While venison is a term that refers to the meat of any deer species, the taste differs from one species to another. You can cut the meat into steaks, roasts, chops, and grind, but the taste is what matters in the outcome of any recipe that includes venison.
The taste usually depends on age, sex, season, among other factors. This article covers the best tasting deer species.
A List of the Best Tasting Deer Species
Most hunters adore this deer species due to its incredibly tasting venison. Also, it is probably the most beautiful deer species. It is reddish-brown with some white spots scattered all over its body and has a dark stripe running along its backbone from neck to the tail’s tip.
The males from this species are distinct from their brow tined antlers and can weigh up to 250 pounds. On the other hand, females usually weigh up to 150 pounds. Their diet depends on the season though it usually comprises grasses, live oak, mushrooms, acorns, and sumac.
The axis deer is one of the best tasting deer because it is mild and extremely tender. Also, it contains about 0.2 percent fat, which makes one of the leanest types of meat.
This is probably the most popular deer species, so what does elk taste like? Many hunters adore it due to its little or no gamey taste. The taste is somehow similar to that of beef, but with a bit of a gamey taste. Despite tasting like beef, it is leaner but a bit higher in cholesterol. Apart from the flavorful and mild gamey taste, you’ll love the coarse texture of this venison.
The elk is one of the largest mammals indigenous to North America and Eastern parts of Asia. You will find it in the forest habitats and have vast diet sources, including grasses, tree leaves, herbs, and tree bark.
They are popular due to their huge antlers; they alone can weigh up to 40 pounds. Elks boast high survivability as they adapt to the climate and environment. However, they are still susceptible to infectious diseases.
The male weighs 40 percent more weight than the females, weighing up to 1200 pounds.
These deer species are distributed all over the world. Their prevalence in North America dates as back as the Pleistocene era, and later they migrated to Europe and Asia Minor. In Europe, these fallow deer were important in sporting by the aristocracy.
They are medium in size and usually weigh up to 220 pounds or more, whereby the female is about 110 pounds. Their color varies from black to chestnut to white. The other distinguishing characteristic is that the bucks feature large, flattened, and shovel-modeled antlers.
Moreover, the fallow deer are incredible foragers and can survive on different plants they may come across.
Their meat taste is quite gamey, and they are the traditional venison in most European recipes. It is, however, too strong that people use wine marinades and juniper berries to counterbalance it.
The red deer is also another common venison, and you can easily find it in food stores and myriads of habitats. It is popular with its lean and excellent tasting venison and is native in most parts of Europe, the Caucasus region, and Asia Minor. The meat is relatively high in protein but very low in fat but boasts rich flavorful taste. Until lately, in the UK, this venison was restricted to royalty and aristocracy.
The red deer is comparable to elk in terms of size as the mature one can measure up to eight feet long and weigh over 500 pounds. Stags annually shed and regrow large antlers. Another mesmerizing characteristic of red deer is their roaring vocalization during the mating season.
Also, they browse rather than graze and are found in forest land. They feed on twigs, ivy, lichen, leaves among other plants depending on availability.
This deer species can adapt to both temperate and arctic climates. It is renowned due to its flavorful and mild gamey taste. Apart from the incredible taste of the meat, it is high in protein and very lean. Also, it has a similar texture compared to lean bison or beef. Hence, this venison makes excellent steaks.
The moose is also among the largest deer species as the male stands up to 6 feet from shoulder to the foot. It is one of the popular targets for sports and harvesting venison. A mature bull moose can yield up to 900 pounds.
This deer species got its name due to its large ears. It is indigenous to the western United States. The mule deer males can weigh over 200 pounds, and females can weigh around 125 pounds. One of its distinguishing features includes the folk shaped antlers.
Another interesting fact about mule deer is that it leaps in the air rather than usual running, up to eight feet high. The downside of this species is that it isn’t adaptable to change in the climate.
Its diet includes sage in winter, conifers and bushes year-round, and plants and berries during summer. Thus, its meat is very gamey. It is a popular choice for sport hunters and people who enjoy gamey venison.
South Texas/ Nilgai Deer
These deer species were imported from India. The male features blue-gray color, which gave birth to its name-Nilgai. It is large and can weigh up to 600 pounds, and the females are smaller, weighing a third of males and are light brown.
They don’t survive well in cold climates, but instead, they reproduce well in temperate and warm climates. The Nilgai deer feed on grasses, seeds, and different kinds of fruits. Also, their skittish and muscular characteristics make them quite challenging to hunt.
Their meat has a veal-like texture, light flavor, and milder than beef.
The Sika Deer is considered to be among the smartest deer species. These dainty-footed and compact-shaped deer are also a great source of tasty venison. They are native to Japan but are currently prevalent in most parts, including the United States, thanks to their rapid hybridization.
Their unusual survival tactics make hunting very challenging. Thus, they are mostly preferred by sport hunters who want to gauge their hunting prowess. Their coats vary from brown to mahogany featuring white spots. Also, they are great for trophy hunting as their antlers can have up to eight tines.
The Sika deer venison tastes more like elk, but strong flavored and darker.
These deer are small to medium-sized and are probably the most common in the United States. They possess reddish coasts in summer and spring, while in winter, they have a gray-brown color. The long whitetail characterizes this deer. It is native to America, and its population is huge in the east of the Rocky Mountains.
White-tailed deer prefer forest habitats and forages on plants, cacti, acorns, grasses, fruits, mushrooms, etc. This deer species is ideal for venison and sport hunting.
The taste depends on the diet, although the flavor is lighter and gamey.
Deer meat is superb but can have slight differences in taste depending on the species. The flavor is also dependent on season, mode of killing, age, and sex of the deer.
It is important to note that the venison’s taste will also be subject to the mode of cooking and the additives you use. Therefore, you have to consider the venison’s characteristics and ensure it agrees with the recipe you need to follow.
After all, it is hard to pick the best tasting deer species because it depends on individual preferences.