I've mentioned in the past that wild food seems to bring out generosity, and venison is often no different. I thank my friends and family very much for that.
Even if nobody wants to give away a full deer, there are parts - like the ribs or some organs - that almost every hunter I know tosses.
I'm not much of a deer hunter. I don't like killing animals, but I have shot deer and I do like venison. Thanks to an injury, however, I decided not to go into the woods this year. Thankfully, that did not stop me from getting venison.
It's interesting to think that at one point the state of Minnesota had an extremely taxed population of white-tailed deer, and yet this year my friend's family had so many deer hanging that they decided they didn't want all of them and offered to gift me one.
It's amazing to think that white-tails in Minnesota were nearly eradicated by the 1880s (www.startribune.com/150-years-of-minnesota-deer-hunting/107011473/). The first big game laws were established in 1858 with deer season lasting five months, but actual recovery was a long time coming. Licenses weren't necessary until 1899, and limits were established in 1901.
Even in 1971, the season was closed because the state herds were in trouble. Development of effective regulation was key to saving the species. It may seem counterintuitive that hunting season was responsible for saving the deer population, but it's at least partially true.
A well-regulated hunting season not only controls the harvest of the deer population, but it also funds efforts to preserve habitat and guarantees that many in our state depend on a healthy population of deer for their financial well-being.
It goes to show, if you find some way to tie money to doing the right thing, you are almost guaranteed results.
I am usually a fan of venison steak and simple ground venison. This year since the outside temp prevented proper hanging and aging of a deer, I decided to try a little more charcuterie - that is, creation of preserved meats.
I don't know about you, but my list of recipes to try is probably more abundant than my actual supply of venison.
- 15 pounds venison
- 10 pounds pork trimmings
- 2/3 cup salt
- 2 tablespoons commercial cure
- 2 tablespoons mustard seed
- ½ cup pepper
- ½ cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons marjoram
Grind the cold meats separately, then mix. Mix in the cure and allow to cure 2-3 days in a refrigerator, mixing once each day. Combine the seasonings and mix well. Some allow this mixture to rest another day so the flavors spread throughout the mix. Stuff sausage into casings, or wrap with foil into logs.
Smoke this at 140 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 hours, then at 160 degrees for 2 hours, then at 175 degrees until the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees Fahrenheit.
Chill these immediately in cold water. Allow them to dry out before sealing them in vacuum sealed plastic bags.
Formed Venison Bacon
Adapted from the recipe by Bears Butt at https://utahwildlife.net/forum/26-recipes/58578-venison-bacon.html
- 4 pounds ground venison
- 2 pounds ground pork shoulder
- 2 tablespoons Morton's Tender Quick
- 3 tablespoons liquid smoke
- ½ cup maple flavored pancake syrup
- 1 ½ cups of water
Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Line a 13- by 9- by 2-inch baking pan with wax paper, then press the mix into the pan to remove as much air as possible. Refrigerate this until it becomes a loaf. Turn the loaf over onto a smoker rack and remove the wax paper.
Smoke at 135 degrees for three hours, then increase the temp to 155 degrees before adding wood chips. Smoke two hours before increasing the temperature again to 180 degrees for two more hours or until the meat reaches a temperature of 155 degrees.
Remove and slice when cool.