Hunting season is in full swing across the state of Wyoming, and during this time of year we are reminded that there are other sources of red meat. Wild game such as deer, antelope, elk, and moose are all excellent sources of protein, B-vitamins, and minerals (iron and zinc). They are relatively low in saturated fat and are considered lean sources of protein. Wild game can be interchangeable with many favorite dinners that contain meat from barbeque to stews.
Not only are there nutritional benefits to eating wild game, there are also monetary benefits. Being able to harvest the animal and process the meat yourself can be much easier on your pocket book. If you choose to have it processed by someone else, the prices across the state of Wyoming sit around $0.80/lb. to process on a full carcass to $1.00/lb. for a quartered carcass. Some processors use a flat fee of $185 for a full carcass elk (extra $40 to skin) and $105 for a deer (extra $20 to skin). If you run out of freezer space, think about pressure canning the left overs and storing them in a dry area.
Procuring Wild Game
In the state of Wyoming you are not able to buy wild game in stores; however, you may be able to find domestic elk or bison for sale. The prices for these types of meat can be quite pricey and more than many cuts of beef.
Cooking wild game can be slightly different than cooking beef due to the activity level and lean meat of these different species. Techniques such as braising (simmering in a small amount of liquid in a covered pot) or basting certain cuts with extra fat to improve flavor and create a better end product are excellent ideas. Wild game can also have a flavor, so by using marinades, spices, rubs, or herbs you are able to mask the flavor without decreasing the nutrient value. You should try to avoid overcooking or under cooking wild game. Wild game should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 165°F to avoid food borne illnesses. Also, avoiding cooking temperatures of over 375°F will decrease toughness and an undesirable end product.
Please see the table below for nutritional facts on popular wild game. For information on pressure canning your extra wild game, contact your local Nutrition and Food Safety Educator located at your University of Wyoming county extension office. Another good resource is this collection of wild game recipes.
|Meat||Calories||Total Fat||Sat. Fat||Protein|
- Pennington J, Douglass J. Food Values: Of Portions Commonly Used. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2005: 160-161.
- Cooking Big Game Venison Meat Safely, University of Minnesota Extension, extension.umn.edu/food/food-safety/preserving/meat-fish/gamey-flavor-and-cooking-venison/
Revised January 2011, Roselyn Biermaier.