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    Cooking with Deer Fat: Yes or No?

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    As hunters there is nothing we love more than wild game. The satisfaction that you have used blood, sweat, and occasional tears to fill your families table gives you a sense of pride that is nigh unmatched. Every time you bag a buck, you give yourself a rousing pat on the back, clean it, and load it up to be taken home anticipating all of the delicious meals it will make along the way. For any type of game, there are given rules for prepping these delicacies that have been passed from parent to child for generations: double check to make sure you got all of the feathers, don’t overcook your game etc. Yet it seems sometimes those rules are made to be broken. For as long as we can recall, we were informed that you should always trim deer fat. We were under the assumption that deer fat had a bad flavor and went rancid quickly, therefore fat should be either left for wild animals to claim or used in some other manner. However, after stumbling across an article by David Draper on the Field & Stream blog, we began to wonder: Does deer fat make the meat taste gamey?

    In order to help us answer this question, we sought out the blog post by Hank Shaw that inspired Draper’s post. In Shaw’s article he explains that, as with all game animals, there will always be a variation of flavor based on both the region and that specific animal’s dietary preferences. That being said, Shaw goes on to explain that since deer are ruminants they have a much narrower diet than many game animals; causing their flavor range to be narrower as well. While the flavor range will be narrower, however, a deer that eats more acorns or lives in an area with a larger variety of grains will taste better than one in an environment with a sparser food supply (Shaw, 2014).

    In Shaw’s post, he explains that while he will use the caul (the fat surrounding the intestines) in certain recipes, he does not use the suet (the fat surrounding the kidneys). He explains that the fat in areas where there are little working muscles is much harder than the fat over top the working muscle groups. Luckily for us, birds love suet and it also makes amazing candles and soaps. Shaw does use the fat in muscular areas (like the hind quarters) to cook with. He explains that deer fats are very high in Omega 3’s, thanks to their diet, and are also thought to have the highest level of stearic acid in any food animal. Deer fat has a higher amount of saturated fat than you would find in deer, pork, or lamb, which initially may worry people. Yet, there are different types of saturated fats, and the saturated fat found in deer is the healthy type. Plus, the stearic acid decreases bad cholesterol levels and might even increase good cholesterol levels; though the latter has yet to be proven (Shaw, 2014).

    Shaw does go into detail about how the deer must be treated in order for the fat to taste good and to prevent it from going rancid (essentially, it has to be below freezing; otherwise the Omega 3s cause the fat to oxidize, which makes it go rancid quickly). He also has a check list to follow to ensure your deer fat is tasty. The one drawback Shaw mentioned was the fact that the stearic acid causes the fat to coat your mouth; which can be off-putting (Shaw, 2014).

    Using Shaw’s guidelines, we decided to test out whether or not leaving deer fat on worked for us. In order to try this, we enlisted the help of one of our staff members who loves to cook. She opted to make a venison roast as “it’s chilly out and that’s some darned good comfort food,” and here is what she decided.

    1. We did trim the fat to a point, so that we wouldn’t have an overly fatty roast. When it was cooking it smelled amazing.
    2. The fat did give a really nice flavor to the roast, it definitely classified as one of the best roasts I’ve made yet. My husband thought it was absolutely fantastic and went back for seconds.
    3. The stearic acid definitely left a flavor coating in your mouth. Shaw mentioned in his article he sometimes uses red wine to help with that, and luckily we had a nice Malbec on hand. It did help somewhat.

    So in conclusion, we have decided cooking with deer fat does have a huge impact on the flavor. Overall the flavor is fantastic if the deer comes from an area where there are good, flavorful things for it to eat. However, our staff member did say that while her husband had no issue with the feel the fat left in his mouth, she really was not a fan and would likely trim the fat for that reason. What are your thoughts on this? Are you guys pro deer fat or con deer fat?

    Literature Cited:
    1. Draper, David. “Do You Eat Deer Fat.” October 31. 2014. The Wild Chef. Field and Stream Blog. Website: http://www.fieldandstream.com/blogs/the-wild-chef/do-you-eat-deer-fat
    2. Shaw, Hank. “Demystifying Deer Fat.” October 13. 2014. Honest Food Blog. Website: http://honest-food.net/2014/10/13/cooking-deer-fat/

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Transmitter

The Pro-Tracker® Transmitter is a rechargeable, lightweight, water resistant transmitter that disengages from the arrow upon impact; allowing for pass-throughs. The transmitter hooks into the animal’s hide and begins sending Radio Frequency (RF) signals every three seconds for the duration of the battery life (10-12 hours). You will need the Pro-Tracker® Receiver to read and track the signal.

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Carrier

The Carrier is what screws into your arrow and holds the transmitter. It is aerodynamically designed to compensate for the weight and shape of the transmitter. Meaning minimal adjustments to your equipment for the same precision. This item comes in a pack of four.

 
 

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RADIO FREQUENCY RECEIVER

ReceiverYAGI Antenna

The Pro-Tracker® Radio Frequency (RF) Receiver is a compact system with an easy to attach antenna. This state of the art receiver can track up to 6 different transmitter signals at the same time. Displaying signal strength, transmitter number, current time, time spent tracking, and current battery life, all on a easy to read LED screen. Available only in the Pro-Tracker© System

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DUAL CHARGER & CARRYING CASE

Carrying Case

The Pro-Tracker® custom metal carrying case helps you keep track of your Pro-Tracker system and ensures everything stays together. Its lightweight and durable design ensures your equipment is protected while being as easy as possible to carry during your hunting trip and recovering your trophy.

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Carrier

This dual-charging station allows you to charge up to two transmitters at a time. It includes both a USB and outlet adapter. The outlet adapter allows you to charge your transmitters at home while the USB adapters allow you to charge your transmiters in your truck for extended hunting trips.

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STATE-OF-THE-ART TECHNOLOGY

The patented Pro-Tracker® Recovery System will help you locate your kill with durable, state of the art technology. The compact system can track 6 different transmitters while using the same RF receiver with an easy to read LED screen. Best of all, our transmitters don’t require the purchase of batteries and can be recharged both at home and out in the field.

 

UNRIVALED PERFORMANCE

The Pro-Tracker® System has been field tested by top experts in the archery industry. With the Pro-Tracker® Archery System you’ll see virtually no difference in the trajectory of your arrow because of the aerodynamic carrier. Tests have shown the Pro-Tracker® Recovery System will give you many hours of use and the precision to recovery your trophy.

 

ETHICS

deer hunt
As a bow hunter, we appreciate the skill required to take an animal. We enjoy the smell of fresh air and the morning chill that seeps into your bones as you sit quietly and wait for an animal to wander into view. We understand the importance of a steady hand and careful aim; there is no feeling better than letting that arrow fly and hitting your mark. As bow hunters, we also understand the frustration when your perfectly aimed shot seems to go awry (i.e. hitting a branch or an unexpected object). If you miss, you go find your arrow and try again. If you wound your animal you can spend hours or days tracking the blood trail, hoping the weather holds until you find your kill. The sad fact though, is that while many times you will find your quarry, there are just as many times that an animal is unrecovered.
Looking back, you will find studies related to deer loss rates in bow hunting dating back to 1989. When the studies first began, the amount of animals wounded and lost is astounding, but as bow hunting equipment has improved, the number of animal losses has decreased substantially. Unfortunately, even with these decreases, the ratio of unrecovered animals is still causing concern within the bow hunting community and general public. We wanted to look deeper into deer loss rates, and focused on information obtained in two of the better known studies done by Stephen S. Ditchkoff et al and M. Andy Pedersen at al. One study found that of 104 bow hunters, there was an 18% wounding rate. Within a normal hunting season these hunters hit a total of 908 white tail deer, recovering only 746 (Pedersen et al 2008). In another study, it was determined that there was a 50% wounding rate and of that number 14% weren’t recovered. Of these deer 4% died annually from these wounds, while the rest survived (Ditchkoff et al. 1998).

pro-tracker bow huntIn the reports, we found that while many of the deer either die (Ditchkoff) or are recovered within 24 hours (Pedersen), that some can survive 5-7 days with wounds before they perish. When looking at these numbers and percentages for any individual state, the number of animals that are not recovered seems miniscule. However once you look at the entire population of bow hunters within the United States alone, the amount becomes much more significant (Ditchkoff). This more significant number of unrecovered animals has been causing animal rights and anti-hunting activists to state that bow hunting is both cruel and inhumane. It is because of this that the Pro-Tracker was invented. Our goal is to eliminate the possibility of losing even one animal while maintaining the integrity of the hunt. Pro-Tracker has been in use since 2010 and thus far we have a 100% accuracy rate in animal recovery. The Pro-Tracker system, while not ideal for every hunter, is thus far supporting the goal of striving to ensure bow hunting is appreciated for the skill it requires and given the support it deserves, rather than seen in a negative light. With technology and advancement in the archery industry, we can help in recovering the animals wounded and work to improve the loss rate. We all have a responsibility to the natural resources we are given; no one is perfect every time. Accidents do happen, and we need to be prepared for those occasions.

Literature Cited:
1. Ditchkoff, Stephen S., Edgar R. Welch Jr., Robert L. Lochmiller, Ronald E. Masters, William R. Starry, William C. Dinkines. 1998. Wounding of White-tailed Deer with Traditional Archery Equipment. Proc. Annu. Conf. Southeast. Assoc. Fish and Wildl. Agencies 52:244-248. Website: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Ronald_Masters/publication/237609363_Wounding_Rates_of_Whitetailed_Deer_

with_Traditional_Archery_Equipment/links/54c63cdf0cf256ed5a9d4dfe.pdf
2. Pedersen, Andy M., Seth Berry, Jeffrey C. Bossart. 2008. Wounding Rates of White –tailed Deer with Modern Archery Equipment. Proc. Annu. Conf. Southeast. Assoc. Fish and Wildl. Agencies 62:31–34
Website: http://www.marylandqdma.com/files/Download/Pedersen-31-34.pdf