I used to think of it as the strange stuff I’d see in strange gas stations on my strange cross country road trips. It was usually in stick form, a long tubular stick, wrapped in a coating of plastic, with a peculiar name like… Slim Jim, not because it made you slim, but because it was a slim, tubular portion…in a coating of plastic.

But then, I made my own. It was not slim, it was not tubular, and there was no plastic. No, there was just meat and slow dry heat, and a few seasonings of my choosing.

One of the simplest ways of preserving meat is by drying it. It is also one of the simplest. Fresh strips of meat are often first soaked in a marinade or brine, then traditionally, hung to dry in the sun, the attic or other dry place. Some people let it hang over a slow, smoky fire, which adds flavor and discourages flies. You can, of course be modern, and use the oven or a dehydrator.

This recipe works for so many meats, the most popular are venison or elk… I’ve seen it used for pheasant too.

Give it a try sometime!

“Elk Jerky”

Also try: other antlered game, pheasant, and bison.
Prep Time12 hrs
Cook Time7 hrs
Total Time19 hrs
Servings: 20 -25 strips


  • 2 pounds of elk lean cuts are ideal
  • 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 2 sliced cloves of garlic
  • 2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup of water


  • Put the meat in the freezer for about 30 minutes, just until firm.
  • Once chilled, slice into strips across the grain - about ¼ inch thick.
  • Mix the other ingredients together in a bowl and stir to combine. Let sit for 10 minutes to macerate.
  • Add the strips to the marinade, cover and let sit in the refrigerator overnight.
  • The next day, preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.
  • Place the strips on a baking sheet lined with foil and place in the oven. With the oven door propped open, let the strips dry until they are pliable, 5-7 hours. Store in a plastic container for up to 2 weeks.