Venison Tips: The Best Muscles to Eat from a Deer

Most deer hunters think that older, bigger deer are tougher than younger, smaller ones, and that some cuts of deer make better steaks than others. But most of us don’t know exactly why it’s true.

Which are the best cuts of meat and is a young deer better than an older one?

A Polish study, in a very scientific manner, tested what most of us believe. Eight female deer were tested. Four of them were 6 months old, and four were 4 years old. Meat samples were taken from the surface of the ham (biceps femoris), deeper in the ham (semimembranosus) and backstraps (longissimus). The samples were rated based on values for chewiness, hardness, viscousity and elasticity.

The meat from the surface of the ham had the highest values for each category, plus the biggest muscle fibers and muscle fiber coverings. The inner ham was second, using these same characteristics. The backstraps had the lowest values.

Thus, the backstraps had better characteristics than the other two cuts, regardless of deer age. However, the meat from the younger deer did have better food characteristics than the meat from the older deer.

The older deer had bigger muscle fibers and muscle fiber coverings, but a lower percentage of fast-twitch muscle fibers than the younger deer. Consequently, the younger deer were indeed more tender than the older deer.

Let’s Eat!

Venison Carne Asada Tacos
Submitted by Jason Pinheiro
1-2 lbs venison, thinly sliced
1 lime
1 orange
1/4 tsp cumin
Chef Merito Steak & Meat or Carne Asada seasoning
1 white onion, sliced into rings

Sprinkle the carne asada seasoning and the cumin evenly over both sides of the venison and pat it into the meat. Throw all the meat into a large Ziploc bag along with the sliced onion “rings” and squeeze the juice from the lime and orange into the bag. Seal up the bag, removing as much air as possible, and work it around to make sure the juice has had a chance to soak all of the meat. Take the venison and onions and place on a hot grill. Cook for 2 minutes or so on each side. After you remove the meat from the grill, chop it up with a cleaver into bite sized pieces. Quickly warm the tortillas on the grill and serve with the grilled onions, chopped white onion, cilantro and a hit of lime juice.


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