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Back Straps vs. Tenderloins?

Back Straps vs. Tenderloins?


Back Straps vs. Tenderloins?

A lot of folks get confused when talking about the better parts of a deer—the back straps and tenderloins.  So, let’s clear the air on which is which, and how to best get the most out of each.

Back straps are the muscles along each side of the backbone.  When removing them, start at the back of the shoulder and cut close to the backbone from shoulder to hip.  Next, cut across the back strap at the shoulder, and peel the muscle from the rib all the way to the hip; then, cut across it again and you have one back strap.  Do the same on the other side, and you’ll have two big pieces of tender venison to fry or broil.

Tenderloins on a deer are small.  When you gut the deer, you will see the elongated pieces of meat inside the cavity along the backbone between the hindquarters.  To remove the two “tenders” you will run the point of the knife blade down the side of the backbone on each side of each tender and remove .  Cut them off as far toward the pelvis as you can.  They will be small—about 2 X 8 inches.  If one deer, I would use the tenders as you use the back straps.  If you have  two or more deer, the tenders can be used as a special (and tender) treat.


The nature of the tenderloins ( long and narrow) determines how to cook them.  I prefer to cut cross-grain and make about 4-6 pieces of meat for each tender (8-12 total).  You can wrap each piece with a half piece of bacon, and add a small slice of onion and a slice of jalapeno to fit the cut of meat.  Secure the trio with toothpick, and grill until the bacon if done.


Back straps should be fried or broiled.  To Fry, cut 3/8 to ½ inch pieces cross grain .  As the slice gets to the silver skin, lay the knife blade flat and cut the slice from the silver.  You will have a piece of meat about 2 X 2 inches, depending on the backstrap.  Continue to cut slices until you have used all the meat from each back strap.  Both back straps should give about 40  or more pieces, ready for the fryer.

Heat oil in a 12-inch skilled  or deep fryer to medium heat.  Coat each piece with a mixture of 2 cups flour, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp of black pepper in a plastic bag.  Shake meat to fully coat, and place in the hot oil, as many as the utensil will hold.  Fry until golden brown (don’t overcook) and drain on paper towel.  When all meat is cooked, leave about 2-1/2 spoon of grease in the skillet.  Put in about 4 spoons of flower and brown.  Add about 2 cups sweet milk and cook until thick enough for gravy.  Add flour or milk to make a good creamy gravy.  Serve with hot biscuits and a side of French-cut green beans cooked with a table spoon of the drippings. One back strap serves 4-6 people.

The back straps can be broiled by cutting the meat cross grain in pieces as you prefer.  Each piece should be seasoned and bacon wrapped with onion and jalapeno  (f you prefer); can be alternated on a  cooking stick with veggies, or simply bacon wrapped and cooked on the grill. A teaspone of peach or plum jelly will make the meat even tastier.