what does deer taste like?

If you like gamey meat then deer may be high on your food bucket list. Whether you are an avid deer hunter or simply want to purchase some venison burgers from the grocery store, this is a taste experience like no other.  

In this article, we are going to be exploring what deer tastes like and looking at how best to cook it and whether it is healthy for you or not. 

What Does Deer Meat Taste Like? 

The taste of deer meat is quite unlike anything else and some would call it a flavor explosion. If you are bored of eating bland chicken or pork, then venison is a nice alternative to the usual meats.  

Deer meat has a very gamey taste that feels almost primal. Venison has a very rich and earthy taste.

This is largely because of the diet of the deer which contains a lot of herbs such as sage and nuts like the acorn. However, one of the most commonly used words to describe the taste of deer is gamey.  

What is a gamey taste? 

If you are unfamiliar with what gamey tastes like then this adjective won’t answer the question of how deer tastes In the simplest terms, gamey refers to a pungent and musky taste.

This is usually due to the fact that deer are not reared on a farm and as a result, have a much more feral taste. Some people like this but others find that it is a little overpowering.

This is particularly true if you are only used to eating meat from animals raised on a farm.  

What takes the gamey taste out of deer meat? 

If you find that the gamey taste of deer is too much for you, that doesn’t mean that you cannot enjoy eating this healthy meat.

Similarly to lamb, venison pairs very well with fall seasonings, especially things like mint and spices.  

Alternatively, you may decide to soak your deer meat prior to cooking and this will take a lot of the gamey flavor out.

Buttermilk is typically the best thing to use for soaking and if you don’t have this then simply mixing regular milk with vinegar will create homemade buttermilk.

The reason that this is so effective is that the buttermilk will draw the blood out of the meat, taking much of the gaminess with it.  

If you purchase aged meat, then this means that a lot of the gaminess has had time to develop. To avoid this taste you should try to use fresh meat.

While a lot of deer are wild-caught, there are farms that rear these animals for food. In this case, the gamey taste tends to be much less prominent.  

Is It OK To Eat Deer Meat Raw? 

Deer is red meat and this leads many people to believe that it can be eaten raw. Think about when you eat a beefsteak; this can be cooked bleu with the meat still bleeding and barely cooked.  

However, with venison, you should always thoroughly cook the meat. This is especially true if you have caught the deer in the wild.

There is a risk that the meat may contain parasites and unfriendly bacteria that may wreak havoc with your gut. In severe cases, this could make you extremely sick.  

That being said, there are ways that you can prepare raw deer and reduce the risk of contracting things like E-coli and other forms of food poisoning.

This is typically much safer if you have caught and killed the deer yourself as you will have more awareness over when it was killed and how long the meat can be kept.  

In order to remove potential viruses or bacteria, you should butcher and freeze the meat as soon as possible after the animal has died.

It should be frozen for at least 48 hours. When you are ready to eat it, allow the meat to defrost thoroughly, and do not allow it to warm up before you eat it.  

Can You Get Sick From Eating Deer Meat? 

As we have discovered, eating raw deer meat that has not been correctly prepared could make you sick.

However, there is something else to consider, particularly if you have caught the deer yourself.  

Hunters should be aware that if the deer was unhealthy while it was alive, this could affect the quality of its meat.

Some animals suffer from chronic wasting disease and while there is no hard and fast evidence that this could cause problems for humans, it is best to avoid eating meat that does not look healthy. 

The best way to avoid this is to purchase deer meat from reputable suppliers. 

Is Deer Meat Good For You? 

If you are looking for a healthy meat then deer is a good option. When compared to other meats such as chicken and beef, venison has considerably less fat.

In fact, deer meat has half the amount of fat of beef so if you are looking for a red meat alternative, it may make a good choice. 

This meat is also very low in cholesterol and is an excellent source of protein. If you are on a restrictive diet then venison might be a viable meat option. If you are looking to build muscle, then the low-fat content of deer meat can help with this.  

Is deer meat good for your heart? 

Owing to the lower cholesterol content of venison, this meat is considered to be much healthier for the heart than other meats such as beef.

Furthermore, venison contains high levels of linoleic acid which is known to have benefits where heart health is concerned.  


Deer, more commonly known as venison, is a great alternative to red meat since it has a lot of health benefits and is known to be low in fat and good for your heart. However, if you have never tried it, you may be a little dubious.

But you needn’t be; deer has a rich, gamey taste that is earthy and smooth. If you prefer something less gamey, soaking or seasoning your venison prior to eating is a great option.