Smoking wild game is very similar to smoking regular meat from commercially produced cattle or pigs, but there are a few things that you need to keep in mind. Before we look at these things, lets just say that wild game includes a couple of different kinds of meats
- Deer type animals like: elk, moose, or deer
- Wild birds like: geese, ducks, pheasants, grouse
- Hoglike animals: boar, bear
When you are smoking wild meat, you need to keep in mind a few very important things:
- meat from wild game has in mosts cases NOT been gov’t inspected (especially if you’ve shot it yourself)
- meat from wild game has not recieved any kind of vaccinations
- wild game can carry some diseases and parasites that affect humans
Because of this, you need to pay close attention to how you cook, cure, and smoke wild game. As long as you follow basic safety precautions, you should have very little to worry about, although there will always be some risk. The most important thing to remember is to get the internal temperature of whatever it is you’re smoking up to a safe level that makes sure any bacteria or parasites are killed in the cooking/curing process. This varies depending on the type of meat.
Beyond this there are some additional differences between commercial meat and wild game meat that will affect smoking.
- wild game is usually much leaner than commercial meat – less fat can mean that you need to add fat (often pork ) to products like sausage made with wild game. The lower fat content also affects smoking wild game because the fat in meat absorbs a lot of the smoke flavour
- wild game can be tougher – because of this you will need to carefully watch the amount of time that you smoke wild game as well as the temperature it is cooking at. Low and slow is always good, but be sure to reach a safe internal temperature for the wild game you are smoking.
- wild game can be ‘gamier’ in taste (stronger) than commercial meats – wild meat often has a much stronger taste than its commercial cousins. Personally this is what I love about wild game. It does mean however that you may need to adjust your spice rubs and smoking times to get the flavours and textures you’re looking for.
If you don’t live in an area where it is easy to get your own wild game to smoke, there are many specialty shops that carry a good selection of wild game that you can work with.