Deer Meat without the Gamey Taste

Deer Meat without the gamey tasteLast year when I posted about processing deer meat, I failed to mention how I learned to do all that I did with that deer. This time, I’d like to give credit to my good friend Robin. The first time one of the boys shot a deer, she and her husband came over to teach us. Her husband showed the boys outside how to hang, skin, and quarter it. Inside, Robin showed me how to cut the meat off the bones and process it.

Robin did comment on that post last year, though, something that I had left out:

We are super picky about removing all the connective tissue (silver skin), fat, and bone from the meat. This has proven to be the best way to keep our meat from getting any strong, wild flavor after freezing.

Let me tell you, Robin is right. I serve venison to people all the time and they do not even know it. I take it to fellowship meals at church, too. No one has ever noticed a thing. Our deer meat does not have a gamey taste at all.

But unless you are shown, it’s hard to understand the description so I took a couple pictures.

This might look like good marbling to a beef eater. But to venison, it’s going to make you hate it forever. Cut out all the white stuff you can find. Like this:

And this:

Doing this tedious work requires one thing–a great set of knives. Nothing irks me more than having to deal with dull kitchen knives. My husband believes in buying quality and in sharpening them often.

One last thing I’ve noticed about the flavor of deer meat–bucks tend to taste stronger than does. So, if you are expecting extended family that would rather die than eat Bambi for supper, make sure you pull out a doe roast and not a buck.

Any other tricks you’ve found to prepare deer meat without the gamey taste? Please share them in the comments.

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Deer Meat without the Gamey Taste — 46 Comments

  1. My husband does not hunt but we are blessed with venison from others. Since it all arrives pre-wrapped we do not have the ability to trim it as you recommend, but we have found a wonderful trick… Garlic! Garlic works wonders, add it to any cut of meat you are cooking (steaks, roasts, ground) it eliminates the the “gamey” taste but does not leave a heavy garlic flavor.

    • Thanks for that wonderful idea, LeAnn. I put garlic in most everything I cook anyway, so that didn’t really come to mind.

      • We learned this when We first had deer season in NB back in the 50s!!We were told to age with the skin on,the worst thing You can do!! In later years after moving to TX We kept a fridge in the garage for fish and game and we would skin ,bone and defat as soon as We got it home and put the meat in plastic dish pans as soon as it was chilled and cover with plastic and leave in the fridge for about a week!Came out great!!
        TX deer were not fat like the corn fed deer in NB and were much better tasting!!

  2. Excellent tips! We LOVE venison and antelope meat at our house. And like you, we try to trim all of that “extra” stuff off of the meat. I have often served it to guests, and they had no idea it wasn’t beef. Thanks for sharing at the Barn Hop this week! 🙂

  3. We depent on the venison my husband gets every year (we are only allowed one deer per season in WA) and I actually prefer the taste of deer or elk to bland beef. But asking my husband how he takes care of the deer he says in addition to the precautions you have already mentioned ~ taking great care when skinning is very important. Do not let the scent glands come in contact with meat and try not to let any of the animal hair get on the meat. (getting your buck when not ‘in the rut’ greatly reduces the ‘gamey’ taste.) Also, a clean kill shot that drops the deer so that it isn’t running wounded (pumping adrenhelin sp?) helps with the tenderness of the meat. And of course, removing any bloodshot areas of meat.
    I have discovered that deer from different parts of our state makes a big difference in the taste, too. What they eat flavors the meat as does the age of the deer. The younger the better the flavor, but that is not on the mind of a hunter looking for a trophy buck!

    • Thanks for all the additional info, Raeann! I guess we could use some more posts on deer hunting. There really is a lot to it.

  4. I used to marinate mine in Italian Dressing for several hours before cooking. But now I fix it any way we would beef and we enjoy the flavor much more. One of the biggest things next to removing all fat is to let it age if at all possible. I have heard people say it doesn’t make any difference but especially with a buck aging makes all the difference. We like to hang ours 3 days minimum and up to a week if weather permits. This year has been warm and they have been trying to age in my fridge but 3 deer , even boned, don’t fit very well! I can definitely tell the difference in the meat we had to put away too soon.

    • Thanks for sharing. I’ve heard about aging, but it is rarely cool enough to let the deer hang.

  5. Carol,
    Since I just helped my husband process a few deer, I felt the need to leave a comment. Gutting the animal as soon as possible is a must. I remember watching a television show many years ago when a “hunter” tied his buck to the top of his truck and drove home, which was hours away. I felt like screaming. We put our meat in coolers with ice for three days to allow the meat ample time to bleed out. Working hard to remove the white layer on the meat is very important as well. We eat venison year round and serve it all the time. No one ever knows.

    • Thanks for commenting, Lara. Yes, you must gut the deer in the woods. Not that I’ve done any hunting, but my boys talk a lot about it. 🙂

    • I harvested my first deer this yearand at my nephews suggestion used the store the meat on ice in a cooler method.
      Draining the water once a day until no blood appears. It took about 4 days. Then trimmed fat and connective tissue away before vacuum sealing and freezing.
      I grew up eating venison and this was the first time ever!Not having it taste gamey. This is also the first time my wife has prepared or eaten venison. We’re hooked!

    • I have to agree with Brenda on this. My Grandfather taught me as a teenager to soak the meat in vinegar. The first thing is bleeding the deer out. I field dress my deer with-in 15 minutes of the kill. Once I’m home I have a huge cooler. I debone all of the meat and fill the cooler with icewater and 1 gal of vinegar. I also trim away all silver meat and fat. Some meat with strong smell is from the blood and not the meat.

  6. I’ve also soaked mine in vinegar (my FIL marinates in Italian dressing) and it does wonders. I’ve also found that if I can’t get to the meat for a few days and it has to sit in the frig, it loses a lot of it’s smell and gameness. Cooking it with anything acidic (tomato) does wonders as well.

  7. I have never prepared game, and I tasted venison for the first time a little while ago, in a venison pie at one of our favorite restaurants. You are right, I honestly would not have known it wasn’t beef if it wasn’t called ‘venison pie’. It was absolutely delicious, and so tender. I’d definitely order it again. Thank you for sharing this really great tutorial on preparing venison – you’ve got some fantastic tips in this post. Thank you for sharing it with the Hearth and Soul hop.

    • Thanks for stopping by April and sharing about your pie. I’ve never heard of that. I assume it was like a pot pie. Sounds delicious. Maybe we should try it rather than chicken.

  8. My husband and I have been processing our deer meat for about a year now and it’s fantastic. We also trim EVERYTHING off…this also seems to keep the ground beef from being so “chewy”. One of the things we’ve found to keep the wild taste out is we age the meat for 7-10 days. We don’t have a large freezer, so after my husband has skinned the deer, quartered it and removed the backstrap and tenderloins we place everything in an icechest. We either put frozen plastic bottles of water on the bottom of the cooler as well as around the meat or we put bags of ice on top of the meat. The trick is to try to keep the meat from sitting in the water. Each evening my husband will drain the bloody water out of the cooler and replace the ice if needed. After 7-10 days of this we process the deer and freeze it. I’ve had a couple of my friends who wouldn’t eat the meat their husbands brought home until they tried ours…they were converted. 🙂 Hope this helps someone.

  9. Many years ago I heard from an older person that soaking wild turkey in buttermilk overnight will help with any gamey flavor an older bird would have. I thought it might do the same with deer so I’ve done it that way for a long time now. Whether or not it really works I’m not 100% sure. It may just be the difference between how my brother and I cook it, but mine isn’t gamey and his usually is. And it isn’t in how we process it because my hubby doesn’t hunt. We get all our meat from friends and family and most of it has already been frozen (usually on the bone) before I get it. I count myself very lucky to get it fresh so that I can clean and trim it myself before freezing it, but that rarely happens.

    • Becky, Thanks so much for sharing this tip. I’ve tried vinegar water, too. But from our experience, making sure it’s trimmed well does the trick. And now the time of year is upon us again. Blessings to you.

    • I had Moose and Boar that was soaked in Buttermilk. It was real good. I was told that plain yogurt is another good one to soak the meat in.

  10. I agree with you about removing all the fat/silver skin before freezing! My grandfather who was a butcher when he was younger taught me that hanging it for 2 to 3 weeks made a huge difference and it does. Of course you need wipe it down regularly also. In addition, he taught me to cook venison with bacon grease!!! I have always done that and if there were any gaminess it disappeared. He would cut the venison into steaks, he would salt and pepper the flour; he then would dredge flour and pound the steak three times then fry in bacon grease, browning it. Then he would steam it for an hour. He used all the excess flour to make the most wonderful gravy you have ever tasted! Once the venison had steamed for an hour he would incorporate the flour, water and bacon grease. There is nothing quite like it.

  11. Long ago when my husband and I first got married, my aunt (part Cherokee) advised me to boil the meat in vinegar before I prepared it. We did that for years, then one year it happened that the first deer he killed hung while he hunted the second. We noticed the longer it hung draining as much blood from the muscles as possible the less “wild” flavor. We since have a standing request with out processor to leave all we bring in to hang at least 3 days in the chill room to drain. We have served deer in all manner to many different people that to this day have no idea they have eaten deer for years. Some that know are converts from refusing to eat it at all. They even request it now.

  12. For all of the shoulder and leg meat that you hate to use/waste for dog food, but are afraid to use because of gaminess or tenderness, the answer is canning! All of the neck, leg and shoulder meat at our house is raw packed with a tsp of salt per quart jar. It comes out fork tender and no funny taste. If you have never canned meat, it is the EASIEST canning you will ever do. Also, when you first open the jar, there will be a strong odor of meat, just like the odor when you open a bag of chips. And the uses of the canned meat are endless. Burritos, BBQ sandwiches, philly steak sandwiches, soups, almost anywhere you would use cooked ground meat.

    • Thanks for sharing that, Michelle. We treasure our canned venison and use it for those days when I just have no energy to cook. Makes for a quick and easy meal, delicious too. 😉

    • Do you hang your meat before canning it? Or can you just can the meat? We usually hang our meat for 14 to 20 days.

  13. I place the venison in a crock pot with onion, potatoes, carrots, an apple, and seasoning salt and let it cook on low all day 🙂

  14. Other than proper prep our family have used a wipe down with apple cider vinegar for generations of whitewash, muledeer, & moose. Takes out the taste most people don’t like. Works like a charm!

  15. I agree with the previous posts about vinegar. I mix olive oil, about1 tablespoon cider or balsamic vinegar and seasonings of choice and marinate overnight. Anyone who has ever tasted my deer has loved it. I do this before canning it, too.

  16. Pingback: Deer Hunting Season Begins - Everything Home with Carol

  17. we eat a lot of venison here in Alaska, but we have a hard time with the hamburger taste, it is really games, any ideas on what to do with it that has already been processed? We have a lot of packages in freezer now, what can we do to make the gamey flavor go away? Thank you

    • We tried nearly everything listed here and ended up going with My earlier comment!!It worked the best but still never cared for burger!!We now take the scraps and instead of grinding put them together around a slice of jalepeno pepper ,wrap into bundle and pin together with tooth picks and then grill!When nearly done brush on Your favorite BBQ sauce ans let that brown ,then eat!!We also do that with duck meat,goose and doves and none of the family or friends ever tire of it!!The main thing is to get rid of all fat and bones as they carry the wild flavor!!

      • Should have added that wrap the bundle in bacon and pin together with tooth picks!

    • We grind our burger with bacon. It adds flavor and the fat really makes it cook up more like “real” hamburger. The difference it makes is unbelievable — everything really is better with bacon!

  18. I rather trim away 5 lbs. of meat with fat than cook any venison with silver or fat. I hang mine for 8 days headless and then I process it. I have been told that my Bacon wrapped, stuffed back strap is better than any tenderloin a cow or pig could produce. I also use every piece of meat on my kill. I trimmed away the anal cavity but from the throat down I use for sausage, stew, kabobs and roast.

  19. I trim mine and soak it in milk for 24 hours before I use it. There is no gamey taste at all and it’s tender enough to eat with only a fork

  20. Getting all the white off is a must! Then I soak it overnight in salt water. The next day rinse it well and soak 12-24 hours in sweet milk!!! Then rinse it again and cook it or freeze it.

  21. As stated completely remove all sinew fat gristle take a third cup oil canola a third cup vinegar I use Normal 5percent acidic third cup of your favorite Bbq sauce and a quarter fine black pepper place in a zip lock shake to mix place loin in mix well place in fridge overnight grill to 130 rare tent loose rest . I also make a black currant gravy