honestly the difference between most (not all) wild ungulates is more between the ears than on the palate
Don't know as I can agree with that... I can definitely tell the difference between a buck shot in the mountains and one shot here in the valley. The moose I shot last fall would give anyone's jaws a workout.... tough doesn't begin to describe it. Compared to the caribou I ate, it was night and day. The moose had great flavor, but when I shoot another one the whole thing will be put into burger! I'll also take a deer killed here in the valley over an elk.... The meat is much more tender. The deer in the valley have all kinds of feed...corn, alfalfa, oats, forbs, browse, etc. An antelope killed in a winter wheat field or stubble is better yet... Kill one that's been eating sage all fall and my dogs turn their nose up at it.
Bou- you know better. I think I can recall you reporting shooting Caribou, Moose, and Bison. These tasted the same to you?
I have shot Antelope, Deer, Elk, and Quebec/Lab Caribou. These all tasted different. However, Caribou has always ranked best by those I've served it to.
I think it has more to do with meat preservation. I think that a lot of trophy hunters kill moose up here and they know they're going to donate the meat, so they don't take care of it, then donate it, and the people who eat it think it's because it was during the rut.
I've brought deer up that were killed during the middle of the rut (I'm probably the only hunter that brings game meat to AK and hasn't brought any home) and shared it with locals who share moose/caribou/salmon with me and they can't believe the animals were killed during the rut.
They also seem to not know much about tarsal glands, which all of these animals have. Lets just say, their meat processing methods leave a lot to be desired so I think that if they're killing these animals in September, it makes sense that they don't taste good. They do a lot of their hunting in early spring when there's still snow on the ground to use snow machines, but the days are long enough to hunt.
Well, I'll agree.
I think the main determinant is not gender, or age, or species ... but time of year.
An August animal putting on weight is generally very good regardless of just about anything else. An animal licking its wounds and trying to stave off starvation, even on corn, can be different-tasting. (I think that's the real reason for the common perception that rutting caribou are so "bad" to eat.)
Think about it. When do you want to kill a beef cow? After it's been fed in a way to put on fat. Even though game doesn't put on marbled fat like beef does, it still has more fat.
You want them when they are anabolic, not catabolic. Go for August and September, when the "grocery store" is still open to these critters.
I brought my red stag meat home from NZ.
Based on my experience (and that of many of my guests), I would disagree. I suppose it depends on the individual palate, but a dall sheep will have a very different taste and character than a deer as an example. The caribou I ate had a finer grain than most other meats, which is distinctive. And I can usually smell bull elk in the meat even when carefully cared for.
I don't think that many would disagree when comparing sheep to caribou....but within the Genus Rangifer, differentiation might be more of a challenge....
Antelope- they are tough and smelly, especially if eating sage.
Mule deer bucks - tough and smelly
Rutting bull elk - smell like hell and tough as boots.
Whitetail bucks from the timber country don't taste as good as farm country whitetails.
Rutting moose are strong and smelly.
And I've eaten lots of all of the above and it was all good to great.
Only really bad animal was a pronghorn I hit poorly (no excuse, I just pulled an easy shot) and had to physically run down for about an hour to finish.
...and people who say the meat is so strong their dogs won't eat it obviously don't have Labs. :-)
Never had caribou but hope to in a few weeks when I go on my first trip for them on the quebec tundra .with Ungava Adventures
I process 2 or 3 whitetails a year myself; mostly into cube steak and hamburger, and it is very good. You really cant tell much of a difference between a doe and buck except in tenderness. Loin slabs battered in house autrey flour, lemon pepper,and deep fried till if floats is hard to beat and extremely tender.
I had some New Brunswick moose loin this fall that was killed during the rut and it was awesome. Buffalo steaks are served in alot of nice steak houses out west and are extremely good.
The biggest factor I have seen with all game meat is how you treat and process it. I know alot of folks do not like rare to medium rare but in my opinion, thats the only way any ungulate should be cooked, after that it starts getting tough no matter how you cook it.