Living in the Midwest and knowing so many hunters, I get asked all the time for game recipes.  I’m not a hunter.  Don’t have the patience for it.  So it’s not something I have a lot of experience with.  I plan on changing that this year.  We’re working on rabbit, duck, goose, and pheasant recipes.  For the deer back strap, I want to thank a buddy, Shane Winters, for providing me with the it.

I now know why so many hunters ask me for game recipes.  In doing my research, I have decided that all of them are sick of Italian dressing used in some way shape or form.  I’m not sure why, but Italian dressing seems to be used all the time. Maybe to mask the gaminess? Maybe because it’s available everywhere?

Shane had already removed the vast majority of the silver skin:

With deer we run the risk of the meat being gamey.  To counter this I rinsed the meat off to remove any excess blood that can cause the meat to have a stronger flavor.  Then I put it in a ziplock bag overnight in the fridge with milk and a couple pinches of salt:

I did not sample any meat from the deer prior to getting the back strap, so I had no idea if the meat was particularly gamey.  If I had some advance knowledge that the meat was particularly strong flavored, I would’ve soaked it in the milk bath for 24 hours and changed the milk every 6-8 hours.  In this case, I soaked it overnight.  The following day, at my folks house, it looked like this in the bag:

I removed the deer back strap from the bag, rinsed it clean, patted it dry with paper towels and put it in a marinade.

Ingredients for the marinade:

1/2 cup Andria’s steak sauce
1/2 cup red wine
2 tbsp garlic
1 tsp dried rosemary (use 1.5 tsp if using fresh)
fresh ground black pepper

Place the marinade ingredients and the back strap in a different ziplock and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.  These marinated only a few hours:

After about 5 hours in the marinade I pulled them out as I poured myself a glass of Cima Collina Hilltop Red:

Grill these just like you would little filet mignon/beef tenderloin.

I put the deer back strap medallions directly over the hot part of the grill on Dad’s Char-Broil 940X with the adjustable coal tray raised to right below the grill grates as it was one of those cold and blustery nights:

I seared them on each side about three minutes.  I normally don’t go that long, but with as cold as it was, they didn’t cook as fast.  Then I flipped them to sear the other side:

After three minutes grilling on the other side, I pulled the grilled deer back strap to the side with no coals and baked them for about four minutes to get them to medium rare.  I probably should’ve gone longer with the baking process.  More on that in a minute.

I pulled the mini deer steaks and put them on a cutting board and brought them in to rest:

I only let the grilled deer back strap rest for a minute or two due to their size and the time they spent on the cutting board out in the cold while I took the above picture.  Finally I sliced them:

Here is the reason I probably should’ve kept grilling them a little longer.  For me, that’s perfect, but I was going for medium rare.  See, with as cold as it was, the heat didn’t build up as fast in the big 940X grill as on a hot summer day, so by the time I pulled them they hadn’t hardly baked at all.  I should’ve baked the grilled deer back strap for 8-10 minutes with half of that time being the time it takes for the heat to build in the chamber. Some of the smaller pieces were medium rare or even medium, but all the bigger pieces were a nice rare.  You may want to adjust to your preferred doneness level.

I served a chunk of the medium rare to medium to my sister who normally would wrinkle her nose at deer, but I didn’t tell her what it was.  She raved about the flavor.  When I told her it was deer, she shrugged and said, “It’s really good no matter what it is.”

Everyone who sampled the grilled deer, including Shane who provided me with the meat, said it didn’t taste like deer at all.  That it tasted like steak.  Give it a try on the grill nd hopefully you’ll have similar results.

If you have any grilling questions or comments, feel free to leave them below or shoot me an email.

If you liked the grilled deer back strap and you’re interested in other game or exotic meat recipes, click here.  We hope to add a lot to that link in the next few months.

Also, you can follow us on our Grillin Fools Facebook page where you can post your own grilling pics, share grilling recipes, or join in the general grilling conversation.  You can also follow us on Twitter @GrillinFool.

Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas, the Original Grillin’ Fool, was sent off to college with a suitcase and a grill where he overcooked, undercooked and burned every piece of meat he could find. After thousands of failures, and quite a few successes, nearly two decades later he started a website to show step by step, picture by picture, foolproof instructions on how to make great things out of doors so that others don’t have to repeat the mistakes he’s made on the grill.
Scott Thomas

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Sounds and looks great. What’s the purpose of soaking it in milk?


It helps to remove the gaminess from the meat. Very important if the deer wasn’t killed clean or it was a while before it was bled out after the kill…


I can’t say for certain whether your concern about “gamey” flavor and the game being fully bled out are related – I’ve never compared one vs. the other. But I CAN tell you that the strong flavor a lot of people associate with wild game is due primarily to the amount of connective tissue on the meat when cooked. If the fascia, “silver skin,” tendons and ligaments are fully removed, the flavor is nowhere near as strong. That’s the good news. The bad news is complete removal of all this “non-meat” tissue is labor-intensive. It requires careful dissection with a very sharp knife, using deft fingers to avoid nicking yourself in the process. A paper towel comes in handy to grab the edges of these tissues. Often they are slippery/slimy, and not easily grasped. That’s where many cuts occur. Clean tweezers can also help, and a scalpel might be better than any knife you have in your kitchen – unless you know how to sharpen with a Japanese water stone to about 6000 grit.


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