Hen Outdoors

4 minute read

We talked to Jamie Carlson about cooking wild game and he has some great advice for anyone cooking venison this season.

Jamie regularly writes for Outdoor Life and numerous other outlets. His wild game food blog, You Have to Cook It Right, focuses on how to properly prepare wild game.


If you’re making the switch to cooking wild game, it can be an adjustment. Jamie’s advice can help ease the transition and his delicious recipes are exactly what you need to succeed. 

Jamie says that his wife wasn’t initially a fan of wild game. She had eaten it previously, and she had the impression it had been cooked appropriately. However, she didn’t like the taste. Jamie countered that if it was cooked right, she would have liked it.

He finally convinced her to try some venison that he cooked, and after that, she never complained about wild game again. That’s partly where the name of his blog comes from.

If you’re used to cooking beef or pork, Jamie says cooking venison isn’t much different - but - there are differences. Be careful of overcooking because wild game doesn’t have as much fat as most store-bought meat. Wild game cooks a lot faster. He also said to be careful over over-salting. If you cook it so that the meat is still tender, you shouldn’t need much salt (unless, of course, you’re smoking it).

When we asked Jamie his recommendation for someone who just starting out with venison and he said, “Go with something you know.” If it doesn’t taste delicious the first time, make some adjustments and try it again until you get the desired result. You may have to adjust your approach or you may need to pay closer attention.

The good news is that Jamie has already tried a number of our favorite recipes and has wonderful step-by-step guides for everything from White-tail carne asada (click here) to Venison steaks with blueberry port sauce (click here).

His biggest piece of advice?

“It’s important with venison - and really, any wild game - for the raw meat to be prepared as soon as possible after harvest.”

He said he’s not a big fan of aging, partly because you actually lose 30% of the meat. He did say that smoking venison is always a good idea, and that any cut of deer can be used. When using cuts that are unfamiliar to you, you just need to cook it in a way that caters to that cut.

His last piece of advice is to get out and forage. Pick berries, find mushrooms, and explore the woods. Those foraged goods are a great addition to any wild game recipe.

Thanks to Jamie for taking the time to answer our questions!

Jamie and family

Hen Outdoors

Hen Outdoors

Hen Outdoors Founder, Kari Ann, is an avid outdoors woman who's mission is to champion for women outdoors and inspire other women to do the same.

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