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Handling Wild Game Meats
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Venison - Processing and Cooking
  by Dean Stewart

After you have dressed your deer, you may decide to sharpen your knives and complete the job rather than go the professional route for processing. You will find these cutting instructions helpful.

picture of deer parts
  1. Rear shank
  2. Heel
  3. Round steak
  4. Rump and hip lion
  5. Loin chop or roast
  6. Rib chop or roast
  7. Top of shoulder or chuck
  8. Arm roast
  9. Front shank
  10. Breast
  11. Flank

Quartering and Cutting

While the deer is still hanging, remove the neck by following line F in the drawing. Saw the carcass down the center of the backbone, dividing it into two halves. Place the sides of venison inside down on a table and quarter by cutting between the last two ribs, line D, to ensure easy handling. If additional cutting is to be done, remove the legs by cutting close to and in front of the hipbone, line C, and between the 4th and 5th ribs, line E.

Cuts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 11

First, place leg outside down on the table and remove flank (No. 11). Cut rump (No. 4) from the round by following along line B, just below the pelvic bone. Slice No. 3 into five or six 3/4-inch round steaks. No. 2, the lower round or heel severed at line A, is suitable for a pot roast. Bone out shank (No. 1), grind meat, and use for deer sausage and deer burgers.

Loin and Ribs

Remove breast (No. 10) by cutting several inches from tenderloin muscle on the loin end (No. 5) and about 3 inches from the backbone on the rib end (No. 6) along line H. The loin and ribs, No. 5 and No. 6, can be cut into 3/4-inch chops or used as a roast.

Shoulder-Cuts 7, 8, and 9

The shoulder joint is prominent and cuts 7 and 8 can be separated along line H. If the joint cannot be found, use a saw to cut along line H. Saw off the shank (No. 9) and bone out along with cuts No. 10 and No. 8 and use for ground meat. Cut No. 7 makes a good pot roast.

Preserving, Preparing, and Cooking

Freezing is probably the most popular method of preserving venison whether you cut it and package it yourself or have it done professionally. Venison also lends itself well to curing, drying, and smoking.

When preparing venison, remove all the fat before cooking. If left on the meat, the fat imparts an unpleasant taste to the dish.

Prepare deer burgers by grinding fresh beef fat with the venison in the proportion of 2 pounds of fat to 10 pounds of venison. Add 1 ounce of sausage seasoning to each 3 pounds of sausage. When mixing your own ingredients, use 5 tablespoons salt, 3 tablespoons black pepper, and 2 tablespoons of sage for each 10 pounds of meat.

Cook venison by the same methods you use for beef of similar grade. After the fat has been removed, add suet, pork fat, or bacon to roast to keep meat from becoming dry. If barbecuing, pin strips of bacon on with toothpicks and baste with barbeque sauce.

When cooking steaks or chops, marinate first in Italian dressing to make meat tender. Cover steak with the dressing and let stand overnight. Drain and pan broil.

Basic Marinade

This is a basic marinade to aid the removal of gamey or wild taste. It may be used for venison, rabbit, squirrel, coon, or duck. Increase portions according to size of game so the meat is covered with marinade or turned so all sides are affected. It is most effective if allowed to marinate overnight. Before cooking, drain and wipe with a cloth or towel. DO NOT WASH. Prepare as desired.

1 cup salad oil
1 cup vinegar
2 medium onions, sliced
1 cup chopped celery
1 clove garlic, chopped
Additional ingredients (optional)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
11/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 to 3 bay leaves

Venison Spaghetti

1 pound ground venison or sausage
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp minced parsley
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 8-ounce can tomato puree
2 6-ounce cans tomato paste
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper
1 8-ounce box spaghetti, cooked
Parmesan cheese

Brown venison in hot oil; add parsley, onions, and garlic. Cook until tender; add remaining ingredients except spaghetti and cheese. Simmer over low heat for 2 hours. Serve over spaghetti sprinkled with cheese. Yield: 6 servings.

Venison Chili

1/2 pound ground pork sausage
2 pounds venison, cubed
2 medium onions, chopped
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp salt
2 15-ounce cans kidney beans
1 quart water
1/8 tsp red pepper, if desired
1 tsp paprika

In large saucepan, set on simmer, and brown pork sausage and venison. Remove sausage and venison from saucepan. Saute onions and bell pepper. Add sausage and venison; then add remaining ingredients and enough water to cover the meat. Simmer over low heat for 3 to 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Add remaining water as needed. Good served over rice. Yield: 8 to 10 servings.

Venison Roast

Venison Roast (rump or loin)

Follow directions for basic marinade to remove gamey flavor. When ready to cook, wipe off with a cloth or paper towel. Use sharp knife to punch holes deep into roast. Insert pieces of salt meat, onion, celery and garlic into each hole. Lay bacon strips across roast. Place on roasting rack, and cook in preheated oven at 325 degrees, 20 to 25 minutes per pound.


Revised and distributed by Dean Stewart, Extension Associate, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Information Sheet 328
Extension Service of Mississippi State University, cooperating with U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published in furtherance of Acts of Congress, May 8 and June 30, 1914. Ronald A. Brown, Director

Copyright by Mississippi State University. All rights reserved.

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