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Guide to Smoking Deer Meat: Must Read!

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While smoking beef is easy for people who cook regularly, smoking venison, on the other hand, can be a challenge! 

The main reason is that deer meat contains very low-fat content, so unlike beef, it requires paying close attention while smoking to prevent it from drying out. 

To make sure the meat retains its moisture during the cooking process, the main focus should be on preparation, followed by taking extra care after putting it inside the smoking grill. 

In this guide, we will take you through the steps of how and what to do in order to get the most delicious smoked deer meat. And if you want to read about the most common grilling mistakes to avoid, click here.

And without further ado, let’s get started!

  1. Buying Venison

Since venison is not as common as beef, it’s hard to find it in just any local store. Moreover, the price of deer meat is very high that it’s not ideal for regular consumption, except if your pockets run deep. Nevertheless, it does make a great meal for family get-togethers every now and then. 

  1. Trimming

  • The first thing you would want to do while butchering meat is to remove as much fat as possible. This may sound odd to meat lovers but the fat in venison is not the same as the fat in beef. It has a gamey or wild flavor, and one needs to get rid of it. 

Also, remember to remove most of the white membrane since it contributes to the undesirable flavor.

A heavy fillet knife is perfect for trimming off the fat and membrane without having to cut directly into the meat.

  • Separate the muscles from the bones by slicing them off in big slabs. Do not cut the meat too thin for the purpose of smoking as that can make it turn dry by the end of the process. 
  • Once the trimming is done, wrap the meat in plastic and refrigerate it for a few hours before brining it.
  1. Brining the Meat

Why should you brine the venison?

Brining meat is important when smoking in order to maintain the moisture, especially when it’s as dry as venison. Moreover, it adds more flavor to the original taste. We would recommend going for the tenderloins, shoulder roasts, and hams when smoking deer meat.

The brine contains saltwater which can break down some of the meat proteins, helping it remain tender. The water will also seep into the areas where there is very little concentration of salt, therefore, enhancing the taste.

Just as brining smoked venison roast, we have the following recipe that works best for smoking/grilling as well:


  • Kosher salt (¾ cup)
  • Brown sugar (½ cup)
  • Soy sauce (½ cup)
  • Pepper (2 tbs)
  • Rosemary (1 tbs)
  • Worcestershire sauce (¼ cup)
  • Water (3 liters)
  • Molasses (½ cup)


Mix all the above ingredients together and soak the meat in the mixture, making sure every bit is covered up. Use a large container with an airtight lid for this purpose. 

Let it sit in the refrigerator for 12-15 hours, but it should not be longer than a day. 

  1. Soaking Wood Chips

Keep aside at least a pound of wood chips for smoking venison. 

The fastest way to soak wood chips is by using hot water. Generally, cold water takes about an hour or two to get the wood chips completely damp. But with warm water, it takes around 30 minutes for them to be ready to use. 

  1. Separate the Venison from the Brine

This process won’t take too much time. All you have to do is carefully take out the venison from the liquid mixture and using a spoon, scrape the remaining paste on the meat back into the bowl.

Rinse the meat in running water for some time and use paper towels to pat it dry.

Create a paste/rub or even a spice blend of your preference and then apply it on to the meat, making sure to spread it evenly. 

  1. Prepare the Smoker or Smoker Grill Combo

Preheat the smoker at around 225 degrees F. Then, let the temperature come down to 150 degrees before keeping the meat inside. This will allow it to stay warm and quicken the smoking process. 

Next, take a handful of wood chips and keep it in the chip bowl on the side of the smoker. Also, fill the water tray with either beer or water and keep it at the bottom. 

Keep in mind that these should be refilled after every 45 minutes of smoking.

Smoker grill combos are a great option for smoking deer meat and are more versatile in nature. So, if you'd like to know about the best smoker grill combos, check out this latest guide!

  1. Smoking the Meat

When the smoker’s temperature has dropped after preheating it, it’s time to place the meat inside. Set the temperature to 280 degrees F. Remember to leave the vent open about ¾ so that the smoke can escape, but still trapping some of it to give the meat a smoky taste. 

But in case the temperature becomes too high, let the vent open halfway, while if the heat drops, add more wood chips. 

Wait for the meat's internal temperature to reach 140 degrees F before taking it out, or according to the quantity you selected, each pound should sit about 1.5 hours inside the cooker. When it’s done, carefully remove it and let the meat rest and cool down for 15-20 minutes before serving.


Although we recommend keeping a close watch on the meat while smoking, it shouldn’t bring too much trouble once you followed this preparation guide, making sure not to skip the brining part. 

So, there you have it! That is all you need to do to prepare deer meat for smoking. We hope you enjoyed reading this guide and we’ll see you again next time!

Good luck!

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