Here’s a tasty way to put those wayward packs of ground venison to a surprising new use

by Heath Wood

As a hunter, I try to be respectful to the game that I am blessed to harvest. One of those avenues of respect is using all of the meat that is available from the animal.

When I harvest a whitetail deer, for example, I try to get as much meat as I can from the loins, hams, and shoulders that will produce big enough pieces to slice into small steaks. All the smaller pieces of meat that I collect are used to make ground meat.

I am continually looking for different ways to make use of ground venison. Burgers and chili are natural options, although these can get dull after a while.

After a friend made barbecue meatloaf on his pellet smoker, I began to experiment using ground venison to make a similar dish on my Traeger Grills Pro 780 wood-fired pellet smoker.

If you have ever experimented with smoking venison, you know it is easy to dry out the meat, making for an undesirable dish. When combining the ingredients below with this innovative cooking method, the results are quite spectacular. You will get a fantastic wood-smoked flavor that leaves the meat moist.

Meatloaf will never be the same.


  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons onion
  • ¼ teaspoon ground sage
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 lbs. of ground venison
  • ¼ pound ground pork sausage


  • Using Traeger’s Big Game Blend of pellets, preheat the Traeger grill to 225 degrees, leaving the lid closed for 15 minutes. The Big Game Blend pellets are specially formulated to pair well with wild game.
  • Combine breadcrumbs, milk, onion, sage, and salt.
  • Add beaten egg.
  • Mix in both ground venison and ground pork sausage in a large bowl.
  • Form into a loaf, packing tightly. (Optional: place 6 to 8 slices of bacon on top of the meatloaf for added flavor and to keep the meatloaf more moist.)
  • Place meatloaf directly onto the rack of the smoker.
  • Cook for 2 hours or until internal temperature is 160 degrees.
  • Once the meatloaf reaches 160 or a few degrees before, pour Traeger’s Traeger ‘Que barbecue sauce on top and let cook for approximately 10 additional minutes to form a glaze.

After the sauce has glazed, remove from the grill and let rest 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Heath Wood has been published in many major hunting magazines, websites, and blogs for over the last 15 years. His favorite topics include deer, turkey, and predator hunting. Wood has also appeared on Bass Pro Shop's Outdoor World TV, Hunters Specialties' The Stuff of Legends and the popular DVD series Cuttin' and Struttin', as well as the NWTF's Turkey Call TV. Heath enjoys helping introduce newcomers to hunting.

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