With hunting season upon us, it’s time to learn how to make your own venison jerky.

Use the following step-by-step directions to make both Ground Venison Jerky and Muscle Venison Jerky.

How to Make Ground Venison Jerky:

• Choose Your Cut of Meat – Use high quality, lean cuts of meat that are free of sliver skin and tendons. There isn’t a specific cut of meat you are required to use since the trim will be run through a meat grinder.

• Grind – Cut the meat into manageable strips that are 1-1/2″ or less so that they can fit through a meat grinder. If you are using dry seasoning, sprinkle it on top of the venison before you begin grinding, then run the venison through a course grinder plate for the first grind and a medium grinder plate for the second grind.

• Mix the Meat and Spices – Now it’s time to either add spices to the ground venison for the first time and mix, or mix up the ground venison that’s already had spices added during the grinding process. Either way, you can mix the meat by hand in a large bowl, which is time consuming and not very effective, or use a meat mixer. Simply dump the ground venison and spices into the mixer and mix thoroughly for 5-10 minutes. If you added the seasoning during this step regrind your ground venison, once mixing is complete, through the medium plate to ensure the seasoning is evenly distributed throughout the ground venison’s entire surface area.

• Use a jerky gun to spray strips onto dehydrator trays – Fill the jerky gun with ground venison meat and squeeze out uniform strips onto the trays of your dehydrator. You can make the venison strips as long as you prefer, but be sure to leave about an inch gap between strips. Once all trays are full, dehydrate at 160*F for about 5 hours.

• Eat and Store – After the 5 hours are done, the jerky will be ready to eat or store. It’s easiest to use food storage bags to preserve venison jerky you will eat right away and vacuum seal the rest of your meat in vacuum sealer bags and freeze.

How to Make Muscle Jerky:

• Choose Your Cut of Meat – Muscle jerky is never run through a grinder so selecting which cut of meat to use is important. Use meat from the hind quarters of the deer (rump roast and eye of the round) as this is lean, pure red muscle meat that’s easy to cut into thin strips

• Cut Into Thin Strips – This is a crucial step in the jerky making process. If you cut strips of venison that are either too thick or too thin, it will affect how well your batch of jerky cooks in the dehydrator. Use a sharp hunting knife to slice strips of venison that are 1/4″ thick, and cut with the grain of meat. It’s easiest to work with the meat when it’s slightly frozen. To increase the accuracy of each cut and speed up the process, use a belt driven meat slicer.

• Mix the Spices – While one person is cutting up the strips, another can begin to mix up the spices according to the jerky recipe that you choose. Be sure to use seasoning packets that contain cure as this will help preserve the meat. Mix all of your spices together in a big bowl or large plastic storage bag. Once the all of your meat is cut up you can place the venison strips in the spice bowl/bag.

• Take a Spice Bath – Now that your meat is sliced and your spices are mixed up it’s time to combine the two. Fill the bag/bowl with as much meat as your recipe calls for and mix the spices and meat together (close food storage bag and shake for a few minutes or mix the meat and spices together in the big bowl by hand) then place the meat in the refrigerator to allow it to bathe in the marinade overnight.

• Dry it Out – After marinating, drain and pat your jerky strips dry to remove excess marinade before dehydrating, then place the strips of marinated jerky meat on the trays of your food dehydrator. Dehydrate at a temperature of 160*F for about 5 hours. Place jerky strips about an inch or two apart and make sure the slices don’t overlap.

• Eat and Store – After the 5 hours are up, the jerky will be ready to eat or store. It’s easiest to buy medium size food storage bags to package what you will eat right away and vacuum seal the rest of your meat in vacuum sealer bags and freeze.

Venison Jerky Recipes:

Smoky Venison Jerky

• 2 lbs. sliced venison

• 1/4 cup of soy sauce

• 1/2 tbs. Worcestershire sauce

• 1/2 tsp. Morton Tender Quick Cure or LEM Cure

• 1/2 tsp. black pepper

• 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

• 1/2 tsp. onion powder

• 1/4 tsp. seasoned salt

• 2 tbs. brown sugar

• 2 tbs. liquid smoke

Ground Meat Jerky Recipe

• 3 lbs. ground venison, thawed in refrigerator

• 3 tbs. canning salt

• 1 tsp. Quick Cure or 3/4 tsp LEM Cure (LEM suggests 1/4 tsp per pound)

• 1 tsp. onion powder

• 2 tsp. garlic powder

• 1 1/2 tsp. cracked pepper

• 1 tsp. liquid smoke

• 3 tbs. water