Pheasant-First Time Failure

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Original poster
Nov 16, 2010
Central Wisconsin
I recently purchased an electric smoker and am virgin to the smoking game. I've always had the pheasant I "harvest" smoked for me at a local butcher shop, but wanted to try my hand at it (along with other things). I attempted my first batch of 3, skinless breasts still on the keel. Results were poor at best
. Dry and lacking that rich, smokey flavor.

I used a store bought cold brine mixture for poultry and let the pheasant soak for about 12 hours. I bought those compressed Apple wood chips (look like little hockey pucks).   I did not soak them as they rest in a pan that sits on a grille above the heating element. I should point out that I replaced the wood twice during the 2 1/2 hour process.

I smoked the pheasant breasts for 2 1/2 hours at 250 deg F constant.

I'll eat them out of spite, but am looking for a little advice as to how I might better the outcome. I really don't feel like ruining any more birds.


Smoking Fanatic
Feb 20, 2010
West Liberty, Iowa
BUMMER! Did you season the smoker prior to using it? Sounds like you used a fair amount of wood chips. I have not used “hockey pucks” myself, but I agree you should not have soaked them. It would seem to me 2 ½ hours at 250is a tad too long. I think I would try 225and use a temp probe inserted in the breast and smoke to 160-165. Above all don’t give up!
Last edited:


Smoking Fanatic
Mar 16, 2010
Pratt, Kansas
I agree with Arnie maybe 2.5 hrs was a little long. As he said checking the internal temp of the breasts would let you know when they are done. I would also try wrapping them in bacon and see if that helps.


Smoking Guru
OTBS Member
Oct 18, 2007
West Fargo, ND / Northern MN
Like most wild game there isn't much of any fat in the meat so they tend to dry out. Brining, injecting and wrapping in bacon are a few ways you can help with your internal moisture. Also you normally don't want to cook it to over a medium internal temp.


Original poster
Thread starter
Nov 16, 2010
Central Wisconsin
Thanks all for you input and advice. I also spoke to a friend who suggested starting them out at around 140-150 deg for the first 1 1/2-2 hours and then bring them up to 200-225 for another 1 1/2-2 hours or until the internal is at 165 deg. He felt that the high temp (250 deg) simply smoked the outside and not the inside (I more or less baked the inside). The 250 deg at 2 1/2 hours came from an internet recipe. I now know it's too hot and too fast.


Gone but not forgotten. RIP
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Mar 12, 2009

First off Welcome Jackson to SMF. You'll like it here for there are alot of really good folks here that would just love to help you with just about anything to do with smoking. Now there are alot of proven recipes for some amazing things here too. So if you need sign up for the E-Course it's free and it will give you the basics of smoking and some good methods to use also. So the next big thing for you to do is go out and get you something to smoke and if you happen to have any questions just post it here and we will be happy to answer them for you.

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Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
Feb 17, 2009
Helena, MT
Wrap them puppies in bacon, also be careful with the store bought brine, I always skin my birds and the store bought brine always seems to be really salty, my theory is b/c there is no skin and fat to buffer some of that salt . I would try "tips slaughterhouse brine" cut the salt in half. Smoke at 180-200 until the meat is 150* internal, when done smoking wrap in foil and put about a 1/4 cup of chicken broth in there, wrap the foil wrapped phez in some old dish towels and place in a dry cooler for about 1 hr. You should have a juicy delicious phez. By the way use apple or pecan for this adventure, you don't want to overwhelm that bird with the more pungent types of wood such as hickory or mesquite. Also don't be afraid to use Lilac if you have some in your yard with dead limbs that you can use (as long as you are sure there is no pesticides on the shrub) It is even lighter than apple but very similar and works wonderful with phez. Good luck and don't give up...oh yeah did I say wrap in bacon????????


Fire Starter
Oct 1, 2010
Wichita, KS
I know this isn't a smoking recipe, but this is the only way I eat pheasant anymore:


2 cups of pheasant meat cut up into small meaty pieces
2 sticks of margarine (1/2 lb.)
1 to 1 1/2 Tbs. of Cajun Seasoning & Rub Shaker  (if you click the linked words to the left, it is the 6th item on the page)

Melt the 2 sticks of margarine
Stir the Cajun Seasoning into the margarine Add the pheasant and stir well.

Heat a cast iron skillet, on high, for ten minutes.
Add the pheasant mixture. (expect some steaming) Stir and cook for about 4-5 minutes or until done.
Remove the skillet from the burner and pour the pheasant into a bowl.
Eat until satisfied. Great hours devours, or whatever that word is.


Smoking Fanatic
Jul 28, 2010
Lafayette, Indiana
I'd like to second (third? fourth?) the suggest to bard the breasts. Streaky bacon works fine, I have even nestled game breasts into a layer of salt pork, flipping them halfway through for the temperature change. But then, I really do keep 5lb or so of salt pork laying around in my freezer for just these forst of reasons. :)




Smoking Guru
OTBS Member
Aug 1, 2008
Central California
You are not the first to struggle with pheasant.  They are easy to dry out and require some special handling like all the good advice you have been given here.

Good luck and good smoking!

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