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Issues with venison snack sticks

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Good evening everyone.  I am from CT and have been hunting for over 20 years. A few years back I started butchering, grinding and making my own sausage. I have been very successful with simple things like bratwurts, jerky, links, and patties. I have had mixed success with venison snack sticks in the smoker and am beginning to get very frustrated. Let me give you the run down on my frustrations and see if anyone can help.


I have a masterbuilt electric smoker with digital controls. Here are a few attempts I have made. I have had some come out ok and tried to follow the same exact step with very different results.


All have been with Backwoods snack stick seasonings.


I use the built in meat thermomter as well as an additional digital one and I also check the temp with a pen thermometer. I try to only open the door once during the cooking cycle. I have found that my thermometers have been accurate.


1st attempt

60% venison

40% center cut pork loin (as fatty as I could find)

19mm collagen casings

course grind all meat

stuff using a LEM stuffer

in fridge overnight

let stand on counter the next day for a few hours

preheat smoker with no water to 100 degrees and let stick hang for 1 hr to dry

120 for 2 hours after adding water but no smoke

120 for 1 hour with smoke

140 1 hr

160 until internal temp of 152

They came out with very little color and were extremely dry


2nd attempt

same meat and pre smoke instruction

100 degrees for 1 hour no smoke to dry

135 for 1.5 hours with smoke

145 for 1 hr

155 for 1 hr

165 until internal temp of 152

Very dry again with little color (these have come out good in the past with the same seasoning)



40% venison

50% pork loin

10% pork back fat

same presmoke info

130 for 1.5 hours

140 2 hrs

145 2 hrs

150 2 hrs

160 until internal of 152

no color and again very dry


On another attempt that I found on this forum I also tried the 60% venison and 40% pork loin mix smoked at 130 for 3 hrs and then poached in water at 175 until internal temp of 155. I am sure this works for some but these did not work for me. Pale color and dry.


Please help me figure out what my issue is. I can cook summer sausage all the time with no issues.


Thanks Travis

post #2 of 5

I am not familiar with Backwoods seasoning mix, but does it contain pink salt?

The cure will give it better color and texture.

post #3 of 5

Did you only smoke for 1.5 hours, or until the IT was hit?  Have you changed wood or smoke type?  When pulling from the smoker, do you drop into an ice water bath to flash cool?


Also, sometimes things change without notice, I'd double check all of the therms as well just to be sure.


Any pictures of the finished product?  Inside and outside would be good...



post #4 of 5

Morning Travis..........I see two things that "might" help you. I think that the pork loin is too lean........I use pork butt.....has more fat in it. In a 25 lb batch, I use 10 lb venison, 10 lb pork shoulder, and 5 lb 80/20 ground beef.

And, for two, I don't use a water pan for sticks. I've been told that the casing has to be dry for the smoke to stick to it.

I will hang my sticks in a 110* smoker (no smoke) for at least an hour. Then I bump it up 10* an hour with smoke for about 3 hours. I'll bump the smoker temp to 160* and wait for a 152* to 155* IT. Then I pull the sticks and hang them to cool. I have good color on them at that time but they seam to darken just a bit more as they cool.


Now I must say, there are sausage makers on this forum that have forgot more than I know and there are many variations on "how to". This one works for me and I hope there is something in there that will help you.



post #5 of 5

If you want venison snak sticks use venison,  use 70% venison and 30 % beef FAT.  Tom Thumb (local grocery) gives it to me for free.


Better flavor and your recipe will be balanced correctly.



Commercial pork loin has no place in snack stix unless you can add like 50% pork fat to it.  I think it has negative fat. 


Don't poach in water, just cut heat and swing the door open they'll cool off fast enough.

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