best tasting exotic game animals

The 10 Best Tasting Exotic Game Animals Leave a comment

Sure, all of us love a whitetail deer backstrap. These of us who grew up consuming whitetail venison are fortunately accustomed to its wealthy, comforting style. I’m not right here to detract from the greatness of whitetail deer meat.

However I’ll argue that making an attempt meat from completely different wild animals—sure, together with unique ones—ought to generate a way of pleasure. Feasting on various native and unique species can create an appreciation for the best-tasting critters round. In spite of everything, there isn’t any method to know if you’ll really like consuming zebra, or crocodile, or aoudad till you attempt them. I’ve been fortunate to have the chance to hunt everywhere in the world and likewise chase unique species right here in North America. I’m an adventuresome eater and by no means move a possibility to attempt new meals. 

So, right here I’ve ranked my favourite unique wild sport meats. For the needs of this text, I contemplate “unique” to imply any wild critter that’s not native to North America however may be discovered on the continent as a result of it’s been launched.  

Axis Deer

Axis deer smash burgers cooked on this Camp Chef griddle had been a success. Brad Fenson

The pre-dawn air on the Hawaiian Island of Molokai was cool and refreshing. The crew at Go Hawaii Outfitters did an distinctive job placing us on deer and it wasn’t lengthy earlier than we watched herds of axis stream again to the rugged hills to cover from the the day’s warmth. 

A tall antlered buck climbed into view on a steep escarpment, and we wasted no time slicing the gap, establishing for the shot, and amassing our venison. There was little or no scent when area dressing and skinning the axis deer, and I used to be getting hungry whereas butchering and packaging the meat. Fortunately, I didn’t have to attend lengthy. 

We ate axis smash burgers, with nothing added however some salt and pepper. The flavour was excellent and had a touch of sweetness. The proteins had been mild-tasting and intensely tender. Our outfitters held a luau and served high sirloin steaks that had been reworked into cutlets and fried. I ate a lot that I nearly burst. Earlier than our hunt was full, we had eaten tenderloins, backstraps, floor meat, and prime steaks. 

Learn Subsequent: Greatest Venison Recipes

The perfect-eating sport animals are all the time debated in looking camps, and axis deer constantly appears to come back up. I’ve heard it argued that axis deer ranks as one of many high three best-tasting purple meats on the planet. Though they’re initially from India, axis have been launched around the globe for his or her style and high quality. I introduced a cooler filled with meat house and shared it with household and buddies. Even the individuals claiming to dislike venison would attempt it—after which ask for extra. 


nilgai hunting
The writer took this nilgai on a hunt in south Texas. Brad Fenson

I used to be on a hunt in south Texas to area check  Winchester’s XP3 bullets after they had been first launched. To my pleasure, Nilgai antelope could be our goal. A nilgai, or blue bull, is extraordinarily robust, and stout shoulders and heavy pores and skin shield their vitals. I used to be lucky to reap a cow and a bull, however the most effective a part of the journey was consuming nilgai.

Steaks reduce from the loin had been tender and flavorful, like taking the qualities of black Angus beef and crossing it with elk. There was no pronounced fats or marbling like with a beef steak, however the taste of enormous lean steaks leaves you wanting extra. I might hunt nilgai once more right away, if just for the possibility to get pleasure from a barbecue on the finish of the day. 

Scimitar-Horned Oryx

Texas is house to greater than 10,000 scimitar-horned oryx. Brad Fenson

The scimitar-horned oryx was declared extinct within the wild in its native nation of North Africa, nevertheless it prospers in south Texas (there are greater than 10,000 of them within the Lone Star State). Animals from Texas ranches have been used to reintroduce the species in its native habitats.

Searching scimitar-horned oryx is thrilling and difficult. I’ve usually claimed that the more durable a species is to hunt, the higher it tastes. Searching scimitar-horned oryx with Steve Jones and his outfit Backcountry Hunts, I used to be lucky to check out the Mossberg Patriot LR Hunter and Remington Premium Lengthy Vary that includes Speer Influence bullets. Steve had oryx on the menu every single day, which made everybody within the camp hunt more durable; the steaks and cutlets had been standouts. We additionally ate floor oryx, which was admittedly good too, however they couldn’t examine to the steaks.

It’s a paradox: You’d assume a desert animal would style lean, dry, and difficult. The meat, nevertheless, was fork-tender and scrumptious. The oryx was completely cooked, too, which enhanced the delicate, earthy notes within the taste. I’ve listened to debaters who argue that animals with out tarsal glands style the most effective, and it’s fascinating to notice that a lot of the unique sport on this checklist matches into that class.


Eland cooking over the recent coals. Brad Fenson

I first tried eland in Namibia at Jamy Traut Searching Safaris. To say it has left an impression on me is an understatement. I nonetheless dream in regards to the flippantly coloured meat and candy taste. Like most antelope, it’s fine-grained, and cooking eland over hardwood coals elevated the expertise. The char marks offered a punch of taste the place you’d swear there have been burned sugars crusted into the floor. We additionally had country-fried steak and gravy, which let the flavour of the meat come by way of, however I nonetheless most well-liked it alone on the plate. 

Eland is hunted as an unique in North America and stays on my bucket checklist for one more meal or ten. I’d be completely satisfied to hunt them once more in Africa, or Texas, or anyplace else. 

Sika Deer 

sika deer
A sika deer in Japan. Getty Photographs

Sika deer are members of the elk household, which could clarify why they style so good. Sika are tiny deer, with stags weighing about 90 kilos and females 70 kilos. Sika deer are initially from Japan, Taiwan, and East Asia however have been launched to Texas, Virginia, and Maryland’s Japanese Shore. I mentioned the traits of this meat with my good friend Tim Joseph, vice chairman of Benelli USA, who has hunted sika a number of occasions near his house.

“I’ve ready a wide range of the cuts myself, and I’ve additionally had the great fortune to have had it ready by the fingers of an skilled chef who specialised in Sika deer because the chef at an japanese lodge right here in Maryland,” says Joseph. “I’ve had it completed as roasts, steaks, burgers, and even pastrami. I might describe the meat as closest to elk in texture and taste however maybe a bit sweeter than elk. The meat is darker than your common whitetail. I’ve by no means skilled any of the gamey aftertaste that may come from some whitetail cuts. The sika meat I’ve had has been tender and flavorful with a comparatively high quality grain to the meat.”

Purple Stag

red stag
A purple stag feast in New Zealand. Brad Fenson

I ventured to New Zealand and fulfilled a bucket checklist journey by taking a silver medal purple stag with Glen Dene Searching. All massive sport is taken into account unique in New Zealand, however purple stag is the unique that the nation might be greatest recognized for. We ate a number of meals of stag, and it lived as much as the popularity of fantastic venison.

A purple stag backstrap grilled over scorching coals tastes not in contrast to whitetail or mule deer backstrap. The distinctive deer taste sneaks by way of within the background with an nearly musky—although not disagreeable—taste. The fine-grained meat is tender and moist. Like several venison, overcooking can rapidly change the qualities of the meat, so shoot for medium-rare. 

The style takes me again to my tarsal gland principle, the place we’d count on delicate gamey flavors, which have to be embraced. 

Fallow deer

fallow deer
Fallow deer style most just like mule deer. Brad Fenson

Fallow deer had been plentiful in New Zealand, and I harvested a number of on a DIY journey, which meant loads of meat in camp. The perfect comparability could be to mule deer. The style of deer is current however gentle, and the flavour is appetizing. This species is just not pretty much as good to eat as axis deer, however would maintain its personal towards purple stag. Like most deer, any massive muscle made for good grilling that resulted in a fine-grained steak that stayed tender if not overcooked.


blackbuck steaks
Blackbuck and axis deer backstraps on the grill. Brad Fenson

Blackbuck is a cool-looking antelope with lengthy, spiral horns. They’re dainty, and a set of blackbuck backstraps can simply be consumed in a single meal with the suitable crowd of hunters. Blackbuck has extra wealthy taste than most unique species; I might describe it like a lamb. 

My buddy Shawn Skipper of Leupold Optics harvested a blackbuck, and we had been desperate to attempt these steaks. The tenderloins had been positioned in a easy marinade and cooked on a Camp Chef Grill Field. It had excellent temperatures, char marks, and the medium-rare meat made for an beautiful meal. The meat is denser than most antelope however stays moist on the plate. It had the delicate nuances of deer and lamb. It was a deal with, and nothing was left on the finish of the meal.


zebra meat
Cooking zebra meat in Namibia. Brad Fenson

Zebra is a wierd animal so as to add to the checklist of greatest consuming exotics. A restaurant in Namibia serves zebra and backs up its declare as the most effective steak you’ll ever eat, or it’s free. A zebra is an animal that almost all North People equate to a horse, which most individuals in North America don’t eat. In some African cultures, consuming zebra is taboo; different cultures embrace it. There are a number of completely different species of zebra, and never all grace a plate equally

Zebra meat is marbled like reduce of beef, with comparable style and texture. It’s tender and juicy and, when cooked correctly, will go away you questioning why it isn’t served in high-dollar steakhouses in all places. I believe Mountain zebras make significantly better desk fare than plains zebras. Zebra is an unique that may be hunted in Texas if you wish to do that distinctive species with out crossing any seas. Or, when you ever get to Windhoek, search for steakhouse that serves zebra. 

Water Buffalo

water buffalo
Water buffalo are native to India and southeast Asia. Getty Photographs

Might an enormous, thick-skinned water buffalo be worthy of a high ten best-eating exotics checklist? I might not have believed it if my buddy Andrew Howard of Howard Communications had not shared his journey, which was extra of a “fill the freezer” sort of hunt. Andrew drove to the OX Ranch in Texas for a cow water buffalo, and studies the meat is unbelievable. The roasts and burgers specifically had been glorious.

“The steaks had been okay, however don’t count on it to be like prime beef,” Howard says. “There isn’t a ton of fats within the steaks, and what’s there’s fairly dense. What was good in regards to the steaks is that it allowed me to experiment and ideal some steak cooking strategies and never threat ruining a pleasant ribeye.”

Water buffalo meat was ok that Howard made a return journey to Texas to restock the freezer. When you have ever thought-about looking an unique species with a purpose to load up on meat, a water buffalo offers loads.

Learn Subsequent: 10 Greatest Tasting Sport Animals

Closing Ideas on the Greatest Unique Wild Sport

There’s a lengthy checklist of unique sport animals obtainable for looking and eating. These animals are usually nicely managed lately, and looking is a part of that administration. Visiting locations the place the locals refuse to eat sure species isn’t unusual. Blackbuck is an effective instance, as a result of they’re usually missed as a meals supply and simply thought-about a trophy (regardless that they’re scrumptious on the plate). So my recommendation is to all the time attempt the bizarre, wacky, great, or completely different. You’ll by no means know what an animal it tastes like except you attempt it. Be courageous, and also you may discover your new favourite meat. In lots of circumstances, non-trophy exotics may be hunted at cheap costs, making the journey a cheap method to get hold of some great-tasting sport. 

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