The difference between Game meat and Venison

“I loved your post on Game meat but may I suggest that you used the correct term of ‘venison’, rather than game meat,” someone voiced just the other day.

I only then realised that most people in South Africa, are not clear on the difference between the two, and most of us do not even know that there, indeed exists a difference between our so beloved South African Game Meat, frequently used to make biltong, and the Australian and New Zealand version of wild meat, more correctly referred to Venison.

Now if you ask any person around the world, including South Africa, what Venison is, they will quickly tell you in the most blatant of terms that it is wild meat, deer meat, or even meat derived from wildlife such as rabbit and wild boar.

There are however many countries where the local populations has no idea about what game meat is. Game is a word equally popular in the USA and Britain as it is in South Africa, but when visiting the Middle East, Russia, China and East-European countries, they might look at you in a way which will indicate that there is a total lack of comprehension, and thus asking for an explanation.

One of the reasons for this is that Australia and New Zealand has done ground-breaking work in establishing the export markets for their products, and has done so primarily by a word which can’t be confused with any other sort of meat.

They are in fact adamant on the notion that only wild meat from Austria and New Zealand can be called Venison, similarly like Champagne coming only from the region of Champagne in France.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that Venison is superior in any way to, for instance game meat, it only establishes the fact that New Zealand has very successfully created a brand or ‘word’ associated with their product.

Venison is derived from the deer, often described as organic and free range, which naturally roams about in both New Zealand and Australia.

Game meat on the other hand, includes but is not limited to, South African game harvested from the African bush veld which include a wide range of species, of which the most popular is Blue Wildebeest, Kudu, Impala, Springbuck and Eland.

As you can imagine, the free range deer from New Zealand has a very different diet than their counterparts in South Africa, where the feed ranges from various types of grass, to leaves of different trees as well, depending on the species.

Again this doesn’t make the one superior over the other, but there is a distinct difference in taste, and those who love game meat, will testify that the quality is of a superb level.

Game meat is proudly South African, and there is a bright future ahead as we market our products as such.

Export quality game meat vs meat derived from hunting

So you are familiar with game meat, right?

Your uncle (or brother) has a family inherited game farm in the pleasant but rugged South African bush, and hunting has been a tradition in your family since your great grandfather shot that trophy Kudu bull still hanging against the wall in the voorkamer of the farmhouse.

Tradition dictates, with much pride, that the majority of the meat, whether it be impala or blue wildebeest, is good for the ever popular biltong, droëwors and chilli-bites. Occasionally, the prime cuts of meat will be cooked with recipes dating back to the Anglo-Boer war, and usually includes a variety of ingredients such as alternative meats like pork, and in many cases a generous amount of cream.

The main association with game meat is the wild taste of what ever species was hunted. A taste that varies in as many factors as the variety of animals there are available. The factors effecting the taste and quality of the meat includes shot placement, how far it ran in the hunting process, the sound of gunfire in the instance where the animal is injured, the timing of bleeding the animal, the time of day and how long the carcass remained in the sun before being loaded onto a recovery vehicle, and of course the temperature and treatment process once arrived at the slaughtering facilities.

These are a bunch of factors often overlooked when on a classic, adventurous hunting trip, as depicted in our long standing culture. The difference however, between export quality game meat and meat derived from hunting is a subject not too often discussed and rarely mentioned in the hunting circles. This, combined with an occasional instance of a general lack of knowledge, naturally resulting in a product which from the outset might seem inferior to the retail products on the market.

It is time then for us, and most of the general public to get ourselves acquainted with a world where nothing less than world-class products is accepted. A world where only the best of meats are produced and presented, in the most professional manner imaginable.

Now to send your train of thought to what is currently available on the South African market, especially provided by the Riga Merchant online retailer, we present to you a meat that is professionally harvested, often times at night, using suppressors on the rifles, with head shots, ensuring that the quality of every cut of meat is a standard outstanding export quality product.

The carcases, with regulated temperatures and predefines processes and systems, are adequately transported to the abattoir and processing facilities, giving the consumer a guarantee of a top-notch product.

Next time you are presented with what looks like a rich and healthy cut of game meat, you are right to suppose that it is indeed your right to know the origin of the particular meat, and of course, the method of bringing it to your plate.

Happy healthy eating!