How to Make Deer Jerky


how to make deer jerky | Hunting MagazineMaking deer jerky is as timeless and as much of a tradition as the deer hunt itself.

There’s just nothing like sitting around the kitchen table and playing card games while we snack on fresh deer jerky. I’ll be sharing with you my process for how to make deer jerky. Your free to add or delete any steps that you feel to complete your perfect batch of deer jerky.

If you’re a deer hunter then I would expect you love to eat deer jerky! I know in my household and around deer camp, it’s one of our favorite protein meat snacks.

Let’s not waste any time here. I am going to share with you my simple 5 Step Process for How to Make Deer Jerky.

Let’s Get Started!

1. Choose The Cut of Your Choice

This is a straightforward process. You may choose to make deer jerky out of any reduction of the deer that you just choose. I personally use any and all meat scraps of the deer to make my deer jerky.

Once you have the cuts of deer meat chosen for your deer jerky, you’ll want to finish the processing steps for that deer meat. I always rinse the meat thoroughly to be sure that there is no deer hair or extra blood sticking to the deer meat. I personally like to soak my deer meat scraps for a few days – 3 – 4 days seems to work nicely. I do this to remove some of the gaminess from the deer meat. This is purely a personal preference of mine. You can do as you see it. I mean, you’ll be the one eating your deer jerky after all.

2. Thin Deer Jerky or Thick Deer Jerky

This is where making deer jerky gets personal for some folks. Many lovers of deer jerky will debate endlessly about whether or not deer jerky should be thin-sliced or thick sliced. My own personal preference is to have thin-sliced deer jerky. My reasoning for this is that when the deer jerky is in the drying process it cures and dries much better if it’s thinly sliced. Trust me on this one. You’ll save yourself an extortionary amount of time making deer jerky if you opt for the thin-sliced jerky.

Here’s a couple of reasons why:

1. You’ll save time in the drying process. Thin deer jerky, cures and dries more quickly.
2. You’ll save time on the endless knife sharpening you’ll have to do if you opt for making thick deer jerky. The reason for this is you have to do more chopping and cutting when making thick deer jerky vs. thin deer jerky.
3. Thin Deer Jerky, just tastes better! The thick-sliced deer jerky is tough and hard to chew. It also oftentimes can spoil by getting moldy due to inadequate drying of the deer jerky.

You can slice your deer meat with a sharp kitchen knife. However, if you wish to make a lot of deer jerky I would suggest that you opt for buying a meat slicer. It’s an investment, however, you’ll be so glad you made it because it can be used for a lot of different wild game meats you might process later do the road.

Also, a meat slicer is a good way to get your deer meat sliced super thin for your deer jerky. You can actually get your deer meat so thin with a meat slicer that it’s virtually shaved. Yeah, I know right…That’s Thin!

3. Mix the Deer Jerky Spices

While one person is slicing the deer meat, another person can begin mixing the deer jerky spices for your deer jerky recipe. Wait, till the end of this post and I’ll share with you some great deer jerky recipes to get you off to a great start.

You can alter the deer jerky recipes any way you wish. But for the most part, all the deer jerky recipes have very similar ingredients. All of the deer jerky recipes I have seen and used myself have contained the following base ingredients: soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, crushed red pepper, plenty of brown sugar or white sugar (your choice), and anything else that we think sounds good – toss it in there – experiment with your deer jerky recipe. I mean, honestly…Who wants a boring spiceless, flavorless deer jerky, right? Add some spice, give your deer jerky some heat, and some kick in the shorts.

Anyway, let’s get to mixing the recipe up for your deer jerky. Once this deer jerky recipe is mixed hopefully, your jerky-making partner will have all the deer meat sliced.

In the case that you might be flying solo (aka – working alone) making deer jerky, you’ll, of course, have to take things step by step. Get all the deer jerky meat cut up, nice and thin, or for those folks that like thick jerky you can cut yours thick lol. After the deer meat is all cut up; then you can start mixing up all the deer jerky spices for the jerky recipe.

4. Get Your Deer Jerky Soaking in a Spice Bath

As soon as your deer jerky spices are all combined and your deer meat is sliced the way you desire, it’s time to mix the deer meat and the jerky spices together. You’ll want to fill the large bowl with the jerky marinade as stuff it with full of deer meat.

Once the deer meat, jerky spices, and the jerky marinade are all mixed together well. You then place the large bowl of deer meat in your fridge and allow it to marinate overnight – roughly 24 hours or so works well. Once you get up the subsequent morning, you’ll be prepared to start the drying course.

5. Start Drying Out the Deer Jerky

Alright, so while you were sleeping your deer meat was marinating. Now you are ready to start the jerky drying process.

What you’ll want to do is place the deer meat on the trays in your food dehydrator. Your typical store-bought do-it-yourself food dehydrator will work just fine or you can even choose to make deer jerky in the oven.

However, if you have a smaller dehydrator you’ll be able to make enough deer jerky to last for a few weeks or even a month or so depending on how much you eat. The smaller kitchen countertop food dehydrator will really only allow you to make small batches of deer jerky at a time. so, you’ll have to make a few small batches until you have made all the deer meat into jerky. Make sure to check out the deer jerky dehydrators I have listed at the end of this post.

Once your deer meat is dehydrating, follow the instructions for your particular food dehydrator for how long you should leave your deer meat drying. Each food dehydrator is different, so be sure to read up on their specs.

I’ve discovered that more often than not most food dehydrators take anywhere between 12-24 hours for the deer meat to be dried out and is ready for you to enjoy.

Again, your results could be completely different. You’ll have to keep an eye on the deer jerky by feeling it to see if the outer pores and skin are dry. You can take a few pieces of deer jerky and break them every so often to see if the inside of the deer meat is drying properly.

When you feel confident that all of the deer meat has dried, and you have let it dry for the appropriate period of time that your food dehydrator’s manual suggests, then you’ll be able to remove the deer jerky from the dehydrator and start to eat.

Make sure to check out the deer jerky recipes I have included below for you to enjoy.

  1. Simple Venison Jerky
  2. Oven-Cured Venison Jerky
  3. Hoosier State Deer Jerky
  4. Northwoods Deer Jerky



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