The Native Americans used to eat the warm heart of their prey in order to inherit their spirit. It was also a way to honor the animal, and use every part of it. So on my deer hunt in the Delta a few weeks ago, I decided to “go native.”

And I’m glad I did. It was delicious.

And it’s good for you.

And all of the veteran hunters looked at me like I was insane. But then they liked it when I made them eat it.

So if you’re in the mood to go native, here are some loose guidelines…

(And if you’re wondering what this Delta deer hunt is that I speak of, you can catch up on the whole series here: I, II, III, IV).

Slice down one side of the heart so that it opens flat. You want to square it off as best you can so this may mean cutting it in half so you have two squares.


With a sharp knife, trim off the white membrane from the outside.


Then take your two squares and cut them into strips…

And then cut those strips into small squares.


Marinate the heart squares in balsamic vinegar.


And olive oil. The acids will help tenderize the meat.


Down in the Delta, they have rosemary plants that grow like trees. It’s a luxury. I want to roll around in them. But I restrained myself. I had a heart to cook.


Add some sprigs to the marinade… and salt and pepper, don’t forget the salt and pepper!


Now, give it a stir and cover them in plastic, pressing down against the meat…

And marinate for at least an hour in the refrigerator, but longer if you’d like…

And wait.




Okay, it’s time. Now take the bowl out of the refrigerator.

Get a pan really hot with a tablespoon or so of oil.


Sear the heart squares quickly on both sides, about 1 minute on each. You want them to be medium rare. If you cook them too much they will be rubbery and not nearly as delicious.


In my quest to go native, I also made the kidney and the tenderloin. But that is for another day.

One of the boys said he was saving his bite of heart for last because he liked the taste so much… this was his last bite of heart:


I do wonder how many veteran hunters out there have eaten the heart…? This was the first for me and it is as good as any of the other offal I adore.

What do you think?

How do you feel about eating the inside bits?

Does it make you cringe? Does it make you salivate? Does the thought make you declare veganism on the spot?

“Deer Heart”

Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time1 hr 5 mins
Servings: 2 -4 servings


  • 1 deer heart
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • Salt and pepper


  • Clean the heart under cold running water until the water runs clear.
  • Cut the heart in half lengthwise so that you have two squares. Trim off the outer white membrane.
  • Cut the squares into strips and the strips into small squares.
  • Marinate the squares in the balsamic, oil, rosemary, and salt and pepper, covered in plastic for at least an hour.
  • Heat a pan over high heat with a bit of oil and quick sear the heart squares, about 1 minute on each side. You want them to be no more than medium rare. Serve immediately!