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Venison is an excellent source of protein. However, proper preparation and handling of venison is very important to ensure that it is safe for consumption. By following the precautions listed below, you can maximize the safety and quality of your venison after processing.

Storage and Thawing

  • Venison should be stored frozen until preparation for cooking.
  • Properly wrapped or packaged venison can be stored in a freezer for 9-12 months.
  • To avoid quality deterioration, never refreeze thawed venison.
  • Always thaw venison properly in a refrigerator or in a microwave. Venison thawed in the microwave should be for immediate use. Venison thawed under refrigeration can be stored for 2-3 days prior to cooking and consuming.
  • Store unfrozen venison under refrigeration (40° F or less) and prepare within 2-3 days
  • Keep raw venison separate in the refrigerator to avoid cross-contamination with other ready to eat foods or ingredients. Store raw meat on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator so juices don’t drip onto other foods.

Handling and Meal Preparation

  • Marinate venison under refrigeration (40° F or less). Do not reuse marinades.
  • Avoid cross-contamination by thoroughly washing and rinsing all surfaces and utensils used for raw meat preparation prior to use on cooked or ready to eat foods.
  • Cook all venison thoroughly and serve hot or very cold.
  • Venison should be cooked to at least 165° to ensure harmful bacteria are killed. The color of the meat is not a reliable indicator of when the venison is fully cooked.
  • Use an accurate, calibrated thermometer for monitoring the cooking temperature of the venison.
  • The distinctive wild taste of game animals, including venison, is often associated wit the fat in the animal. Trim visible fat to reduce the “gamey” flavor, and add alternative sources for moisture and flavor while cooking (butter, bacon, beef fat, sweet or sour cream, cooking oils, water, or marinades).


  • Cutter, C.N. (2000). Proper Field Dressing and Handling of Wild Game and Fish (PDF). Pennsylvania
  • State University. Retrieved September 21, 2007.
  • University of Illinois Extension. (2006). Guide to Care and Handling of Deer (PDF). Retrieved September 22, 2007.
  • University of Minnesota Extension. (2003). Wild Game Cookery: Venison (PDF). Retrieved September, 2007.
  • Clemson University Extension. (2007). Safe Handling of Wild Game Meats. Retrieved September 22, 2007.