Should You Worry About Eating Venison? 6 Expert Opinions | Deer & Deer Hunting


“Should I worry about eating venison because of CWD?” This is a common question we get here at Deer & Deer Hunting, and you would be surprised at how often and how long that question has been posed to us.

Let’s cut to the chase: A person has a much better chance of getting struck and killed by lightning than contracting a disease by eating venison. Don’t take my word for it, listen to those whose lives have been shaped by white-tailed deer — professionals who have studied deer biology for decades.

Scientists and biologists from across the continent are frustrated with the mainstream media’s approach chronic wasting disease. Despite the fact no link can be made to human illness, the news coverage has sent waves of panic throughout whitetail country.

Screen Shot 2019 03 15 at 2.37.24 PM Should You Worry About Eating Venison? 6 Expert Opinions | Deer & Deer Hunting
Read all of the comments in this blog post. How do they differ from what you are hearing today? (photo by David Gilane)

Unfortunately, we don’t always hear from qualified sources for these news stories. Here are the candid responses of bonafide white-tailed deer experts. The panel consists of individuals we consider among the most knowledgable deer minds in North America: Dr. Valerius Geist of Alberta, Jay McAninch of Virginia, Dr. Grant Woods of South Carolina, professional deer biologist Bob Zaiglin of Texas, and retired deer biologist Keith McCaffery of Wisconsin.

I asked each man to provide their thoughts on the question in the headline of the article. What follows are their responses — from 2002!

That’s not a typo. I wrote a large article for Deer & Deer Hunting 17 years ago when CWD was first found in Wisconsin. Here is an excerpt from that article. Although I am reaching out to many of these highly respected deer experts for an update, I think you will be both shocked and surprised that their answers then are pretty much in line with what experts are suggesting today. Long story short: Irrational fears over eating venison are just that — irrational.

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Dr. Valerius Geist – University of Calgary

They should not! The CWD issue has been, unfortunately, raised to the level of hysteria.

One need not worry about eating venison, and yet one should take a few common-sense safeguards, as I have taken long ago. I no longer eat brains, and as a European acculturated to eating many innards, that’s a loss to me.

In a CWD-affected area I would remove the head, all innards (edible ones included) and bones and discard them. I would hand in the head for testing, knowing fully well that false negative results are all too common.

I would feed the meat to my dogs if the meat came from a noticeably thin animal, lacking fat with inner organs of doubtful appearance. I have done so in the past anyway, CWD or no CWD.

Venison is so exceptionally good a food, saturated with vitamins, exceptionally rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other good fats that I cannot substitute by buying meat in some supermarket. Wild meat is the very best food we can possibly have, and I will not give up venison.


Jay McAninch – Former Minnesota Big-Game Biologist

I don’t think hunters should worry about eating venison, especially if they are in an area where CWD has not been found. As long as they take basic precautions and follow the guidelines available from their state wildlife agency, they should remain confident they’ve minimized their risk.

If the decision to eat venison is weighing heavily on a hunter’s mind and he is obsessed with worry, then I would suggest not eating it. If hunters want to assess the risks, then they should consider that the infection rate of deer in the CWD area in Wisconsin is about 2 percent. Frankly, hunters have a substantially higher risk of being affected by any number of other health problems, not the least of which is being in a car accident while driving on a hunting trip.

See also  7mm-08 Remington for Elk Hunting? Best Ammo (Round, Load, Cartridge) for a Successful Elk Hunt Hunting Calibers 04 Apr, 2020 Posted By: Foundry Outdoors Is the 7mm-08 Remington a viable caliber/load/round/cartridge for elk hunting? The accurate answer is “it depends”. However, the goal of this article is simply to address the question of whether the 7mm-08 Remington is within the ideal range of suitable calibers to harvest elk. As with anything, the devil is in the details. To answer the question completely, we would need to evaluate the downrange distance to the elk, the bullet type, the grain weight of the bullet, the physical condition of the firearm, the size of the elk in question, the shot placement, the local wind conditions, the expected accuracy of the shooter, the ethics of the ideal maximum number of shots – the list goes on. [Click Here to Shop 7mm-08 Remington Ammo]What we can do is provide a framework to understand what average conditions might look like, and whether those are reasonably viable for a shot from the average shooter to harvest a elk in the fewest number of shots possible, i.e., ethically. Let’s dive right in. In the question of “Is the 7mm-08 Remington within the ideal range of suitable calibers for elk hunting?” our answer is: Yes, the 7mm-08 Remington is A GOOD CHOICE for elk hunting, under average conditions, from a mid-range distance, with a medium grain expanding bullet, and with correct shot placement.Let’s look at those assumptions a bit closer in the following table. Assumption Value Caliber 7mm-08 Remington Animal Species Elk Muzzle Energy 2450 foot-pounds Animal Weight 720 lbs Shot Distance 200 yardsWhat is the average muzzle energy for a 7mm-08 Remington? In this case, we have assumed the average muzzle energy for a 7mm-08 Remington round is approximately 2450 foot-pounds. What is the average weight of an adult male elk? Here we have leaned conservative by taking the average weight of a male individual of the species, since females generally weigh less and require less stopping power. In this case, the average weight of an adult male elk is approximately 720 lbs. [Click Here to Shop 7mm-08 Remington Ammo]What is the distance this species is typically hunted from? Distance, of course, plays an important role in the viability of a given caliber in elk hunting. The kinetic energy of the projectile drops dramatically the further downrange it travels primarily due to energy lost in the form of heat generated by friction against the air itself. This phenonemon is known as drag or air resistance. Thus, a caliber that is effective from 50 yards may not have enough stopping power from 200 yards. With that said, we have assumed the average hunting distance for elk to be approximately 200 yards. What about the other assumptions? We have three other primary assumptions being made here. First, the average bullet weight is encapsulated in the average muzzle energy for the 7mm-08 Remington. The second important assumption is ‘slightly-suboptimal’ to ‘optimal’ shot placement. That is to say, we assume the elk being harvested is shot directly or nearly directly in the vitals (heart and/or lungs). The third assumption is that a projectile with appropriate terminal ballistics is being used, which for hunting usually means an expanding bullet.Various calibersA common thread you may encounter in online forums is anecdote after anecdote of large animals being brought down by small caliber bullets, or small animals surviving large caliber bullets. Of course those stories exist, and they are not disputed here. A 22LR cartridge can fell a bull elephant under the right conditions, and a newborn squirrel can survive a 50 BMG round under other specific conditions. Again, the goal of this article is simply to address the question of whether 7mm-08 Remington is within the ideal range of suitable calibers to harvest elk - and to this question, the response again is yes, the 7mm-08 Remington is A GOOD CHOICE for elk hunting. [Click Here to Shop 7mm-08 Remington Ammo]This article does not serve as the final say, but simply as a starting point for beginner hunters, as well as a venue for further discussion. Please feel free to agree, disagree, and share stories from your own experience in the comments section below. Disclaimer: the information above is purely for illustrative purposes and should not be taken as permission to use a particular caliber, a statement of the legality or safety of using certain calibers, or legal advice in any way. You must read and understand your own local laws before hunting elk to know whether your caliber of choice is a legal option.Foundry Outdoors is your trusted home for buying archery, camping, fishing, hunting, shooting sports, and outdoor gear online.We offer cheap ammo and bulk ammo deals on the most popular ammo calibers. We have a variety of deals on Rifle Ammo, Handgun Ammo, Shotgun Ammo & Rimfire Ammo, as well as ammo for target practice, plinking, hunting, or shooting competitions. Our website lists special deals on 9mm Ammo, 10mm Ammo, 45-70 Ammo, 6.5 Creedmoor ammo, 300 Blackout Ammo, 10mm Ammo, 5.56 Ammo, Underwood Ammo, Buffalo Bore Ammo and more special deals on bulk ammo.We offer a 100% Authenticity Guarantee on all products sold on our website. Please email us if you have questions about any of our product listings. 1 Comments Ted - Aug 28, 2023Shot placement is the key. I find most 140(139) grain bullets serve me well. Hunting should be fair chase. Sniping at 400+ yards is not hunting. Leave a commentComments have to be approved before showing up Your Name * Your Email * Your Comment * Post Comment

Dr. David Samuel — West Virginia University

In general, I do not believe hunters should worry. At least 20,000 people die each year from the flu in America, none have died from CWD. I believe we need some rational calm now. However, having said that, if I were hunting in Wisconsin, I’d butcher my own deer, bone out the meat and discard the neck — because there are a lot of lymph nodes in there.

I have been processing my own deer for 30 years, and I’d suggest other hunters do the same.

Bob Zaiglin — Southwest Texas Junior College

In areas where CWD has existed for at least 30 years, an average of only 6 percent of the deer are infected and less than 1 percent of the elk are infected. Another fact is there has not been a single case of CWD diagnosed in a human. Within the family of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies is scrapie, which has been identified in domestic sheep for more than 200 years. More importantly, no one has contracted this variant even though sheep represent a principal component of our diets.

My answer to this question is “no,” but we must take precautions, just like using a seat belt in an automobile. There are a few things hunters can do to reduce what is already a minute possibility of contracting CWD.

  • Do not shoot sick animals.
  • Wear rubber gloves when field dressing deer.
  • Bone out meat.
  • Minimize handling of brain and spinal tissues.
  • Wash hands and instruments thoroughly upon completion of butchering animal.
  • Avoid consuming a deer’s brain, eyes, spleen, tonsils, spinal cord and lymph nodes.
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Dr. Grant Woods — GrowingDeer.TV

To date, there is no evidence that CWD will cross to humans — in lab test, or from humans consuming deer and elk from CWD-positive herds since the 1960s.

With proper precautions — such as deboning meat, not using the same tools to prepare meat that were used to cut through the brain or spinal cord, and removing lymph nodes from meat that is to be consumed — my family will continue to consume venison.

Keith McCaffery, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Deer Researcher (retired):

Hunters should worry about being killed in an auto accident, or from their smoking or bad-eating habits. CWD has not been known to cross the barrier to humans. Even if it were like BSE, humans would be far less likely to get a variant CJD from venison because we don’t eat everything (teats, lips, udders, intestines) from a deer like we do a cow.

“CWD prions have not been detected in meat. Worry more about eating beef hamburger.