Among the chips, dips and peanuts in your standard supermarket snack aisle, you’ll also find a plethora of beef jerky options. Sure, they're all great, but you’re missing out if you limit your jerky horizons to beef. There are a lot of locally sourced, freshly made wild game and fish options that will take your snack game to a whole new level.
If you’re a hunter or angler, packing some food for your adventure is a must. An easy way to ruin a fun day in the field or on the lake is by letting yourself get hangry! Jerky is an awesome option to avoid that unsettling feeling. It’s lightweight, protein-packed, and a good source of energy. Just like anything else, though, eat it in moderation. Some jerky products contain a lot of sodium and can dehydrate you.
We had the tasty task of testing some of the more unique wild game and fish jerky styles out there and have narrowed it down to our favorites. From antelope to venison to salmon, there’s a delicious dehydrated protein for everyone.
Pearson Ranch Jerky
When we received our package of jerky from Pearson Ranch, we could instantly tell that it was something special. Since 2000, the New Mexico-based ranch has specialized in providing a healthier alternative to beef-based jerky products. Whether you are looking for elk, buffalo, venison or wild boar products, Pearson Ranch has it all while committing to keeping their ingredients 100-percent natural. Whatever your preference, all meat varieties can be purchased as jerky, snack sticks or even summer sausages.
The packaging of their jerky – adorned with funny caricatures correlating to the type of meat – is what first strikes you. It is a unique design, which among other things helps Pearson Ranch stand out in the market. While we enjoyed all of their products, there are a few that truly stood out.
Our overall favorite was Wild Boar Hickory Snack Sticks. These come in packs of one or four. The one pack is a convenient snack to bring out when hunting or fishing solo, and the four pack is ideal for sharing when adventuring with a companion. Another tasty Pearson Ranch option is their Elk Summer Sausage. When served with cheese and crackers, the sausage makes for a delicious and easy party appetizer!
Contact: Pearson Ranch Jerky
Mountain America Jerky
From the moment the packages arrived, we could tell each one was filled with fresh jerky.
The appealing golden-ticket looking packages are vacuum-sealed with a warning to refrigerate after opening. That means you need to make sure to crush a pack in a single sitting (which is easy to do!) or get it to a low-temp environment in a timely manner. You’re not going to want to waste an ounce of Mountain America’s tasty creations.
If you go on their website, you’ll see all sorts of exotic jerkies you didn’t even know existed! Alligator, kangaroo, ostrich … the list is long. We stuck to their wild-game originals and tried the venison, elk, bison and antelope packs. All four original varieties have a peppery taste, but not so overwhelming that it takes away from premium wild-game tastes.
While all were satisfying snacks, our favorite was the elk jerky. They started concocting this recipe in 1987 and it’s safe to say it has been perfected. Compared to other wild game, elk ranks high for protein and iron, but low in fat. Mountain America's version also uses less sodium than a lot of competitors. If hardcore outdoorsmen trust Mountain America’s Original Elk Jerky as a fuel source to help them summit Everest, maybe you should too.
Contact: Mountain America Jerky
Speyside Smokehouse Jerky
Smoked over beechwood on the banks of the River Spey in Scotland is some of the best fish jerky you’ll ever taste! Speyside Smokehouse offers salmon jerky in three alluring flavors – teriyaki, sea salt & black pepper, and sweet chili pepper. All were so different and delicious that we had trouble picking a favorite. It’s a close tie between the teriyaki because of its tangy Asian-enriched marinade and sweet chili pepper for its unique flavor with subtle hints of garlic and bell pepper. Also notable is their chic, innovative packaging which includes a pair of bamboo tongs for the tidiest of snackers!
Not only is Speyside Smokehouse’s Salmon Jerky mouth-watering, but it comes armed with some health benefits you likely won’t get from its wild-game competitors. Chomping down on a bag of salmon jerky means you’re getting a healthy intake of Omega 3. This positive fat is responsible for reducing your risk of heart disease and dementia.
So, pescatarians and jerky experimenters … rejoice! Speyside Smokehouse’s Salmon Jerky is one for the books.
Contact: Speyside Smokehouse
Climax Jerky is a Colorado-based company specializing in high-quality meat products. Like some of the other companies we have reviewed thus far, Climax Jerky products are free of MSG and any nitrates. The company emphasizes an all-natural product by making all of its jerky from whole muscle rather than chopped or formed pieces.
Elk is their most popular wild-game jerky and it is available in smoked, teriyaki, peppered, spicy and gluten-free varieties. We were lucky enough to try the peppered elk, along with a few other flavors, including alligator, duck, venison and wild boar jerky. Our favorites were the duck and wild boar jerky. The duck has a nice, smoky taste while the wild boar has a slightly sweeter flavor.
If you are interested in Climax Jerky, check them out for yourself! The company has a few locations inside the Denver International Airport along with a stand on Main Street in Breckenridge. If you don’t live in the Colorado area, the jerky is available for purchase online.
Contact: Climax Jerky
Chomps Salt & Pepper Venison Snack Sticks impress everyone who tries one. Jerky eaters across the USA are loving this portable product because of its minimal ingredients yet superb taste. Each stick comprises of only 100 calories with 0 grams of sugar, but 9 grams of protein packed in. All Chomps products are certified paleo and gluten-free, and a friend of the Whole30 diet.
Now all we need from Chomps is more flavor options for their venison sticks!
Got some leftover venison in your freezer from your last hunt? Making your own jerky is a lot less intimidating than you might think! You can make it with a simple marinade, or something a little crazier like this Coffee-Sriracha Venison Jerky Recipe.