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Thread: Why do people think venison is gamey?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master brewer12345's Avatar
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    Why do people think venison is gamey?

    I mentioned to my BIL that I would be cooking venison on a regular basis now and he said he did not like the gamey flavor. It is a mystery to me what he was talking about.

    I may have grown up in NYC, but I am a decent outdoorsman and an even better cook. Even more so, I am not an idiot. I know that meat has to be cared for in the field, did my research, and made a point of doing everything I could to maintain meat quality after I pulled the trigger. I had to wait a couple weeks for the chronic wasting disease testing results, but after the all clear arrived yesterday I cooked up a section of backstrap for dinner tonight. I kept it simple: seasoned with a Russian style spice blend (salt, garlic, cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg), seared in a cast iron skillet to an internal temp of 140F, let it rest 15 minutes, and deglazed the pan with some red wine and a healthy spoonful of homemade plum-Chambord jam. Delicious. The sort of thing people would pay stooped amounts of money for in a snooty recipe. I will try cooking it just a touch less next time as I like it a bit rarer than it came out, but holy cow.

    This meat was not heavily seasoned and I could taste it clearly through the pan sauce. I don't care for beef, but I eat bison whenever I can get away with it (like everything about it but the price). This tasted to me like a really lean cut of bison. Not gamey.

    So where does the gamey taste people talk about come from? Are they getting half spoiled meat?

    At this point I can't wait to try doing sauerbraten, corned venison, stew, etc.
    "I have learned from experience that a modicum of snuff can be most efficacious." - the Baron von Munchausen

  2. #2
    Boolit Master dbosman's Avatar
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    Start with a Northern Michigan and Upper Peninsula swamp deer that's been chowing down on cedar. Gut it and strap it to a fender with the gut side facing traffic. Add leaded gas and burned motor oil from the past, drive home the two or three hundred miles. Now cut and freeze without a clue as to how to properly wrap meat.

    Yeah, for some reason the meat tastes a bit off.

    Lower Michigan corn fed deer, dressed quickly and properly, transported inside a truck, out of the elements. Cooked by someone who knows how to cook venison, and it's a wonder to enjoy.
    Last edited by dbosman; 11-06-2018 at 10:59 PM.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    Most 'gamey' venison has simply been mishandled after the kill or was poorly killed, some processors do not keep the meat separate for each customer so bad meat is mixed with the good stuff. Processing your own is the best way to get good meat.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master Hannibal's Avatar
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    I'd mostly agree with the above. Many people have no idea how to correctly field dress a large game animal and transport it, let alone how to completely process it. Most large meat lockers don't take the time to individually process deer, so you've no idea who's deer your going to get back, just a rough weight estimation.

    I've always processed my own for these reasons.

    Leverguns is a faster typer.
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    Not taking the shot is.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master

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    I feel most "gamey" venison is in the brain. I've cooked venison dishes for work get togethers and have always come back with empty dishes, it wasn't until later that some asked me for the recipe. It was fascinating to see their expressions when I told them it was venison. When I offered venison before, I was always met with the "gamey" comments.
    "Freedom is the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it."
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  6. #6
    Boolit Mold
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    I don't care for the taste of venison. doesn't matter what you do to it, I can still tell that it has deer in it. Just has a taste I don't like. I do have friends who like venison.

  7. #7
    Boolit Buddy
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    IMHO I think you should never process deer like beef. Never cut the bone like into chops. IMHO this is where the gamey taste comes from! Cut the meat off the bone and then cut into whatever you want. If you don't believe me take some rib bones and cut them into pieces and simmer them for a broth and see what you think.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    1 is how its handled after the kill, 2 is what it was eating while it was alive. corn fed deer dont taste like deer that live in pine forests.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master Walks's Avatar
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    Down here in the Southwest, we start Archery season in July in 100+degree heat. RIFLE seasons staggered not long after. Getting a deer cooled fast is CRITICAL.
    When I started Hunting in the 1960's, we carried 4 icechests with 25lb blocks of ice. A deer was hung up, skinned out and quartered as fast as possible. Gutting was immediate, the inside coated with black pepper. Then wrapped in cheese cloth. And run like hell as fast as three sets of teenage legs could carry it back to camp to process it. We were lucky as those days any sworn officer could sign your tag. My uncle was one. Last time I hunted deer in California(1996), only Game Wardens or Forest Rangers could sign off on your tag. I don't know how it works these days.

    But getting game cooled is the most important thing.
    Processing is another story.

    I grew up on venison, ate it every year until I got busted up in '98. By then all my family & hunting partners had passed on or moved far away, or like me, unable to Hunt.
    Happiness is a Warm GUN & more ammo to shoot in it.

  10. #10
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    How about a mulie out of the pine breaks of eastern Utah, field dresses, thrown in a trunk with the skin on, hauled 150 miles hung on a clothes line pole in the sun for 2 weeks (skin still on) to age it and then processed. When cooked salt pepper in an iron skillet till well done. Thats how it was done in my step dads house.


    I would not eat deer for a long time and still don't care for yet unless made into smoked meats. Last one I shot was on ice before the body was cool and stayed there till it was processed. The tenderloins and back strap were marinated over night in italian dressing and cooked medium rare. Still don't care for it but was eatable.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master brewer12345's Avatar
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    I shot mine on a 70 degree day, but just after sunset so the temp started dropping. I gutted her post haste and stuffed a couple milk jugs full of ice in the cavity once she was in the truck. Skinning started 3 hours after the trigger was pulled and then I quartered and stuffed it in a big fridge. Seems to have worked.
    "I have learned from experience that a modicum of snuff can be most efficacious." - the Baron von Munchausen

  12. #12
    Boolit Master Hannibal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Minerat View Post
    How about a mulie out of the pine breaks of eastern Utah, field dresses, thrown in a trunk with the skin on, hauled 150 miles hung on a clothes line pole in the sun for 2 weeks (skin still on) to age it and then processed. When cooked salt pepper in an iron skillet till well done. Thats how it was done in my step dads house.


    I would not eat deer for a long time and still don't care for yet unless made into smoked meats. Last one I shot was on ice before the body was cool and stayed there till it was processed. The tenderloins and back strap were marinated over night in italian dressing and cooked medium rare. Still don't care for it but was eatable.
    Too many meals of anything prepared in a fashion you don't like can ruin it for life.

    Growing up an average of twice a week I was served a concoction of canned tuna, macaroni and 'cheese' and mushroom soup. Not sure how something in powder form can be called 'cheese'. Same way something powdered can be called 'milk', I reckon. I hated that stuff. I called it 'Tuna Barf', but had to keep that moniker to myself.

    Anyway, to this day I can't stand tuna, mushroom soup or macaroni and cheese. Any one literally makes me gag. Can't find any way to make any of it edible, not that I've tried very hard.
    Missing the target is not the worst thing you can do.
    Not taking the shot is.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master

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    I'm in S.E. Texas, and I have killed a few deer in my life time. It would be a WAG to the number. First deer I ever killed, I took to a processor in 1972. Lucky to survive that--my Dad was not a happy camper with me about that. Since then, the deer were processed at home. My dad taught me how. Field dress it, get it back to camp, skinned, quartered and on ice within a few hours of the kill. Any contaminated meat--stuff that came in contact with animal wastes or wound injured meat goes to the varmits. Take it home and keep it in an ice chest with plenty of ice for a week. Then, following all food safety rules, clean it, butcher and pack. I vacuum pack a lot of my meats. I have ground venison and smoked sausage from 2 years ago that are still tasty and good. Only difference in the ground venison and ground beef is the venison needs to be cooked long and slow, and, you have to add oil to the venison. Gonna make a gumbo with some chicken and the smoked sausage tomorrow. I make a lot when I cook a gumbo, but it won't be around long. Make chili, spaghetti sauce, pesole and all kinds of stuff with the ground meat. Everyone eats it around here. All about properly harvesting and using wild game, a sacred resource, IMHO. I've eaten other people's venison, some that was commercially processed. Always amazed that their's had an odd flavor, I suppose you would say, gamy. Last year, the oldest grandson got a chance to have a late season hunt in W. Texas. Came back with a White tail doe and an Axis buck. Cut it all up into stew meat, except for 5 lb of each that I bagged up for tamale meat. Couple of months ago, I finally got off my keaster and made tamales. Got about 16 dozens out of it. They'll be good with some chili this winter. That is, if I can keep some of my in-laws off them. LOL
    One of my father's favorite statements: "If I say a chicken dips snuff, look under his wing for the snuffbox" How I was raised, who I am.

  14. #14
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    The key is to get it cooled off as quickly as possible, and when skinning and processing try to remove as much "silver skin" and ligament/cartilage as possible. I have shot a couple deer that were feeding Willows in the low country, there's no helping that one. We like to do a lot of "slim jim" style pepper stick sausages from all but the best cuts.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    My family visited relatives in rural Wisconsin when I was a teen. We ate like kings, breakfast sausage, spaghetti, summer sausage, roasts, and burgers....on the 5th day, after my mother raved about how good the food was, Aunt Vi told us that we had been eating venison every day we were there. My mother got a sick look on her face and pushed her plate away. Everyone just laughed. It was all in her mind.

    Good field care and processing is important, so is not cooking it till it is tough as shoe leather, some deer taste better than others. I like venison.

  16. #16
    Boolit Man
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    Diet of the deer effects the taste to a large extent and then you have handling of the carcass and final preparation. I have taken deer from a couple of different locations and the taste of the meat is definitely different depedant on their diet. As an aside-- cows are grazing animals and would naturally eat only grass. Grain would not be a part of their diet except as stray seeds included in their grazing. A friend of mine raises Highland cattle and they get only the grass that they forage for.No final grain at a feedlot to fatten them up. They have a lot leaner meat and I believe they taste much like moose- meat that I am quite familiar with.

  17. #17
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    +1 to all the properly processed posts.


    i WILL say that venison tastes like venison.
    some people equate wild fed animal taste as gamey.

    i have people turn down our free range farm eggs because the yolk is too colorful and they have a strong flavor.


    lastly, if anyone thinks that no male animal can ever have a smell tied to their cooked meat, even after proper handling, i'll have to disagree.

    it isn't often but i've had "buck smell burgers" and the smell triggers a reaction even though the taste is ok.

    been awhile for venison to come out like that but last year a mature buck goat was processed and the smell was strong with this one.

    i ate the "choice cuts" ignoring the smell, the rest was cut and parboiled for dog food "treats" etc.

    just my experience. i only hunt on my land and have refrigeration in my shop building for aging.
    my various sons in law love to hunt (somewhere else) and shake their heads when i recite my requirements if they're going to "donate" a deer to me.

    like the above comments on an hour drive in the sun to my place with poopoo everywhere and no ice.

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  18. #18
    Boolit Master OnHoPr's Avatar
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    There are a lot of variables when it comes to dining on venison. First different sets of geological location such as north or south, ag or arid or different forest types. In the south or early season venison has to be processed quickly. In the north venison can be aged for a week to a month with hair on. There is going to be a difference between venison when it comes to Louisiana cypress swamps, Texas sage brush, and Michigan hardwoods ridges, as well as all the different ag lands that they come off of. In MI I can tell the difference between alfalfa, corn, hardwoods, mixed woods deer. A deer that lives right in a corn field will taste better than any specialty beef and not like venison at all, probably something like OH deer. Hardwoods deer seem to be the most genuine venison taste to me. Shot and death time lapse has a factor as well. A deer that dies before the boolit gets there will taste better than one with a marginal or less than marginal shot that takes hours to pass. Most processors will mix meat, use band saws, have bone dust on meat, and leave the fat on whereas a number of home processors meat will be deboned, defatted, and de major membraned the meat. Then comes the kitchen aspect where a number just don't know how to cook it. All of these or some of these can be the difference between night and day to the flavor of venison cuisine.
    May you hands be warmed on a frosty day.

  19. #19
    Boolit Buddy JoeJames's Avatar
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    Years ago I always was careful to gut out and skin the deer as soon as possible. I'd gut it out where I killed it, then hang it up and skin it. I was always careful to gut it out, and clean it just using paper towels, no water. A friend of mine had a local grocery store, and he'd do the processing after he chilled a day or so. I never had any trouble at all with a gamey taste.

    But, my friend said that he'd had to often turn away folks who'd been driving around showing off their deer for a day or more, and without even gutting it, until it began to get kind of ripe. That's where you get a gamey taste.

  20. #20
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    Minerat's Avatar
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    Ran across a guy and his daughter from Indiana this elk season that gut shot a big cow elk at about 400 yards. The sign showed she drug her guts out for over 300 yards thru oak brush before finally expiring. They then proceeded to field dress it and drag it with an ATV over a rocky mountain gravel/rock road for better then 4 miles. The carcass was still leaving long blood stained drag marks on the slick rock field they drug it over about 3 miles from where they cleaned it. What a crime, a waste of the finest game meat on the hoof. Bet they will complain about how bad it tastes if they got it home before it spoiled.

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