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Braggin' deer or eatin deer
I shot two deer this week. One was a large bodied 9 pointer the other a small doe. When I went to cut them up, my wife came by and asked "What's that smell?" The big deer was semi rank, though I have got him on ice a few hours after I shot him. I cooked a piece and the flavor was quite strong.
Then I cooked apiece of the little doe, and she was a sweet as the other small deer I usually shoot.
I always tell my hunting buddies who are constantly busting on me for the size of deer that I shoo that there and only two kinds of deer, bragign' deer and eating deer. Most of the time, I'd rather have a freezer full of sweet meat than another set of horns on the wall. Every once in a while I switch up when it's too goo to pass, but generally I'd go with the little ones.
Lots of guy would prefer the little one until the big one comes by. ;)
I find most large bucks to be edible.
I'm a meat hunter from a very young age. My father taught me well. It was my chores to catch fish for supper or kill pidgins at the tobacco barns breasted out and ready to cook. We eat a lot of critters & fish in my house.
I kill does for food. If a buck is big enough or unique enough I'll kill it but in my older age I'd almost rather just admire them than eat them.
Last season I killed a pretty buck he was rutted up so bad you could smell him from 20 yards We ate the loins & backstraps. I ground the rest and donated it to the local church that cooks meals for the needy 3 nights a week
Some of the best eating deer I've ever had were big mature bucks shot in the peak of the rut. An old doe I shot once was kind of chewy and tough and needed the Jaccard treatment on every piece.. But I can't recall ever having one that was "bad", whitetail or muley.
I think it's how they die, and how you treat them after the kill. I had a liver shot buck that was recovered the next day (cool weather), and rigor mortis had hardly sunk in, so not dead long. It had a flavor I'd describe as acrid or how rust smells. I've also shot mature deer that were as fine as a yearling. I have to believe the death has much to do with it, and how you handle the deer during the butchering process, because I cannot tell the difference between a yearling doe and a mature rutting buck. Perhaps diet could have a play in it, but farmland deer where I hunt, I've yet to see a difference?
Neither, deer are for people who don't have elk in the freezer! It's been a long time since I've eaten a deer.
Every palate is different I guess. I’ve killed some big rutted up mule deer bucks that we simply couldn’t eat, so I donated them to the local boy scout ranch. But I was raised eating deer that were killed in the first rifle seasons before the rut, so I’m probably more picky about my venison than some folks.
I have never had a bad eating whitetail in my life.
I'm fortunate where I live. We have a lot of deer here in cow country and we get a lot of tags for anterless. We have plenty of young, dumb yummy deer in the freezer but I seldom fill my buck tag. For that I want a mature deer.
I should add, I've never killed a whitetail buck that wasn't delicious, even in the rut. Or an elk, for that matter. There's just something about a rutted up mature mule deer buck in my area that doesn't make good table fare for me and my wife. That unmistakable musky smell seems to permeate the meat. I wish it wasn't the case, because I love killing mature mule deer bucks in the rut, but it always feels a little wasteful when I end up donating the meat.
If the meat is kept clean and no hair or gland oils get on it. And if properly cooked I can’t tell the difference. Just more meat on a mature animal. I do however shoot does at my place because of the herd Imbalance
Stir fry doesn’t discriminate:)
Matt have you tried soaking that meat in buttermilk?
I've become an antelope eater myself....when I can get them. ;-)
Dana, we’ve tried everything, trust me. Even spaghetti sauce made with the venison burger has the rutty taste. I can still eat it, but my wife won’t. It’s honestly caused a lot of conflicting feelings for me, because I was raised to eat everything I kill.
Never had a mature whitetail that was bad even during rut. Tough maybe, but not strong.
Ever since I started processing my deer about 10 years ago, buck or doe the meat has tasted fantastic. Mostly OH and PA deer so definitely near farms. A lot has to happen from the moment an animal or fish for that matter dies to the time it hits your dinner plate. I'm talking large mature bucks too. I've never hunted mule deer so I can't speak on them.
tobywoncanobie, for the win... chef kiss!
tobywon makes me hungry...
Thanks guys, it didn't last long with 2 teenage kids. As far as bad deer, my brother shot a buck in PA many years ago that tasted so strong we couldn't eat it. I don't know if this guy was eating pine or something, but it was very strong. It had an unusually dark rack and its snout was one of the shortest the taxidermist said he ever saw. Wasn't a monster by any means, it was the one and only deer that I can remember having a strong flavor.
I've shot around 60 or so whitetails. Of all of them, I couldn't stand to eat two of them. They were the two biggest bucks I ever shot. Every other deer, whether mature buck or small doe were delicious.
I've shot a lot of whitetails and only a few have been less than savory. Usually a mature rutted up buck (every few years maybe) and once an old doe from WV that was really tough for some reason.
If I get an older animal I'll use it for sausage or jerky or meat sticks/summer sausage. I often take a gallon bag of steaks/chops to my local club for the grille and none of it goes to waste. Most of the non hunters comment that they never knew how tender/tasty wild game meat is (when it's prepared/taken care of correctly).
The last thing I want to do is donate the nasty tasting or tough stuff to a local food bank or church for mostly non-hunters to enjoy? Give them a good one instead. No wonder so many people say wild game meat doesn't taste very good and turn their nose up at it. Find a raptor rehab or animal rehab facility nearby to donate that to, or a local trapper who can use it for bait if it's that bad.
Honestly I've never had a bad deer or musky deer. I've killed a good enough number of bucks in their prime or old to be surprised how great the meat was. For a number of years if I shot a buck I knew was old I'd mark the packages different just so I could distinguish as I ate. If anything I went in with the bias they'd be bad, but they were always great. On average I'd say my best eating deer was the 240lb dressed buck I shot last year cause he had the most meat lol.
Though I will say there is something special about shooting this year's fawn. I do shoot them sometimes cause they are really really tasty and extra tender.
I agree with Pete on the circumstances of the kill/death of the animal playing a role in taste. I've been lucky in that every deer I've taken home had a quick death and short trail. (I have lost a couple through the years that probably weren't fatal hits, or the coyotes ran them out of the county before I could get on the trail, so I'm not claiming to be perfect...just lucky). I've never had a bad tasting deer, and I've killed yearling does up to a 180" buck. However, my cousin shot a pretty nice buck through the back knees one time. Ended up completely breaking the right leg bone. We tracked that buck for about 4 miles total that day. We kept bumping him and catching up all through the river bottom. He finally stood up and was so gassed he couldn't run anymore... Cousin put a finishing arrow in him to seal the deal. The only way I can describe the flavor of that meat was sour. I was surprised when he was freely giving away meat off his first decent buck, until I tasted it. I believe the adrenaline and lactic acid from the stressful last hours of his life caused the bad taste.
I applaud people for trying, but if it tastes like crap with little more than salt and pepper, soaking it in some vodou sauce isn't going to get past my sense of taste. The term garbage in, garbage out applies. Luckily it doesn't happen very much, if at all, but I can remember one large deer and a sheep that were inedible.
I've lived in Big Buck Country all my life (Illinois home state & now Iowa). I was never a horn hunter, I took what the man upstairs sent down the trail. I DO NOT have very many what most consider a BIG BUCK (I've been bowhunting over 6 decades now). NOW, I no longer shot Does & set a personal goal at least 10 years ago for my next Buck (yes, head gear wise). WHY? I've been blessed with many whitetails including many Does & a wide variety of Bucks. I get a 1/4 beef every year so have no need to arrow a Deer for meat.. I have no problems with anyone taking any Deer they want. I have always been a bowhunter, not a Braggin deer getter.
When you cut them up you can smell the difference and taste it. I likes does better ! Some Guys will eat shoe leather and tell you it tender!
I cut up a deer few years ago with alot of hemlock in gut, meat smelled of it as well. Not good.
A PM I received brings about an interesting point. For those of you that have had bad meat were you the one that controlled the processing field to table? I know I have had deer where guts are shot through or whatever, or a frontal what not, and then I take my time to ensure all gut matter is removed, washed out etc. I can imagine if that sat in the cavity for a day or two it could get bad real quick. Or if hair sits on meat etc. Hands going from glands then touching meat also a no-no.
I control the whole process, field to table, I'm anal about it and never had a bad one. I have however, had a moose that tasted rutty. Attributed that to must have had something touch the meat. After they piss all over themselves you have to be super super careful and I must not have been careful enough.
They are all both to me....bragging deer and eating deer.
Never shot one I wasn't excited for and proud of and never ate a bad one either.... buck or doe.
The buck I killed last year was stinky on the outside and the meat was a little “off” the first meal we had. I had always heard about soaking it in milk for an hour or so in the fridge so I tried it. It works ! No more strong taste.
What supernaut said. To me, I get excited about making a good clean shot, whether a big buck or doe.
Complete honesty... I'm hunting big bucks and cool experiences. I fill the freezer with fish, duck, dove, rabbits, etc. Deer hunting is different than hunting other stuff. Don't know why, just is.
I hunt for horns as well ..
I prefer large does and got one last week. I will shoot a big buck and the crock pot makes the meat very tender no matter how old the buck is. I normally let the bucks pass to shoot a doe. The only thing antlers are good for is to stir the soup.
Without getting into medical complexities, it is a fact individuals have unique tasting and olfactory senses. In other words, venison does not taste or smell the same to each individual. Then of course are the social complexities as well as texture.
Personally, I have never had unpalatable venison, but I much prefer properly fed beef, pork and poultry.
I’ve never eaten one that I thought tasted in any way “bad“.
That said… Around here, you get into late November or on into December when the bucks have precious little fat on them, and they don’t taste as good as the bucks that we used to get in Minnesota in the first week of November. And there’s not a single deer I have ever eaten that tasted any better than a fawn whitetail that I got with a roundball in the last minutes of the last day of muzzleloader season in 1999.
And FWIW, a bow-killed deer that crashes from massive blood loss seems to taste a bit better than one that goes down “instantly” or which stays on its feet long enough for a fight-or-flight rush to kick in. Epinephrine = vasodilation = more blood in the meat = not as good flavor, according to my own, personal set of tastebuds.
So I might guess that a deer that goes down primarily due to lung collapse could conceivably taste not quite as good as one that bled out after you’d opened up a really big artery.
Depending on a very long list of other considerations
I prefer to brag while I am eating. Making sure that my mouth isn’t full at the time, because that would be rude. :)
In my perfect scenario, the freezer is full of either moose or elk. All roasts and burger. My deer goes entirely to sausage and jerky - aside from the traditional deer fry of organs and t-loin, immediately after peeling off the hide.
I brag on eating deer and eat bragging deer