Why Is Deer Meat Called Venison?


Deer meat. Love it. Hate it. Anything in-between. Venison is a popular meat amongst hunters and meat-enthusiasts alike. It can be paired with a variety of herbs, spices, and wines to create a delectable meal.

Despite this, venison is not all that popular amongst those who choose to buy their meat at the supermarket or their local butcher. This is primarily because it is difficult to come by.

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Consequently, not a lot of people know much about it – from its flavor to its texture, to the origins of the word ‘venison’ itself!

Luckily, we have done all the research so you don’t have to! Read on to find out all about the hunter’s favorite meat, and get the answers to all of your venison-related questions!

What Is Venison?

Venison is a type of red meat. It is the name for meat that comes from a deer. It can also be used as an umbrella term for any meat that comes from an animal of the Cervidae family, such as an antelope, moose, or elk.

All consumable parts of a deer or other Cervidae animals are known as venison.

What Does Venison Taste Like?

Many people claim venison tastes similar to beef, although it is chewier and firmer. Some people would describe the taste as ‘gamey’. While this is true, the ‘gamey’ taste of venison is reduced depending on how it has been field-dressed.

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Most people say that venison tastes ‘rich’ and ‘earthy’. If eating venison, you can expect to taste tones of acorn, sage, and herbs. This is because a deer’s diet seeps heavily into its meat.

Since most deer live in the wild, they consume a lot of the natural environment, such as twigs and shrubs. Therefore, the flavor of venison is dependent on the diet of the specific deer you are planning to hunt and eat.

What Flavors Pair Well With Venison?

Herbs and Spices

  • Mint: The herbs and spices that work well with venison are similar to that of lamb. So, mint tastes great with venison and you’ll find many venison recipes will also call for mint.
  • Rosemary: Combine rosemary sprigs, venison, and potatoes for a delectable meal that isn’t so heavy that you’ll regret it afterward. Simply sprinkle the rosemary on top of the venison, or grind the springs down and combine with the meat.
  • Sage: If you dislike the ‘gamey’ flavor of venison, then sage is the perfect way to combat it without taking away from the rest of the meat. Start by using a small amount of sage and add as desired.
  • Juniper berries: Juniper berries help to balance the flavor of the venison with a fresh citrus twist. You should crush the berries, as stated in most recipes.
  • Bay Leaves: Bay leaves complement venison if used in soups or stews. Like juniper berries, they help to balance the flavor in the meat.


Often, certain foods and wine are paired together because their textures and flavors interact with one another well. This can make the meal more enjoyable. Venison, like many red meats, is no exception!

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Many wines bring out its tasty flavors, but ideally, you should choose a heavier-feeling wine. This will create a more enjoyable meal as you will be able to taste more flavors.

Some examples include:

  • Merlot
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Shiraz
  • Petit Verdot

Why Do People Eat Venison?

There are many reasons why people choose to eat venison. The main reason, of course, is that they like the flavor and texture. Venison has been a traditional food in countries all around the world for many years.

People also eat venison because of the health benefits it provides. In moderation, venison provides some nutritional value. It is lean meat, so it is beneficial for those trying to limit fat in their diet.

Additionally, venison contains a lot of protein, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.

Buying venison is not necessary, as people can hunt it themselves. A lot of people who eat venison enjoy hunting and will want to eat the game that they catch.

Please Note: Game should always be hunted responsibly, and the regulations and laws of the state should be respected.

Why Is Deer Meat Called ‘Venison’?

The word ‘venison’ comes from the Latin verb ‘venor’, which means ‘hunt’ or ‘pursue’. The word ‘venison’ itself comes from the old French ‘venesoun’.

In the 11th Century, William the Conqueror invaded England. The language of the court became French, and thus ‘venison’ became part of the everyday lexicon.

In fact, a lot of our words for meat come from France, such as ‘beef’, from ‘boeuf’.

At the time, any animal that had to be hunted and killed for food was known as venison. Since deer were hunted more than any other animal, it gradually became the most well-known example of venison, and the name stuck.

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What Is The Name For Baby Deer Meat?

Contrary to popular belief, it is not illegal to hunt baby deer in the U.S

Please Note: You should always double-check the rules of your state before you go out into the wild to hunt.

Despite this, baby deer meat is difficult to find.

Baby deer are known as ‘fawns’ but their meat does not have a specific name. Unlike baby cows (calves), which are known as ‘veal’ once ready to be consumed, fawns, like adult deer, are known as ‘venison.’

Final Thoughts

Like so many of our words, the word ‘venison’ comes from an old French word, ‘venesoun’, which can be traced to the Latin word ‘venor’ – to hunt or pursue.

Deer meat, and meat from the Cervidae family, are known as venison because they have been popular game meat throughout history, being hunted for kings such as William the Conqueror and his court.

Fawns are also called venison, despite some baby animals being known by different names once ready to be eaten (think calves and veal!)

Venison has numerous health benefits and is full of unique flavors. It is similar to beef, but more ‘gamey’, especially if the deer have been hunted in the wild.

Most people describe it as ‘earthy’, or ‘rich’, and this is because a deer’s typical diet of twigs, shrubs, and other parts of the natural world easily seep into the meat.

Venison works well with many herbs and spices and is complemented beautifully by heavy wines.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>