Venison; Indigenous Wild Game

Venison (deer) has been a staple for indigenous people for thousands of years. Long before the arrival of chicken, beef, pork, or even lamb, to North America wild game like venison, rabbit, moose, elk, etc was hunted. Venison was also present in European culture as well as reindeer. I love cooking with wild game such as venison because it is generally more lean, and has a higher protein content due to the fact that it is raised in the wild and not in confinement.


I love cooking with venison, it’s such a treat to eat and prepare.   Nearly every fall our family will harvest a deer and cook with it through the year in various ways; making stews, roasts, jerky, tacos, corn soup, etc. We also use the hides and bones for crafts.


Here are a few facts about deer and venison;


Venison is higher in moisture, lower in calories cholesterol and fat then grain-fed beef, pork, or lamb.

Whitetail Buck; the Whitetail is native to North America 

Venison (deer meat) has always been a staple for indigenous people but also was eaten by Europeans. Historically, venison was considered to be a symbol of status and wealth.


Venison is a very healthy lean meat and an excellent source of protein due to its protein-to-fat ratio. A three ounce serving of roasted venison has 26 grams of protein, 3 grams fat, and 135 calories.


The word venison is derived from the Latin venari (to hunt or pursue) and this term entered English through Norman in the 11th century, following the Norman conquest.


The Plains Cree tanned most deer hides and hung the heads in a shrub or tree.  When a couple deer were killed and the loads could not all be transported back to camp, the carcasses were put in a covered stone pit facing east to prevent ghosts from stealing the meat


Coast Salish women were not allowed to step over deer meat, and the men had to look away when uncovering it. All bones had to be thrown into the water, and the viscera not consumed were buried so the dogs would not eat it. If these practices were not followed, they believed that the hunter would have misfortune.


Hunters often sent others to the site of the kill to pack and process the meat. The hunter removed and washed the organs, but it was usually the women who skinned and cut the meat that the men brought back on their backs.


The ancestors of the modern deer first appeared in Mongolia during the Pliocene and Miocene  geological epochs some ten-twenty years ago. They spread to populate Europe, most of Asia, crossing the Alaskan land bridge over to North America, Once here North American deer kept changing and evolving until a mere million years ago or so during the Pleistocene epoch they attained the form we’re familiar with today.

If you don’t hunt or have access to wild game, a great place to get high quality wild game is Food In Season


Follow me on my Instagram @native_hearth and use the hashtag #nativehearth if you make any of my recipes!

I will be posting a recipe for Roasted Venison on the Recipes page on Feb 1st!

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