Venison Ribs Anyone?

By Marty Prokop

Venison Ribs … Ahh, yes, fresh barbequed venison ribs. They look so good. But looks, in this case, are definitely deceiving!

Why? I am glad you asked.

There are a few reasons you may choose to not eat the rib meat of deer that are field dressed in the wild — versus those who are farm raised and dressed and sanitized in inspected meat plants.

Why? What’s the difference?

It can be a big difference.

A wild deer is field dressed in the woods on the forest floor under less than sanitary conditions (as compared to beef or pork processed in inspected facilities).

A farm raised deer, whose meat will be sold in grocery stores, is handled very differently. It is cleaned and processed in the same type of sanitary, controlled and inspected environment as beef and other farm animals.

In the case of the wild deer, after the innards are removed, the deer usually hangs in a tree to cool. Deer are rarely skinned immediately after hanging. Wild deer are not sterilized before being cut. And running hot water through a hose onto the ribs is not considered sanitizing. In fact, it could actually spread bacteria into more meat.

On the other hand, beef is sterilized in an inspected meat facility after the innards and hide have been removed. Then the beef carcass is immediately placed under refrigeration to cool properly. This keeps bacteria growth to a minimum.

The Job of the Ribs

The meat of the rib cage holds intestines in place. It is in contact with the intestines of the deer. Many bacteria are found in the intestines.

Think about Taste

Rib meat, in general, is extremely fatty. The fat of a farm raised meat, such as pork or beef, can have a pleasant taste.  

Deer fat tastes terrible. Deer fat will also leave a film in your mouth if you should try to eat it.

Sausage and Rib Meat

If you think you can mask the foul taste from the fat and bacteria of the rib meat by having the local butcher throw your rib meat into your sausage trimmings…think again.

Though the taste may be masked, once ground, and even with spices added, the rib meat will still be there. Not to mention all of the bacteria on the rib meat’s surface. This can spoil your sausage or ground meat. It could taste bad.

Leathery Meat?

You may have experienced leather-like bits in some of the sausages you have had made. This could be some of that rib meat. Appetizing, huh?

If you choose to make and smoke sausage, and you mix in the rib meat, keep this in mind. When you start to smoke your sausage, you will be cooking it at a very low temperature. Bacteria will not be killed until an internal temperature if 144 degrees Fahrenheit is reached.

With the additional bacteria the rib meat might have, the low temps leading up to that 144 degree mark could cause your whole batch of sausage to spoil before it is fully cooked.

Is it Wasteful?

You might be thinking it sounds wasteful to throw away the rib meat.

Even on the largest of deer, the meat from the ribs rarely exceeds twelve ounces. Usually it is more like 4 to 6 ounces. That’s not much meat compared with the harm it could do.

Usually, by the time a deer is processed, the rib meat tends to be very dried out, almost leather-like.

Look at the rib meat the next time you process your deer. Does it really look that appetizing?

Good Luck and Great Hunting.

Marty Prokop

About Marty Prokop

Deer hunting expert Marty Prokop reveals closely guarded deer hunting secrets on how to get deer every time. Get his Free Deer Hunting Tips Newsletter, free deer videos and free online deer hunting game at Free Deer Hunting
Marty Prokop has 24-years experience deer hunting, processing deer for deer hunters and venison sausage making.

Marty Prokop teaches deer hunting, hunter safety, deer processing and deer sausage making classes. Marty Prokop has processed 7,805 deer, field dressed 422 deer and made over 991,990 pounds of sausage, smoked meats and jerky. Marty Prokop worked with Minnesota DNR programs. His deer hunting videos are used in statewide advanced hunter education classes. Marty Prokop is a successful speaker, outdoor writer and published author.

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