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Reasons to start eating game meat? What is the taste like?

Hey good evening. Well admittedly I'm a huge fan of the taste of what would normally be considered "fattened" animals, I guess, as in corn-fed beef and such. As long as I can avoid feedlots and factory farms, I do like the taste of corn-fed beef and such, however I was curious what would be the benefits of switching to game meats..
I assume since they are wild they are more healthy because they are eating more "natural" foodstuffs, is this true?

I assume there will be some getting used to if I am a fan of corn-fed beef no? Any recommendations for what to start with? I would like to try some wild boar or elk or such .. . .

Please let me know your thoughts thanks :) Have a good one :)

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  1. I would start with bison and duck see if you can handle it. They're among the mildest of the "game meats", and yes, I'm aware that they're both raised. The wild boar and elk that you want to try are both rather aromatic so if you can't handle something that's a bit more fragrant than say commercial beef, forget the others.

    5 Replies
    1. re: wattacetti

      +1 on the duck...it's a delicious first foray away from "traditional" animals.

      Healthwise, I really don't buy that there's a significant difference -- game is highly seasonal, but a delicious change of pace from everyday meats....but I wouldn't want to eat it all the time - it would ruin the "special". Game meat also tends to be rich-tasting -- and very expensive.

      It's a treat, not a lifestyle.

      1. re: sunshine842

        It's a lifestyle for many of my friends. That's all they eat. It is healthier, too. No, I don't have the scientific evidence at hand. But many, many of my frineds have nothing but elk, venison, antelope in their freezers and the never buy red meat.
        In my experience, elk, boar, and bear are the least "gamey." Antelope is the most gamey.
        None of my friends buy their game meat. They kill it themselves.

        1. re: wyogal

          It's moderately healthier because it's leaner -- but as far as nutrition other than fat content, I'd have to see some evidence.

          and a lot of the 'gaminess' depends on what the animal ate -- venison from animals that lived in a pine forest have a vastly different flavor than from animals that lived in an agricultural area (thus eating a lot of corn and wheat).

          1. re: sunshine842

            One of the factors affecting gaminess of meat is how the animal died. If an animal is killed in a slaughterhouse in a quick and efficient manner, the meat will be only as gamey as the species normally would be. At the other extreme, if the animal was killed by an archery hunter and failed to go down immediately (as they seldom do), then the meat will likely be much gamier than a slaughterhouse processed animal due to the high levels of adrenaline generated by a not so quick death.

      2. re: wattacetti

        Yep, duck, quail, and pheasant would be the very mildest of some game meats compared to starting off with boar and elk. If you roast the duck it will fry itself up in all its fat. Fattiest part of the duck is the neck, which is delicious, but most poultry is farm raised anyway. However, I remember, depending on the season, dartagnan ships wild pheasant and wild rabbit caught from scotland if you want game meat, and not "game meat" raised in farms.

      3. hey thank you guys for the reply.. it's not that i can't handle the aromatic, i don't even know what i can handle i just mean i love love love the taste of my corn finished pastured beef, so i guess that's not too far removed from typical game meat...

        i guess since i haven't tried before i don't even know how "bad" it would taste or different, guess i'll have to just try it out!
        i think the main reason i shy away from it is because i'm totally anti-lean meats, i am trying to gain weight and muscle and i hate hearing how "lean" game meat is, i'm looking for fatty meats . . . . have a good one then thanks for the help i will try and get some game to start with

        3 Replies
        1. re: certifiedhumane

          Ah, didn't see this post before recommending the milder meats :) If you decide to go with less fatty game meats but still want the fat for muscle/weight gain, one compromise is that you can buy duck fat or lard and cook your meats in those fats. Fry it, grill it, marinate it, or poach it in fat. It's really good.

          I can only think of cooking game meats more rare, if that's your thing, to maintain a more tender texture, or using the stew meat or tenderloin portions of the game meat, which will naturally have more fat than the leaner, more muscular parts.

          1. re: Frouss

            Oh yes -- game is almost always very lean (even duck -- the fat is all in the skin, not in the meat) - and you have to be careful with it, or you'll have a very expensive hunk of shoe leather.

            And to me? The flavor of wild game is nothing at all like beef, no matter what it ate.

          2. re: certifiedhumane

            "hey thank you guys for the reply.. it's not that i can't handle the aromatic, i don't even know what i can handle i just mean i love love love the taste of my corn finished pastured beef, so i guess that's not too far removed from typical game meat...

            i guess since i haven't tried before i don't even know how "bad" it would taste or different, guess i'll have to just try it out!
            i think the main reason i shy away from it is because i'm totally anti-lean meats, i am trying to gain weight and muscle and i hate hearing how "lean" game meat is, i'm looking for fatty meats . . . . have a good one then thanks for the help i will try and get some game to start with"

            Uh - for starters, game meats are SO FAR REMOVED in flavor from your "corn finished pastured beef" that you're in for a VERY rude awakening if you expect them to be even remotely similar. A fact that nearly everyone here has been trying to tell you, & yet you've apparently been ignoring.

            In addition, adding "fatty" meats to your diet isn't going to help you "gain weight and muscle". The fattiness of the meat has nothing to do with weight gain. It will, however, raise your cholesterol & possibly your blood pressure.

          3. I eat quite a bit of game - it's cheap and readily available in farmers markets and butchers (and supermarkets - although not so cheap there).

            It's difficult to describe tastes to someone who hasnt experienced it as the flavours can vary so much from, say, the very mild taste of rabbit to the more pronounced tastes of, say wild boar or venison. Rabbit is often to said to be like chicken, although I find it much, much more delicate. Wild boar is similar in base flavour to well matured free-range pork - although with a more pronounced flavour (where I am, it isn't really "wild" but farmed). Wild, locally shot, duck or pigeon is going to have a more pronounced flavour than the farm raised equivalents.
            Later in the year, my local farmers market will be selling packs of locally shot mixed game - usually venison, pheasant, rabbit - they make great stews and pies.

            As you're already suggesting, the best way to try is just to plunge in and go buy something. That way, you're going to have some base flavours that you can comapre other meats against.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Harters

              I, too, eat a fair amount of game - it is easily accessible where I live. As a child I had far more moose and elk than beef as my dad was a hunter. My favourites include elk, moose, caribou, bison, wild boar, duck, rabbit, pheasant, quail (or partridge) and goose. I have eaten water buffalo in Italy and love it. My least favourite is beaver. If I see game on a menu, it will end up on my plate.

              Your description of wild boar and game birds is spot on in my opinion. I do not find them very gamey or strong.

              Do you like lamb? Rabbit would be an excellent starting point but I agree that you must just jump right in and try everything you want at every opportunity you get.

            2. Do you have a source for this game meat? Unless you know a hunter, its going to be difficult and expensive to procure. All meat sold in stores in the US has to be slaughtered and processed in USDA approved facilities, which means the game has to be farmed raised.

              1. Deer, duck and rabbit are no more "natural" than a cow grazing in a field. Moreover wild meat *can* carry parasites that farmraised meat do not (and vice versa), so don't go after it because it somehow *seems* healthier. Go for it because it tastes great! Wild game is, yes, leaner than its domesticated counterpart, but that is not to say there is a loss of flavor. And a mallard or goose is still going to have plenty of fat in season. And many game meats are very efficient sources of protein.

                If you're anti-lean meat, I'd stay away from rabbit, since there's so little fat on the thing. Duck would obviously be a good choice. Boar is leaner than pork, but if you enrich a sausage with fat, you still end up with something juicy. Venison chili can also be rather good.

                1. Why don't you seek out a local restaurant that has game dishes and try some, before you tackle purchasing and cooking game meat on your own? There are restaurants all over that serve pheasant, rabbit, duck, and venison, all of which are "starter" game meats.

                  1. I'm not 100% sure if you are asking about wild animals that are hunted and killed or "game" that is raised on a farm. If the latter I would tend to think they may be less "certifiedhumane" than common farm animals.

                    At any rate; I hunt and kill deer and find them to be very good to eat.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: kengk

                      yeah I'm reading this thinking the same thing. "game" to me is a wild animal that a hunter (or a hunter's dog) killed. Grocery store 'game meat' is probably all fed corn, as corn makes for predictable meat. Deer meat for example, varies wildly (get it?) in taste and texture.

                      now i'm missing the last of the deer in my freezer. damn the bastard who ate it all! But I wanted to play Jim Harrison and eat it all with garlic and Chateauneuf du Pape.

                      I hate having to beg for it, but i just don't think i'll ever become a hunter. I want to eat it, but dragging a tick covered carcass out of the freezing woods isn't my idea of fun. luckily, i have cousins who live for this stuff and their eyes are bigger than their freezers.

                      Related: to the person who ate bear meat, did you also shoot the bear? I'm curious about the mechanics of this. Step one shoot bear. Ok, what is step two? How does hundreds of pounds of dead bear get from the woods to your plate?? WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A DEAD BEAR? It's mind boggling.

                      1. re: j8715

                        My husband and I ponder this as well. Although we live in an area where almost everybody hunts, we don't Remember the scene in Animal House where they have to get the dead horse out of the dean's office? Cue the chain saw.....

                        1. re: j8715

                          the roasted bear I had was at a wedding, and just the roast had been ordered by the chef -- from where I have no idea. The ceremony was held on the Cherokee reservation in North Carolina, and performed by the shaman, and the reception was all native foods - roasted bear (delicious, but could have passed for pork if you didn't say anything), venison, quail, etc., etc.

                          Definitely one of the most unusual weddings I've ever been to.

                          1. re: j8715

                            I have had wild bear. It was shot by a friend of the family. I don't know how many men it took to get it out the woods but they shoot one or two a year and just drag them out, similar to a deer.

                            They butcher it themselves. All the hunting camps in the area have, the lack of a better word, racks with pulleys that they use to hang the deer or bear. It is a group effort.

                            I grew up eating all sorts of wild game (everyone hunted) and for the most part, enjoyed all of it. I was "off" vension for many years after being gifted a batch of vension that was vile. The bear I had was fantastic, the man who shot and cooked it really knows how to cook!

                            1. re: cleobeach

                              interesting.

                              That sort of hunting (i.e. shooting and eating damn near anything) is very much on the wane. I don't know anyone that goes for small game, or game birds other than turkey. Even deer hunting is going out of style in my area.

                              1. re: j8715

                                It is waning in my area too. The hunting camp traditions are alive and well within my family and extended group of friends but younger hunters are on the decline. My uncles and his friends are sad to see this happening. Their sons (and some daughters) hunt but the grandkids are involved in soccer clubs and such and don't have time to go hunting the way people my age did. Not only did school shut down for select hunting days, taking whole weeks off to hunt was a perfectly acceptable reason to miss school. Hunters education in 6th grade was mandatory for all students.

                                I remember as a child, everyone hunted small game and pheasants. My grandmother was always up for cooking rabbit and squirril and she adored pheasant. For some families, hunting was a necessary skill as it provided meat for the family that they probably could not afford to buy. For other families (like mine) it supplimented what the farm provided.

                                I still know some people that do hunt small game and water fowl but they are really hardcore. The bird hunters travel to do their hunting.

                                Pheasant hunting is big in my area but it is done on farms and special preserves and is rather expensive. (one needs to pay to hunt this properties) There have been recent efforts to stock birds on state land and I have seen more wild pheasants in the past two years than in the past 30.

                                1. re: cleobeach

                                  I grew up where you could literally open the back door and shoot......um, let's see. All species of ducks,wild turkey,pheasant,quail,swans,many species of geese,pigeons. Moose,deer,antelope,elk,black bear,hare. The river was full of graying and rainbow trout and dolly varden char. The lake a mile away was full of lake trout and white fish. The beaver dams were full of cut throat,speckled and brook trout. None of these animals where ever fed growth hormones or injected with God knows what to help them digest fed that would have made their fat more marbled appearing.
                                  Anytime you can get truly wild game that was humanely killed and bleed and hung and butchered go for it. You may not want to go out and hunt and kill and field dress a wild animal but maybe you could contribute something towards the expenses involved. I don't hunt now b/c of 'knee' issues but I chip in for the gas when one of my friends or family goes out.