There are so many reasons why we love deer hunting that it's difficult to list them all. Chief among them is the preparation, the chase, and the hard-earned victory of a deer on the ground. Even while we are field dressing a deer, we can already envision the backstraps and the tenderloins on a hot grill, and the smell of a good marinade as it sizzles in the heat. Call us crazy, but preparing, cooking, and eating our deer meat is a Zen experience second only to the hunt. When you cook your venison right, everyone knows it. There is nothing quite like perfectly cooked wild game, and when we do the task right, it's like the stars and planets have alined. We can't deny how much we love to eat wild whitetail, and there are some obvious signs that it was done just right.
1. Someone New to Venison Tried It, and Liked It
We can begin with the most obvious: if someone new to venison tried it and loved it, you can consider that a well-cooked piece of meat. In fact, if you can get folks who have sworn off wild game to at least try it and admit it's well-prepared, that's a big win. You don't want someone dealing with their preconceived notions of the flavor. According to their beef and chicken taste buds, wild game is earthy and gamey. That doesn't need to be a bad thing! Complement the tastes and flavors with the right ingredients and cooking style, and you're well on your way.
2. Clean Plates
You know those times when dinner is served and everyone stops talking and just keeps digging in? Like for a really long while? And nobody really picks up anymore conversation until the plates are completely clean? The first thing out of most mouths is often the question: 'Can I go for seconds?'
3. When There's a Battle Over the Last Piece
If you're like me, you can barely keep the food on the serving plate when you're dishing it up for a crowd. When you have a family that loves their wild game meat, it's fresh, and you've cooked it to perfection, you should just go ahead and decide who gets the last piece ahead of time. Many times, as the parent, you can avoid a fight between siblings by dolling out equal portions and sticking to your guns. It's just that it then leaves you and your partner to battle it out.
4. When it's Exactly a 2-Beer Grilling Time
Don't worry, we're not suggesting that you chug your beer too quickly, it's just that I've found the time it takes to drink two beers, each from a pint glass, is usually the proper amount of time to helicopter over your fine venison while it's on the grill. Heck, lemonade or ice water in the same amounts work just as well, but I just prefer an adult beverage (or two).
5. When You're Already Planning the Next Meal
Most deer hunting seasons close right before or just after the start of the New Year, and for some of us, February is usually when we start getting creative. We have spent so much time perfecting the correctly cooked product, we're usually discussing the next wild game meal while we're in the process of eating the current one. That's a sure sign you're doing it right.
Obviously, you should remember to cook your wild venison to an internal temperature of around 130 to 140 degrees, and overcooking is a surefire way to ruin a venison dish. You will need to keep and eye on it because venison is low in fat, will dry out quickly, and has little forgiveness if you manage to cook most cuts for too long.
Wild deer meat is excellent for grilling, but can be prepared in so many versatile ways. When you do it right, it can be restaurant-worthy and a true representation of what a good venison meal is all about. With so many ways to enjoy it, it's no wonder why we love deer hunting so much!
Getting out there and hunting deer is surely our favorite passion, but watching friends and family enjoy its delicious texture and flavor comes in at a close second.
Please check out my book "The Hunter's Way" from HarperCollins. Be sure to follow my webpage, or on Facebook and YouTube.