How to Cook Wild Game

Wild game meat can be a bit more difficult to cook than your average chicken breast. It requires some patience, but the result is worth it. Here are five wild game recipes you might want to try this fall and winter season as well!

The “how to prepare wild game meat” is a guide that will teach you how to cook wild game. This is a great article for beginners.

It’s 5:30 a.m. on a crisp autumn morning, and my phone is ringing nonstop. I hurry out of bed, slightly comatose/hungover, to see a photo of my pal, Miller Gunn, looking back at me on my iPhone. When Miller calls, I’m tempted to press the quiet button and go back to sleep, knowing that he’s probably in need of a ride home following a long night of honky-tonking on lower Broadway–again. And the only compensation I’ll get for this favor is a $1 morning burrito.

But this call is unique, so I take it. This early morning wake-up call will undoubtedly help me.

Aside from college football, there is another event in the autumn season that is one of my favorites: hunting season. Despite how bizarre it may seem, I must say that I’ve never been a big fan of hunting. Sure, I’ve gone on several deer, turkey, duck, and quail hunts in my time, but there’s just something about waking up at the crack of dawn and freezing my keister off that never appealed to me.

So, what is it about hunting season that I enjoy? Well, that’s simple: I like eating.

Perhaps this makes me less macho since I delegate the hunting and gathering to my pals while I focus on the cooking. Bite your tongue for a second–those words may be combative. So I’d rather call it what it is: you hunt, I cook.

I receive a lot of calls like this around this time of year, since my friends know that I’m always available and ready to handle their meat processing for free–well, nearly free. I instruct Miller Gunn (a terrific name for a hunter) to preserve the backstraps and hindquarters for me while we’re still in the woods.

Miller comes with his next kill within one hour. Even though I reside in Nashville, Tennessee, the stares he and I get as we drag a field-dressed deer out of his vehicle and into my downtown loft are enough to make you believe we’re in a Stephen King book. Nashville seems to have a far larger population of city dwellers than I had anticipated.

Cutting off the pieces of deer meat with knife.

Hours of cutting, slaughtering, processing, and eventually cooking followed. As I watched the Georgia Bulldogs waste yet another season, I ate venison chili to cheer them on. At the very least, the meal was delicious.

And so it goes: on a (fall) morning, I always answer my phone, no matter how early.

As a cook, I’m constantly excited to experiment with new foods. Fortunately, I have a few wonderful friends who give me with an unending supply of wild game all year. After a stay in New Mexico, Easton Corbin, a fellow country music performer, dropped six elk steaks on me only a few weeks ago. They were wonderful, as described below.


However, I’ve discovered that the vast majority of people are terrified of both preparing and eating wild wildlife. The phrase “that tastes gamey” is enough to turn most people off any food that isn’t their favorite beef, hog, or chicken. However, as more people get involved in the “local food movement” and learn about sustainable techniques, wild game gathering and preparation is becoming more popular than ever.

Keep in mind that I could write a whole book on wild game preparation and proper handling. Instead, I’m giving you some of my favorite “go-to” dishes for when I come upon such gems in the wild. Of course, if you’re served such meat, make sure you know who’s providing it. Many of your hunting pals are probably also good butchers, so trust your gut. Processing houses and marketplaces, on the other hand, are your best choice since they are regulated for quality and control.

What is my recommendation? Get outside and take in the fresh air. It’s delicious, believe me!


Chili de Venison

Venison chili with sour cream cheese served in a bowl.

Venison ground is lean and flavorful. Due to its leanness, most processors may add beef or hog fat to the ground venison to offer moisture and a recognizable taste. If you like a chunkier chili, skip the ground version and instead slice the trimmed flesh from the hind quarter into 12-inch pieces, then simmer for at least 3 hours, or until cooked. This meal is a fantastic place to start if you’ve never tasted venison, since the robust ingredients help to mask any game flavor. Other cuts of venison, such as steaks, chops, or backstrap (tenderloin), should be cooked rare to medium-rare to maintain taste and suppleness.

(Takes 20 minutes to prepare, 1 hour to cook, and serves 4–6)

Canola Oil, 1/4 CUP 1 finely diced onion 2 garlic cloves, minced 2 seeded and sliced jalapeno peppers 1.5 pounds Venison (Ground) 2 tsp. chili powder 1 tsp cumin powder 1 tbsp. salt (kosher) 1 cup dark beer 1 28 oz can tomato puree 1 28 oz can petite diced tomatoes 1 14 oz can black beans 1 14 oz can kidney beans 1/2 teaspoon black pepper Cheddar Cheese, Shredded (topping) Cream of Tartar (topping) Jalapenos, sliced (topping)

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. After that, add the onions and cook for 8–10 minutes, or until they are soft. Sauté garlic and jalapeño peppers for 2–3 minutes, or until just tender. Cook, tossing occasionally, until the ground venison and spices are barely browned through, approximately 4 – 5 minutes. Add the beer to deglaze the pan, scraping away any browned pieces from the bottom with a spoon. Finally, add the other ingredients, decrease heat to medium low, and cook for 30–45 minutes, partly covered. Remove from the heat and top with chosen garnishes.

Brown Rice Stir-Fry with Pan-Seared Duck Breasts

Pan seared wild duck breasts over brown rice.

In most high-end, gourmet restaurants, duck is one of my favorite meals. This at-home dish incorporates robust Asian ingredients that complement this wild bird nicely. If you’ve always thought duck flesh was greasy or difficult, this fast pan-seared rendition will alter your mind. The meat comes out soft and moist–without any additional oil–when cooked to a perfect medium-rare. For this “lean” version, I removed the feathers and trimmed the fat. Of course, since duck fat is the king of taste and moisture, you may sear the breasts with the skin on while basting them in their own fat for more flavor, moisture, and calories. Either procedure yields a succulently cooked fowl.


(Serves 2) (Prepare 1 hour, cook 20 minutes) 2 peeled and trimmed wild duck breasts a quarter cup of teriyaki sauce Pepper, freshly cracked Sesame Oil (quarter cup) 1 pinch red pepper flakes 2 garlic cloves, chopped 1/4 cup diced onion 1/4 cup diced carrot 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper 1/4 cup sliced asparagus 1/4 cup broccoli florets 2 cups room temperature cooked brown rice Green Onions, cut 2 large eggs, beaten Soy Sauce, to taste (garnish)

Season duck breasts generously with fresh cracked pepper and teriyaki sauce at least one hour before cooking; keep aside at room temperature. Sear duck breasts for 2–3 minutes on each side in a cast iron pan over high heat, or until medium rare (125 degrees F internal temp). Remove and set aside while you complete the stir-fry. Meanwhile, heat the oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a wok over high heat for 30 seconds, being careful not to burn the garlic. Cook until the remaining veggies are barely soft. Remove from heat and whisk in the rice and eggs until the eggs are slightly scrambled. Toss with a pinch of soy sauce to taste. Place a good dollop of the stir-fry in the middle of each dish to start plating. Duck breasts should be sliced on the bias every half-inch or so and placed on top of the stir-fry. Serve with chopped green onions as a garnish. Serve.

Burgers made with bison

Bison burger with steak fries in paper plate with tomato ketchup.

Most bison are now professionally grown and may be found in high-end supermarkets and even huge national chains. So bison isn’t what most of us think of when we think of “wild game” these days, but many people are still hesitant to try it. Because of its rich taste and nutritional advantages, I recommend routinely substituting bison for typical beef in your dishes. Bison is lower in fat, calories, and cholesterol than beef, while also being more nutrient dense, with greater amounts of protein and iron, according to studies. I suggest cooking ground bison to medium to medium-rare because of its lean nature. Rare or medium-rare bison steaks and chops are recommended.

(Serves 4) (Prep 15 minutes, Cook 15 minutes) Burgers 1.5 pound bison ground Salt (Kosher) Pepper, freshly cracked 4 hamburger buns, unsalted butter, sliced 

Toppings Cheese from the United States of America Dill Pickle Chips Lettuce Sliced Tomato Sliced Onion Condiments of Various Kinds

Preheat the grill to medium-high. Make four patties out of ground bison, each with a tiny well in the middle made with your thumb. Using kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper, season each burger generously. Brush the cut side of each bun lightly with butter and grill for 60–90 seconds, or until lightly toasted and browned. For medium-rare/medium, place bison patties over direct fire and cook for 2–3 minutes on each side, covered. Remove off the grill (or place cheese on top to melt) and set aside for 3–4 minutes. Toppings and condiments may be added to the burgers as desired. Serve right away.

Elk Steak on the Grill

Grilled Elk steaks of deer meat.

The backstrap (tenderloin) of the elk is used in this dish because it is the leanest and most tender component of the animal. Sure, fattier cuts have greater taste, but this is the cut I like to present to others, particularly those who are hesitant to try a new species. The taste of elk is comparable to that of grass-fed beef or venison. The lean nature of this meat, like that of its wild game relatives, lends itself to being prepared fast over high heat and cooked to rare or medium-rare. Most significantly, this dish is straightforward. After that, it’s simply plain ol’ salt and pepper to bring out the flavors of this beast. A bit of balsamic vinegar helps give some sweetness while also tenderizing the flesh. Stupid, keep things simple.


(Serves 4) (Prep 15 minutes, Cook 10 minutes)

1 2 pound cut and room temperature elk tenderloin 12 CUP EXTRA VIRGIN OIL 14 CUP BALSAMIC VINEGAR KOSHER SALT FRESHLY CRUMBLED PEPPER

Preheat the grill to medium-high. 15 minutes later, whisk together the oil and vinegar and pour over the tenderloin to marinade. When the grill is ready, brush off any excess marinade and place the steaks directly on the grill. Cook for 2–3 minutes on all four sides, then remove from the fire when the internal temperature reaches 120–130 degrees F, depending on desired doneness. Rest the tenderloin for 5 minutes after tenting it with foil. Slice the tenderloin across the grain with a sharp knife every half inch or so. Serve with sides of your choice.



If you are trying to cook wild game, the “wild game recipes deer” is a great resource for you. It has a variety of different recipes that can be made with deer meat.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should wild game be cooked to?

A: Wild game like deer, boar, turkey or pheasant should be cooked over a low heat for about 10 minutes.

Should wild game be cooked well done?

A: Its best to cook wild game like deer until it is medium-rare since the meat will be much more tender this way.

How do you cook fresh game meat?

A: To cook fresh game meat, it is best to place the raw game in a pan for about five minutes with some salt and pepper. Then you can put searing heat on high and add your chosen ingredients such as garlic, herbs or spices.

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