They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Well, I’m discovering that the journey to mastering ones life as a man, father, and lover of the wild outdoors can all begin with the same steps. Here’s a little something I learned about smoked deer roast on my voyage to thread my passions of parenting, hunting, hiking, and cooking all together.
How to Start Hunting with Kids
I have finally found a new home in Idaho and am expanding my knowledge and experience into its plentiful and wild terrain. From its high desert plains, jagged lake-adorned mountains, and dense forests, there’s pretty much no end to the outdoor possibilities within the borders of this rugged state. I’ve had my sights set on one particular activity above all others: hunting.
Of course, the learning curve for a lone father with absolutely no hunting experience in his mid 30’s is a steep one. To add another level of difficult to my pursuit, I have made it a priority to bring my sons along for the experience. I feel it is critical to their growth and life experience to see the wilderness and hunting process firsthand during these formative years.
Hunting Gear for Wild Game Hunting with Kids
For them, one of the more exciting parts of getting into hunting was acquiring the necessary gear to begin our expedition. Unfortunately, this proved to be a difficult and sparse market to sift through for children of any age. A friend of mine that works in the hunting marketing world told me that most hunting brands don’t really care about creating products for or marketing toward children’s needs.
After exhaustive searching for things like camouflage for the boys, I’ve found that you “get what you get and you don’t get upset.” That’s what my wife always ways when explaining a lack of options to the boys. When it came to things like bags and optics, I didn’t mess around and went with things that – to be frank – I would want for myself: Leupold Optics and Eberlestock bags and harnesses.
I was pleasantly surprised a little later in the season to discover that Under Armour Hunt had some great and comfortable camo for the boys, as well as excellent hunting boots that they loved. If you’ve been looking for gear for your kids, check out my compilation of picks here on my Rock Porch page.
Successfully Hunting Wild Game
Our primary hunting goal this year was a bull elk. However, after gaining a number of learning moments, we took the opportunities provided and turned our attention to the many mule deer roaming the mountains.
On the morning of the very last day that we’d planned on hunting, the boys and I set out into the mountains and found our area. Not long after, we found a small group of muleys eating near the tree line. We worked our way around the backside, and the boys picked the deer I was to take. And so I did.
How to Prepare Smoked Deer Roast
Not being experienced in anything more than field dressing a deer, I found a reputable local wild game butcher who cut the meat into basic sections for us. He did a fairly good job eliminating silver skin from the roast before getting it back to our house. I also knew that this type of lean red meat was gamy and a bit tough to cook since it has little fat which dries out quick.
If you get a chance to cook this particular cut of meat, know that there are a number of ways to improve your recipe. If cooking inside, many people stew the meat to help break it down and keep it moist while others add elements like bacon fat while frying meat that is sliced thin. Because I wanted to use my Traeger smoker, I did some research and found a great starting point for my smoked deer roast from the Outdoor Indoor Texans’ YouTube channel.
How to Brine a Smoked Deer Roast
When making a brine, I learned that you can make the spices basic and simple or you can make them spicy and robust. Because this was our first time, we kept things simple. I took the opportunity to let my oldest son mix the salt, sugar, and other spices together in a bowl.
Then, we submerged the roast in the brine, covered it, and stuck the bowl in the fridge for 48 hours. We had originally intended to only brine for one day. However, due to one of the little brothers not feeling well, we left it in for another day. That turned out for the better as this smoked venison roast wound up being as tender as sushi.
Pro Tip: If you don’t have room in your fridge for a large bowl, you can use a good freezer ziplock plastic bag instead. It will fit in most tight spaces and keep the roast covered on all sides.
Traeger Dry Rub for Smoked Deer Roast
After your brining period is done, remove the roast and pat it dry. As you get ready to smoke the meat, preheat your smoker to 225 degrees Fahrenheit approximately 15 minutes in advance. Our goal is to get the internal temperature up to between 130 and 140 degrees, which should finish it at medium rare.
A lot of people recommend rubbing olive oil on the meat prior to applying a dry rub to add moisture and help the spices adhere, but I felt it was moist enough that we didn’t need it. I was out of my Traeger Wild Game rub and opted to use the Traeger Saskatchewan Rub instead. Its flavor profile is a bit more robust, which was okay with me. I didn’t want to take a chance serving something too gamey to the boys and risk them becoming picky about smoked deer roast.
One thing I would change when I do this again – and I will be doing it again – is using a smaller section of the roast. I didn’t realize the butcher had packaged the entire leg roast in one package. It made a bit too much at once for the six of us. I also opted to use the Traeger Signature Pellets when making this smoked deer roast, and would consider hickory or one of the fruit woods next time.
Cutting Smoked Deer Roast
Once your roast heats to an internal temperature between 130 and 140 degrees, which takes about an hour, remove it and let it sit for approximately 15 minutes before slicing. This will give the roast meat fibers time to relax. It will also give you plenty of time to set the table!
When cutting the venison, cut against the grain. You’ll want the slices to be approximately 1/8th to 1/4th inch thin and served with a nice hot green vegetable and possibly mashed potatoes. As I mentioned before, this smoked deer roast was as tender as a good piece of albacore tuna.
Exploring the Mountains with Kids
Just like growing your own vegetables in the garden, hiking in the mountains and bringing back your own meat is a fantastic experience. Next time, I’ll try to get a deer large enough to cook a venison backstrap for dinner as opposed to making sausage with it. I’m glad we’ve come a long way since our first outing Pier Fishing as beginners.
Would you ever make a smoked deer roast? You can print the recipe below and give it a go.
Smoked Deer Roast
- 1 Traeger Smoker
- 1 Large Bowl
- 1 Deer Roast
- 8 Cups Water
- 1/2 Cup White Wine Vinegar
- 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
- 1/2 Cup Salt
- 1 Tbsp Mustard Seed
- 1 Tbsp Minced Garlic
- 1 Tbsp Black Pepper
- 1 Tbsp Dried Thyme
- 2 Bay Leaves
- Traeger Saskatchewan Dry Rub
- Mix water, white wine vinegar, sugar, and salt in large bowl
- Add remaining ingredients (except dry rub)
- Submerge deer roast in bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 48 hours.
- Remove and pat dry
- Apply dry rub
- Preheat smoker to 225 degrees
- Place on smoker until internal temperature is between 130-140 degrees, approximately 1 hour
- Remove and let sit for 15 minutes
- Cut into thin slices (against the grain) and enjoy