Wild Game: How to Trim and Prepare Deer Heart

Don't toss out one of the best trophies from your big game hunt—fry it up instead.

deer heart
Many hunters throw away all the entrails when field dressing their deer, but they're missing out. The heart is just another muscle, and one that's hard to beat. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you clean and trim the heart from your next deer. For more on preparing deer heart, click here. For a deer heart bruschetta recipe, click here.Krissie Mason
fresh deer heart
Step 1
Start with a fresh heart. Rinse under cold water, then submerge and squeeze it several times to pump out any remaining blood.Krissie Mason
Cutting deer heart
Step 2
Using a sharp 6-inch knife, carefully trim excess fat from the main arteries of the heart.Krissie Mason
trimming deer heart
Step 3
Cut off excess fat and tissue that remains from field dressing to open and loosen the top part of the heart.Krissie Mason
preparing deer heart
Step 4
Stand heart upright and insert thumbs to locate main muscles and arteries.Krissie Mason
deer heart cut
Step 5
Clean cut along the main arteries to expose the main muscles. That cut will pretty much fall right in the center. You don’t want to cut all the way through. This is a butterfly cut, so take your time and and slice gently.Krissie Mason
cutting deer heart
Step 6
This is approximately what your cut should look like. Note the exposed meat along your cut, and the inside connective strands that help hold the heart together. Trim away any fibrous tissue that might be in the way.Krissie Mason
butterfly deer heart
Step 7
Butterfly the heart by pulling with your hands, opening the muscle and revealing more connective tissue and fiber.Krissie Mason
Trimming deer heart
Step 8
Remove excess fat and tissue from the top.Krissie Mason
Cutting heart arteries
Step 9
Cut away main valves and arteries.Krissie Mason
removing fibers from deer heart
Step 10
With the tip of your knife start removing fibrous tissue. Fishermen who know how to finesse a filet knife will be particularly good at this.Krissie Mason
trimming deer heart
Step 11
Expose the different chambers and sections and trim further.Krissie Mason
trimming heart fat
Step 12
The amount of trimming required will depend on your heart. Here, we continue cleaning and trimming away more fat.Krissie Mason
cutting deer heart
Step 13
Square up the cut by making an even, straight cut across the top.Krissie Mason

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slicing heart
Step 14
Cleaning and trimming continues as more of the heart become visible.Krissie Mason
inspecting deer heart
Step 15
Inspect for areas where fiber and connective tissue might remain.Krissie Mason
trimming heart fat
Step 16
A few last trimming cuts to remove a bit more fat.Krissie Mason
deer heart
Step 17
Assess the front side of the heart to determine whether further trimming is necessary. You don’t need to remove every last speck of fat as it will sear nicely and add flavor once it hits pan.Krissie Mason
deer heart trimmings
Step 18
Save the trimmings for sausage making, stew, or soup.Krissie Mason
cutting deer heart
Step 19
Cut large muscle in thin strips going against the grain of the meat. These will be entrée size.Krissie Mason
strips of deer heart
Step 20
Large, thin strips ready for quick grilling or charring. If you are in the field and want something really simple, combine some olive oil, lemon juice, a little minced shallot, or onion, and some crushed oregano, and then throw it on a HOT grill for a minute on each side.Krissie Mason
slicing deer heart
Step 21
Cut small heart muscle for bruschetta, or small appetizers.Krissie Mason
strips of heart
Step 22
Small strips are ready for Venison Heart Bruschetta.Krissie Mason