The Essential Gear Guide for Making Wild Game Jerky
From smokers to dehydrators, here’s all you need to crank out the ultimate meat snack
It would be difficult to find a hunter who doesn’t love jerky. Whether you make it with venison, goose meat, wild boar, or any other kind of wild game jerky, your biggest decision is to make it with whole-muscle cuts or to grind the meat for extruded jerky. Of course, if that decision is too taxing, you could just make both—because they’re both delicious.
Many companies cater to the jerky aficionado who wants to make their own spiced and dried meat at home. Here’s our list of recommended smokers, dehydrators, meat-cutters, and specialty products and seasonings to tackle your next batch of homemade jerky.
Camp Chef Pursuit Pellet Grill
Camp Chef has thought of everything with its Pursuit Pellet Grill, which folds up so you can take it to hunting camp or a tailgate party. The unit runs on electricity, with any 110-volt outlet, and provides temperature control between 160 to 500 degrees. Fill the auger box with your preferred pellets, start the unit, and watch the temperature gauge climb and hold the set temperature. The Pursuit comes with two meat probes, and a pull handle to change the unit from a smoker to a grill, an electric auto-start, and an easy-to-navigate temperature-selection system. With over 500 square inches of rack space, you can load it with a big batch of jerky.
Traeger Ironwood 885
The beauty of making jerky on a Traeger Ironwood 885 is the ease: You can set the temperature and forget it, and infuse your jerky with incredible wood flavor as it dries. The Ironwood 885 has Bluetooth compatibility, so you can monitor the temperature of the grill from your phone. Traeger’s TruConvection circulates the heat and smoke to dry and flavor your meat, and there is no need for extra racks, as the jerky can be stacked right on the grill grates. With insulated sidewalls, the unit heats up rapidly and is ideal for colder climates and late-season meat processing.
Camp Chef Jerky Racks
Maximize the space in any Camp Chef pellet smoker by adding the removable jerky racks unit with three racks. Depending on the smoker, you can triple your output with close to 1,600 square inches of cooking space. To use, remove the warming rack brackets and install the 24-inch Jerky Rack brackets. The fine metal mesh holds cut muscle or extruded jerky and can be sprayed with oil to prevent the meat from sticking. The unit is easy to clean up and store, leaving it ready for action the next time you are processing meat and making jerky.
Hi Mountain Ultimate Jerky Board and Knife
Hi Mountain has developed a jerky cutting board that allows you to slice meat the same thickness every time. The board has rubber feet so you can use one hand to hold the meat in place and the other to cut with the knife. One edge of the board allows you to cut ¼-inch slices, while the other side is slotted to cut 3/8-inch jerky. The textured surface holds meat in place while piercing holes in it to allow the seasoning to penetrate. The board comes with a 13-½-inch stainless steel knife to make long, clean cuts, and everything is dishwasher safe.
Realtree Big Game Blend Wood Pellets
The Big Game Blend by Traeger is a special wood pellet blend for enhancing the flavor of wild game and fish, including jerky. Pellet grills generate heat and smoke by burning wood. Different wood produces different flavor, color, and depth. The Big Game Blend is made entirely of hardwoods with no fillers. The wood is sourced in the U.S., and a small amount of soybean oil is added as a lubricant for pellet-fed grill systems and to allow herbs and citrus to be infused. The burn-to-smoke ratio helps control the flavor and the number of pellets used in a grill. The Big Game Blend offers a combination of flavors to make your jerky taste delicious.
Realtree 2-in-1 Jerky Slicer and Cuber/Tenderizer
This hand-operated machine is great for churning out consistent, evenly cut meat for jerky. The unit is heavy enough to stand on its own, allowing you to feed meat in through the top port while turning the handle to slice evenly cut pieces of meat. Stainless-steel combs set around the blades ensure the meat slices don’t catch in the blades. The top port will take pieces of meat 4 ½ inches wide and 1 ¼ inches thick, allowing you to run goose breasts or larger pieces of venison. The position of the blades allows the slicer to produce up to 15 jerky slices, 3/16 inch thick. The unit is also easy to take apart for cleaning. When using as a tenderizer, the 31 blades cube the meat, allowing you to run each piece through twice for perfect cutlets.
Weston Original Jerky Gun
Weston makes the Original Jerky Gun that can hold up to 1 ½ pounds of ground and seasoned meat to shoot out perfect strips of jerky. The trigger requires little pressure to extrude long strips of jerky meat for smoking or dehydrating. A stomper is included to avoid any air bubbles and ensure a consistent product from the time you load. The gun comes with two stainless-steel attachments to crank out a double-size jerky stick with a ½-inch diameter, or double jerky strips that are 1/8 by ¾ inch. The gun also comes with an attachment for making sausage. A set of cleaning brushes ensures the gun and attachments are always clean and ready.
Weston Pro 1,000 Stainless Steel 10 Tray Dehydrator
Weston’s professional-grade stainless tray dehydrator comes with chrome-plated steel racks. The 10 racks in the unit provide over 15 square feet of drying space. The trays are easy to remove to check the jerky for even drying. There is a color-coded thermostat that adjusts up to 155 degrees, run by a 1,000-watt heating element with a 6-½-inch fan. The dehydrator measures 17x20x16 inches, requiring little cupboard space. Horizontal airflow makes tray rotation unnecessary. The timer allows you to set the heat to run the dehydrator up to 10 hours. It is also easy to disassemble for easy cleanup.
Hi Mountain Jerky Maker Variety Packs
There is an endless array of flavors and seasonings to use when making jerky. If you are interested in experimenting with different meat and spices, you might be interested in the Hi Mountain Variety Pack with five different flavors, including original, mesquite, hickory, cracked pepper and garlic, and cajun. Each flavor package will season four pounds of whole meat The Variety Pack includes cure and a shaker bottle for easy mixing.