I should add a picture to this blog of me smirking, but I will spare you that. I am smirking because for years I've heard hunters bad mouthing the taste of the mule deer and the superiority of whitetails as table fare.
By the sound of it, you'd think whitetail steaks taste like filet mignon, and mule deer steaks taste like poorly cooked mutton left on a counter overnight. I've eaten mule deer all my life and enjoyed it. I've eaten many deer, and can only count a few occasions when the meat tasted bad. Most of those mule deer I've eaten were younger bucks taken in October, but that's what most hunters kill.
I've also heard how tasty whitetails are, and when I finally ate one, I was underwhelmed. Not that it was bad, it just tasted similar to mule deer. In fact, I doubt I could distinguish one from the other in a taste test. I started to wonder if I had some primitive palate.
I've always liked the taste of game animals. Each species have unique flavors that is completely different than beef or pork. And hunters have long debated which tastes best, and it seems like whitetails are always favored over mule deer. Is it reality, or just repeated so often it's taken as gospel?
The folks at Outdoor Life recently did a blind taste test of the backstraps of six big-game species and (spoiler alert) mule deer was ranked above whitetails.
Now it's hard to declare victory for mule deer for numerous reasons: small sample size, subjective tastes, and it's impossible to kill animals the same age and butcher them under the same conditions.
But I was honestly surprised by the results. Maybe not which animal earned the top spot for tastiest eating, but the rest of the rankings were not what I expected.
Check them out here.
For what it's worth, I've eaten five out of the six animals they taste tested with bighorn sheep the only one I am missing.
My rankings would go like this:
*4/5. Tie: Mule deer and whitetails
* Guess it wouldn't be fair to rank one above the other considering I just wrote I probably couldn't tell them apart.