Get Your Head in the Game: Your Wild Game Meat Nutrition Guide

healthy wild game meat nutrition guide hunting animal protein

Animal protein is a good source of amino acids and essential fatty acids, making it part of a healthy diet.

In our modern world, we tend to gravitate towards meats like beef, chicken, turkey, and pork. More adventurous eaters might venture out to try lamb or bison.

But, the unconventional meat list doesn't end there.

In fact, game meats like deer, elk, squirrel, rabbit, quail, duck, and raccoon can provide similar nutrient values to your more traditional meats.

Hunting and cooking these game meats is truly living off the land.

Interested in learning more about making game meats part of your diet? Need to know the healthiest wild game meat?

In this in-depth post, we'll go into everything you need to know to include wild game meat in your diet.


What Is Game Meat?

If you're new to the hunting scene, you might be wondering what game meat is. According to Britannica Encyclopedia, game meat is considered the flesh of any wild animal or bird.
Game meat is compartmentalized into three tiers:

  • Small birds like quail and thrush
  • Winged game like goose, ducks, grouse, pheasant, and more, and ground game like squirrel, raccoon, hare, and rabbit
  • Big game like deer, elk, moose, caribou, and other big game like bear and wild boar

Game meat is not commonly eaten, however, all sources of game meat are totally edible when cooked.


Fatty Acid Composition

One of the predictors of a healthy protein is its fatty acid composition. There are two essential fatty acids that we have to include in our diet because our body doesn't make them on its own. These are omega-3 and omega-6.

Maintaining a healthy balance between omega-3 and omega-6 in the body can support healthy inflammation levels, brain function, and heart health.

Researchers hypothesize that our ancestors ate a diet that had a one-to-one ratio of omega-3 to omega-6. In our Western Diet, it is believed that most people consume at a ratio of one-to-twenty. This sets the stage for inflammation, a state implicated in most diseases.

To maintain this ratio, you can eat foods high in omega-3s and limit foods high in omega-6. Game meats provide the fatty acid balance.

Based on an analysis of game meats like deer, pheasant, hare, and wild boar, researchers found that game meat has the optimal one-to-one ratio of omega-3 to omega-6. This means that they provide the right balance of fatty acids for optimal health. In this study, wild boar was the exception, with a lower omega-3 content.

Depending on the fatty acid profile of the individual game meat, game meat can be a good source of healthy fats.


Wild Game Foods

While there are many kinds of game meat, to go into every single one would be out of the scope of this article. Instead, we've compiled the nutrient values of some of the most common game meats. This meat calories chart is based on three-ounce portions unless stated otherwise.

Deer

When compared against hare, wild boar, and pheasant, deer has the highest omega-3 content. This is probably one of the healthiest wild game meats you can eat. The total fat content of deer is 2.4 grams three-ounce per serving.

Sitting at 23 grams of protein per serve, deer is a good source of protein and amino acids. It totals in at 120 calories.

Deer is also a good source of B-vitamins and iron.

Elk

Elk has a higher omega-6 content when compared to beef and totals to about 7.6 grams of fat per serving. However, it is a good source of protein with 22.6 grams per serving. It comes in a little calorically dense than deer at 164 calories.

Elk also provides high levels of zinc, B-12, and niacin.

Squirrel

Squirrel has high levels of protein with 26.2 grams per serving. But, it's not the healthiest with about a one-to-ten omega-3 to omega-6 ratio of the 4 grams of total fat.

When it comes to vitamins and minerals, squirrel provides a decent amount of B-12, phosphorous, selenium, iron, and niacin.

Rabbit

Rabbit, while a little higher than squirrel, is not a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. However, it does have much lower levels of omega-6, giving it a more desirable omega-6 to omega-3 ratio.

With 120 of its 147 calories per serving coming from protein, its 28.1 grams of protein make it an optimal protein source.

Other nutrients found in high levels in rabbit are vitamin B-12, iron, phosphorous, and niacin.

Quail

Quail is a relatively small bird and doesn't provide a lot of meat. For this reason, serving sizes for quail are much smaller, averaging about one ounce.

Quail is one of the least nutrient-dense game meats, containing significantly lower levels of B-12 and other vitamins and minerals than the previously mentioned proteins.

However, quail does provide a decent source of protein with about 7 grams in each 66 calorie serving. It also contains 4 grams of fat, with a one-to-seven omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. While this is better than some sources of fat in the Western diet, it doesn't stand up to the fatty acid profile of rabbit or deer.

Duck

Duck is one the more indulgent game meats, containing a whopping 28 grams of fat and 337 calories per 100-gram serving. It still provides 19 grams of protein, making it a decent source.

Although, duck has an unfavorable omega-3 to omega-6 for keeping inflammation levels low and supporting a healthy heart.

It's also one of the least nutrient-dense foods, acting only as a good source of selenium.

Raccoon

Raccoon is not one of the commonly eaten game meats, although it packs a nutritional punch.

Surprisingly, raccoon game meat is one of the best sources of B-12 when compared to other game meats. It also provides a good amount of selenium, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, phosphorous, and vitamin B6.

Although it has less fat per serving than duck, raccoon still contributes about 12 grams of fat. This fat content mostly consists of omega-6, however, it's fatty acid profile is still more favorable when compared to duck.


Sourcing Wild Game Meat

Wild game meat is abundant in nature and not so much in supermarkets. To source wild game, you'll have to go out and hunt it yourself. Thankfully, stores like Wing Tactical provide Superlative Arms to allow you to do it right.

However, there are some things to keep in mind before hunting wild game.

Make Sure Your License Is Current

Any form of hunting requires a license, so make sure your license is current. If you don't currently have a hunting license, make sure you obtain one.

Be Aware of Your State's Hunting Laws

Being are of the hunting laws in your state is important before you go out and try to hunt wild game. Regulations change often, so be sure to continuously check on them before engaging in any hunting practice.

Equip Yourself

Make sure you are using the best of the best to have the most successful hunting day. Having high-quality equipment is an absolute must. Having good quality rifles, ammo, camouflage, and hunter orange are some of the basics you'll need before a hunting session.

Start with Small Game

If you're a beginner, starting with small game can be a good way to practice your new hobby. Going too big too fast can be overwhelming and dangerous. Practice one small game like quail, ducks, squirrels, rabbits, and others.

Go With a Group

As you start to become more experienced, you'll want to start hunting bigger game. However, this can prove difficult considering larger game can weigh upwards of one hundred pounds. You'll want to have some buddies around to help move your game.


Cooking Wild Game

Thankfully, wild game meat can be treated like any conventional meat in terms of cooking. Game can be roasted, stir-fried, broiled, seared, or fried.

If you don't want to cook your game meat right after hunting, you can easily freeze the meat and thaw it once you are ready to eat it.


Game Meat Is a Healthy, Unconventional Source of Nutrition

Experiencing everything the world has to offer means getting adventurous with your food choices. Stepping out and trying nutritious wild game meat can be one way to expand your palette and acquire new experiences.

When sourcing game meat, make sure you have your license, knowledge of regulation, and equipment squared away for the best hunting experience.

Overall, any wild game meat can be a nutritious contribution to a healthy diet.

Looking for more information on health, fitness, and nutrition? Interested in learning about outdoor activities like hunting? Check out My Frugal Fitness, a source of free information on various topics.

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