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Outdoor Term of the Week: ‘Gamey’ Meat

Many taste wild game meat and describe it as ‘gamey,’ meaning they don’t prefer it. But it actually may not be the meat, it may be due to the rupturing of the subcutaneous tarsal gland.

The reason wild game tastes differently than farmed meat is due to their diet. Obviously, an animal thats diet consists of wild nuts, grasses and berries is going to taste differently than cows that have been eating the same grains for decades. Gaminess is also found in the animal’s fat, which is usually trimmed away.

But when people say they don’t like the taste of a certain game meat because it is too “gamey,” there may more of a reason that they don’t like it.

The subcutaneous tarsal glands are located underneath the deer’s hindquarters, on the inside of its hind legs. This gland is what deer urinate on during the rut to help track their smell, determine dominance, and mark their territory. These smells are also what hunting scents are mimicking. These glands, when ruptured, are disgusting; a mix between pheromones and urine.

Deer Meat Cut Scheme

Sometimes, when hunters are not careful when they dress their game in the field, the gland is ruptured and the fluids from the glands tarnish the meat. Venison with an undesirable, sour taste to it can perhaps be attributed to a ruptured subcutaneous tarsal gland.

And if you haven’t read Steven Rinella’s “Meat Eater: Adventures from the Life of an American Hunter,” I highly suggest it. He noticed this correlation between “bad” game meat and the rupturing of the subcutaneous tarsal gland.

Tune in next week to learn another term of the week and be the most knowledgeable sportsman in all the land.

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Outdoor Term of the Week: ‘Gamey’ Meat