deerlicious how to remove wild game taste from venison

“Deerlicious!” | How to Remove the Wild Taste from Deer Meat

Deer meat, otherwise known as venison, is a prized protein for many hunters and outdoor enthusiasts. However, its distinct wild or gamey flavor can be off-putting to some, especially if not prepared correctly.

How To Remove The Wild Or “Gamey” Flavor From Venison

So take a look at some of the methods of removing the gamey, or “wild” taste from venison…

1. Proper Field Dressing and Handling

  • The process of removing the internal organs (gutting) and skinning the deer should be done as soon as possible after the kill. The longer these organs remain inside the animal, the higher likelihood of not only unwanted flavor, but also bacteria. So, being able to locate and field dress the animal promptly are very important.
  • Make every effort to keep the meat clean and cool during this process. Remove any hair, dirt, and bloodshot areas.
man cleaning deer with N1 shirt on

2. Bleeding and Trimming

  • Properly bleeding the deer after the kill can also reduce gamey flavors.
  • Placing the quartered and trimmed meat into cooler full of ice will help drain out the blood, which will greatly reduce the gamey flavor. You can allow the meat to sit for days in the ice. However, for best results, empty the bloody water and continue to add fresh ice during this process. If your cooler has a drain on the back, you can leave the drain open to allow the bloody runoff to constantly drain. Just don’t forget to refill the cooler with ice as it melts!
  • Trim away any silver skin, connective tissue, and visible fat, as these can contribute to a strong taste that many find unpalatable. Removing the “tallow” or fat from the meat can significantly improve its flavor.
man removing silver skin from deer backstrap

3. Aging the Meat

  • Aging venison helps to tenderize the meat and mellow out its flavor.
  • You can dry-age venison by hanging it in a cool (34-37°F), well-ventilated area for around 7 to 10 days.
  • Alternatively, wet-aging can be done by vacuum-sealing the meat and letting it rest in a refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.


4. Storage and Freezing

  • Properly packaging and freezing venison can also help maintain its quality and flavor.
  • Vacuum-sealing removes air, reducing the risk of freezer burn and preserving the meat’s taste.
  • Use freezer-safe bags or containers, and label with the date to ensure freshness.
backstrap with date on package


5. Soaking in Milk

  • Many hunters swear by soaking venison in milk to remove gaminess.
  • The enzymes and lactic acid in the milk help to tenderize and neutralize strong flavors.
  • Submerge the meat in milk for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator before cooking.


6. Marinating

  • Marinating venison is an effective way to infuse flavor and tenderize the meat.
  • Use acidic ingredients like vinegar, citrus juice, or wine to break down the strong flavors.
  • Add herbs, spices, and aromatics such as garlic, onion, thyme, rosemary, or juniper berries to enhance the taste.
  • Allow the meat to marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight for best results.

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7. Use of Seasonings and Ingredients

  • Bold seasonings and ingredients can help mask gamey taste.
  • Consider using strong flavors such as cumin, chili powder, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, or balsamic vinegar.
  • Incorporate sweet elements like honey, maple syrup, or fruit preserves to balance out the flavors.
deer meat with rub

8. Cooking Techniques

  • Opt for cooking methods that add moisture and flavor to the meat.
  • Slow cooking methods such as braising, stewing, or using a slow cooker can help tenderize and mellow the flavors.
  • Grilling or smoking with wood chips like hickory or applewood can add a pleasant smokiness to mask any remaining gamey taste.
  • Cooking meats (like a roast) in a croc-pot with vegetables and/or other ingredients, like cream of mushroom soup, can greatly tame a gamey taste.
  • Avoid overcooking, as this can make the meat tough and intensify any unwanted flavors.
  • Adding ingredients like powdered chicken soup mix to venison burger can not only mask gamey taste, but give the meat a great flavor as well.


9. Mixing with Other Meats

  • If the wild taste is still too strong for your liking, consider mixing venison with other meats.
  • Ground venison can be combined with pork, beef, or bacon to create flavorful burgers, meatloaf, or sausages.

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10. Patience and Experimentation

  • Removing the gamey taste from venison can be a process of trial and error.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with different techniques, marinades, and recipes to find what works best for your palate.
  • Patience is key, especially when aging, marinating, or slow cooking the meat.

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Final Thoughts On Removing Wild Taste From Venison

By following the above steps, you can transform your deer meat into a delectable and flavorful dish that even those hesitant about the wild taste will enjoy.

So, whether you’re grilling steaks, making a hearty stew, or crafting gourmet burgers, these techniques will help you make the most of your venison and savor every bite.

Maston of N1 Outdoors with whitetail buck

Happy hunting and bon appétit!

XOP Ambush Evolution climbing stand review header image

Inside Information | XOP Ambush Evolution Sit-And-Climb Deer Stand Review

In this review, I cover the XOP Ambush Evolution Sit and Climb stand.

I’ve got some things I like about the stand. I’ve also got some things that I would change, to improve the stand.

So, let’s get to it!

The XOP Ambush Evolution Sit-And-Climb Review

I hunted with this stand several times this year, because I wanted something that would fold down – that wouldn’t have anything in front of me that would inhibit my bow shots.

I’ve used other climbers that have a rail around it that at times gave me problems.

Unpacking the Ambush Evolution

xop shoulder straps

The XOP Ambush Evolution Sit-And-Climb comes packed up really nicely. It has some bungee straps that hold it together well. It and it comes from the factory with some “get you by” shoulder straps. They have XOP sales after-market shoulder strap system as well (see below photo).

xop shoulder straps deluxe

Here’s a look at the more “deluxe” version of the shoulder straps from that you can buy from XOP.



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Below, you can see how tightly and compact it is. It’s less than 4″ wide, and when you put it on your back and carry it through the woods, because of the way the bungee strap pulls the cables down, it would not get hung up on vines, brush, or tree limbs.

XOP evolution folded width

The XOP Ambush Evolution folds up to an incredibly thin 4 inches!

XOP Evolution 18 lbs

One of the best things I like about the XOP Ambush Evolution is the weight. it weighs only 18 lbs and is the lightest stand I’ve ever hunted from.



Attaching To The Tree

XOP Evolutions sliding locks

To open the stand from the folded position, you simply slide the knob attachments toward the front of the stand until they stop…

XOP Evolutiions tightening screws

…then, you tighten down the knobs to secure the side bars into place.

XOP Evolution knobs

Unlocking and adjusting the strap that goes around the tree is pretty simple… just loosen the knob under the straps, and then push up to disengage. Once you have the strap to your desired length, you tighten the knob back down.



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XOP Evolutions danger zone on straps

The yellow “danger zone” is a good reminder not to lock the strap in place this far out.

XOP Evolution attaching bottom part to tree

When attaching to the tree, you need to set the strap circumference so that when you reach your desired height, the platform will be at a 90 degree angle to the tree.

One nice thing about the cables on the Ambush Evolution is that when they’re on the tree, they will get tight, but they don’t dig in like some other types of deer stands, and that’s by design. You don’t want to dig in to the tree and damage it, and possibly kill it.


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XOP Evolution attaching bottom part to tree

The stand has a cool feature where the cross brace is curved, which allows easier attachment to the tree as well as easier climbing.

XOP Evolution seat strap

Here’s a look at the top half of the XOP Ambush Evolution before unpacking to attach to the tree.

XOP Evolution putting top half on tree

When you wrap the straps around the tree, you realize… boy, those straps nice and quiet!

XOP Evolution Climbing Straps

These straps connect the top half to the bottom half while climbing so that you don’t accidentally drop the bottom half and have it fall down the tree.



Climbing The Tree

getting into the XOP Evolution stand

You need to get inside of the top half of the climber to begin your ascent.

xop boot clearance

In this review, I’ve got on these cowboy boots. But, that’s not what I hunt in. I prefer to hunt in insulated rubber boots. And this stand doesn’t give a whole lot of clearance between the base of the stand and where you need to get your foot. And my rubber boots don’t go in here very easily.

XOP Evolution feet in bottom part

As you sit on the bar, you put your feet under the crossbar… this is how you will lift the bottom portion up the tree…




climbing in the XOP Evolution

and just move the bottom platform up the tree a few feet at a time until you reach your desired height.

XOP Evolution tightening climbing straps

Once you get the stand the height that you want to hunt at, the first thing you do is to tighten the safety straps down as tight as you can get them. This will prevent the top from coming down since it can’t be lifted while strapped tight. And it will keep the bottom connected to the top as well.

sitting in the XOP Evolution stand

You can see how my knees are just a little bit bent. I’m going to have my bow on a hanger, and I want my legs to have only a little bit of bend in them so whenever I go to stand up, I don’t have as far to go.

The sit and climb bar is designed for bow hunters to step through it and fold it under out of your way.

And that leaves me to one of the things that I would change just a little bit about the stand. I would prefer a larger seat, as my hips are squeezed a bit, due to the size of the factory seat.


If you bowhunt, you know it’s true!

XOP Ambush Evolution Foot space on platform

The platform doesn’t give you a ton of room to move around, but again, lightweight is often a tradeoff with size.

XOP Evolution seat

The seat width created a tighter fit on my hips than I would have liked, but there are some aftermarket mesh seat options out there that may help remedy this.

Another “con” to this stand is that the seat is a very tight fit on my hips, and it’s not the most comfortable seat.

Of course, there are gives and takes with how light and portable a stand can be and still be as comfortable as a larger and heavier stand might be.



Final Thoughts On XOP The Ambush Evolution Sit-And-Climb Deer Stand

Overall, I like the Ambush Evolution Sit-And-Climb stand from XOP. It’s performed really well for me on several hunts. This is by far the most compact stand I’ve ever hunted in. I also love how light it is.

The only improvements I would make is foot clearance under the crossbar, as well as the “hip squeeze” I experienced with the factory seat.



I hope this review has helped you make a choice on whether or not you would use this stand. I would recommend it to anybody who likes to run and gun with a light setup, has a good bit of walking to do, or has to carry camera equipment with them. Because the stand is so light, it makes the walk into your hunting spot easier.

Happy hunting, and please always wear a safety harness!

– Josh Wells, N1 Outdoors® Co-Founder

>>Be sure to check out N1 Outdoors hunting shirts HERE!

deer anatomy buck at attention

Whitetail Deer Anatomy | What Every Hunter Should Know

Hunting is not only fun, it’s fulfilling to be able to provide meat for your family and loved ones. However, taking the animal should not be the only goal.

A hunter should always make every effort to kill the animal with a single shot, one that results in as quick a demise as possible.

So, how can you know where to shoot a deer so that you can accomplish this? Well, a hunter needs to be well-versed in deer anatomy, so that the animal can be taken with as little suffering as possible.

Where you shoot a whitetail (or mule deer) could be the difference between a clean, ethical kill and a wounded, suffering animal.

deer vitals chart

A deer’s vitals include the heart, lungs, stomach, liver and intestines. But where is the best place to shoot a whitetail? Read on!


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Where To Shoot A Deer

The definition of what an “ethical shot” is when hunting deer has been an oft debated topic. Whatever your definition may be, a shot that presents the opportunity for the quickest and most humane (and legal) kill should be utilized.

where should you shoot a whitetail diagram

Taking into account the position of the deer in this photo, where would you shoot this whitetail? And, which would be the best shot to take?

It’s easy for excitement to give way to poor shot selection when hunting (especially when shooting at long range). Unfortunately, this often leads to the wounding of an animal, resulting in unnecessary suffering.

So, where is the kill zone on a deer? The following are locations of a deer’s anatomy, that if properly executed, will result in an effective kill.


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The Heart Shot

Simply put, a heart shot on a deer is lethal. However, while it will result in the death of a whitetail, it does not necessarily always provide the best blood trails. When the heart is hit, the flow of blood decreases and may result in less of a blood trail than you were hoping for.

bullet or broadhead that penetrates the heart often pierces the lungs as well, which is beneficial to ensuring a quick recovery of the animal.

When taking a heart shot, it’s good to be sure that the caliber of bullet you are using is sufficient to penetrate the shoulder blade and ensure a clean kill. The downside to a larger bullet is it can result in a larger amount of unusable meat upon processing.



The Lung Shot

The lungs provide a large target for rifle hunters and bowhunters alike. While a bullet can enter the lungs of a deer and exit, shooting its lungs with a broadhead will make it difficult for the deer to breathe. Usually, that difficulty breathing will keep it from being able to run too far after the shot.

Sometimes, however, simply clipping a lung or not having a complete pass-through shot can result in poor blood trails, making the deer more difficult to track.

A lung shot with a bow is often as effective as a heart shot. Just aim for the middle of the lung area. A well-placed lung shot will cause the deer to suffocate to death. However, a lung-shot attempt that hits too far back may only pierce the liver, which can result in a much slower death and more difficult to track animal.




The Neck Shot

You can drop a deer with one shot if the spinal cord is severed. A neck shot that severs the arteries in the large arteries in the neck can be particularly bloody and lethal. But, while a lethal neck shot causes little damage to the meat of the animal, if the spine is not severed, it could be difficult to recover and it may even survive.

While a neck shot can be a risky shot with a gun, it’s simply a very poor shot to take if you’re a bowhunter.

buck in food plot

The angle of the shot should be taken into account when deciding where to shoot a deer.

The Brain Shot

If it is well executed, a brain shot will drop a deer immediately. When you put a bullet through the brain, it will disrupt the life functions of the deer and it will lose consciousness immediately. This shot results in no loss of meat, but is a very difficult shot to make, due to the small target area.

If the shot is not accurate, it can result in unnecessary suffering of the deer and you may not be able to recover the animal.



Deer Anatomy | The Rest Of The Story

While we’ve covered various parts of a whitetail’s anatomy that can be aimed for during a hunt to result in a kill, it’s also good to be well-versed in the rest of a deer’s anatomy, so you can become a more well-rounded and knowledgeable hunter.

Wait, a deer has how many stomachs? Well, just one… sort of. Read on…




The Whitetail Digestive System

All deer species have a four-chamber stomach. The four chambers are called the rumen, reticulum, omasum and abomasum. Deer are able to consume large amounts of food in a relatively short period of time. That food is swallowed and passed to the first stomach, which is known as the rumen.

The digestive bacteria in the rumen begins to break down the cellulose found in the plant life that the deer has consumed. However, the rumen cannot completely break down and absorb all the necessary nutrients, so the deer will regurgitate the food later and chew it again. This is often referred to as the deer “chewing its cud.” This allows the deer to further break down the food, so it can absorb the nutrients it needs.


Something every bowhunter can relate to… The Bowhunter’s Anthem Music video!


Once the food is chewed the second time, it moves to the reticulum, which serves as a strainer of sorts. Foods that are more difficult to digest will remain in the rumen and reticulum chambers for a longer period of time. This can cause a “roadblock” of sorts and can lead to malnutrition and sometimes even death, all while having a “full stomach.”

deer anatomy deer eating grass

A deer has four different chambers of the stomach, each with a different role in food digestion.

After a period of about 16 hours, the food will pass from the reticulum to the omasum. In the omasum, the water from the food is absorbed. The food then passes to the abomasum, which produces acid that further breaks down the food that the deer has eaten.

After leaving the abomasum, the remaining food particles and liquid are passed to the deer’s intestines, where it will eventually exit the body as feces and urine. Whitetail typically defacate an average of 13 times per day.



Legs

It’s sometimes hard to believe how a whitetail’s skinny legs can produce so much speed and power.

While whitetail cannot maintain top speed for long distances, they can run up to 40 miles per hour in short bursts.

With the use of their hooves, they are able to make sharp turns and pivots, even at high speeds. Their hind legs provide the power for their speed and jumping ability. In fact, deer are also good swimmers.

whitetail buck tarsal gland diagram

A whitetail buck has tarsal glands on the inside of its hind legs.

Whitetail bucks have tarsal glands on the inside of their hind legs. These glands secrete a musky scent unique to that individual deer. The buck will urinate on the glands and leave the scent in areas that it paws out on the ground, called scrapes.

Other male and female deer visit these scrapes to check scent. During the breeding season, or “rut”, bucks will scent check scrapes to identify what female does may be in the area or what intruder buck might be in his territory.

Not all hunters are after antlers, but it’s certainly a nice bonus when you are able to harvest a trophy. So how fast can those antlers actually grow? Read on…

Antlers

Male deer have antlers on top of their head as part of their anatomy. Although rare, it is also possible for a doe to grow antlers occasionally.

A whitetail’s antlers are actually live tissue that are composed of bone. A deer’s antlers hold the distinction of having the fastest growing tissue of all animals.

Whitetails begin growing their antlers in the Spring and they can grow at an average rate of up to two inches per week!

buck in velvet staring at trail camera

A whitetail’s antlers can grow at an average of up to 2 inches per week!

During development, the antlers are covered with a spongy tissue called velvet. The velvet contains blood vessels that generate growth of the antlers.

Antler growth typically stops in late Summer to early Fall. Once growth stops, the deer will remove the velvet from their antlers by rubbing them on the bases of trees.

After the breeding season ends, bucks will shed their antlers. Shed times can vary in different parts of the country, but typically take place between January and March.


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Whitetail Ears And Hearing

A deer has hearing that is far superior to human hearing. This serves a whitetail well in identifying danger in the form of humans and other predators.

Muscles attached to the whitetail’s ears allow it to rotate them and hear in multiple directions without having to move its head.

This helps it to determine which direction the sound or is coming from and possibly even how far away the sound is. This part of a deer’s anatomy plays a critical role in its survival.

Eyesight… “All Around” Vision

You may have heard the saying that someone has “eyes in the back of their head.” A deer of course does not have those, but because its eyes’ location on the sides of its head, it does in fact, have a 310-degree field of vision. Almost as good as eyes in the back of the head!

Although it is hard for deer to focus on one object, their excellent vision helps them see clearly in the night-time hours.



Smell

A whitetail’s excellent sense of smell is one of its best defense mechanisms. A deer will lick its nose to make it moist. This allows it to “capture” odor particles that are carried by the wind and that stick to the deer’s nose. This not only helps a deer identify danger, but also plays a huge part in the breeding process.

Both male and female deer leave scent behind via urine and various scent glands. Among other things, a whitetail’s incredible sense of smell allows a buck to know when a doe is ready to breed, or when an intruder buck is in the area.

doe smelling deer scent

A deer’s nose is its best defense mechanism.

Conclusion

It’s very important to not only be familiar with deer anatomy as a hunter, it’s just as important to know what your limitations are with the weapon you are hunting with.

Is the weapon going to be effective in producing a clean kill? Is your skill level such that you can safely and accurately make an ethical shot?  Practice. Practice. And practice!

If you pair knowledge of deer anatomy with skill and patience, success is on the horizon!

(For more information, you can also check out our whitetail hunting tips. You can also learn about piebald deer.)