Venison a favorite of many

Jerky, sticks and sausage popular

Kim Fundingsland/MDN A mixture of venison and pork, along with special seasonings, made into breakfast sausage remains a favorite with deer hunters. This photograph was taken at Bloms’ Locker and Processing Plant in Minot.

Having success in the North Dakota deer lottery doesn’t only mean a chance to spend some time in the field, but also for successful hunters to enjoy a variety of excellent choices when it comes to processing their deer.

What’s popular? What do hunters like to make out of their venison? The answer may be as varied as there are hunters, but an old standby remains at the top of the list for many – rope sausage.

“The country sausage is always there,” said Keith Bloms, Bloms’ Locker and Processing Plant of Minot. “Some guys do the whole deer into country sausage. They always have and still do.”

“Our sausage is still quite popular,” said Kelsey Myers, Myers’ Meats and Specialties of Parshall. “We still do some steaks, tenderloins.”

“I’d say the majority of what we do is still country sausage,” said Stuart Severson, S & K Processing of Minot.

Kim Fundingsland/MDN Venison sausage remains popular with North Dakota deer hunters. Here Scott Wald, left, and his father, Brian, prepare rope sausage for the smoker at Valley Custom Meats located on Highway 2/52 immediately west of Minot.

Venison sausage is usually made with a mixture of pork and selected seasonings. Most processors have a found a recipe that pleases their customer’s tastes and strive for consistency year after year. However, as popular as country sausage remains for those fortunate enough to fill a deer tag, there are other options when it comes to processing venison.

“Obviously jerky. It gets more popular every year,” said Scott Wald, Valley Custom Meats, Minot.

“Sticks are a big item too, and summer sausage,” said Bloms.

Sticks, or pepper sticks, differ from jerky. They are made with approximately 10 percent pork added to venison. The sticks can be flavored with seasonings of choice and make excellent snacks.

Some venison connoisseurs enjoy finding other favorite ways to consume venison. At Valley Custom Meats venison bacon is a popular item.

“The new thing in the last 10 years is venison bacon,” said Wald. “You use ground deer and pork, smoke it, and you get bacon out of your deer. Everybody likes bacon!”

At Myers’ Meats some customers favor another flavor option.

“We do quite a bit of bacon-burger. It’s bacon ground in with venison,” said Myers. “Sometimes we use beef trim, pork trim or even cheese.”

Country sausage still rules when it comes to processing venison, but not by the wide margin it once enjoyed. There’s just too many other options for processing venison today.

“The biggest change in my 40 years of processing happened a couple of years ago,” explained Bloms. “We’re grinding more venison with beef fat for hamburger. It allows people more ways to use it like chili, hamburgers or tacos.”

Despite North Dakota issuing fewer deer licenses than a few years ago, processors that talked to the Minot Daily News said they remained busy throughout the deer season.

“We haven’t seen numbers go down, really,” said Myers. “And this year we’ve got quite a few moose too.”