Is Wild Game Really Organic? Does perspective matter?

Widen the discussion, get to the truth

So reprinted here are excerpts from an article we ran across recently that piqued our interest. As Alaskan hunters, we realize our perspective is a little different than that of hunters in the Lower 48 and perhaps that of our international friends. 

Is Wild Game Really Organic? 

Originally written by Guide Lenny Miller, March 8, 2017

"As a hunting guide, Lenny spends more time outside observing wild creatures than most. The following is his viewpoint, based on his time in the field, on whether wild game is really as organic as it has recently been promoted on hunting blogs. What do you think? We'd love to hear your takes, agreeing or disagreeing, in the comments section below.

The last decade or so, we have lived a health food craze. All the experts tell us we need to watch trans-fats, saturated fats, carbs, gluten and red meat intake. Cities have started taxing soda and sugar laden foods in an attempt to curtail public consumption rates. Every giant supermarket chain has aisles of "organic" foods. From Baltimore to Bozeman, stores that specialize in all-natural, all-organic foods have sprouted up everywhere.

Is all the hype real? Is there a difference in quality? Taste?

Whether it's real or not, there's plenty of hype. I hear so many people talk about how they only eat organic. More on that later....

What does Organic mean?

"The definition is basically being derived from plant or animal matter with no synthetic fertilizers being used. No time during the plant or animal's life was a herbicide, pesticide, fungicide, hormone or antibiotic used on said species.

Reading the definition, then, would leave one to believe that when eating 100% organic food, you wouldn't have to worry about ingesting any unnatural subsidies.

...Now to the point of the article: wild game is 100% organic!

The misconception

Sometimes, hunting sucks. When guiding hunters and the animals disappear, the head scratching starts. The boredom evokes conversation. Topics range from religion and politics to families. Most of this you shouldn't talk about!

During one conversation years ago, the hunter brought up the benefits of eating wild game and how good it is for you. Less fat and no hormones. They eat wild natural grasses. 100% wild organic goodness! I contemplated his comments as I glassed the drawls and ditches that ran up and out of the alfalfa fields. To the north of us lay another couple thousand acres of wheat fields. Why were we hunting there? Because that's where the critters were eating! That's right, those stupid, health conscious-lacking animals turned their noses at the pure healthy dried up grass, for the herbicide laden, pesticide drunken, lush green alfalfa! If only they knew how bad this was for their health! It still cracks me up when I hear people make the same comments. Unfortunately, the misconception continues.

The bandwagon

It starts with the mainstream media. In an attempt to sway public opinion and get good ratings, the overindulged information they present suddenly becomes fact. Before you know it, outdoor writers jump on board. They write about stuff you and I understand: deer, elk, ducks and geese. The health benefits of eating venison and the like. It's 100% natural they proclaim. No antibiotics. No hormones. All of which is kinda true.

The wild animals eat native grasses, nuts and berries. Farm raised cattle get shipped to feedlots and get stuffed full of genetically modified corn and soybean meal. When they're not eating on that, they are chewing their cud of alfalfa that had been sprayed with pesticide so on and so forth.

Nasty, huh? Man, I'm glad outdoor writer, so & so, brought it to my attention! Can't wait to read his next article. Wonder what it's about? Let's see. Ok, here it is: “Why you should be hanging your treestands where a cornfield meets a soybean field.” The article starts off like this:

“Hanging your sets over two of the whitetails' favorite food sources…”

The farm raised cattle and the whitetails are eating the same dang thing! So how is it ‘natural’ or ‘organic’? It's not near as much as we would like to make it out to be.

The bottom line

Without a doubt, wild game has health values over domesticated animals. The main thing is fat content. You don't need to be a scientist to figure that one out. You can see the difference when it's in the frying pan. Wild game is a whole lot leaner. The only other health benefit that I can be certain about with wild game is the ability to lower blood pressure. Sitting in a treestand or on the side of a mountain waiting to put some meat on the ground lowers stress levels. Stress kills way too many people in this country. That's something that can't be measured.

One thing that is for sure: mountain mornings that provide that excellent tasting meat surely can't be bought in a grocery."

So is there more to the story?

There is always more to the story. 

Let's look at prime beautiful whitetail deer in North America (at least in the Lower 48 states).

As with most wildlife species, food studies have identified several hundred plant species that deer will consume during the course of a year.  Some are used seasonally, some only when little else is available, and some are preferred regardless of season and other species’ availability.  As wildlife managers, it is important to understand the preferred forages where you live and/or hunt, and while learning everything wildlife eat in your area is a daunting task, the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) has just made it a little easier.

Whitetails eat a variety of plant types such as trees, shrubs, herbaceous forages (forbs), and agricultural crops.  Most hunters and managers can easily identify the agricultural crops in their area, and they are well versed in which ones deer prefer.  Many hunters can also readily identify the predominant tree species in their area that deer use, but far fewer hunters can identify the important shrub and herbaceous species where they hunt.  Therefore, the QDMA surveyed every state and provincial deer project leader and asked them to provide 10 of the top naturally occurring native herbaceous and shrub species that whitetails use in their jurisdiction.

Some species are region specific while others are used across much of the whitetail’s range.  For example, brambles (blackberry, etc.) were reported as an important deer forage in all three U.S. regions and in Canada.  Grapes and greenbriar were listed as top forages in all three U.S. regions, and poison ivy, ragweed and wild rose were listed in two of three U.S. regions (wild rose was also listed in Canada).

If you're really interested in individual identified diet species, we encourage you to check out You'll notice that the vast majority of species are wild. Hence, organic.

What about the rest of North American big game?

While thousands of North American hunters are only exposed to squirrel, rabbit and deer hunting... there's a whole big world out there. Now what if we wander to the west and north? Into the hills of New Mexico and Colorado, into Canada and Alaska we go. Now we're moving away from agricultural land into naturally diverse forest lands and eventually the boreal forest. There are thousands of elk, black bear, Sitka Blacktail deer, moose, caribou, Dall sheep and mountain goats that never forage on agricultural crops. The sheer biomass of these hunted animals and the amount of 100% wild organic wild game meat that goes into freezers each year is staggering. 

Sometimes we just need to widen our perspective, widen the discussion, get to the truth. 

Happy Hunting! #nongmo #wildgame #hunthard #eatwild #eathealthy