Behold, the perfect wild-game steak. (Jack Hennessy/)
Sure, you’re a self-proclaimed grill-master. After all, isn’t everyone who’s got a beer in one hand and tongs in the other? But if you want to reach steak-grilling legend status in your deer camp, there are a few things you can do to prepare a better venison steak. This is our ultimate guide to making the perfect wild-game steak, all the way from field to plate.
It Starts With Shot Placement
Every big-game hunter recognizes the consequences of making a poor shot, hitting guts, and potentially tainting meat (not to mention unnecessary pain put on the animal). But another key aspect to keep in mind is the time it takes for the animal to bleed out.
An animal that isn’t bled properly (read: quickly and thoroughly) can undergo immense stress, which will raise blood pressure and potentially cause smaller blood vessels (capillaries) to burst. The result? What is referred to as “blood splash,” which is an escape of red blood cells from blood vessels into the surrounding muscle. Some butchers may even refer to this as “blood spotting.” These sort of hemorrhages appear as small dark red spots in your meat. A small amount is fine to eat, though heavy blood splashing is not recommended for human consumption.
What does this mean other than “make a good shot?” Simply put: Forget about headshots. I still see posts on hunting forums where hunters target a doe’s head and wonder why their backstrap is polka-dotted. The brain of a cervid is incredibly small and even though they’ll drop with a headshot, they will continue to undergo stress. Blood pressure skyrockets, and blood splash will occur.