moisture, and well, extra calories.  Either method turns out a deliciously cooked bird.

(Prep 1 hour, Cook 20 minutes, Serves 2)

2 Wild Duck Breasts, plucked and trimmed
1/4 Cup Teriyaki Sauce
Fresh Cracked Pepper
1/4 Cup Sesame Oil 
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Pinch Red Pepper Flakes
1/4 Cup Onion, diced
1/4 Cup Carrot, diced
1/4 Cup Red Bell Pepper, diced
1/4 Cup Asparagus, sliced
1/4 Cup Broccoli Florets
2 Cups Cooked Brown Rice, at room temperature
2 Large Eggs, beaten
Soy Sauce, to taste
Green Onions, sliced (garnish)

At least one hour before cooking, liberally season duck breasts with fresh cracked pepper and douse with teriyaki sauce; set aside at room temperature.  Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat and sear duck breasts on each side for 2 – 3 minutes, or until medium rare (125 degrees F internal temp). Remove and allow to rest while finishing the stir-fry.  Meanwhile, in a wok over high heat add oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes; sauté 30 seconds, careful not to brown the garlic.  Add the remaining vegetables and cook until just tender.  Add rice and eggs, stirring until eggs are just scrambled; remove from heat.  Add soy sauce to taste.  Begin plating by placing a generous portion of the stir-fry onto the center of each plate.  Slice the duck breasts, on the bias, every half inch or so and rest on top of the stir-fry.  Garnish with sliced green onions. Serve.

Bison Burgers

Nowadays most bison is commercially raised and can be found in high end grocers and even large national chains.  So bison is not what most of us typically consider “wild game” these days; however, a lot of people are still wary about giving it a try.  I advocate frequently swapping traditional beef for bison in your recipes due to its rich flavor and health benefits.  Studies have shown that bison is lower in fat, calories, and cholesterol than beef, while also being nutrient dense with higher levels of protein and iron.  Due to its lean composition, I recommend cooking ground bison to medium or medium-rare.  Bison steaks and chops should be served rare or medium-rare.

(Prep 15 minutes, Cook 15 minutes, Serves 4)

Burgers
1.5  lbs Ground Bison
Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
4 Hamburger Buns, sliced
Unsalted Butter
 

Toppings
American Cheese
Lettuce
Sliced Tomato
Sliced Onion
Dill Pickle Chips
Assorted Condiments

Preheat a grill over medium-high heat.  Divide ground bison into 4 patties, using your thumb to create a small well in the center of each patty.  Season each patty liberally with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.  Lightly butter the cut side of each bun, and add to the grill for 60 – 90 seconds, or until just toasted and browned.  Add bison patties over direct heat and grill covered for 2 – 3 minutes on each side for medium-rare/medium.  Remove from grill (or top with cheese to melt) and rest 3 – 4 minutes.  Build burgers with desired toppings and condiments.  Serve immediately.

Grilled Elk Steak

This recipe utilizes the elk’s backstrap (tenderloin) which is the leanest and most tender part of the animal.  Sure, fattier cuts are more flavorful, but this is my preferred cut to serve others, especially those first-timers who might be squeamish about trying a new animal.  Elk has a rich, deep flavor, similar to that of grass-fed beef or venison.  Kin to its wild game cousins, the lean composition of this meat lends itself best to being prepared quickly over high heat and cooked to rare or medium-rare.  Most importantly, this recipe keeps things simple.  A touch of balsamic vinegar helps adds some sweetness while also tenderizing the meat–after that it’s just good ol’ salt and pepper that bring out the flavors of this beast.  Keep it simple, stupid.

(Prep 15 minutes, Cook 10 minutes, Serves 4)

1 2lb Elk Tenderloin, trimmed and at room temperature
½ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ Cup Balsamic Vinegar
Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper

Preheat a grill over medium-high heat.  Whisk together the oil and vinegar and pour over the tenderloin to marinate, 15 minutes.  When the grill is ready, shake off the excess marinade and add to grill over direct heat.  Cook for 2 – 3 minutes on all four sides, and remove from heat when the internal temperature reaches 120 – 130 degrees F, depending on your desired level of doneness.  Tent the tenderloin with foil and rest for 5 minutes.  Using a sharp knife, slice the tenderloin across the grain every half inch or so.  Serve with desired sides.

{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

1 James Petzke March 2, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Great article! I love hunting! My favorite time of year is definitely deer hunting season. In fact, I have even started on building a deer hunting website recently. Another of my favorites that I suggest would be deer tenderloin, grilled just like the elk steaks above. It may be “gamier”, but if you like the taste of wild game like I do, nothing compares to deer tenderloin.

2 Jared March 2, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Great article. Question: is it safe to cook duck less than Done? I’m thinking of chicken/turkey, and that has a very bad flavor less than done, and it can be dangerous from a food safety standpoint, too. Any advice?

3 dannyb278 March 2, 2012 at 6:07 pm

my favorite:
slices of venison heart, seasoned with salt and pepper and wrapped in bacon. grilled.

4 Ak-adventurer March 2, 2012 at 7:40 pm

Nice!

My first hunting trip ever was last fall. And i grew up in interior and bush Alaska… Yes, an its an oddity to make it to 26 here, and have never gone hunting.

Anyway, i love it. Didn’t get a damn thing but cold and tired. But a buddy got his first moose after hunting all his life… A moose is thankfully a lot of meat, and again thankfully he shares. ;-)

I love moose. Also love duck, and am verry fond of game hens, rabit, elk, reindeer…

G.

5 Linda Albert March 2, 2012 at 9:04 pm

The most important consideration for wild game is how it was treated in the field. Game needs to be handled carefully, hopefully the animal was killed quickly and before much running or flight that would over heat it drive the blood into the muscles, found quickly so its artery could be cut before clotting started, cleaned and dressed without contamination from the gut and cooled and protected with a clean game bag from blow flies if the kill was early enough in the season or in an area for flies to still be around.
Other than that L.L. Bean some years ago put out an excellent game cookbook. I just checked Amazon and used copies are for available at a very cheap price. It has the best recipe for antelope cutlets I have ever tasted. I make them on a regular basis if my hunters get an antelope or two.

6 Christo March 2, 2012 at 9:15 pm

Personally, i love elk steaks more than beef steaks. Its rare I eat a poor quality elk too, because people that hunt for food tend to be more careful about their butchering than someone who has no need to do so. Good article.

7 MtnMatt March 2, 2012 at 10:56 pm

I agree, I will generally take venison over beef any day. Don’t know that I’ve ever had a bad elk, but deer can be hit-or-miss in my experience. I’ve found that marinating is good for really gamey meat, you lose a lot of the venison taste but it makes it much more palatable.

8 Guy March 3, 2012 at 8:43 am

Interesting timing as today is the day of our annual wild game feast. On the menu is venaison au grand veneur and royal squirrell along with grilled steelhead.

9 Justin March 3, 2012 at 9:03 am

I love to small game hunt. Nothing like me and my hound in the thickets chasing a rabbit. Squirrel has a good taste to it as well. P.s. go dawgs.

10 liam o'malley March 3, 2012 at 11:52 am

Of course you guys post this after I get done cooking my way through 12 lbs of venison… perfect timing ;)

I have to say the best thing we made (though our very similar venison chili was great!) was definitely the cornish pasties made with venison. If anyone is interested in the recipe let me know.

11 Nick March 3, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Moosegoose burgers. Grind together moose and goose into patties. The lean moose is complimented well by the fatty goose. Not to mention how fun it is to say Moosegoose.

12 Cody Bruce March 3, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Glad to see this, but FYI backstrap is not tenderloin. There are actually two small tenderloins in deer/elk/etc in addition to the backstrap. They are delicious and even more tender than the backstrap.

13 Cody Bruce March 3, 2012 at 1:15 pm

@Jared

Wild duck should not be cooked past medium—it will taste like a mix of boot leather and liver if it is…

14 Jared March 3, 2012 at 2:55 pm

I see. Thank you, Cody!

15 Tony March 3, 2012 at 3:29 pm

@liam I want that recipe. thesp8@yahoo.com

My son was 7 before he realized you could buy meat at the grocery store. It was either hunted or bought directly from the farmer. Venison and wild hog are our favorites. Wild hog is good for practicing Charcuterie as well as grilling. Our diet is meat heavy and we probably eat less than 20 lbs of beef a year. The strong game taste is part of the appeal over relatively bland commercially produced livestock.

16 Michael March 3, 2012 at 6:17 pm

I’m really liking the more outdoorsy posts cominghere lately. Please do keep them coming

17 Rick Sullivan March 3, 2012 at 6:35 pm

We have an abundance do deer here in Kentucky, so I don’t mind letting the big-antlered bucks walk on by, and harvesting a smaller, younger deer. The meat tastes better. On those occasions I take an older deer I turn most of the meat into venison sausage. The spices in a hot Italian sausage mediate any strong flavors that might be found in a more mature deer.

18 Chad March 3, 2012 at 9:08 pm

I’d really like to see some more posts of a “hunting 101″ nature. I am really enjoying these outdoor posts but many of them seem focused on what happens after the hunt. I am 28, never having been introduced to hunting and am taking the initiative myself.

However, I find the task rather daunting. Hunters/outdoorsmen in my area (southeast Louisiana) tend to be a close knit group and are very wary of outsiders. I do not have family or friends that I can count on as a resource and will continue to try and network with local hunters. In the meantime, I would love to see some prepared articles on the subject of beginning to hunt. I may be a biased minority but I believe that articles like that would go over well on the site.

Keep up the great work AOM crew!!

19 Steve Mazur March 4, 2012 at 12:40 pm

@ liam. I’d like that recipe, too. drstevemazuratgmail.com (you know what to do with “at”). As a “Boomer” (i.e. Butte wannabe) married to a Butte, MT girl, it would be nice to have that pasty recipe. As an infrequent elk harvester, I would like to state that me and mine prefer elk over beef. This year, with the help of a friendly landowner, I raised my own steer — which is probably why Murphy’s law kicked in and I got an elk. The elk tastes less “gamey” to us even with my steer being grass-fed and healthy. To SE LA Chad: Wish you lived up here (MT). I need a good, young hunter to trade some brawn for knowledge.

20 Cut and brogue March 5, 2012 at 3:46 am

Game meat is delicious and you don’t really have to worry about the quality since it’s not raised on a farm. My favorite is making bison burgers from meat I buy at Whole Foods!

21 P.M.Lawrence March 5, 2012 at 6:04 am

You’re writing in North America, judging from the locations you mention. Well, there are no wild elk in North America, any more than there are any wild moose in Sweden. The two species are distinct, and only distantly related even though they fill roughly the same ecological niche on two continents; they probably taste different too (I did once have some elk vol au vent, from a zoo animal that had been culled).

22 DAN March 5, 2012 at 9:51 am

This makes me hungry! Being Native American, I ate quite a bit of wild game as a child. I think it is important for people to know are their food comes from. I can still remember the first deer me and my dad brought down, my dad thanked the deer for his life and he added to our life.

23 Kevin March 5, 2012 at 10:24 am

My first year living out of my parents house, my roommate and I lived off of deer meat. He would kill it and I would clean and cook it. I don’t think we actually bought any meat for an entire year.

Also, this article made me incredibly hungry.

24 Rog March 5, 2012 at 10:59 am

@P.M. Lawrence,
“Well, there are no wild elk in North America,” Not sure what you’re talking about, P.M. There are three subspecies of elk in North America, The Rocky Mountain elk, sometimes known as the American elk, the Roosevelt elk and the Tule elk found in California. If you are writing from Europe you may call the Red Dear “elk” but they are a different species and are not elk. Yes, Virginia, there are elk in north America.

25 Grant March 5, 2012 at 11:16 am

Nice article. I would like to add that the backstrap and the tenderloin are not the same cut of meat. I noticed this in the Venison Chili recipe.

The tenderloins are INSIDE the chest cavity on each side of the spine/ribs…closer to the neck on a whitetail deer.

The backstraps are on the outside of the chest cavity and run down the spine.

26 TS Wallace March 5, 2012 at 11:22 am

Great recipes! I’m adding them to my list to try out over the next few months. Although, I have to say, I’m pretty sure I have found the most flavorful venison on earth. The Mule Deer herd hangs out in a high-elevation valley with 6 springs, meaning green grass and fresh water year-round. And then there are a dozen plum trees and three apple trees which they gorge on all summer before hunting season. Half the time my wife and I cook our venison, we don’t even put seasoning on it. It’s that good!

27 MH Stahl March 5, 2012 at 12:51 pm

P.M.Lawrence,

I’m not sure if you are trying to point out some semantic cul-de-sac or what, but there are several species of elk in North America, and have been since at least the last ice age. The same is true of moose in Sweden.

What is it you are getting at, because you’ve certainly confused me and I suspect I’m not alone?

28 Caveman Doctor March 5, 2012 at 3:31 pm

I have been waiting for a post like this. Great job! I’m glad to see more people are eating wild game and taking advantage of all the health benefits of it over the stuff they saran-wrap at the supermarket.

29 Andrew March 5, 2012 at 4:57 pm

With game, especially ungulates, trim the fat. If you don’t it will harden like candle wax in your mouth, and it’s not very nice. Duck fat will taste like what they’ve been eating, which is great, if they haven’t been eating fish. If eating fish, remove all skin and fat.

Most muscle on an animal tastes better after it has been taken past rigor mortis, or about 24 hours when it’s cold. If you butcher, butcher it cold after the game has gone floppy again. Organ meats, especially liver, is best cooked super fresh, but don’t overcook it.

The older the animal is, the more it can benefit by hanging at approx 4 Celcius for up to 14 days. Biggest issue is moisture: too dry and it loses too much moisture, too wet and it can mould over. For big game, take the skin off; for birds, leave the feathers and guts on and in unless they’ve been paunched. No, it is NOT controlled rot, it is enzymatic readjustment and concentration of flavors. If the animal ran hard and bled heavily into its meat before it died, it does not need to be aged as long.

Venison loves sesame oil and fish sauce. Venison hates being overcooked. Unless it’s bear, pig, or small game, you’re better off cooking game kind of rare. For a roast, blast at 500 F for five minutes per lb then turn off the oven and let sit for 15 minutes per lb in the oven.

I do a lot of home butcher shoot and eat. This is what my experience has been.

30 Josh Meier March 6, 2012 at 11:35 am

Yeah, those Elk Crossing signs up the road in NM from me are there just for the tourists…

31 Jerome Patrick Shannon March 6, 2012 at 11:49 am

That last picture of the post (Grilled Elk Steak) should be one of the pictures under the definition of “manliness”. I looked at the picture and immediately wanted to eat meat with my bare hands until my stomach hurt!

32 P.M.Lawrence March 7, 2012 at 4:13 am

I mean, “elk” started out as the term for the very large deer like animals found in Sweden, which is why new cars there get given the “elk test” to see if they can cope with swerving suddenly in case an elk steps out in the road. Meanwhile, that same ecological niche got filled in North America – but it wasn’t filled by the same species, any more than the American grey (“gray”) squirrel is the same as the European red squirrel, which is how it drove the latter out in most of Britain rather than interbreeding. The same goes for American versus European mink and so on, though those are more closely related (and bears seem not to have much of a geographical divide at all). Well, the name “elk” is properly reserved for the European species, and anything in North America that gets called an elk either isn’t one (measured by interbreeding capability etc.), or is in captivity. I was pointing out the misnomer; American “elk” are actually variants of moose, with the common ancestors of moose and elk much less like either in size and appearance than moose are like elk today. It’s not a quibble because of that whole relatedness thing

33 Brad March 7, 2012 at 10:44 am

Seconding Chad’s post for a more in-depth guide to general hunting, specifically gun selection. I’m trying to buy either a .22 or a shotgun and would love any advice. Cheers.

34 bklynrizz March 7, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Well P.M. Lawrence, what ever you call it it tastes great grilled.

35 Jared March 7, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Question about the venison: I’ve always heard that venison (and beef) really needs to be hung before consuming. Is that necessarily true? What are the considerations here regarding that?

Thanks for all your help.
Jared

36 Logan March 7, 2012 at 6:04 pm

The elk tenderloin looks amazing.

37 MtnMatt March 7, 2012 at 6:21 pm

Jared,

There are several schools of thought on why/why not to hang (age) meat for various lengths of time. The first priority is to allow the effects of rigor mortis to pass and secondly to allow natural emzymes to begin the breakdown process and make the meat more tender.

Personally, I believe that a day or three at temperatures just above freezing is long enough.

38 J Soper March 8, 2012 at 8:47 pm

@ Chad
A good source for information would be the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, specifically the hunter education division. These folks are usually very welcoming and excited about introducing new people to hunting. While much of hunter education focuses around firearm safety, these programs are designed to get new hunters in the field. Often, instructors will have access to private land and equipment. Not to mention, years of field experience and a willingness to share.

39 Tommy Guns March 8, 2012 at 10:46 pm

Well done (no pun intended). Always great to see an often overlooked past time written about. We freeze all winter long to shoot ducks in South Jersey and the satisfaction of eating the freshly shot birds after a good hunt is second to none. I prefer to cook up a couple dishes with a bit of Hank Sauce; check out Hanksauce.com and their facebook page. While it is hotsauce, it’s certainly not your average hotsauce. Again, great article; truely an essential to the AoM.

40 Mark March 11, 2012 at 1:18 am

Good article. Got my first deer this year (only took 3yrs) and still have some left in the freezer. Will try the chili recipe.

To the posts above asking about hunting and guns, it all depends on the game and where you are hunting. Local laws may restrict certain firearms. Also, the terrain may dictate what you use, whether it will be shorter range or longer range. I would take your state’s hunter’s safety course, some classes will touch on that.

41 Mark March 11, 2012 at 1:28 am

@Brad: it depends on what you are hunting. .22 is ok for squirrel, not much else. It is perfect for learning to shoot.

Shotguns could be good for most game. A decent starters shotgun that could be used for a lot of game is a Mossberg 500. Decently priced, not top of line but not bad either. Get one in 12 gauge and you could use that for pheasants, duck, geese, small game, and even deer. Get a set of chokes and that could take you a long ways.
Check your local laws for the game you want to hunt, as there may be restrictions on firearms and/or ammo.

42 Marc March 11, 2012 at 7:55 am

@Jared.
Not necessarily. I like to freeze it for a few days and that’s enough.

43 Nick March 11, 2012 at 10:09 pm

Very thorough article, venison is delicious. Pretty awesome coincidence that I saw this article as I’m watching Tywin Lannister skin a stag on Game of Thrones. He’s doing it right.

44 Ben Whitt March 12, 2012 at 8:43 pm

I love this site and reading the articles. I actually know Miller. He used to be a roommate of a good friend. How crazy!!? Good read!

45 Rabid Wombat March 14, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Right, about the Elk/not Elk thing. Common names are muddying the waters a bit; pardon me for the taxonomy lesson.

To begin with, all of these animals are ungulates in the Family Cervidae, which covers the following species; as well as deer, harts, and stags. A quick aside: old Linnaeus gave us the basis of the classification system we use today, but we’ve shoehorned some subgroups in to help differentiate related groups (superorders, subspecies, and assorted other messes that noone in their right mind who isn’t studying the biological sciences should worry about).

1) European Elk are the same species as North American Moose (Alces alces), with several subspecies present.

2) North American Elk, also called Wapiti (Cervus canadensis), are found in North America and Asia, again with several subspecies. Note: C. canadensis is not found in Europe.

3) Reindeer and Caribou are a circumpolar species (Rangifer tarandus), roughly divided into tundra and northern woodlands groups.

Sorry for the length of the post, I don’t want to come off as a pendant. As a wise man once said, “If it’s dumber than me, slower than me, and tastes good… pass the salt”.

46 Drew March 27, 2012 at 3:15 pm

in regards to the bison burger:
bison is much more lean than regular beef. even if you compare the 90/10 of both, bison will cook leaner. i recently took on the cooking responsibility for a camping trip with friends. i put bison burgers on the menu. this was my recipe:
2 lbs bison meat 90/10
12 oz white cheddar cheese
half an onion diced
1 egg.
i mixed it all together and made four burgers, then coated the outside in oil and steak seasoning, cooked it over an open fire. the cheese and onions melted into the burger and the egg helped hold it all together. the guys said it was the best burger they ever had. i would have to agree… it tasted amazing.

47 Sam November 20, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Holy shit you’re friends with Easton Corbin?

48 Katie November 25, 2012 at 7:43 pm

Anytime you cook ground meat less than well done you are taking a chance getting sick. I know it isn’t uncommon in the US and europe, but I always shudder when I’m asked how I want my hamburger done when I visit the States…um..COOKED! We don’t serve medium rare ground anything in Canada. Thank goodness.

49 Ellla Rodenkirchen December 26, 2012 at 12:27 pm

I have been wanting to do an injected moose roast on the BBQ spit after it is marinated for a day or so. The injecting is done with a hot marinade heated under the roast on the BBQ. I had this done for me once and it was delicious! It is done only to a medium rare state. Do you have a marinade you would recommend and is this marinade the same as what you would inject when it is on the BBQ spit? This hot marinade helps cook the meat to a beautiful rare to medium-rare quality.

50 Joe Fahnestock December 30, 2012 at 10:18 pm

I love wild duck so much it best when basted in white wine.

51 Ken McBroom January 15, 2013 at 7:15 pm

I am an avid hunter and cook. I can relate to you being interested in hunting for the eats alone. I get excited by a doe coming into range of my bow because I know I am going to add some great meat and more recipe tools to the freezer. I love to hunt but I also love to prepare wild game as well.

52 Jim powell March 9, 2013 at 2:32 pm

When you make deerburger use bacon for the fat add instead of suet, hickory tastes better but any hardwood smoked bacon will do 2 lbs of bacon will usually do 1 deer depending on how much you want in it, I quater out 1 lb of bacon and throw in 1 piece per 3 or 4 pieces of deer meat

53 CAHunter June 4, 2013 at 10:28 pm

Backstrap is NOT tenderloin. Backstrap is along the back and usually called loin and the tenderloins are on the inside the body cavity. A lot of people are confused about that.

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