Tasty Venison

What Is Venison?

Did you know that venison refers to more than just deer meat? It can mean antelope, caribou, deer, elk, moose, pronghorn, and reindeer. When sold commercially, it usually refers to deer, at least in the USA, but the package should be specific as to the origin of the meat.

My personal preference as far as taste goes is elk or pronghorn over deer meat. The texture is barely noticeably different between these meats, but they each have their own unique flavor. On the other hand, my sister eats venison from deer regularly – and not just jerky, either.

The white-tailed deer is the most common big game animal hunted in North America. I grew up in New York and was familiar with white-tail deer. Here in Colorado, where I live now, we primarily have mule deer.

Many hunters process the meat themselves, while others bring it to a local processing plant to be cut into usable portions. In either case, most hunters set aside some of the meat to make jerky.

Elk lying down taken on a grass field taken in South Dakota.
Elk from South Dakota
Moose Bull in brush taken near Cottonwood Lake in Chaffee County Colorado.
Moose Bull at Cottonwood Lake in Colorado
Pronghorn facing the camera with trees in teh background. Sometimes referred to as antelope. The meat can be called venison.
Pronghorn in Custer State Park, South Dakota
Reindeer laying down in a grass field with huge rack on his head. Taken in South Dakota.
Reindeer from South Dakota
A Mule Deer grazing on green grass at Turner Farm in Buena Vista, Colorado. Venison jerky most commonly comes from deer.
Mule Deer Buck at Turner Farm in Buena Vista, CO

All Photos by James Laverty
©2007 & ©2022


No matter what type of venison meat you have on hand, you can use the following recipes with every type. Most recipes for venison can also be used for beef and buffalo and vice-versa.

Please read the section about drying meat for a better understanding of using these recipes.

Venison Jerky

  • 2 lbs. Venison
  • 1 c Soy sauce
  • 1 t Lemon juice
  • 1/2 t Black pepper
  • 1/4 t Garlic
  1. Cut the venison into strips approximately 1/4 x 1 x 8 inches.
  2. Mix all ingredients and marinate venison for about 10 hours, turning once every hour.
  3. Smoke venison on a grill until completely dry, or use an oven on low heat with venison spread out on a broiler pan.

NOTE: When drying meat for jerky, the more air around the meat strips, the better. When you hang the meat or use wire racks rather than a broiler pan or a baking sheet, you won’t have to turn the strips as often or at all.

The following recipe is a marinade you can use for venison – deer or elk, but it can be used for any red meat. The marinade is probably enough for two to four pounds of meat.

Deer Jerky Marinade

  • 3/4 C soy sauce
  • 1 C Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 Tb kosher salt
  • 2 Tb crushed black peppercorns
  • 2 Tbs Garam Masala
  • 1 Tb garlic powder
  • 1 Tb onion powder
  • *2 tsp Prague Powder #1

Combine in a blender.
Mix with sliced beef or venison in a container.
Refrigerate for 24-36 hours, mixing occasionally.
Dry about 15 hours at 125 F.

*I’m leaving this ingredient in the recipe how I received it, but, personally, I’m not too fond of Prague powder because it contains sodium nitrite and food coloring. The choice is yours. If you like, you can add two teaspoons of kosher salt instead.  

Venison Jerky #1

Sauce for 1-1/2 pounds of deer or elk meat.

  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/3 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp Black pepper
  • 1 tsp Accent
  • 1 tsp Onion powder
  • 1/4 c Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 c Soy sauce
  1. Using meat half frozen for easier slicing, slice in 1/8-inch strips with the grain, desired lengths.
  2. Cover with the above sauce and marinate overnight.
  3. Spread a single layer on an oven wire rack, using foil under to catch drippings.
  4. With the oven door cracked open and at the lowest temperature, bake for 6 – 8 hours.
  5. It may be eaten immediately. It becomes dryer when cold.

This should work with beef if you get the leanest beef available (Flank Steak, for example)

Venison Jerky #2

  • 3 lbs. Lean venison
  • 1 tb Salt
  • 1 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp Black pepper
  • 1/3 c Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 c Soy sauce
  • 1 tb Prepared mustard
  1. Cut venison into 1/2-inch wide and 1/4-inch-thick strips.
  2. Mix all other ingredients and pour over the meat.
  3. Marinate overnight.
  4. Remove from marinade and dry with paper towels.
  5. Place in oven. The pilot flame will dry jerky in a gas oven in 4 days.
  6. In a 200-degree electric oven, leave in the oven until dry by feel.

This should also work for beef if you get the leanest beef possible (Flank Steak, for example).

Note: I don’t recommend using the 4-days with a pilot light. There is too much chance of bacteria forming unless you use a curing salt that contains sodium nitrite or a similar preservative.

Related Topics For You

Ingredients for Jerky

Dehydrating Meat for Jerky

Smoking Meats for Jerky

What Is Jerky Homemade?