Venison: the perfect holiday gift

Don’t tell my sister who lives in Georgia, but once again she’s getting venison jerky from me as a Christmas present. Same for my brother who lives in Arizona. But for him, it’s not actually a gift as he earned some of this meat during his hunting vacation back here at home.

Every year around the holidays members of my wife’s family ask me at the annual family Christmas gathering if I got my deer. It’s always better when the answer is “yes.”  Even if it’s not, I’ve usually got some venison in the freezer and can send them home merrily with a sample.

I hunt with a group that makes Adirondack deer drives and we share the deer we harvest amongst everyone. If I put half of a deer in my freezer each year, that’s plenty for my wife and I to get through the year. But we can always handle more, and it typically works out that way.

This year, the restocking of the freezer came early as I tagged a small buck with my bow on opening day of the Northern Zone archery season. A prosperous November followed: our group did well, and I have all the venison I need, including a batch from my own Adirondack buck.

My wife and I grind a fair amount of venison and mix it with ground beef and pork, then re-package it. This blend, much like a fine wine, is satisfying to her as she does not like the strong taste of ground venison on it’s own. In this manner, we at least use it and it ends up in every meal that’s cooked with ground meat.

Beyond that, we like to save some steaks for camping season and outdoor grilling, along with a few roasts. At some point, if we’re lucky, we set things up to provide others with venison and I usually have some ready to go for the holidays.

In some cases, folks drop by for some holiday cheer and I’ll send them home with a sample. I have other non-hunting friends and family who simply look forward to getting a little taste from my hunting season, and I’m more than happy to oblige.

For the out-of-towners, such as my siblings, things are a little more challenging. And that’s where the jerky comes in. I like venison jerky as much as anyone, but usually when I’m making it I have others in mind. Once prepared, it can be packaged up and shipped across the country. And what’s left is always appealing to hunters and non-hunters alike around the holidays and into ice fishing season.

Canning venison is yet another way of preserving it for shipping purposes. However, it is much heavier than a batch of jerky and thus much more expensive to ship. But it does give the recipient more options.

In the end, it’s the thought that counts and I know my sister and brother are quite happy no matter what they receive. This year I plan to toss in a bottle maple syrup that came from the very maple trees on the property where we grew up. If venison and maple syrup doesn’t make them homesick, I don’t know what will.

Seasons greetings to all!

Categories: Dan Ladd

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