Tender Smoked Venison on the Traeger

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Venison roast is not always a go to for fine dining in the home, but it can be SO delicious! With the help of my Traeger Timberline 1300 and some internet research, this is my amazing recipe for making wonderfully tender, fabulously flavorful, savory smoked venison roast.

On the Hunt for the best Smoked Venison

Hunting for smoked venison

My story for the best possible beginner's smoked venison recipe starts with my own pursuit of wild game. Just like the difference in buying meat from the store vs hunting for it, there is a lot to learn about the difference in farmed beef and wild red meat when cooking. It's not just about self butchering and removal of “silver skin,” but also about the very delicate balance of cooking for hours depending on fat content.

Elich Day and Olin Day hunting for mule deer to make Smoked Venison

Wild game lives a “wild life” and understandably, a leaner one. Deer, elk, antelope, and all the other big game animals are pretty much always on the move. They're either running from predators or looking for food. Because of that, they lack the ability to build up fat content to make for tender meat. They even struggle to take on flavor, which impacts how you'll season and cook smoked venison.

Deciding how to Cook Venison

Fishing while hunting for smoked venison

Most of the marinades I've had experience with – especially in Southern California – were the type of citrus marinade you might use for a carne asada. Typically, olive oil would have been the common bonder for rubs with simple spices like black pepper all stored in a zip lock bag. The only other way I've heard a venison roast being cooked to achieve tenderness is in a crockpot, boiling in red wine for a number of hours.

Since I am not interested in stew meat, my goal is to achieve the greatest smoky flavor from a solid pice of roast. For me, smoked venison is a project in becoming a better meat smoker in general. It's also about mastering wild game cooking so I can next move onto something like a venison tenderloin. At the moment, I feel as though I have finally gotten a handle on Traeger Smoked Beef Ribs. Only now, after lots of practice, am I willing to try my hand at my own hunted meat.

Making Smoked Venison Marinade

Smoked venison spices by Nate Day

I did a fair amount of research looking for a good “beginner” marinade for my smoked venison and found the perfect starting point on YouTube. I came across a simple recipe from Drew Kennard at The Outdoor Indoor Texan and thought it would make the perfect introduction for me and the wold of marinades. With the help of my oldest son and fellow hunter, Olin (10 years old), I set about prepping the solution.

Hunting and Cooking with Kids

Olin Day preparing to make smoked venison

Shortly before I got married, I came to the decision that I wanted to learn to hunt. It's all part of deciding how to run your own family, I suppose. It was many years after that when I got my first REAL opportunity in the mountains of Wyoming. It part of my desire to take accountability for understanding my own place in the food chain, and an important part of me taking back my stake in my heritage of being a member of the Chickasaw Indian Nation.

Olin Day marinating smoked venison for the Traeger

It was extremely important to me to include my sons in the experience. I did not grow up with much of an understanding of conservation. I never understood the actual workings of the wild world around us, and I wanted to make sure my boys learned as much as they could. I also didn't want them to be squeamish about where their food comes from, or timid when it came to preparing it themselves.

Marinating Venison

Smoked venison marinating before the smoker

Once the marinade is all mixed, it's important to fully submerge the roast. You want to do this in order to ensure the venison soaks up the flavor AND gets as tender as possible. Once in the marinade, place the whole bowl (or bag) into the refrigerator for 48 hours.

Smoked Venison Traeger Dry Rub

48 hours marinating smoked venison

After 48 hours, remove the venison roast and pat it dry. You'll want to do this approximately 30 minutes prior to cooking so it has time to come to room temperature. Naturally, it's going to remain a little moist. This is a good thing! The moisture will help the Traeger Saskatchewan Rub adhere to the roast. Apply liberally to all sides of the roast as you preheat the smoker to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.

Nate Day using Traeger Saskatchewan Rub on smoked venison

It usually takes about 15 minutes for my Traeger to come to temperature, which gives me about 15 minutes for the spice and salt to sit and soak on the outside of the roast. I learned that placing a water pan on the rack below the roast helps keep the meat moist while smoking.

Making smoked venison with Treager dry rub

When it's all seasoned and the smoker's ready to go, I pop it on the Traeger Timberline 1300 with the Traeger Probe thermometer inserted until the internal temperature reaches between 130 degrees and 140 degrees. For my roast, this took about an hour. That's the great thing about the Traeger smoker: you can monitor all the components and internal temperature from the Traeger app.

The Perfect Smoked Venison

Finished smoked venison with Nate Day

Once I reached the desired internal temperature of about 135 degrees, I pulled the roast and let it sit for approximately 10 minutes. Cutting against the grain, I found that the roast came out a perfect medium rare with fantastic flavor.

Tender Smoked Venison with Nate Day

I was actually surprised to find that when I cut it into quarter-inch slices, the smoked venison was as tender as sushi. Everyone in the house LOVED the flavor and even went back for seconds. Of all the meat I've smoked so far, this is the recipe I've been most proud of.

Yield: 1 roast

Tender Smoked Venison on the Traeger

Finished smoked venison with Nate Day

This melt in your mouth venison is perfect for any beginner.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Additional Time 2 days
Total Time 2 days 1 hour 5 minutes


  • 1 venison roast
  • 8 cups water
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 Tablespoon mustard seed
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Traeger Saskatchewan Dry Rub


  1. Mix water, white wine vinegar, sugar, and salt in large bowl.
  2. Add the remainder of the dry ingredients, except the dry rub.
  3. Submerge venison in ingredients in bowl. Cover. Refrigerate for 48 hours.
  4. Remove venison and pat dry. Place on cookie sheet.
  5. Sprinkle layer of dry rub on all sides of meat.
  6. Preheat smoker to 225 degrees.
  7. Smoke venison until internal temperature is 130-140 degrees, approximately 1 hour.
  8. Remove and let sit for 10-15 minutes.
  9. Cut thin slices (approximately 1/2 cm thick at most) against the grain, and serve.

Would you ever like to make your own smoked venison?


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