Game meat cooking tips for venison and goat

John Denman

Not everyone hunts to hang a trophy on their wall. In fact, I’d be surprised if even the most avid trophy hunter had not tasted the results of their hunting at some point. It’s no secret that the best eating game is of the younger variety. In a fallow deer that means one to two years old, at least that’s my preference. As well, I prefer a doe to a stag and during the rut I’ll give all male deer a wide berth.

With goats again, the younger the better. The young animals don’t need to be hung for any great time, just enough for them to bleed out. The older animals, males in particular, tend to be gamier than the younger ones, and have to be aged longer. This creates a problem if you don’t have access to a cold room, or live in an area that’s cold enough in winter to let the carcass hang for a few days.

My wife made me a body bag to hang a carcass in. It has a couple of openings at the top for the back legs, and a drawstring at the bottom. This means I can remove the hide and the carcass can hang without any flies working their way into it. I also carry a few meat bags made out of light cotton to take the meat home.

Sometimes you simply cannot bring the entire carcass back, so you just try to manage the best bits. The back legs and the backstraps or rib eyes are the ideal choice here and you can usually pack out that much meat. The cotton bags also allow the meat to breathe and if there’s a problem with refrigeration, hanging the meat in a tree out of the reach of foxes works well. It can be cooled as well by a light spray of water on the cotton. The wind will do the rest.

Cooking harvested meat can be as simple as you like, or you can go the whole way with herbs and marinades. I prefer the basics. These are simple: roasts, curries and casseroles. Here’s a few ideas. I haven’t included wild pig meat because I prefer not to eat it. Although pigs are herbivores for the most part, they are more often scavengers and it’s not uncommon to see a pig with its snout in some long dead creature. This becomes quite literally a can of worms.


I really like a good venison roast, but as the meat is very lean you have to make sure to cook it slowly. You can roast the whole leg with the bone in but I prefer to bone it out. That way my dog receives a nice fresh bone to bury somewhere. Some people like to drape a few rashers of bacon over the roast to help stop the meat from drying out, but wrapping it up in foil does a good job. The oven should be set at no higher than 175degC. You can add any spices you want, but I like it as it comes with some mint sauce sprinkled over it.

Venison also cooks up well in a casserole, particularly if you’ve shot an older animal and the meat may be a little on the chewy side. A slow cooked casserole usually tenderises the meat no end. This sort of thing is not much different to any other casserole and there are plenty of options on the supermarket shelves, including those requiring the judicious introduction of some rough red wine into the mix.


Goat meat is ideal as a curry. The added benefit here is that you can use all the meat off the front legs, not just the hind quarters. Once again there are plenty of really good curry mixes on supermarket shelves. The curry option also helps tenderise meat that might otherwise have a little too much texture.

Young goat is usually far better eating and another more adventurous way to cook it is by ‘butterflying’ the carcass. To cook it this way you need a good bed of coals. You also need to make up a frame with wire mesh fastened across it. Wire the carcass to the frame and suspend it over the bed of coals close enough for it to cook, but not so close that it will dry it out. Once again, cook it slow. You can maintain the moisture content by basting it or with any marinade you fancy.

There are any number of ways to cook game and you’ll find plenty of options on the internet. It’s also easy to become carried away with the herbs and spices thing. My recommendation is to keep it simple.

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