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Classic Backyard Smoked Venison Brats

Heath Wood

hot dog

Thanks to the men and women who have served our great country, this weekend, we celebrate our freedom with Independence Day.

Many of us who have a passion for the outdoors will celebrate Independence Day by doing just that, being outdoors, and spending time with family and friends. Perhaps with a trip to the river, lake, camping, or maybe even with a classic backyard cookout.

When I think of classic backyard cookouts, I think of throwing hamburgers, hot dogs, or brats on a grill for my family and friends. Since it is a time of celebration, I want to find a way to celebrate my passion for cooking and as a hunter. I want to be able to prepare a simple meal for my friends and family that says that a country boy is a proud American and is also a hunter.

I rummaged through my deep freeze and to see what kind of food I could make from wild game. My treasure hunt ended with several packages of ground venison; this led me to decide to make smoked venison bratwurst on my portable Traeger Ranger grill.

Heath Wood grilling

Here is what you will need:

  • 3 lbs. of ground venison
  • 2 pounds. of pork belly
  • Two teaspoons of kosher salt
  • One teaspoon of coarse black pepper
  • One large Vidalia onion (chopped into small pieces)
  • Two tablespoons of minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup of cold water to mix in all ingredient’s
  • Hog casings or a casing of your choice to pack them in brat shape.


Mix ground venison, pork belly, and all other ingredients in a large bowl using water to help blend in all the spices. Next, run mixed meat through a meat grinder until it turns into a fine consistency. After the meat is mixed, place it in a Ziploc bag in the refrigerator overnight. After 24 hours, pack the meat into casing, then vacuum seal and freeze until ready to cook.

grilling hot dog

How to prepare: Preheat Traeger wood pellet grill, (when cooking remotely or when doing a small cook in the back yard, I prefer using the Traeger Ranger portable grill). Using Hickory wood pellets, preheat the grill with the lid closed to 225 degrees. When the grill is to the desired temperature, smoke for 30 to 40 minutes to let brats soak up some of the wood-fired smoke flavors, raise heat to 325 degrees and cook until brats are well-done, rotate brats every 5 to 10 minutes to avoid overcooking on the bottom side.

When cooking bratwurst, I prefer toppings such as mustard, relish, jalapenos, or sauerkraut. On this cook, I chose to slice a Vidalia onion and cook them on the griddle insert that comes with the Traeger Ranger, along with the brats. Another option is to use some seasoning for the onions. On my Vidalia’s, I chose to sprinkle them with Meat Church’s Honey Hog BBQ seasoning. By adding seasoning to the onion, it creates a little more of a unique flavor that compliments each bite. The result is mouth-watering goodness.

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