Is Deer Heart Good to Eat?

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If you are a wildlife enthusiast, you may agree that deer hunting is one of the most esteemed outdoor activities many people engage in. But, after you have made a kill, do you cook or eat deer heart raw; better yet, is deer heart good to eat? 

There has been a long debate on whether the hearts of deer are good to eat or not.  In 2016, when Johnny Yuile posted a picture of him and his daughter eating the heart of a freshly killed young deer as they commemorated having finally joined other hunters after spending the whole night in the field, the social media exploded because of the practice. Some people applauded him and welcomed him in their camp where they eat the heart raw after harvesting deer.

But a fair share of the people was against the practice. They referred to the act as barbaric, and even a good number ruthlessly attacked Johnny Yuile and went further to demand the father be criminally charged. They wondered how a father could give a juvenile the raw heart of a deer.  Those who applauded the father probably knew the importance of eating the heart and eating a raw heart. The mixed reaction brought back the debate.  In this article, we look at why people eat deer hearts and some of the theories behind eating raw hearts. 

Is Deer Heart Good to Eat?

Advantages of Eating Heart from a Deer

There are tenfold health benefits that come with eating deer hearts since it contains minerals that our body requires to stay healthy. The minerals include selenium, iron, zinc, and folate:  


 Required by the body for it to function normally and healthy, Selenium is also used for DNA production, reproduction, the thyroid glands’ functioning, protects the body from infections and damages caused by free radicals. 


This element is found in cells throughout the body.  It is required for the body’s immune system to work properly.  Zinc also plays a crucial role in cell division, healing of wounds, cell growth, and even carbohydrates breakdown.


It is essential for blood production.


This mineral has many functions in the body, growth of cells; it is also very instrumental in creating and the breakdown and use of proteins.  

Source of Vitamin B

The heart is also a source of vitamins “B” s, which has cardioprotective effects. Even better is that they help in protecting heart diseases.

Low Level of Cholesterol 

Deer’s heart has a low level of cholesterol, is rich in minerals, and very lean.  Food with a low level of cholesterol may be an effective plan for the body to manage blood cholesterol.

Why Do People Eat Raw Deer Heart

Eating of raw heart from a freshly killed deer has a long history.  Some Native Americans believe that hunting of deer is a sacred activity. Though not all people eat the heart, those who do like it since it has a deep history in their tradition. 

To the Indians, they believe that eating a deer’s heart after killing it makes you possess all the qualities that the animal had, such as bravery, agility, strength, etc.  It is good to note that only the deer’s positive attributes are believed to be transferred to the hunters after eating the raw heart. 

Some of the known traditional hunters Brandon and Logan of northern California are well-versed in what was behind the belief of deer eating raw hearts. Whenever they harvested a deer, they would take a bite of its heart. The two would be sported, cutting the heart of a deer out and then holding it up to the sky and taking a bite of heart, dripping practice.

To others eating of the heart is associated with life. They believe that the beating and the pulsing of the heart is a symbol of life, and when they are eating it raw, in a small way, it is an act of reverence for the life that had been given to the food.

Are There Dangers of Eating a Raw Heart from the Deer?

Experts warn against eating raw meat. These animals can carry parasites, and eating uncooked food can be a risk factor for virus infections such as hepatitis E.

Cooked Deer Heart

Various methods are used when preparing the heart; many will thinly slice the meat, and then roll it in seasoned flour and fry the meat fast and medium-rare. Also, venison heart is deliciously grilled, baked, broiled, and allowed to cook slowly. Others will prepare it with a combination of other foods

Note: To enjoy the heart, you should cook it in medium-rare, but when cooked until well done, it tends to be tough.

Old Deer Heart vs. Young Deer Heart

Not all hunters will eat every heart they harvest from a deer.  Some hunters prefer a younger deer’s heart over a heart from an old deer since they believe that the heart from a young deer is far much better than one from an old deer. 

When to Eat Heart from a Harvested Deer?

The heart of deer should be eaten when still fresh, two days after the harvest, the heart will not have frozen, and it will always be easy to split it into two halves, remove the veins and arteries and even clean it. But beyond the two days, the heart may get damaged and may not be as delicious as when you have it when still fresh. 


As we have discussed, eating of deer heart is recommended for its health benefits. The average size of a deer heart can produce meat enough for four to five family members.  When you cook it correctly, the heart of a deer boasts a sweet and nutritious meal.

Other people say that a deer heart is easy to prepare. And since it is soft, it doesn’t take much time to cook. Even better is that you can prepare it with a combination of other foods.   

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