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How to make Venison Ground Jerky.

by Keith Southworth 12. March 2011 03:32
Keith Southworth

You can’t buy a better more suitable meat for jerky than venison. Its leanness is tailor made for this popular snack food whose origins date back to ancient Indian cultures. It’s not surprising that it became a favorite of the early settlers and explorers since it lasted weeks and even months without any special care or storage.

Fat is the enemy of any jerky and will greatly shorten the shelf life because it doesn't dry and will end up spoiling. There are certain precautions that come anytime you work with meat and jerky is no exception. I’ll just point you to the University of Georgia’s Food Preservation website which is a joint venture with the USDA and a clearing house for information on home food preservation where you can read more about the subject.

There are two popular methods of jerky making, one where you slice the meat in thin slices and the other where you form ground meat in to thin strips with the use of a jerky shooter. The jerky shooter somewhat resembles a caulking gun with a nozzle at the end that forms the ground meat into thin strips. Once dried, it holds together remarkable well and you’d never know by looking at the final product that it started out as a ground meat.

Here’s a collection of jerky shooters I have amassed over the years.

I love both types of jerky and I don’t favor one over the other. They’re just different, but both are delicious and fun to make. No matter which one you make you should use the leanest cut of meat available so if you’re going to use ground venison it shouldn’t have any fat added to it. 

Ground Venison ready for the dehydrator. The thin strips were formed with the use of the jerky shooter.

When shopping for a dehydrator, make sure it has a heating element. Mine goes to 160° and that’s where I set it when I make jerky. As far as time goes, that can vary greatly by such things as the thickness of the strips, how much you’re trying to dry at one time and the relative humidity is also a factor. I’m usually around the four hour mark with my dehydrator but that can vary as much as a half hour depending on the before mentioned factors. You’ll just have to experiment with your own equipment. Just remember most people dry way too long when they first start because they’re checking their jerky when it’s warm. Take a piece and set it in the freezer for a few minutes to cool it down and then check to see if it’s done. It shouldn’t be so dry that it becomes brittle and cracks, it should bend, more line a green branch or twig.

If you want to make jerky for the first time but don’t want to invest in a jerky shooter or dehydrator, don’t let that stop you. Get some wax paper or cling wrap and a rolling pin and find two things about 3/16” to ¼” thick to lay on either side as guides to elevate the rolling pin so you get a uniform thickness when you’re rolling the ground meat between the wax paper. Who cares if it’s not rolled out in uniform strips as long as it tastes good? The uniform thickness is important though so the entire batch will dry to the same degree. If you don’t have a dehydrator try drying your jerky in the oven on low and with the door open so the moisture can escape.

Remember to pat dry any grease that’s formed on the strips when you’re done. The grease is from fat in the meat and can turn rancid and spoil your jerky. I like to cut the ends off and square up the strips and make them look nice, this allows me plenty of samples as I’m cutting the strips into equal lengths. 

So what spices should you use? There are so many different jerky spices on the market and most are very good, it just comes down to a person preference. I think I’ve tried over a hundred different jerky spices and recipes and I’m still searching for the ultimate jerky recipe. I was locked in on one particular spice for quite a while and was quite happy with it but then I tried a new recipe that I found on an internet cooking web site. After letting friends and family try a blind taste test to compare the two I was surprised that an over whelming majority like the new recipe. I’m sure I’ll eventually get bored with it and move on to another recipe. And actually I’ve already altered that one and tried a few twist lately to jazz it up. Notice the photo below where you can see that after using the jerky shooter to squeeze out the strips on to the dehydrator tray I’ve taken some dry rub and sprinkled it all over the strips. The jerky already has spices added in the meat but this little addition will really add some extra zing. I just laid down a plastic mat underneath the tray to catch the spill over.

Covering with dry rub will add some extra zing to your jerky!

The best thing about this little trick is you can try everything you have in the cupboard. Get creative and sprinkle something different on every couple of strips. Just keep notes and if you come across a winner, you’ll be able to duplicate it. 

Here’s two of my recent favorites, Weber’s Tex-Mex Fiesta and Burgundy Beef Dry Rubs.

I process my own deer, something I highly recommend learning how to do. I plan on talking a lot more about that subject in upcoming stories. Since I grind my venison and store it in two pound bags, my recipe below is for a two pound batch of ground venison. I actually make eight to ten pounds at a time but I can only mix two pounds at a time in my mixer. I use a paddle on a Kitchen Aid mixer to mix the meat. I run the mixer while I slowly add in the spices finishing up with the Ketchup and Worcestershire Sauce. I let it mix for a while and it has a way of collecting any silver skin or sinew on the paddle which I remove before loading it into the jerky shooter. 

Here’s a photo of all the ingredients listed below. Now I’m ready to make some venison jerky.

Ground Venison Jerky


  • 2 lbs ground venison
  • 2 teaspoons non-iodized salt 
  • 1 teaspoon Accent flavor enhancer
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 
  • 1 tablespoon Adolph’s unseasoned tenderizer 
  • 1 teaspoon pepper 
  • 1 1/3 tablespoons brown sugar - that’s (4 teaspoons)
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce 
  • 1/4 cup ketchup 



  1. Mix all spices with the venison including the Worcestershire, and ketchup. 
  2. You need to mix it well. 
  3. Press into strips with a jerky gun. 
  4. Dry according to your dehydrator manufacturer’s instructions. 
  5. Storing in the refrigerator will make it keep longer.


This recipe above will produce great tasting jerky all by itself but it you want to get creative, try sprinkling some other spices over the top before you place in the dehydrator.

Got a good recipe? Log in and share it in the comments section or email me at

Venison – THE Best Meat on The Planet

by Keith Southworth 20. February 2011 12:59
Keith Southworth

Some of the ways I enjoy venison are jerky, summer sausage, breakfast sausage, brats, snack sticks, canning and just enjoying steaks or roast on my smoker.  So let me start by simply saying if you don’t like venison it’s only because you haven’t tried the right recipe yet.  I’ll stand behind that statement until the day I die.  I’ve proven it to many a doubter, enough so that I’m convinced that anyone with a taste for meat would like venison if they’re willing to give it a try.   I’m so passionate about venison that I can’t stop thinking about it and I’m here to share that passion with you.  I understand that not everyone is willing to give it a try but I’ve even won over some of those people, although it may have been through deceptive methods but now they’re believers.

 From the field to the freezer and then to the table, done right venison is the best meat on the planet

I’ve set a goal for myself with the help of this blog to reach out and help as many people as I can to enjoy deer meat by sharing the experience I have with processing deer and preparing venison for the table.  I love trying new ways to prepare venison.  My hopes are to hear from you and answer any questions you have about venison preparation from the field to the table.

Marinated butterflied venison loins courtesy of the late antlerless season

One of my inspirations for learning how to prepare venison was my younger brother who was an executive chef.  To this day I’m still blown away at the smells and taste that he creates when he cooks venison.  I’ve been blessed by meeting some great people that have helped me out along my journey towards venison culinary bliss so it’s only right for me to pass that on to you.

There are so many great choices of spices and marinades and cooking methods that you should never run out of ways to enjoy venison.  With all the tools that are available to you such as the internet and so many great wild game cook books you are only limited by your imagination or drive to learn new ways of preparing venison.

 Is there anything better than grillin' your venison!

So let's talk a little jerky.  Jerky is such a popular food that it has allowed me to cross some barriers that I’m not sure I could have done in any other way.  Let me explain.  Although jerky is a very easy thing to make, not that many people bother to learn how.  When I share my homemade deer jerky people often don’t realize they’re eating deer meat.  Once they find out they’re eating deer meat admittedly some are turned off but they usually come back for more because it taste so good.  I can’t tell you how many times people have told me how impressed they are that I could make something  that tastes so good and then the conversation usually turns to hunting. 

By now they’re looking at me in a very positive light.  I hunt but I’m eating the meat and I even share my bounty with others.    Anytime we as hunters can portray a positive role to the general public we can only help ourselves and our sport that we love.  I’m sure that all of you that make your own deer jerky know exactly what I’m talking about.  For those of you that don’t, check back on my next blog and I’m going to go over the ABC’s of making jerky.

 Venison loins just off the smoker, it just doesn't get an better than this!


Jack Link's Jerky and Team Realtree Team Up for the Hunting Season

by Bow Staff 19. October 2010 03:14
Bow Staff

Jack Links and Team Realtree are teaming up this fall to give hunters a delicious, meaty snack.

Minong, Wis. — Jack Link’s® Beef Jerky, the No. 1 U.S. meat snack brand and fastest-growing meat snack manufacturer worldwide, along with Realtree®
Camo, home of America’s most versatile camouflage patterns, now offers a snack that hunters simply can’t go into the wild without.

From August through December 2010, a selection of Jack Link’s beef steak products will be available in blaze-orange-colored packaging featuring distinctive Realtree Camo patterns. Just in time for hunting season, the stand-out blaze orange packaging adds extra visibility, while the beef steak offerings provide hunters with a satisfying snack to fuel their outdoor adventures. The pocket-sized packages are easily stored in a hunter’s field bag or jacket and require no refrigeration, allowing them to take Jack Link’s wherever the hunt may lead them.

“In or out of the woods, Jack Link’s limited edition blaze-orange-packaged beef steak products help outdoor enthusiasts to Feed Their Wild Sides,” said Jeff LeFever, director of marketing, Jack Link’s Beef Jerky. “Jack Link’s and Realtree are synonymous with family, camaraderie, fun and the great outdoors.”

“Over the years Realtree has partnered with hundreds of companies on all sorts of cool, useful products,” said Realtree designer and president Bill Jordan. “But, I cannot remember more excitement around our office since we announced the Jacks Link's Realtree products. Our staff was already probably responsible for driving up the American per capita consumption of Jack Link’s jerky. It really is unbelievable how much we’re eating now. I know all the Realtree fans are going to be just as excited as we are here at Realtree.”  Jack Link’s blaze orange packaging is available in 2-ounce Original and Teriyaki Beef Steak products. 

Further, in anticipation of hunting season, Jack Link’s created a short “public service” video featuring its brand icon, the elusive Sasquatch (star of Jack Link’s award-winning Messin’ With Sasquatch commercials). In the video, which is currently available for view at and, Sasquatch encourages hunters and all outdoor enthusiasts to stay safe while in the woods this hunting season, Sasquatch style.

JACK LINK’S BEEF JERKY – Feed Your Wild Side. Headquartered in Minong, Wis., Jack Link’s is the No. 1 U.S. meat snack brand and fastest-growing meat snack manufacturer worldwide. The Jack Link’s brand represents a heritage of quality and consumer trust. Jack Link’s products are available in retail outlets worldwide.

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