So, Can You Eat Deer for Survival?

Whether you are in the wilderness or still in the suburbs, coming up with food to supplement or replace your stores is critical in a survival situation. When it comes to overall nutrition, very little will compete with high-quality animal protein.

a bachelor herd of red deer with their antlers
a bachelor herd of red deer with their antlers

But, considering you aren’t going to be able to run down to the corner store or the grocery under the circumstances, you’ll be hunting for your own.

Now is a good time to consider that you will probably wind up eating all sorts of animals that aren’t a usual part of your menu. How about deer? Can you eat deer in a survival situation?

Yes, you can. Deer meat, also known as venison, is highly nutritious and a great option if you are able to bring down a deer in a survival scenario.

Lots of folks hunt deer recreationally, and most of them love feeling their freezer with deer meat.

If you haven’t had venison before, you’ll be glad to know that it makes for great eating and compares favorably with beef and chicken in regards to nutrition.

The trick, as always, is bringing down the wily and evasive deer in the first place! We will tell you everything you need to know about eating deer meat in a survival situation below.

Where Can You Find Deer?

There are many species of deer that can be found all over the world, but the most common and abundant (in North America) is the white-tailed deer.

These medium-sized ungulates can be found all throughout North and Central America and as far south as Peru.

Deer are generally found in wooded areas near sources of water and food, but are highly adaptable and can be found living in wide-open plains and even savannah lands and marshes.

Basically, if you aren’t living in the deep desert on or on the highest mountain peaks, there is a pretty good chance you’ll have at least a small population of deer in your area.

If you are trying to track deer in a survival situation, your best bet is to look for areas that have a lot of low-lying vegetation like grasses and shrubs.

These animals are also drawn to agricultural areas where they can find food like corn, which they love.

You may also be more likely to find deer if you are near their natural predators like wolves and mountain lions. These animals will help keep the deer population in check and can make them more visible to human hunters as they are constantly on the move to avoid being eaten.

Is Deer Meat Nutritious?

Yes, very! Deer meat is very high in protein and usually very low in fat, making it an ideal food for a survival situation.

This meat is also a good source of B vitamins like niacin, riboflavin, and B12 as well as minerals like phosphorus, potassium, and iron.

Also, deer are large animals. Assuming the hunter has some skill at cleaning and butchering the deer and the means to preserve the cuts, a single kill can provide a family with lots and lots of high-quality meat.

This would certainly be a godsend in a survival situation when supplies were running low!

What’s the Taste of Deer Like?

The taste of deer meat can vary depending on the age and diet of the animal as well as how it was prepared.

Generally speaking, however, venison is described as tasting like beef, though milder in flavor than beef and gamey like most wild animals. The texture is similar to leaner cuts of pork.

The flavor of the meat can also be affected by how old the animal is. Deer that are older to taste tougher and more gamey while younger deer will be tenderer with a sweeter flavor.

Also, note that deer meat is notable for being much tougher and drier than comparable cuts of beef since it is so lean.

It is so lean, in fact, that most ground venison recipes or sausages must have fat added to them!

Is it Safe to Eat Deer Raw in a Survival Situation?

No! Just like with any other wild animal, you should cook deer meat thoroughly to avoid getting sick.

Deer can carry a variety of diseases and parasites capable of infecting humans when eating (or even handling) uncooked meat.

One of the worst is chronic wasting disease, or CWD, which is similar to mad cow disease and caused by a prion, a type of protein that causes neurological damage.

This fatal neurological disorder can be contracted by people who eat infected deer meat and there is currently no known cure.

Another nasty critter carried by deer are parasitic roundworms that cause trichinellosis, or trichinosis.

These worms are found in the muscle tissue of the animal and can cause severe gastrointestinal distress, inflammation, neurological problems, and even death in humans.

You should avoid eating any deer that is acting weird or seems obviously diseased, but in all other cases you must thoroughly cook deer meat prior to eating it!

Can You Safely Eat Deer Skin?

Yes, though it is rarely eaten since it is not very good. Deer skin, like the skin of most mammals, is very tough and not very tasty so it is usually only eaten in a survival situation when there are no other options.

Can You Safely Eat Deer Bones?

No, not as they are. Bones are very troubling as food for human beings since they can break teeth or splinter and cause choking, internal lacerations, or other serious problems.

You can, however, make a broth or stock from deer bones which will give you some of the nutrients found in the marrow without the risk of injury, or grind the bones and use them to fortify flour or thicken stews.

If in doubt, just crack open or saw the larger bones to extract the highly nutritious marrow and leave the hard parts alone.

Are Deer Organs Safe to Eat?

Most of the time, yes. The most popular organ meats are the liver and heart, but the kidneys, stomach, and tongue are also eaten on occasion.

A couple words of caution on the other organs: You can eat deer liver, but while it is extremely nutritious, it should be eaten cautiously as there is a chance of dangerous contamination within.

Same with the kidneys, which while popular in Europe and elsewhere in the world are rarely eaten in the U.S. They are often said to have a foul taste, like urine, unless expertly prepared.

As with any animal, however, you should think twice before consuming the intestines or other digestive organs since they contain huge amounts of harmful bacteria. Both must, like the kidneys, be prepared with great care after a thorough cleaning.

How Can You Cook Deer Meat in a Survival Situation?

There are many ways to cook deer meat, but some methods will be more practical than others in a survival situation.

One of the simplest methods is to cook it over an open fire by grilling or roasting depending on what you have available.

You can either roast large cuts on a spit or skewer smaller pieces and hold them over the flames.

If you have no spit or skewers available, you can make a makeshift grill out of green sticks and place the meat directly over a low fire or on top of hot coals.

Remember: Deer meat usually takes longer to cook to well done compared to a similar sized cut of beef since it is so lean, and you do want to cook it well done to be sure of killing any harmful bacteria.

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