Can you Eat Deer? (Yes – It’s Called Venison)

Deer meat tastes delicious and has very low fat, low carb, and calorie content but is very high in protein. It is also stuffed with loads of essential vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids which are important for the proper functioning of our immune system and the overall fitness of our body.

In recent years, the sales figures for venison (deer meat) have skyrocketed. This is because the internet has helped in spreading awareness among the people living in all parts of the world regarding the health benefits of deer meat.

Can you Eat Deer

What is Deer Meat Called?

Deer meat is called venison. It is a generic name used to denote all kinds of deer meats, irrespective of the species. It originated from the Latin word “venatus” which means “to hunt”.

Is it Okay to Eat Deer Meat?

Deer meet bought at stores is generally okay to eat because most countries have clear regulations to ensure store-bought food is edible. Remember to cook it appropriately.

Meat from deer you have personally caught is more complicated. A range of factors goes into making a decision about whether it’s okay to eat. These include ensuring the deer was healthy, transporting and gutting the animal correctly, and storing the meat correctly.

To summarize, deer meat is generally completely safe to eat provided it gets handled correctly before cooking. It is stuffed with beneficial nutrients which are great for the wellness of the body, moreover, it is really tasty.

However, like all red meat, you should try to eat it according to dietary recommendations, and not more.

Related Article: Do Deer Mate for Life?

What Happens if we Eat Deer Meat?

Deer meat is leaner in fat content than beef. But, it is jampacked with protein and all kinds of essential nutrients in it which has loads of health benefits.

  • High protein content coupled with low calories makes venison perfect for promoting weight loss. This is because high protein food items will help you keep you fuller longer and will suppress your hunger.
  • As deer meat is rich in essential minerals and vitamins, it helps in boosting the immune system. Venison is particularly a rich source of zinc which is a crucial mineral that helps in maintaining the health of our immune system.
  • Moreover, the presence of high amounts of vitamins and minerals in deer meat along with boosting the immune system of our body also boosts brain health.
  • As it is stuffed with protein and essential amino acids, it promotes better muscle development and repair of damaged tissues. So it’s a great food to have in case you are putting on muscle mass.

Related Article: Do Deer Bite People?

Nutrition of Deer Meat (Venison)

As per Dr.axe and the University of Illinois, 85 grams of cooked venison approximately contains about:

  • 128 to 159 calories
  • 22 to 26 grams of protein
  • 2 to 7 grams of fat
  • 7.9 mg of niacin
  • 2 micrograms of vitamin B12
  • 4.4 mg of zinc
  • 0.4 mg of vitamin B6
  • 194 mg of phosphorus
  • 300 to 338 mg of potassium
  • Traces of copper, calcium, iron, vitamin E, and magnesium are also present.

Is Deer Meat Healthier than Beef?

When compared with beef, along with being lower in fat content, deer meat or venison is lower in calorie content but higher in protein content.

Moreover, it is rich in essential body nutrients like zinc, vitamin B12, etc which are vital for the proper functioning of our immune system.

Hence hands down, deer meat that is properly handled and cooked is healthier than beef because of its low fat and calorie content and high protein content. However, venison contains slightly more cholesterol in them than beef.

Here is a chart that compares venison with beef directly head to head:

Characteristics (per 3 ounces or 85 gms)Cooked Venison (Deer meat)Cooked Ground Beef
Protein Content22 gm to 26 gm21 gm to 23 gm
Fat content7 gm to 2 gm13 gm to 16 gm
Sodium405 mg340 mg
Calories128 to 159213 to 235
Cholesterol66 mg75 mg
Iron3 mg to 4 mg2 mg
Potassium334 mg244 mg
Calcium5 mg26 mg

Sources: (1), (2)

Read Also: Where do Deer Live?

Is Deer Meat Healthier than Chicken?

As venison or deer meat contains greater calories and fat in them than chicken, per 85 gms of serving, venison is also rich in protein, iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and vitamin B than chicken meat.

Here is a chart that compares venison with chicken directly with venison head to head :

Characteristics (per 3 ounces or 85 gms)Cooked Venison (Deer meat)Grilled Chicken
Protein Content22 gm to 26 gm23 gm
Fat content7 gm to 2 gm12 gm
Sodium405 mg344mg
Calories128 to 159203
Cholesterol66 mg74mg
Iron3 mg to 4 mg1.06mg  
Potassium334 mg188mg
Calcium5 mg13mg

Sources: (1), (2)

Can you get Parasites from Deer Meat?

If the deer meat is not handled and cooked correctly, even healthier-looking venison meats can contain traces of parasites and bacteria in them which can lead to severe kinds of health issues in humans.

Deer remain covered with various strains of bacteria, viruses, and parasites of different types both on the inside and on the outside when they are alive.

So undercooked venison or deer that were sick by any means should not be consumed. This is not only limited to deer meat but applies to all kinds of meat varieties of wild animals including bears, horses, pork, etc.

Toxoplasmosis is a very common protozoan parasitic disease that can get transferred from the meats of wild animals like venison. It is known to be present among the white-tailed deer varieties which is a very common deer variety found in the US.

However the good news is in majority of the healthy people, the body’s immunity is strong enough on its own to tackle the exposure to such parasites. Eating raw and undercooked meats of wild animals not only elevates the risk of having parasitic diseases but also of different bacterial diseases.

Certain practices that can help in reducing your chances of exposure to such parasites while cooking meats of such wild animals:

  • Never eat meats of wild animals that looked even a tiny bit sick before their death.
  • In places where chronic wasting diseases are known to occur commonly in deer, CWD testing of the deer that are to be sold for the meat is done. So while buying you can check for the results of that testing as well.
  • Right after you bring the meat home, consider freezing them as the majority of the parasites are not well equipped to tackle such low levels of temperature and die.
  • If you have wounds on your hand or in case you currently have a compromised immune system in place, avoid handling the meat by yourself with your bare hands.
  • In case you are prepping the venison, make sure to wear latex gloves and remove the intestines carefully so that the germs present inside don’t spread to other parts of the body. Properly sanitize the instruments and wash your hands with soap and water, once you are done.
  • Make sure you cook the meat properly at temperatures of at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit or 72 degrees celsius for ground venison. For steaks, use minimum temperatures of 145 degrees Fahrenheit or 63 degrees Celcius. Use a meat thermometer for getting proper results.
  •  Thoroughly thaw and cut the meat into several small to medium pieces before cooking as that will ensure that the meat gets evenly cooked. This if done correctly, will likely make sure that all kinds of bacterial strains that have survived the freezing will be taken care of.

Be sure to consult an expert before curing your own deer meat and follow all regulations in your local jurisdiction.


Can you Eat Wild Deer?

Yes, you can eat wild deer but make sure:

  • Hunting wild deer is legal in your state or country.
  • The wild deer did not look weakened or sick before their death. As it may mean that he or she had some kind of disease.
  • Prepping and handling the meat is the key as mishandling can puncture its intestines which can spread the stomach germs to all parts of the body. You have to carry out the process with sanitized instruments and carry the meat in a proper way back home to avoid contamination.
  • Freezing the meat and then cooking it to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit will help in making the meat free of most kinds of germs.

Can you Eat Reindeer?

Reindeer meat is considered a highly delicious and nutritious form of meat as it has low-fat content and is rich in fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.

In comparison with deer meat or venison, reindeer meat is considered less tough in texture and has a very mild taste. It is considered to have a cleaner taste and not have much resemblance to venison meat.


Deer meat is deliciously healthy provided it is being prepped and cooked in the right manner. It is healthier than beef when directly compared in calorie, fat, and protein content. Moreover, it is less costly than beef as well.

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