Processing, Preserving and Cooking Wild Game

img3Cooking wild game from a bow hunting trip is a fun alternative to more widely-used meats like beef or chicken; nothing equals the taste of fresh game. Wild game, especially deer and elk meat, is generally redder and of a finer grain than feed-lot beef. The wild game grazes on local grasses and shrubs, so the meat is leaner.

Elk and moose, largest members of the deer family, offer good meat. Whitetail deer and red deer venison are tasty options as well.

Dressing the Game

Archery hunting is an ancient rite, although modern bow and arrow hunters use the latest in equipment and accessories. Bow hunters even enjoy a longer season than rifle hunters in most states. This is an activity that goes back to the beginnings of human survival in testing the skill of the archer. A good shot with the right size arrow can bring down the animal.

The harvested animal should be immediately field dressed by removing its organs and cutting it into sections. Some states and provinces require the hunter to provide the antlers, head, or other parts of the animal to prove that it is a legal size. Deer and elk hides are also valuable.

The meat should be immediately placed in an ice chest or stored in a cool place to avoid bacteria and decay. Cold fall weather helps delay the spread of bacteria.

Butchering

The best elk, deer, or moose meat is professionally cut, aged, frozen, and wrapped by a butcher specializing in wild game. An elk hunted in season can provide well over 200-400 pounds of meat. This can feed a family for a long time.

Ask the butcher to cut up the meat into steaks, roasts, chops, and other prime cuts. Ground moose, elk, or deer meat is also great to use as a substitution for ground beef. Have each cut wrapped and labeled. It is always convenient to have the meat flash frozen by the butcher and then transferred to your freezer.

Some hunters cut up the meat and age it themselves. They may also smoke some of the meat as a means of preserving it.

Cooking

Cooking wild game is the best part. The most important thing to remember is that wild game is lean and the meat may be tough. Steaks and roasts can be marinated prior to cooking using the variety of store-bought marinades, or making your own.

Cooking sherry is a liquid that especially complements the taste of wild game. Here is a simple and delicious recipe for Elk Sherry:

  1. Marinate strips of elk meat with garlic cloves in sherry for a few hours or overnight.
  2. Sauté the strips of meat with onions and mushrooms.
  3. Add a cup of sherry and a can of cream of beef mushroom soup to the sauté and stir until it bubbles.
  4. Serve immediately over wild rice.

*This recipe also works with venison or moose meat.

Thin steaks and chops can be cooked in a frying pan with oil added since the animal does not have the fat content found in beef. For those that prefer grilling, make sure to coat both sides of the meat with oil before placing it on the grill.

Roasts can be cooked in a baking bag with liquid added to keep the meat moist. Stews can be cooked in a slow cooker to soften the meat.

Ground wild game meat can be added to ground beef for tasty burgers or pasta sauces. Some people like making sausage or salami with finely ground deer meat, herbs and spices.

There are several cookbooks available on cooking wild game. The result are only limited to your personal tastes, so experiment and enjoy!

Share your favorite cooking method or recipe with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and tag it with #huntingrecipes!