If you sent your deer out to be processed, you probably have it back by now, except for the jerky and meat sticks. They seem to take forever.

We were fortunate this year in getting our deer to the locker early and beat the rush. We had our deer back in about two or three days.

I do not have them do the jerky and meat sticks as I prefer to do them myself. It is much less expensive, and I rather enjoy experimenting with the recipes.

I usually have one deer made into burger with no fat added. This lean burger can be made into almost anything, but I use most of this ground meat for jerky. Since this is very lean meat, if you use it for anything else, cooking oil or butter will need to be added or it will quickly dry out or burn.

The easiest way to make jerky from ground meat is to season it, let it cure in the refrigerator overnight, and use a jerky gun to shoot it out in preferred shapes directly onto the smoker grill or de-hydrator tray. The jerky gun looks like a caulk gun and makes even shapes, enabling even cooking.

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Seasoning and curing can be varied to individual taste. If you start with a kit such as Hi Mountain, the seasoning, cure, and directions are all included.

If you want to be adventuresome, pick out a bunch of seasonings and get creative. It takes about a tablespoon of assorted seasonings per pound of burger.

I use such things as whole mustard seed, garlic powder, onion powder, soy sauce, fennel, anise and cayenne pepper. Do not be afraid to experiment. It is hard to make something that is not fit to eat.

Just remember to write down what you are using. If you happen to hit the perfect recipe, you need to have a record of it so it can be duplicated. If you are curing your jerky, do not add salt to your recipe as there will be plenty of salt in the cure.

I prefer my jerky cured as well as smoked. This makes it last longer and will keep several days without refrigeration.

It also adds another dimension of flavor to the end product. The jerky that will not be consumed immediately can be refrigerated or frozen to keep even longer.

I use Morton’s Tender Quick to cure my jerky. It is readily available in grocery stores and safe to use. I use two teaspoons of Tender Quick per pound of meat.

The next best thing to hunting deer is eating them afterward. Get creative and make your own jerky. It is both nutritious and delicious.