Venison snack sticks are from the field to table and start to finish.

We go through a lot of snack sticks at this time of the year.Long sits in the deer stand, scouting trips, out-of-town hunts, deer camp, they all scream for the salty, savory snacks.The need to empty the last few packs of venison from the freezer at this time of year makes snack sticks the perfect way to use them up.

The homemade version of the quintessential gas station treat taste better than anything you can buy in the store, and you know exactly what is going into them, making them a much healthier alternative to mass produced snacks.

We make snack sticks out of just about everything this time of year because of the combination of high consumption and freezer emptying.As we go through the freezer, we might come up with a roast or two, or a bag of trimmings, but we also have a few packs of deer burger as well.

The ratios for most snack stick mixes are correct because I grind a lot of venison in a 70/30 blend with pork or beef fat.I simply have to thaw the appropriate number of packages for the mix I am using, blend in the seasoning and cure mix, then use the Weston Sausage Stuffer or Jerky gun to stuff the meat into 21mm casings.

We use a kit from Hi Mountain, but experiment with different kits and flavors all the time.You can find the one you like the best by trying a bunch.When trying a new kit, it's a good idea to blend the seasoning with a small amount of ground meat, no need to add any cure.Give it a test fry and form it into a patty.You will know right away if you like the seasoning mixture or not.Go ahead and mix it up if you like it.You wouldn't waste a lot of meat with a bunch of snack sticks if you didn'tis not.

If you follow the instructions on the kit, you can adjust the seasoning blend to your liking.The cure is measured by the weight of the meat.If you don't weigh the meat mixture and follow package instructions, your snack sticks will not keep well.

I like to mix the cure and seasoning with the meat before stuffing it.This allows the meat to have a full flavor.The meat mixture should be sitting at room temperature for 30 minutes.

The majority of kits include 21mm.They don't require soaking in water, but they do benefit from an overnight stint in the fridge.The casings can either be left in a continuous rope or twisted into links.I like to cut them to length when they are done cooking.Before cooking, make sure the snack sticks don't have too much fat on them as they cook.

The sticks can be cooked in the oven, on a smoker, or in a temperature-controlled dehydrator.I cook until the snack sticks reach an internal temperature of 150 degrees, after which I turn the temperature up to 170 degrees.

We started on a smoker at 150 degrees to get the best flavor.After an hour on the smoker, we moved the sticks to the oven to finish cooking.

When the sausage reaches a certain temperature, I submerge it in ice water for 10 minutes to set the fat inside the sticks.The sticks can be vacuum sealed and cut to length to be kept in the freezer.

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