5 Myths About Eating Wild Game
When I was a kid, my dad used to tell me not to bite my nails because "you will get worms from the dirt under them." Now, we all know that is a total fabrication made up to keep kids from chewing their nails down to nubs. These fabrications start somewhere. Where most of them are born is beyond me, but once they are born, they grow exponentially! I guess I shouldn't be surprised that when I tell someone that my next hunting goal is to go turkey hunting, they cringe at the idea of eating a wild turkey. I have been told that wild game is full of worms, that it is full of bacteria, and my favorite, "how can you kill a poor innocent deer?"
My response to that last one is always the same: "because they are delicious!" I refuse to debate over hunting with anyone that starts out a conversation about how I killed Bambi. I am an ethical hunter. Period.
Most of the meat we buy in stores (unless it is certified organic) is full of things that do not occur naturally in an animal, but yet when you talk about how you have harvested your own animal—an animal that has consumed food that is natural to its area for the entirety of its life—some find it revolting.
I have composed a list of some of the biggest myths in regards to eating wild game so that you can see that wild game can be a healthier choice for you and your family.
Myth #1 Wild Game Tastes Gamey
First of all, I am honestly not sure what this means. Gamey is a term I have heard over and over but when I ask someone what that means exactly they never seem to give me a direct answer. I have been told it tastes like a wild animal, it tastes really strong and I have even heard that it tastes like what it has been eating. So, if you are a hunter in mid-state lower peninsula Michigan, there is a good chance your deer will taste like corn or potatoes?
This is just simply not true. Wild game tastes like meat. It tastes like it should, natural and untouched by human processes.
Myth #2 Wild Game Causes Health Problems Associated With Red Meat
Wild game that fall into the red meat category such as deer, elk, buffalo and antelope have a lower saturated fat content. This is because wild game eat a natural diet and have a very active life. I think that constantly running from coyotes, wolves and bears will keep you in shape.
"...fat from wild game contains a higher proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Their nutrition statistics are very similar to a skinless chicken breast, with most cuts having around 110 to 130 calories, 2 grams of fat and 25 grams of protein for a 3 oz. serving. Deer, elk and antelope have a vitamin and mineral composition similar to beef, so these meats are good sources of iron (5 mg/4 oz.), B12 (3.6 mcg/4 oz.), B6, niacin and riboflavin."
Eating the above mentioned meats are a great way to get lean protein into your diet.
Myth #3 You Will Get Worms From Eating Venison
Yep, you will.
You will also get worms from eating pork if it is not handled and cooked properly.
I had a lady at the grocery store actually tell me that she refuses to eat anything killed in the wild because it is full of worms. With that being said, it is important to butcher and cook your wild game properly. Just like in pork, parasites are present. We are a pig eating nation, we eat so much bacon there is actually talk about a national shortage! Just kidding, that is fake news.
What is real though, is that it is very important to know how to handle wild game. The following is a list from the University of Minnesota on how to handle your venison.
- Eating fresh venison is not recommended.
- Freeze wild game down to -4 degrees for a minimum of 4 days before eating or processing it into jerky or sausage to help kill parasites or tapeworms.
- Cooking venison to 160 degrees will also help to kill parasites and tapeworms.
Just like pork raised by Farmer Jones, it is perfectly safe to eat venison!
Myth #4 Wild Game Is Tough
I once saw a video of a deer attacking a man. The deer was on his hind legs kicking the crap out of the guy... oh wait, that is not the "tough" we are talking about.
I will admit, I thought this might be true when I was a kid. My dad, bless his heart had a variety of game that had been in the freezer and needed to be cooked and instead of taking the time to make several recipes, dad decided to cook it all the same. He rolled it in flour, threw some salt and pepper on it and deep fried it. I was presented a plate of fried raccoon, rabbit and squirrel. All over cooked and all tough as shoe leather to chew.
Just like any meat, wild game needs to be cooked properly. Don't expect to cook a venison steak like you would a Ribeye, the fat content is just not there. My husband talks about his mom's rabbit and dumplings recipe all the time. Homemade dumplings with shredded rabbit meat all slow baked in the oven together. He always tells me how tender the rabbit was. We are going to make this someday. After throwing a whole lot of lead this winter, we only have one rabbit in the freezer and that just isn't going to feed us both!
Myth #5 Pregnant Women Shouldn't Eat Wild Game
If this were true, it would go without saying that pregnant women shouldn't eat any meat. Again it is all about how it is prepared. Meat of any type needs to be cooked to appropriate temperatures before consuming. This is especially important for expectant mothers.
The fact is, wild game is very safe for pregnant women and it is the most organic meat you can get. It is so much healthier for us than it's commercial counterparts and if you want to talk cost, it is way cheaper per pound.
So, my advice to all of you that are worried about consuming wild game; give it a try, there is nothing to be scared of!
Questions & Answers
Do you recommend hunting with non-lead bullets?
I would highly recommend it when hunting small game. There are several manufacturers offering non toxic game load these days.