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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 hours
Cook Time7 hours
Total Time19 hours
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.


  • Wenderly
    Posted March 2, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    My daddy would SO LOVE this! Can’t wait to share it with him! Thanks love!

  • Slater
    Posted March 2, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    I looooooove Jerky. Thanks! Also, is a great place to purchase the choicest of jerky if you don’t feel like making it. They are a nice old couple that travel around to various large events and set up their little table.

  • Sofya @ Girls' Guide to Guns and Butter
    Posted March 2, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    I noticed that my oven does not really go as low as 200 F, but I’ve been making mine in a dehydrator. I really like it. Your seasonings seem a little more interesting than mine though. I wonder how you got that golden color though? Here’s what mine looks like:

    (That was before the good camera, sorry).

  • James P.
    Posted March 3, 2011 at 7:31 am

    Hummm, Like the addition of wine vinegar. On thing I do know though, jerky is a great way to use smoked salt.

  • Lori
    Posted March 3, 2011 at 7:56 am

    In South Africa (where I live in Cape Town), Biltong and droewors are a way of life! They are part of our tradition and all South Africans eat them on a regular basis. Biltong is like your jerky however looks a bit more moist and usually has some fat through it. Droewors literally translates to “dried sausage” and is my ultimate. Flavoured with coriander (cilantro) seed, salt and pepper and studded with meat and fat pieces like a good sausage should be.
    Interesting that you make your own – I must say it is a novelty to see a woman making it as it is normally the ‘mans’ work here in South Africa.

    Love the blog and the fact you are such a strong female influence 🙂

    (the female version 🙂 )

  • Chip Hunnicutt
    Posted March 3, 2011 at 8:51 am

    Cayenne pepper? Giddyup! I do love a recipe handed down through my Dad’s family. They have an old, old plantation in southeastern NC and the deer hunts there were the only time of the year I would get it. Local paper recently wrote an article on the place:

  • KL
    Posted March 3, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    Interesting. I have two Traeger pellet fired smokers. I wonder if this would work + add the combo apple/hickory mix I’m working with…

  • marla
    Posted March 4, 2011 at 6:15 am

    Thanks for showing us how simple it is to make jerky. Funny how something so odd looking is really one of life’s greatest snack foods. Who needs pretty cupcakes when you have jerky?
    OK we still need cupcakes too 😉

  • Ashley
    Posted May 13, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Hi Georgia,

    One of my hunting friends just recommended your website! It is great. More beautiful women need to be out and about enjoying the beauties of the outdoors. I just recently tired your Jerky recipe on some of the elk I am trying to work through before fall and hunting season comes around again. It was fantastic! Thanks for your great tips. Any thoughts on how to best make sure the jerky is mold proof for long term storage? Thanks,

    • Post Author
      Posted May 14, 2011 at 1:02 pm

      Hi Ashley, thanks for stopping by and nice to “meet” you. For storing jerky I recommend letting it completely cool before putting it in an airtight container with some paper towel. For longer term storage, I would recommend vacuum sealed bags, which you can even store in the freezer. I think you can get a vacuum sealer rather affordably these days. Shrink wrap is another option. Enjoy the elk jerky!

  • James P.
    Posted October 4, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Good recipe but I might add in one extra thing, some good smoked salt.

  • Kevin
    Posted October 4, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Seasonings are a little different than what I use, but will try in the next batch I make. I use a dehydrator and to give the jerky a little smoke flavor I add a small amount of liquid smoke to the marinate. I have seen reference to smoked salt in posts below. I’m not familar with it. Woud in accomplish the same thing as the liquid smoke?

    I also like to make fish jerky. The marinade for that is pineapple juice and soy sause.

    • Post Author
      Posted October 4, 2012 at 3:27 pm

      Love the fish jerky idea. I sell salmon jerky in my Open Sky store. I think the liquid smoke would have a stronger flavor than the smoked salt!

  • james
    Posted July 10, 2013 at 11:57 pm

    im looking for a good wildturkey jerkey recipe. always harvest a spring bird and interested in any special recipies?? thanks james from Detroit Michigan.

    • Post Author
      Posted July 11, 2013 at 12:35 pm

      You can use this same recipe for turkey meat as well!

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