Outdoor Chenango: Flashbacks
Published: January 20th, 2023
By: Eric Davis

Outdoor Chenango: Flashbacks

While this fall did not go as planned for me in terms of deer hunting, I was able to end up with four deer in my freezer. I was lucky enough to be able to drive to the winery where I learned to deer hunt (and where there are a ton of deer) and do deer drives. Only one deer I shot was not shot doing deer drives.

Each deer yields around 20 packages of meat with the way I butcher them. This means I have roughly 80 packages of venison in my freezer with about 40 weeks left until bow season opens in October.

This means that I need to go through 2 bags per week to have an empty freezer by opening day. To aid in this, I have been making either chili or sloppy joes on Sunday night to bring for lunch for three days of the week. This helps because I made these so much in college that my wife avoids them like the plague when I suggest them as dinner options.

I have found that two deer will get my wife and I through a year with just regular meals like steaks or spiedies. Shooting three deer lets me do fun other things like make summer sausage or pepperoni using my smoker. I also will cook a whole backstrap for a summer outing and share my take with family and friends. However, the abundance of venison that four deer bring has put me into the mindset that there must be more ways to use venison and enjoy it.

I found a roast in the bottom of the freezer that was from 2021 in a vacuum sealed bag when I was putting away venison from my Holiday Hunt success. Older venison like this often gets added to the grind pile (I stockpile pieces to grind that way I only need to run and clean my grinder once per year) but I decided to take a trip down memory lane. So, I put soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce on the grocery list. These are the base of my marinade when making sliced jerky.

Over the long weekend this past weekend, I thawed the roast and sliced it into eighth-inch slices. Then I tried to remember my jerky marinade recipe, which I used to have memorized from using after September goose season. Once I mixed the marinade, I added it to the sliced venison, stirred it in, and put it into the refrigerator to sit overnight. The next morning, I pulled out my dehydrator, laid out the strips on the trays, and plugged it in.

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While the jerky was drying, the aroma in the house brought back memories of making batch after batch of goose jerky in college with my housemates. After about five hours, I put the jerky onto cooling racks to let it get back to room temperature before putting it into bags. If you put them into bags while they are still hot, they will cause condensation to form in the bag and will get moldy extremely fast.

I forgot how simple the marinade is and how much the venison shrinks as it dries out! When the weather gets a little better, I would like to try making jerky in my smoker but need to get a rack system since it is a pellet grill/smoker so it is not setup for jerky making without purchasing some sort of rack to put in it.