I’ve written before about my love for axis deer, so I was excited to see a Food Fight submission from Chris Johnson using this mild, tender and downright delicious venison. The fact that he used it in a Marsala recipe makes him deserving of the win this week, but I’m not going to go down without a fight.

Chris Johnson’s Axis Marsala


Here’s an axis Marsala I prepared last night. A good neighbor of mine gifted me with some axis deer cutlets, which I dredged in flour and pan fried, then topped with parsley, mushrooms, Marsala, and demi glace. The axis was harvested on a deer lease; apparently they have escaped other ranches in the area.

David’s Axis Backstrap and Sausage


When smoking any type of backstrap, my go-to grill is an old Weber kettle. Rather than firing up the Smoke Vault, I can set up an indirect fire in the kettle and toss a handful of wood chips– mesquite in this case, as a nod to the deer’s adopted Texas home–on the coals. That way I can always get just the perfect amount of smoke flavor while still keeping the streak medium rare.

Got an axis deer, or any other fish or wild game, in the freezer? If so, snap a photo next time you’re cooking it up and send it to