Hunting Deer: An Evolution

Venison and hunting have coincided since humans first climbed out of trees, the word venison literally comes from the Latin, Venatus ‘to hunt’. 

Persistence hunting is still used by the San people in the Kalahari Desert

Persistence hunting is still used by the San people in the Kalahari Desert


Hunting deer is ingrained in our history and fight for survival. Ancient humans, who were essentially still small brained ape men used complex hunting techniques to ambush and kill deer and other large animals at least two million years ago.

Deer, antelope and gazelles were likely the first meat humans begun to eat and anthropologists believe this set off an evolutionary process that fuelled a rapid growth in the size of our brains.

But, the first spears and arrows didn’t appear until more than one million years later, it’s difficult to imagine our stone age forebears ambushing large prey without weapons but one technique scientist believe they developed was “persistence hunting” , which involved pursuing large mammals for hours until they collapsed, exhausted, this depended on Homo Sapiens’ extraordinary ability to cover large distances.

These ancient hunting techniques could explain the highs reported by people who run long distances or dance all night.

Hunting today, much like long distance running allows us to dip our toe into the natural world and can be used as a tool to get back in contact with who we really are.

So what makes this ancient meat so special?

Venison became the food of kings for good reason, it has the magic formula of being nutrient dense, super lean and ultra-tender, which makes it increasingly popular among today’s health-conscious diners.

The appearance and taste of venison will vary dramatically depending on the age of the deer and how long it has been hung. Depending on the animals diet, the meat may have a subtle taste of juniper or sage. Hanging venison develops the flavour and produces more tender meat.

The management of deer is an essential part of modern herds and ecosystems. Left unchecked, which it largely would be without hunters, deer populations can double about every three years. The modern hunter is not a trophy hunter, neither a recreational glory hunter. Today’s hunter is knowledgeable, strategic and resourceful.

Hunting and eating venison has the potential to be an important and powerful part of the local food movement and regenerative food systems. It is perhaps the most sustainable meat found in the UK, harvested from the Great British countryside. The animals run free and experience no human contact, thriving on natural feed and habitat.

This is as ethical as meat gets.