Ever wonder if wild deer meat, venison, has a different taste and or meat quality during the year? Which is better table fare; a buck, doe or fawn? Many a deer hunting camp have hotly debated the second question, but it seems no one talks about or even thinks about the first question. Perhaps, this is because due to work and family commitments most deer hunters have a limited window of time to hunt and as a result hunt during their state’s firearm season. Most gun seasons are open later in the fall, so without a thought of hunting any other time they go out to fill freezer when they can.
Deer killed in November and December are good to eat and for many outdoor folks, some very excellent eats indeed.
Whitetail deer numbers have grown significantly since the late 1960’s, and early 70’s when some states had to close deer season due to the small numbers or in some areas where there were no deer. Nowadays, deer are found all over the country with very liberal deer hunting seasons.
Here in Wisconsin farm country, deer season starts with archery mid-September continuing with a variety of seasons into January. The long season structures give deer hunters the chance to shoot, eat and compare table venison each month of the fall.
I have killed deer throughout all of the seasons, in many years I have taken deer during each month of the open hunting periods and found early season (mid-September to mid-October) venison is the best eating. Here’s why:
- No matter which sex the deer, they have less fat or tallow on and in their flesh. Tallow is not pleasant to eat, without the fat build up the venison’s flavor is not tainted nor gamey.
- Deer food sources are abundant and varied, so the animal does not need to travel very far to eat. Nor do they need to eat a lot during the summer months, so their meat is more tender due to much less effort required to live comfortably.
- Neither bucks or does pay much attention to each other, for the most they stay in their chosen territories eating and sleeping to build up strength for the upcoming rut in early November.
- The reproduction hormones are not flowing yet. The production of these hormones seems to change both the texture and flavor, not saying it’s bad, just different.
- Starting late October the deer begin to move about much more. Bucks are on the move setting up breeding territories while the does attempt to avoid them. All the extra exercise firms up the muscles which have a direct effect on the texture of the table venison.
Several times when I have had dinner guests we dined on venison from each month, and there has not been a single guest who did not prefer the early season deer over the later season. All the venison is delicious no matter when it’s taken so continue hunting and enjoying yours. Just, if you get the chance at a September deer, take it and see what you think.