My old man first introduced me to venison ribs years ago and we’ve been working on perfecting them ever since. Anytime anyone would harvest a young deer or small doe, his lips would start smacking at the thought of those ribs. Personally, i’ve done them with older buck too. They are definitely tougher but still delicious. Either way, we don’t throw them out anymore.
“Bump” (as he’s affectionately known by family) is the real deal Woodsman. He’s never cared about antlers. His famous line is, “I’ll take 'em as the Lord gives ‘em to me.” He cares more about putting meat on the table than anything else. He gets just as excited about a clean kill on a big old doe as a lot of guys would on a monster buck. I love that about him and I wish that mentality would echo throughout the hunting world.
He’ll never own the fanciest new hunting gear. He’s killed more deer in jeans and an old flannel than I ever will in my “City Gear” as he calls it. I have so much respect for him as an all around hunter that it’s hard for me to into words. He’s taught me an absolute ton. From shooting, deer behavior, animal breakdown and my favorite...cooking.
Here’s one of his favorite things to do with ribs. It’s bonkers to me that most guys I know just leave them for the birds. You'll need a bone saw or loppers to cut through the ribs. I get as close to the spine as possible with a bone saw to remove both sides of the rib cage. Then I’ll use loppers and a knife to break the ribs down into pieces that will fit on the smoker and grill.
I’ll do a fast, low temp smoke on the ribs. Maybe 30 minutes at 225°, just to get the smoke into the meat. Then I’ll baste them with sauce and finish them on a hot grill. It’s pretty important not to overcook them. As with any game meat there isn’t much fat and they will dry out relatively quickly. These are what we lovingly refer to as “Campfire Ribs”, a venison eaters venison. I wouldn’t give these to a pork rib lover and expect a good result. You’ll need a toothpick!
Another way to prep these is to breakdown the ribs even further so that they fit into a crockpot. I’ll add a cup of beef broth and leave them on low for 8-10 hours. I’ll finish them on a hot grill with bbq sauce just to add a char. This was the old man’s preferred method. You can put these in front of anyone and they’ll enjoy them.
Here’s what we did at the shop for one of our recent cooks. We liberally seasoned the ribs with Bruiser Blend Big Game Rub. Smoked them at 180° for 2.5-3 hours in a foil boat or roasting pan with bone broth and a few pats of butter. We then used a few different mop sauces that we are working on - top secret. We slathered different racks with sauces. From Rowdy Townie to Candy Apple Whiskey BBQ sauce.
They were absolutely worth saving and fed about 6 guys. Just a few venison eaters, eating venison.