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Impress Guests with Wild Game Appetizers

By Jonathan Bowman

Photos by Jonathan Bowman

This holiday season, wow and impress your friends (and enemies) with these wild game appetizers!

Whether it’s a Christmas party or some other celebration with friends, I love making these appetizers for people. They are easy to transport and quickly assemble. Your aunt who swears she hates the taste of deer will never know what hit her after she tries these recipes! Enjoy!

First, let’s start with the Rueben on a Ritz. The meat is flexible, but I prefer to use corned venison or goose pastrami. You can make pastrami from pretty much any animal, but I usually use goose. Lots of people also use deer. Making the pastrami is easy but does take some time. Hank Shaw has fantastic recipes on his website for both corned venison and goose pastrami that you can easily follow: Hunter Angler Gardener Cook – Hank Shaw’s Wild Food Recipes (

I make several pounds of pastrami at a time and then freeze it in batches so I can pull the meat out whenever I need it.

If you don’t have pastrami and don’t have time to make it, you could take a backstrap or inner tenderloin (sweet meat) from a deer and slice it thin followed by a quick searing.

Put a layer or two of meat on each cracker, add the Russian dressing, a small heap of sauerkraut (optional) and some Swiss cheese and throw it in the oven until the cheese is melted. You can microwave this in a pinch, but it can mess with the color of the dressing.

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Next, let’s talk about terrines. It’s a weird French word, but I want every hunter to know it. I love these things. A terrine is basically an amazing combination of meat (you can use anything), pistachios, and parsley wrapped in bacon and gently cooked in the oven and cooled in the fridge overnight. The result is amazing and these freeze well so I like to make a few at a time. I first learned about terrines from multi award-winning chef, restauranteur and hunter Mike Robinson on his show “Farming the Wild” on the Outdoor Channel. I can’t thank Mike enough for teaching me about terrines, and I hope they become a holiday tradition for you as they have for me and my family.

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Now, if you have venison that you processed yourself or if you really trust your butcher (like I do), you should consider making venison tartare. While as about as adventurous as it gets with eating wild game, tartare only take a few minutes to make, and because they are raw, require no cook time. Keep in mind that a little goes a long way due to the rich flavors.

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I hope you enjoy whatever wild game you cook this December, and we will see you next year!

  • December 15, 2021