Deer Heart on the Menu


Leaving the back-straps of a deer in the woods is unconscionable for most hunters (not to mention illegal), yet sportsmen routinely discard the heart and liver of animals during the field-dressing process. Liver is a staple in many parts of the country, while heart is less well established as table fare. By comparison, this vital organ is a muscle, just like much of the tissue of a deer, and therefore very appropriate for consumption. Bruce and Elaine Ingram write a cooking column for Whitetail Times and share their favorite recipe for heart:

As someone who depends on venison for all my wife Elaine’s and my red meat needs for the year, and who tries to annually kill 10 whitetails to fulfill those needs, I regard the consumption of venison as part of a healthy, active lifestyle. My spouse and I also write a venison cooking column for Whitetail Times, the official publication of the Virginia Deer Hunters Association, so we are always looking for new and creative ways to prepare venison.

heart_sandwiches[1]I would even speculate that we probably dine on a venison dish of some kind well over 300 days a year. So it might surprise some venison aficionados that my favorite part of a deer to consume is not the top or bottom loins or even the roasts, steaks, or burgers, but a part of the deer that many hunters leave behind in the field — the heart, which Elaine and I regard as a delicacy.  A decade or so ago, I began to feel guilty about all the organs abandoned in the woods after the field-dressing had been completed. My spouse and I talked to other hunters, conducted some research on the Internet, and decided that the heart would be our first culinary project from among the various organs.

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Joe Byers
Joe Byers has more than 1,000 magazine articles in print and is currently a field editor with Whitetail Journal, Predator Xtreme, Whitetails Unlimited, Crossbow Revolution, and African Hunting Journal magazines. He’s spent the last three decades depicting the thrill of the chase and photographing the majesty of all things wild. Byers is a member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association and numerous other professional and conservation organizations.