Today at work we had a discussion about what makes some venison taste better than other venison. It’s an age old discussion; do corn-fed deer and swamp monsters taste different? Do fawns taste better than old bucks?
Probably a little. Each individual animal might taste a little different. But the truth is most pallets can’t discern those subtle differences.
Yes, fawns are more tender than older deer, but that is because of physical differences in the muscle fibers. Basically, the fibers are smaller and have less collagen holding those individual fibers together.
The truth is, most differences in the taste of individual pieces of whitetail venison stem from handling and cooking the meat. While the fat and silver skin of beef and pork might taste just fine, whitetail fat and sinew are off-putting. The key to really good venison is carefully removing all of the extras.
Cooling the meat quickly to prevent the growth of bacteria is also important.
Also, if you can drop the deer on the spot, it will not work those muscles and build up lactic acid in the muscle. Lactic acid is formed when the muscles are extremely active and the deer is not taking in enough oxygen to supply the movements. Inside the cells, sugars such as glucose, fructose and sucrose are converted into cellular energy and the metabolic byproduct lactate. This is referred to as anaerobic cellular respiration. If the animal were to live, the lactic acid would eventual dissipate. However, when the animal dies, the lactic acid becomes locked in the cells. It produces a sour taste.
The truth is, properly handled, carefully trimmed venison from ANY deer tastes great, whether that deer is an old swamp buck or a young corn-fed fawn.