This past fall, my wife shot her first deer in 32 years. Before you read the rest of this article, you may want to watch the video here.

As you can see, she hadn’t hunted for 32 years, but she shot a deer in the first half hour of hunting this fall. Toward the end of the video you can hear me say something to the effect that it will be a good eating deer—and she says she knows what that means!

A trophy is in the eye of the beholder, and this deer was a trophy for the two of us. It left me with some decisions to make. We eat a lot of wild game at our house—in fact, our five kids grew up on it. I am always trying something new and experimenting, because to me that’s part of the thrill of the harvest. I usually make the hindquarters of deer into roast to be cooked in the crockpot. They turn out mouthwatering and tasty.

The hindquarters of a young deer like this one are tender and I often make them into steaks, because half of them are too small for a roast and the entire “ham” makes a mighty big roast. Six pounds of roast is more than we need at this point in our life. So I decided to try something new this time: smoke the entire ham.

I would have to experiment with the amount of heat and time since I had never done this before. I also like to have the smoker full when I use it; since I wasn’t making any sausage out of this deer I got a dozen turkey legs (they are cheap and make a good lunch for me) and added them to the mix.

What I did was not a “true” ham. To make your venison into a true ham you would need to cure it for hours in a brine with salt, spices, pickling spices, and so on—which is a lot more time and work than I wanted to go into with this experiment. That process may be next on my list, and if you want to go that route there are plenty of online resources for curing a ham.

I coated the hams with salt and seasoning salt. I tend to use Lawry’s Seasoned Salt on most kinds of beef and venison when I am grilling, but when I am cooking pork I really prefer Johnny’s Seasoning Salt. I decided to use Johnny’s for this project. As you can see by the video I was very generous with the salt and seasoning. Coat the meat really good inside and out. If you have a meat injector, use it!

I started the smoker at 155 degrees because I felt that’s the internal temperature I would want for the ham to be done. Because it was so cold in my unheated garage, it would have taken probably 12 hours to finish it at that temperature, and since I was planning to have it for supper, I cranked up the heat to 180, which got it done in eight hours. If I had to do it again, I would start earlier in the day and go with the 12 hours at 155.

The project turned out fantastic. The ham is tender and has an amazing smoky flavor. It makes terrific sandwiches when sliced, and I have also just carved chunks from it and ate it like it was jerky although it is more tender than jerky.

I really encourage you hunters to try this on your venison. I think you will be happy with the results. I know I will definitely be doing it again. Watch the video below to see the visual of how I did this.

Follow Bernie’s bowhunting adventures on his blog,

Image by Bernie Barringer

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5 thoughts on “Video: How to Smoke a Venison Ham

  1. I think you need to be more specific here. According to The Food Lover’s Companion, the word VENISON applies to any Game Animal and is NOT Species Specific…

    1. You are painting with too wide of a brush, venison includes all deer and moose, it doesn’t include Elk, Pronghorn, Bear, Squirrel, Rabbit or any of the other varieties of game!

      1. @ Glenn H.

        I know that, I could spent a Couple of Hours just list all the types of Game Meats. I just wanted to point out that the word Venison is generic and Not animal specific. Most people identify Venison with Deer or Ham with Pigs, and when I tell them it’s not. It confuses them even more…

  2. My problem with smoking a deer ham is that I loose so many cubed steaks!
    I love to take them and sprinkle Tony’s cajun seasoning and roll them in flour and fry in canola oil until lightly brown; Serve with home made biscuits, blackeyed peas and mashed potatoes, yum!
    the other favorite way is to serve them with home made biscuits and fresh eggs for breakfast, bacon and sausage has nothing on cubed deer steak!

  3. Lower and slower is the way to go. Also take the time to cure it, not only does it help in preservation but adds to the texture. You will get a more hamlike texture as opposed to like a roast beef like texture. Particularly good as a thin sliced cold cut. I just make mixture of Apple juice, water, pickling salt. Don’t make it real strong on any flavor. Give it a taste though, it should have a decent sweet and salty taste. Then season after brine however you like. Whatever spice that is good on venison will be good. I prefer sweet over savory in this way though. Brown sugar or maple syrup are excellent when cooking again, so is orange marmalade (believe it or not) with a little clove and/or nutmeg. No brine is an excellent way to prepare for eating right away. It also makes a great smoked beef type sandwich. They are both excellent ways to enjoy more venison. I used to get paid for it for many years, I’ve done it a few times, trust me it’s good.

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