Healthy Hunter - Recipes from Mild to Wild
Preparing Wild Game
After the big hunt, hunters are eager to prepare the meat for a meal. Most game meats are low in fat compared to domestic animals. When preparing, keep in mind:
- Game meat may dry out quicker and may cook faster.
- Game meat with excess fat should be trimmed prior to cooking
since fat holds off flavors more than the muscle.
- Using marinades and sauces will help enhance the flavor of the
- Game birds are delicious when smoked with woods such as
apple, cherry or hickory.
- Venison can be prepared almost any way beef is prepared.
Chops, steaks and tender roasts can be grilled, pan-fried or
roasted. To prevent excess drying, brush the surface with
vegetable oil. Cook to internal temperature of 170°. Less tender
cuts are best cooked with added moisture such as marinade
which will help tenderize as well as add flavor to the meat.
- Game birds can be dry when cooked, especially if the skin is
- Wild turkeys can be cooked much like domestic turkeys by
roasting. Cook till temperature in the breast is 180-185°.
- Ducks and geese may be baked, broiled, barbecued, breaded,
fried, and used in casseroles, gumbos, creoles, chop suey,
gravies and more. Older birds will be tougher. Wild duck is dark
- South Dakota Department of Game, Fish & Parks
Canning Fish, Poultry, & Wild Game
Quality meat, good equipment and safe methods are essential to ensure safe, home-canned wild game. Wild game is a low acid food. It must be processed in a pressure canner to assure their safety. Most recipes recommend 11 pounds pressure with a dial gauge pressure canner or 10 pounds pressure with a weighted gauge pressure canner for required times.
Choose only good meat for canning, and handle it quickly and with total cleanliness. Bacteria can grow rapidly in meat held at room temperature. If you have a large amount, store the part you’re not working on in the refrigerator.
- Start with properly cleaned and chilled product
- Can fresh meat and poultry within 2 days or freeze it
- To can frozen products, thaw in the refrigerator until most ice crystals have disappeared, and then handle as if they were fresh.
- Trim gristle and fat off meat before canning. Fat left on meat melts and climbs on the sides of the jar during processing and may interfere with the sealing of the lid.
- Salt is optional in canned meat and poultry.
- Fish should be canned immediately or frozen until processed.
- For large game animals (deer), follow beef processing times and methods.
- For small game animals and birds, follow poultry processing times and methods.
- Hot packing or raw packing of product in canning jars is an option in recommended recipes, with a preference toward hot packing of meat and poultry.
- Always follow tested methods: see sources in sidebar.
Roughin’ It Lite
Roughin' It Lite is a collection of healthy camping recipes brought to you by the South Dakota Departments of Health and Game, Fish and Parks to help you enjoy the Great South Dakota Outdoors and live healthy.
Cooking with wild game
The most succulent wild game can be destroyed by improper handling in the field or improper cooking at home. The handling of the meat from the harvesting to preparing can make a major difference in flavor and safety of the end product. Check this publication for information on proper care and cookery of wild game so you can fully enjoy the fruits of the field.
Game animals lead active lives. As a result, their muscles are relatively lean. This makes game meat drier than domestic meat. For this reason, it is important to use cooking methods that add juiciness and flavor to the drier cuts of game meat. Game meat is generally cooked the same way as a similar cut of lean beef or poultry. Learn more.
Game meat is heart healthy
- Most game meat has significantly fewer calories than domestic grain-fed beef, pork and chicken
- Game meat has much more lean body tissue than domestic meat.
- Game meat generally has less saturated fat
- The most important benefit is that game has a significantly higher content of polyunsaturated fat than domestic meat, especially beef and pork.
- Game is high in EPA which is thought to reduce the risk of developing atherosclerosis which is one of the major risk factors for heart attack and stroke.
- Bison is listed as one of the five best and most healthful foods for women due to its high iron and low fat content.
- Bison has less fat and less cholesterol than skinless chicken, and is low in other fats.
- Elk meat is low in sodium. It is a good source of niacin, Vitamin B6, and phosphorus, protein, Vitamin B12 and Zinc