How to Turn Your Deer Into Sweet Hot Venison Jerky

We often take for granted what is, perhaps, our favorite venison treat — jerky — given the amazing ability to find it virtually anywhere now in public or to make it at home.

When you whip into the Gas ‘n Stab for something to drink and a snack, chances are pretty good you’ll see vacuum-sealed packs of expensive beef jerky. Maybe the big plastic rack with a lid and strips of, ugh, dried jerky speckled with seeds from red peppers or jalapenos.

It’s so common that we don’t even give it a second though. Anyone who’s been to parts of south Texas may remember seeing Buc-ee’s, which has an eye-popping array of dried flavored meats. Jerky is wildly popular among hunters and even non-hunters, with a professional golf caddy for PGA Tour players creating quite a business that started with his bags of goodies for friends and players at the course.

Jerky is one of the easiest and most popular things hunters make with their venison each year. With a good smoker, such as this one from Camp Chef, it’s easy to make with the smoker’s wide, multiple racks.

Dried meat has been around for centuries, though. Several sources look to the Inca civilization in South America and their “charqui” as an early origin. Another mention is from 1847 in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, a British magazine published for more than 160 yearsAnd yet other reports point to Asia and South Africa, home of biltong — a form of dried meat — as other locales. Biltong and jerky are similar, but this outlines the differences in size, flavor and preparation.

Dried fish has been a staple of Nordic culture for centuries, as well, but we won’t digress into fish jerky. That sounds weird, doesn’t it? Say it: “fish jerky.”

No, nope, nada. It’s just not right. We all know the best jerky is deer jerky.

Scott Leysath is one of our favorite chefs and has a super cookbook in He’s also keen on making jerky because, as we know, it’s easy and tasty. Whether you’re in a deer stand, a duck blind, driving to Aunt Joan’s house for a holiday dinner you don’t want to eat or are watching football on the weekend, jerky is great. Watch Leysath’s video above for his best tips on making venison jerky.

The recipe below, submitted by DDH reader Lloyd Kimmen, might be one to try, too.

Fritz’s Hoosier Venison Jerky
Submitted by Lloyd Kimmen

The ingredients below are for 2-4 pounds of meat; just increase the amounts by how much meat you want to smoke. I take a whole hindquarter from a deer, de-bone it and cut into strips, 3/8-inch thick by 1-inch wide and 6 inches long.

2-4 lbs venison
Maple syrup
Brown sugar

1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups water
1 cup cider
1 cup soy sauce
1 ounce brandy
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp orange peel, grated

Combine brine ingredients, and mix well. Place the venison in the brine in a large bowl, and soak for at least 8 to 10 hours. Remove meat from brine, rinse with water, pat dry and pepper both sides of the venison. Place in smoker over low heat; keep an eye on it as it will dry out really fast if the heat is too high. When almost finished, paint both sides of the jerky with a mixture of equal parts maple syrup and brown sugar. When done, remove, let cool and Place in Ziploc bag(s) to refrigerate.