Contributors to this thread:
How to make pronghorn taste beter
I have shot a fair number of antelope and always dutifully brought the meat home and we consumed it. The first one was quite good. The rest of them have been nasty. No matter how careful I've been to take care of the meat and keep the hair off of the meat they just have ended up nasty tasting.
I've eaten antelope meat taken by others and it was no better, yet in his book "The Perfect Shot, North America: Shot Placement for North American Big Game", Craig Boddington says that he considers pronghorn to be the finest big game meat in North America. Go figure.
So, do you of you folks know any secrets to turning pronghorn meat into something that actually tastes good?
In my opinion pronghorn are some of the best table fare available. I've often heard that people don't like them and never understood why. My process is to get them skinned and cooled as soon as possible. it has been as simple as that for me. I am curious what others have to say.
I've eaten my own and a couple steaks from other hunter friends. They've all been nothing less than excellent.
I should clarify that as soon as possible for me is usually within an hour or so of the kill. I usually have a large cooler and ice waiting at the truck.
I have never had a bad pronghorn! Some were really good. For a reference I did not grow up eating game meat. Also I really don't like mule deer, too gamey.
Every pronghorn we have killed has been deboned or quartered and on ice asap. Non longer than 1 hour after the kill til the cooler is closed!
How long til you get them on ice?
Also, what they consume directly affects the taste of the meat. Antelope I have eaten that grazed largely upon grass was MUCH better than those eating sage. A big difference in my experience.
I have eaten many Nevada pronghorn. Never had a bad one incl one that a friend of my dad gut shot and then ran miles.
Gotta get it cooled out. That said, I have never put one in a cooler either. Skin it, hang it, and let it cool in the shade hopefully with a breeze, then cover with tarp and sleeping bags. Open and hang to cool at night, then wrap up again. Pretty easy and no problems.
antelope need to be skined with in 30 mins of the kill. never had a bad one except when the hide was on over night
I normally shoot mine in wheat, millet, or Milo fields most times while im standing in a corn field. I believe the grain helps the taste but the pasture goats are good too!
This topic comes up at least once a year.
I've never had a bad pronghorn. It's hands down my favorite game meat. I've killed them from different areas and they were all great.
I did have them cooled relatively quickly, but some stayed in the back of the truck with only a bag of ice in the chest cavity.
As others have said, get it cooked quickly. It'll be great. That's the driving force once they hit the ground. It should be that way with any meat. God Bless
I have only eatin once, it was made into a meatloaf. I thought it was very good.
worst thing I ever attempted to eat. Paid to butcher it, and ship to the east coast...............threw it out after one bite
When I lived in Wyoming I ate a bunch of them and they were all good. As mentioned, they need to be cooled out and skinned ASAP.
If I had any game that was not too good out there it was some of the mule deer. The ones we killed off grain fields were very good. The sage brush ones not so much.
But that said, NOTHING beats a midwest whitetail that's lived it's whole life no more than a 1/4 mile from corn/beans/wheat/acorns!
I've killed 3 antelope
2 were exceptional (South Dakota)
1 was worse than a coyote (Colorado)
I know how to handle meat, the CO goat was just old, tough, no fat at all, tough even to skin. OLD antelope
I agree get them skinned and broken down and on ice ASAP. That said they can't beat elk, whitetail or a nice young bear.
It all depends on how old they are what they are eating and how you take care of them after the shot. Have shot a few in eastern colorado that are eating in the wheat/corn and they taste great.
Shot a middle aged one last year in Wyoming that was in a predominant sage area BUT there was some good grass around. Shot wasnt 100% and he took 5-10 minutes before he was down, and I left him sit for another 30min. But right after that, he was skinned and on ice. Had him made into Italian sausage, and is quite tasty.
Also shot a really nice older one in Wyoming west of baggs. he dropped on the shot and was skinned in 30 minutes, and hanging in a cooler in hour and 30 minutes. This fella was not fit to eat, so he got ground up and mixed with a bunch of beef burger and made into different sausages...
All you can do is do your best, then hope for the best.
I'd have to agree with Outdoor Life when they said Antelope tasted better than whitetail. The one I shot in Colorado and the other one I brought home that another hunter shot were both very tasty.
I've never had a bad one either, and I've killed some gnarly old bucks in sagebrush country. But my hunting partner's wife shot a doe in the same valley where we kill all the rest, died quickly, skinned and cooled quickly. Not only was it awful tasting, but the whole house smelled when they tried to cook it..
No plausible explanation.
They are my favorite big game. As said above they need to be taken care of quickly, cooled down fast and kept clean. Most that I know of that tasted bad were the ones people left the skin on, drove around to show off and taken care of later. My wife always asks when I am going lope hunting again. She loves them.
Gutless method. Only take the good. Use nitrile or latex gloves and watch what you are touching. Get it in the cooler or cold freezer within a half hour of it hitting the dirt! Maybe I have been lucky but all 15 or so that I have had some roll in harvesting, taking care of, or eating have been great. All from central WY or SD during archery season and a mixture of bucks and does.
Like stated get the hide off them as soon as possible. Also get a bowl and put one egg beaten and milk in it and soak it for about fours in the fridge. It usually takes the sage taste out of the meat.
I have killed antelope and what I have noticed is the flavor tends to worsen the longer they are frozen. I never quite understood this theory but my wife said the same.
I have been quick to get the hide off, gutted, and cooled. the first few meals they were fine. a few weeks or month goes by, grab a steak, thaw it slowly and it tastes different. ??
If you run them all over the country first the lactic acid buildup in the muscles will affect the meat. A resting animal will taste much better.Some years we age ours up to 10 days depending on the weather for hanging meat. Cool it asap and then age it. Taking it directly to a processor may be handy but not what gets you quality cuts. They do not have time to age the carcass. Burger and sausage cuts should be aged only a short time to prevent drying loss.
I've shot a lot of antelope and ALL have been good. We are relentless about how we handle.
If you don't get them into cooler with ice ASAP that's your first big mistake and likely the reason for the bad taste.
If you put in cooler did you wash off meat after butchering? If not, that might be your problem.
Did you use the same knife that you used for gutting and skinning?
Did you handle that rack a bunch and then butcher before washing your hands?
All of the above could be reasons.
My wife who has a very sensitive taste buds loves antelope and is her favorite of any game I have brought home.
I also do believe that a very small number of people have an adverse reaction to certain chemicals in certain animals (like Cilantro that tastes like soap to me) - my theory is not proven nor studied but I believe it why certain people think wild game taste "gamey".
I've never had a bad pronghorn. even people who are not into game meat have raved about 'lope.
"1 was worse than a coyote (Colorado)"
You musta been hungry to eat a coyote
Sage Buffalo has it right
My wife and I each took an antelope last year. We were on the same hunt as HockeyDad by the way. After field pictures, we skinned, deboned and iced both within an hour of the kill. Our meat was excellent maybe better than our Ohio whitetails.
Every antelope I've eaten have been delicious! Quick bow kill and then butchered and on ice immediately!
Looks like the majority like antelope. I'm with them ! The first one I ever killed was near Ft. Davis, Texas years ago, and I didn't see much they could eat besides dirt. They were in a bad drought, all the ponds were dry, and the goats were drinking out of the cattle troughs. I've killed several since then from sage to alfalfa ( in Wyoming ) and all have been delicious.
What we do : First guy that kills calls or texts the other. If he has no goats in front of him, the guy that killed picks him up and they both go to work on the goat, getting him skinned and on ice quickly. We leave them on ice, draining water and replenishing ice a couple times each day while on the way back home. I may leave it on ice a day after I get back, and then butcher. Ain't had a bad one yet.
I've enjoyed all but one of the pronghorn I've killed ... and that one was a 1.5 year old buck on alfalfa in Nebraska.
The others: all on sage. Many were rutting. Some were skinned quickly, some after a couple days. Some were killed quickly, and some unfortunately required follow up.
They've all been good. My wife (a former non-meat-eater) now claims pronghorn is the best -- better than elk.
I agree with all of the points, ie,
1. age of animal= younger the better
2. processing==asap and then quickly on ice
3. there they are hunted== age, food, water, da, da, da,
4. what they eat= good forage less sage
5. length of time to die.= a few /seconds/minutes and within sight
6/ Yep, bacon
7. not well done!!!!!!!!!!!!!! med rare for sure.
It is always difficult when skinning but try not to touch horns or hide then meat. The oil and glands on antelope seem to taint the meat much more than other animals.
Paul makes another point that is so very true, how it's cooked makes a huge difference.
Everyone I know that doesn't like pronghorn or even any game for that matter likes their beef medium to well done. That doesn't work for game meat.
I for one never could get into the bacon wrapping, I think the flavor of the meat itself is great and I don't want to mask that with bacon. Now a good hickory smoke on a pronghorn backstrap.....oh yeah!!
Bear Track's Link
Yea, and no Katchup!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Email me for my marinade and you won't be posting this again. Emails only, thanks.
I love antelope. Never had a bad one. Like Paul, I cook them rare to medium rare.
I'm always shocked when somebody says antelope meat is not that tasty, its fantastic like these guys are saying!skin, quarter, and ice asap we shot 3 last season from field to cooler on ice in less than 1 hour and then to a good butcher and you should have some of the finest cuts of meat and burger to enjoy with friends and family, just kidding its nasty don't waste your time!!
Never had a bad one, just smoked 2 roasts today cause I had never smoked one, EXCELLENT! Get pictures get hide off put in cooler!
I have had pronghorn/Antelope 3 times.
The first time was at Sandbrews house and it was freaking amazing! Sweetest red meat I've ever eaten.
The other 2 times was at a restaurant in Colorado called The Fort. Both of those meals were just as good.
When I was talking to John/Sandbrew he told me the key was to get the animal skinned as soon as you can. As BigDan said he said it needs to be done within 20-30 minutes or it will be extremely Gamey tasting.
I only hunted antelope once,but it was delicious! The wife even loved it!
I just mentioned this thread to my wife, and she said the best way to make antelope taste better was to eat more of it !
My first one was a sage eater and tasted great. The second, I only had one steak and then unknowingly lost power to the freezer and the rest was wasted. The last one, FEDEX was to overnight it to Virginia. They lost it and it arrived thawed with blood soaking through the box. At least that one was insured and FEDEX paid off $500, no questions asked because they know they screwed up.
stealthycat and HockeyDad, All of my pronghorns have been taken in Colorado north and west of Craig (as far west as Maybell). The season used to coincide with the rut and that may have been part of the problem. Since this hunt will be in late August, the rut shouldn't impact the meat.
I should be hunting 30 minutes drive (perhaps a little more) from the meat processor that I will use for it. So, should be able to get it cooled out quickly.
BTW - we both really liked my mountain goat and they are considered by many to be inedible.
Reading the posts, it reads to me that the "secret" is to get them skinned and iced down as soon as possible and preferably all done within an hour.
For you guys that have gone on guided antelope hunts, how realistic is it to achieve this? I'm thinking once you make the shot, wait a little bit, track it and then clean it up for some pics, then call guide and get it brought back to the camp and then more pics and then cleaned and put on ice that you are looking at several hours.
I'm curious how those antelopes tasted after going through the above scenario.
Only lope I've eaten was very good! I do think what animals have been eating effects things some. (if you don't think so, I believe bears that have been eating fish is the only meat NOT required to be salvaged in AK)
And I think the "tainted" meat theory has legs. Feral goats much the same. Those I have heard that had bad lope complained about even the smell of it when cooking, like Lou's friends. Having seen a good many folks skin/debone animals.... all are not created equal. Hair all over from cutting hide outside in, some looked like rolled in the dirt, much less hands that touched hair/glands touching the meat.
Seeing what a pretty famous and hard core bowhunter did once.... we were cranking him pretty good about what a great idea it was to premake the salad to go with the meat (it was covered in green grass....)
In Namibia, my wife learned a trick from an outfitter's wife. Any game meat that they are going to serve to guests they pack (marinate) in yogurt overnight.
I've tried doing that with ducks and it really improved the taste. I'm thinking of trying that with my goat - assuming that I get one.
Stop cooking on medium heat.
Cook it fast on high heat and leave in medium or medium rare. IMO, people over-cook wild game and complain about it being "gamy and tough"
JeffMartin, The other option to hot and fast is low and slow. I tend to lean toward the second more often. Also, I like to use a meat thermometer to eliminate the guess work about how done the meat is.
Mtgoat. Try this trick. Soak the meat in buttermilk for about half an hour before you cook it. It really seems to draw some of the strong flavor out of the meat. I have never had a single person not enjoy Antelope when prepared this way. I like it as is , but if you get a tough, strong tasting one or are feeding people who are squeamish about eating it, give buttermilk a try.
I guess I need to get back out and hunt them again. The only one I've killed wasn't great, but wasn't bad either. I certainly wouldn't rate it much better or worse than our whitetails. I've got several points for them in WY. I may have just decided on a hunt for next year.
Next to wild sheep it's the best wild game there is. But I've only eaten around twenty so I might be bias. My family loves them cooked for about six hours in a crock pot(low heat)with a spicy barbecue sauce added during cooking.
Never eaten pronghorn but if they are anything like whitetails they must be cooled asap or they get that "wild" taste
I've killed them clean and cooled them fast, but if they were near/in the rut, the taste was still awful no matter what I did (marinades, yogurt, buttermilk, etc.). Therefore, I stop hunting them early/mid-September.
As others have said, what they've been eating (sage vs. alfalfa) has also made a difference.
When I married my wife she hated red meat. Now she eats it, and antelope is her favorite. I shot one in the middle of October last year that tastes exceptional. Gutless method and on ice back at the truck within 60 minutes of the shot. Salt, pepper, olive oil, grill it rare...DO NOT cook it past medium, heck, don't cook anything past medium!!!
I like the gutless method but take it one step further. I bone it out right there on the spot and game sack it after it cools.
I keep and braintan the hide so I do a good job of skinning it. I skin out one side and lay the hide out behind the carcass and put the meat on it as I bone it out.
You can also leach it. After you bone it out and leave, find a stream and clean and wash all the meat in the cold water. Do not soak it of course. Just long enough to really cool it down further. Then put it back in the game sacks wet. Hang the sacks in the field or garage and let it drip. repeat another time or two.
I kill at least two every year, most times I kill four. I shoot it, quarter it, toss it in a cooler. When I get home I separate every muscle to remove the fat pockets and membranes, then fillet the dried casing off the outer muscles. Steaks get tossed in a pan with nothing but olive oil.
For antelope you have to start before daylight. Get up and hike up one side of a mountain and down the other, at lunch time check you pack and find that you forgot to pack your lunch. Hike back up of the mountain and down the other side and get home about an hour past dark. That antelope is going to taste great then no matter how its cooked.
Maybe I've been lucky, however Mtgoat maybe your killing it twice??
"The other option to hot and fast is low and slow. I tend to lean toward the second more often."?
I killed a buck last year, however I had a good gust of wind and a bad shot at 6:30 am. I tried to get on him all day again, but there were too many other people pushing him around. Found it the next morning at 9:00 am however i don't believe he died till dusk or that night. Coyotes ate out his A**hole, he had rigor mortis starting in his neck? Don't know how long he had been there? It was August 16, 75 during the day above 50 at night. Olive oil, rosemary, salt hot grill 2-3m per side it tasted great!!!!
Going again in 11 days!!
I always get a kick when you talk to people and they say "Oh I had deer - a guy at work gave me some deer sausage - tasted great!!"
If you've ever made sausage and see the amount of spices and cures that goes into a sausage you'll understand that you could make sausage out of your computer screen and it will taste great. It's like battering and deep frying. Sure it will taste different than beef or pork sausage but is not a good measure of whether an animal tastes great imo.
Maybe its a genetic taste thing?
The tips are great and the best tip of all is shoot does, medium to small. I have 5 wyoming tags, one buck four does.
Shed Head Maybe I've been lucky, however Mtgoat maybe your killing it twice??
I'm just relying on what I've learned with other animals. The owner of a local chain of BBQ restaurants taught me that low heat (250-ish) gives the tissue more time to break down and the collagen to do its thing. Also, it renders a lot of the fat.
Whether a smoker or a crock pot, low heat for a long time does seem to break down the tissue for very tender meat. Marinades with acid (vinegar, wine, apple juice) will also help to tenderize.
Hot & fast also works, but you need to be starting out with a tender cut.
As far as strong flavor, getting rid of fat and bone is a good place to start. Next, yogurt or (as Brun suggested) buttermilk can also help. They may also tenderize - not sure about that.
A lot of replies.... As most have already said, my first thought when I saw the thread title: Get the hide off asap. Then immediately debone and let cool in the fridge.
I think the hide is the #1 factor in nasty tasting meat on an antelope. They don't call em' stink bucks for nothing!
I agree 100% it is best to get the hide off, deboned, and on ice as quick as possible. As for as cooking, the grill is the way to go. I prefer a little salt and liquid smoke to marinate. This has been our choice, no matter which cut of the antelope.
My kids prefer antelope burger over any other meat, including beef or elk.
If you get the meat chilled, deboned, and on ice immediately, it really doesn't need anything else.
I've always said, I wish antelope was as big as an elk. We prefer the meat.
^ "I've always said, I wish antelope was as big as an elk. We prefer the meat. "
Just gotta kill more of em'! ;)
I have eaten off of likely 75 antelope in my life and ONE was a LITTLE gamey.....young buck shot on a cold day...walking not stressed...
The rest have been great...tied with elk for taste and tenderness
So, I'm reading through these and seeing consistency with suggestions but here's what I don't get: How the heck do you ice an antelope w/i an hour, yet alone 30 minutes??
I'm only guessing here but I take it antelope hunting is a "private land/trespass fee, home every night, load the cooler with ice before heading out for the day, road hunt for an antelope, drive up to it to dress it" style hunting for most of you guys?
Hell, I'm expecting to be at least 20 minutes (and would be tickled shitless if I got one that close to a road!!) just to hike back to my parked vehicle after dropping one to get the pack frame, then 20 minutes to get back to the animal, then another 20 for the first load back to the vehicle. That's an hour, not even including time to field dress it, at best if able to haul all meat back in 1 load. No way in hell allowed to just drive off the road across public land to the animal to load it. And nowhere near a town buying ice every day or 2.
Sure you guys aren't stretching this truth just a bit too far, did I figure your hunting style correctly, or what the heck am I missing here?
I'm with ASCTLC here. I posted a similar comment/question wondering how good the meat will be when hunting with an Outfitter since I would imagine it's several, several hours before you can get one iced down by the time you wait after the shot, recover the animal, call then wait on guide to pick you up, bring it to the lodge then take pics and then clean it........I'm thinking several hours in this scenario before you can get one iced down.
Just get it on ice as soon as possible. I will let the meat soak in the ice for a couple of days. I add ice and keep the water drained out as needed. This renders a lot of the blood out. Makes a big difference, IMO. I do this with all big game.
Antelope is one load. If I want I can wear my eberlestock and carry out a head, cape, and deboned meat in one trip. I usually use my smaller camel bak and just hike back to my jeep for a frame.
Most hunting can and is done in relatively flat terrain and not far from roads so getting meat out isn't too time consuming. The biggest thing is getting the hide off the meat and not handling the glands AND the meat with the same dirty hands.
If the outfitter can't get to you and your kill immediately than you are going to have to get your hands dirty. I doubt any outfitter is going to leave a kill for several hours.
I have had two experiences with antelope first one we ate was very good, I shot Acouple that were eating sage they were uneatable. In my opinion it's what there eating that makes the taste and also the care like others posted.
As many have said, heat and moisture are the enemies of meat care. Both promote bacterial growth.
If it's hot, then skinning an animal in the field and getting the meat on ice makes sense, and I've done it that way. But if it's cold, you have other options.
One year in late October it was cold and I killed an antelope in the late afternoon. We were on foot and far from camp. I chose to simply gut the animal and with the help of a partner hang in it tree overnight (I realize trees may not exist in a lot of antelope country). We skinned it the next day and packed it out. That antelope was one of the best I've ever eaten.
Several of the more recent antelope I've killed were taken in warm weather and were skinned immediately and iced. These then sat in ice/icy water for several days (I did periodically drain the water). These antelope were marginally "gamey", not bad, but they did faintly possess that characteristic gamey odor and taste of some antelope. I believe the time they spent marinating in bloody water is the main culprit. Bacteria love bloody water.
In summary I don't think removing the hide immediately is necessary for producing the best eating antelope, or other game meat for that matter. In fact the hide protects the meat from dirt and moisture loss. All my whitetails hang with the hide on for 1-2 weeks before butchering. Of course this requires you actually gut the animal, which in this era of gutless/boneless craze, may be a lost art.
I rarely skin mine the same day and I've never noticed a difference from it. I've served it to "antelope haters" and they always raved about it.
Its all about how they die, if they die bad, they'll taste bad, if they die quick they'll taste good.
I'd get the wrapper off them ASAP and get them cooled down.
I've killed and eaten 3 antelope so my sample isn't big but they were all good. The one was a rutting buck in sage flats killed with a rifle. We walked up to him and he smelled like p!$$. He was skinned out and deboned in probably and hr and a half and he tasted great. God bless Wyoming!