The Best Wild Game Seasoning, Taste Tested

After writing and publishing more than 200 wild game recipes, the author shares his favorite seasonings

Over the past few years, while writing well over 200 wild game and fish recipes for many publications, my collection of spices and rubs has grown significantly. A motley collection of jars and shakers line a half dozen shelves in my kitchen and dining room, while boxes of less-favorable rubs sit stacked in my garage. 

There’s a variety of approaches you can take to seasoning wild game. Sometimes all you need is a little salt and pepper. Other times, you’ll want to turn up the heat and flavor. Because of this there are innumerable spices and seasonings out there for wild game cooking. 

But if I had to narrow down my favorites to a select group, it would be those listed here. They each specialize in one variety of game or fish, but also have other applications. I’ve used them all in my own cooking regularly.

The Best Wild Game Seasoning Reviews & Recommendations

Best for Venison: Fire & Smoke Society’s Black and Tan Steak Rub

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The truth is, when it comes to venison and most red-meat cuts, I rarely stray past the traditional blend of salt and pepper. However, last fall I put Fire & Smoke Society’s Black and Tan steak rub through a series of trials on whitetail. I would later cook fresh backstraps with this rub at our Idea Ranch company deer camp in November. I had several people ask me what spice I used. In fact there was so much interest that I felt compelled to put it out on the serving line. Many people pulled out phones to take a photo of the rub to remember to purchase.

Its mix of Hawaiian black salt and activated charcoal derived from coconut shells, cracked black pepper, rosemary and garlic isn’t complicated, but it comes together oh so right and hits the perfect level of savory. Also, the contrast of black, caramelized exterior to a ruby-to-pink center means you’re eating first with your eyes before your tastebuds are wowed.

Other Uses: Any red cut of meat. Roasted potatoes.

Best for Upland Birds: Hi Mountain Seasonings Poultry Rub & Trail Dust

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Hi Mountain Seasonings offers a very wide selection of rubs, spices, jerky kits, sausage kits, sauces and marinades — the list goes on. However, I honed in on the combo of their Poultry Rub and Trail Dust.

The author uses the Hi Mountain Seasonings combo on all types of birds.

Jack Hennessy

All the right players for savory combined with paprika and a bit of molasses from the Trail Dust blend contributes a hint of heat and sweet. To what level you lean into one or the other is up to you. If you want more spice and that western flavor, opt for more Trail Dust; while the Poultry Rub offers the more traditional roasted-bird flavor like grandma used to serve.

Other Uses: Great for stews and soups.

Best for Ducks and Geese: Meat Church Holy Voodoo

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Meat Church and its Texas spice technician, Matt Pittman, are legendary in the world of southern BBQ. Their lineup of spices cover everything from crayfish to hog. Yet it was their Holy Vodoo that got me thinking “Holy *quack*” when it comes to waterfowl.

Sugar is the first two of three ingredients (second only to salt), meaning this rub helps create a nice caramelized crust on any duck or goose you put over a fire. Followed by paprika and dehydrated jalapeño, this blend adds a bit of kick and cajun flare.

Other Uses: Roasted catfish. Crawfish etouffee.

Best for Fish: The Provider’s Spawn

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I know the “fish” category is a broad one, but I feel The Provider’s Spawn is one shaker that can be showered over any cut of fin with great results.

The right dry blend of soy and ginger, joined together with salt and two types of sugar create a sweet and savory flavor profile in the style of Far East Cuisine. When added to any meat, this rub always helps create a nice glaze and crust, which looks delicious and has that perfect mouthfeel with every bite.

Other Uses: Chicken tenders. Any bit of meat in a stir-fry.

Best for Wild Hog: Three Little Pigs Championship BBQ Rub

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Wild hogs aren’t on a hunter’s menu here in Kansas, yet, but our region is home to some of the most elite pitmasters. Chris Marks with Three Little Pigs BBQ is one of those individuals and has won more than 50 national barbeque championships. He is the brains behind the Three Little Pigs Championship BBQ Rub. And, yes, while wild hog meat is not a 1:1 to domestic hog meat, I have found many tactics and especially spices remain equally applicable to both.

The Championship BBQ Rub is sweet, savory, and spicy.

Jack Hennessy

This seasoning is a perfect mix of sweet and spicy tied together by savory. This is one blend I feel like I’d be happy to eat on its own — forget putting it on anything. There’s an innate smoky flavor in this blend that makes me believe all peppers were smoked by hickory before getting dehydrated and blended.

Other Uses: Anything — beast or vegetable — that you would add to a smoker.

Best for Sausage Making: Bearded Butchers Traditional Bratwurst Kit

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Seth and Scott Perkins of The Bearded Butchers have been butchering beasts and making sausage for decades, since they were old enough to wake up by themselves hours before school and join their dad on the floor. Seven years ago they started a YouTube Channel to share their passion and wisdom. Their subscribers, currently totaling 2.1 million, tune in weekly to learn something new in terms of butchering, sausage- or jerky-making, grilling, or whatever new concept the brothers dream up. They also own and operate Whitefeather Meats in Creston, Ohio, where they can barely keep cases stocked with their shop-made sausages.

This brat kit makes it easy to make homemade sausages.

Jack Hennessy

If you got a dream for homemade sausage, chances are The Bearded Butchers have a DIY kit for you. Decades of field-tested, dinner-table-proven experience sits behind the construction of these kits and the spice blends included. If it sounds good, it will be good. Consider starting off with their Traditional Bratwurst kit, and build from there. And if you ever need a refresher on sausage-making, you know where to go.

Best for Ground Game: Montana Mex Seasonings

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Whether making tacos or chili, there are two blends I love and will put to work on a lot of ground game I pull from the freezer. Chef Eduardo Garcia’s Montana Mex seasonings consist of only three selections, but I feel there is a level of artistry here not found in most other spice offerings. Eclectic and unique peppers, prepared expertly before dehydrating, set these flavors apart and are a large reason why I can never seem to keep these particular spice blends in stock on my shelves.

Montana Mex’s Jalapeño Seasoning and Mild Chile Seasoning are the result of dehydrated TLC. This is Garcia’s passion bottled in little tubs. The flavor is nothing short of craftsmanship. Savory, peppery, sweet — it’s all there, and on the right levels. If making tacos, perhaps lean more into the Jalapeño. If it’s chili on the stove, perhaps add a higher ratio of Mild Chile.

Other Uses: Spicy spaghetti.

Best for Jerky: Reload Rub & Seasoning

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Speaking specifically to whole-muscle (sliced) jerky here. Snack snicks, in my opinion, are more sausage that jerky. Regardless, when you just wanted to cut a roast into 1/4-inch pieces, dehydrate and/or smoke for jerky that’s ready the same day, you can’t go wrong with anything from Reload Rub & Seasoning.

Flavor is present throughout all of Reload’s rubs, but in certain selections, there are chunks of dehydrated onion or garlic or barely cracked black pepper that add savory texture to anything it touches, taking the whole experience to the next level. For these reasons, I usually hit my sliced jerky with Double Action an hour before starting, then liberally coat all sides with Full Metal Jacket just before sliding in the trays. I don’t like to mess with curing for two reasons: my deer jerky is going to get eaten within hours, so no need to preserve; curing eventually makes everything taste too much like pepperoni to me.

Other Uses: Any chop — beef or pork — or chicken you’d put over a flame.

Final Thoughts on the Best Wild Game Seasoning

My all around favorite wild game seasonings have to be from Fire & Smoke Society society. I have yet to try a blend from this company — whether on upland, venison, Canada goose, or vegetables — that I didn’t find both creative and delicious. You really can’t go wrong with anything from them and they’re available in most stores.

Thoughts or questions? Reach out to me on Instagram (@WildGameJack) with any questions or comments.

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Jack Hennessy


Jack Hennessy grew up in the South Suburbs of Chicago and didn't start hunting until he attended graduate school in Spokane, Washington, at the age of 26. After graduating with a Masters of Fine Arts in creative writing, Hennessy began work at The Elk Public House then later joined the Sports/Outdoors desk at The Spokesman-Review, where he covered hunting, fishing, and wild-game cooking in the Pacific Northwest. Since then, his work has appeared with Pheasants Forever, Petersen's Hunting, Backcountry Journal, Gun Dog Magazine, among many others. He now lives with his wife, two daughters, and Wirehaired Vizsla, Dudley, in Wichita, Kansas.