This past labor day week­end, a bud­dy and I went camp­ing.  Not like real camp­ing, how­ev­er, in the woods with no facil­i­ties, and no one around for miles, but to a piece of prop­er­ty his fam­i­ly owns that he will like­ly use as a Bug Out Loca­tion.  It has a 5th Wheel on it, as well as ameni­ties that you would expect, elec­tric, water, a small sep­tic that will nev­er fill because no one uses the prop­er­ty for most of the year, a stream that runs out back that feeds the reser­voir that feeds the NYC water sup­ply, and, yes, even neigh­bors.  We stayed in tents, and used a por­ta pot­ty because the 5th Wheel was locked up and win­ter­ized already.  It is a pret­ty nice BOL.  The goal of the week­end was to smoke some veni­son that need­ed to have some­thing done with it.

So, my bud­dy, from NYC, a self pro­claimed food­ie, decid­ed he want­ed to try his hand at mak­ing veni­son chori­zo sausage, and reg­u­lar veni­son sausage.  So, on our trip to the gro­cery store (yes, I know it would have been more authen­tic had we pro­cured the rest of the stuff in the bush) we bought a cou­ple of  bone in chick­en breasts, turkey breasts, fresh moz­zarel­la cheese, and anoth­er type of cheese that I do not remem­ber the name of at the moment.  We hit up Gan­der Moun­tain for some sausage cas­ings to make Slim Jims out of some of the left over veni­son.  We sea­soned and cured it when we got to the camp site.  Not only did we do that, but we made cures for the chick­en, fish, and turkey.  Threw every­thing in the fridge for the rec­om­mend­ed times.  We used the Inter­net to get brin­ing recipes, etc.

Here is what we brought to smoke:

  • Trout
  • Arc­tic Char
  • Chick­en Breast (Bone in)
  • Turkey Breast (Bone in)
  • Home made veni­son sausage
  • Home made Slim Jim sticks out of extra veni­son
  • Two types of cheeses

Fast for­ward to 9:00 p.m. Fri­day night after hours of prepar­ing every­thing.  The fish was first out, along with the sausage.  Some of the sausages were pre-made before we got to camp.  i.e.  in the cas­ing and boiled already.  We fired up the smoke with some cher­ry wood and we were off to the races… We also dropped in the cheese to start that rolling as well…

Quick lessons learned:

  • Don’t leave your fish brin­ing too long, you may ruin it.  If it gives a rec­om­mend­ed time in the recipe, fol­low it to the let­ter.
  • You can warm smoke cheese.  I did­n’t think about this as I cur­rent­ly cold smoke it only (until now)
  • Be care­ful not to “over smoke” your sausage or over heat it in the smok­er.  You may dry it out.
  • Reg­u­lat­ing the tem­per­a­ture on a smok­er that you light and burn wood in vs. plug into the wall such as my Big Chief, is much hard­er than I thought it would be.
  • Make sure the wood you are using does­n’t turn into a rag­ing fire in your smok­er.  This hap­pened twice and we had to spray the wood down with a spritzer bot­tle of water to put the flames out.

That was les­son one.

The next day came the turkeys, chick­en breasts, and Slim Jims.  We took the turkey and chick­en out of the brine they had been in for 18 hours, and let them dry.  We filled the sausage cas­ings with the veni­son for the Slim Jims, and lit the smok­er a cou­ple of hours lat­er to get it warmed up.  Every­thing went smooth­ly with the excep­tion of anoth­er fire in the smok­er.  Not sure why this was hap­pen­ing.  We also had an issue with keep­ing the smok­er con­sis­tent­ly hot enough for the turkey and the chick­en breasts, but real­ized it was too hot for the Slim Jims.  So we had to take the Slim Jims out first when they were done, which meant open­ing the doors of the smok­er a few times and let­ting the heat out.

Before bed, we added a bit more wood to the smok­er, and it the hay.  In the morn­ing we had nice­ly smoked chick­en and turkey, with one excep­tion: One of the turkey breasts was not cooked thor­ough­ly.  Good thing we have a grill… We fired up the char­coal this morn­ing, and with some indi­rect heat and some addi­tion­al wood chips, we were able to cut the breasts off the bone, and fin­ish them up in the grill… Ad hoc at best,  I know.

Sec­ond lessons learned:

  • If you can do any­thing, fig­ure out how to sus­tain a 250 degree Fahren­heit smok­er for your chick­en and turkey.
  • Don’t mix small­er foods that will smoke faster than with larg­er ones that require more heat
  • Have more patience and stop check­ing the smok­er so much
  • Learn how to reg­u­late the wood so that it does not cre­ate a 500 degree flam­ing oven out of the smok­er.

In the end, every­thing came out amaz­ing.  If this were a real bug out sce­nario, I think I would have also sliced up the turkey after it was smoked, and cold smoked it to help pre­serve it a bit more, but not dry it out too much.

I am hap­py with the lessons learned, and I sup­pose more per­fec­tion will come with more time doing it.

What would I like to learn about what we did this week­end:

  • I would like to learn why you brine for cer­tain min­i­mum num­bers of hours and not over a cer­tain num­ber of hours.
  • I would like to learn more about what types of recipes have what affects on the meats


  • I wish I had had a video cam­era with me to doc­u­ment the process for you so that you could see exact­ly what it is we had done and how well every­thing came out.

Next, I think I am going to try my hand at can­ning some meats.  I have nev­er canned any­thing, and would be sure to post on that as well.

As for smok­ing.  I am now addict­ed since I bought my smok­er a bit over a year ago.  Not only is it good to learn for pre­serv­ing foods, but what an amaz­ing­ly fun hob­by I have found.  Not only can you pre­serve your food, you can amaze your friends and fam­i­ly not to men­tion your­self, with the fla­vors of the food once ful­ly pre­pared.

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