In the Wild with Greg Wagner


This is a must-try, healthy, tasty recipe for those of you who have or will have ground venison in the frig or freezer this fall or winter. It’s actually a healthy twist on an older recipe in my file. Even non-hunters and non-wild game meat eaters visiting the Wagner abode have thoroughly enjoyed this recipe! It serves eight people. Bon appetite! See you out there, grill-side! By the way, if you would like to receive or donate some venison, don’t forget about our Nebraska Deer Exchange Program here:

Recipe Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup fat-free mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lime peel
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions
  • 3 tablespoons fat-free, plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeno pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 pounds ground venison
  • 8 whole wheat or multi-grain hamburger buns, split
  • 8 slices reduced-fat or low-fat Pepper Jack cheese

Recipe Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lime juice, mustard and lime peel; cover and refrigerate until serving.
  2. In a bowl, combine the onions, yogurt, jalapeno, salt and pepper. Crumble meat over mixture and mix well. Shape into eight patties. Grill until meat is no longer pink. Serve on buns; top with cheese and mayonnaise mixture … Mmmm!


If you’ve seen me and  haven’t noticed, I’ve lost a lot of weight – nearly 50 pounds off my 5 foot-11 inch frame! I had to lose weight for health reasons.   

Here I stand. Note my belt which I have had to add new loop holes to with my pocket knife.

I went from 222 pounds in late June  

A rather hefty Greg Wagner in late June.

to about 172 pounds here in early September.    

Current pic of me.

Boy, I feel so much better than I did 50 pounds ago! My blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol levels are much, much lower and in healthy ranges. The energy that I now possess is worth every pound, I’m tellin’ ya’! How did I do it? Simple. Eat healthy and exercise. I’ve stuck to whole foods as well as lots of fruits and veggies (mostly that we and friends grow).   

Tomatoes on the vine in our chemical-free vegetable garden.

Yellow delicious apples I have been picking and eating from our tree in the backyard.


Gathering sweet corn from a friend’s farm.

I also count carbs and calories, cut the fat, eat 5 or 6 smaller meals a day and include only lean meats. To answer the question that’s on your mind: Yes, that includes WILD GAME! The nutritionists at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha emphatically suggested that wild game and fish be part of the diet, woo-hoo, I was thrilled! 

Channel catfish fillets destined for the foil.

I got to really thinking about free-ranging wild game, so I did some research. Look at this chart I found about the nutrient content of wild game meat vs. domesticated meat.  

Nutrient content of wild game meat vs domesticated meat.
 Note: *100 grams equals about 3 1/2 ounces.
 Note: ** Not trimmed of fat before analysis.
 All other samples of meat were trimmed of visible fat prior to analysis.
Species Protein % Fat % Cholesterol (mg/100g*) Calories (Kcal/100g*)
Antelope 22.5 .9 112 144
Beef USDA choice 22.0 6.5 72 180
Beef USDA standard 22.7 2.0 69 152
Buffalo 21.7 1.9 62 138
Chicken 23.6 .7 62 135
Crane (Sandhill) 21.7 2.4 123 153
Deer (Mule) 23.7 1.3 107 145
Deer (Whitetail) 23.6 1.4 116 149
Dove 22.9 1.8 94 145
Duck (Domestic) 19.9 4.25 89 180
Duck (Mallard) 23.1 2.0 140 152
Elk 22.8 .9 67 137
Goose (Snow) 22.7 3.6 142 121
Grouse (Sharptail) 23.8 .7 105 142
Grouse (Sage) 23.7 1.1 101 140
Lamb 20.8 5.7 66 167
Moose 22.1 .5 71 130
Partridge (Gray) 25.6 .7 85 151
Pheasant (Domestic) 23.9 .8 71 144
Pheasant (Wild) 25.7 .6 52 148
Pig (Domestic Pork) 22.3 4.9 71 165
Pig (Wild Boar) ** 28.3 4.38 109 160
Rabbit (Cottontail) 21.8 2.4 77 144
Rabbit (Jack) 21.9 2.4 131 153
Squirrel 21.4 3.2 83 149
Turkey (Domestic) 23.5 1.5 60 146
Turkey (Wild) 25.7 1.1 55 163
Widgeon 22.6 2.1 131 153
  Surveys show that carcasses of domesticated animals have 25 to 30% fat while the average fat content of wild game animals is only 4.3%. Not only is the fat lower in game, but is also healthier. Fat from wild game contains a much higher proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids, good fat and is lower in saturated fat, bad fat.
Composition and breakdown of fat content!
  Some game meat is higher in dietary cholesterol than domestic meats, but the combination of more lean body tissue, less saturated fat and significantly higher % of cholesterol-reducing polyunsaturated fatty acids makes wild game a heart-healthy choice.
Species Saturated
(bad fat)
%Fatty Acids
(good fat)
Antelope 41.2 27.1 31.6
Beef 46.3 45.5 8.2
Boar 35.7 47. 17.3
Buffalo 43.2 45.0 11.8
Caribou 46.6 36.4 17.0
Deer (Mule) 48.0 31.8 20.2
Deer (Whitetail) 45.6 30.6 23.9
Elk 48.4 26.6 24.9
Moose 36.6 24.3 39.1
Rabbit 39.0 35.6 25.4
Squirrel 15.2 47.2 37.6

Copyright 2001 – 2010.   

The other thing that is critical for weight loss and optimum health is the “E” word – Exercise. I exercise every day, rain or shine, no matter what else I’m doing. I either walk or run about 5-7 miles a day and do some light weightlifting 2-3 times a week. This has worked for me! Before you embark on any exercise program or diet, make certain to get thoroughly checked out by ‘doc’ – your physician that is.    

See you out there, as a fit and healthy Greg Wagner. Pass me another one of those healthy, delicious venison brats, please …   

Grilled lean venison bratwurst with jalapeno peppers and fat-free swiss cheese on whole wheat bread.



WILD GAME COOKING 101 by Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
November 23, 2009, 1:32 pm
Filed under: Hunting, Uncategorized, Wild Game Cooking | Tags: , ,

Those of us who enjoy Nebraska’s many and varied fall hunting seasons have our freezers packed full of venison, wild turkeys, rooster pheasants, Canada geese and other assorted wild game species. The Wagner family loves eating a variety of wild game entrees over the holiday period! How about your family?

 If you are new to cooking wild game or haven’t done it for a while, here are some basic principles to follow from Chef Dan Small who writes for Pennsylvania Outdoor News:

 –        Game is leaner and drier than most domestic meats, so use recipes that keep it moist!

 –        Game meat will be tender if you cook it for a short time on high heat or a long time on low heat. Game meat needs to be cooked thoroughly, but is best done medium-rare!    

 –        Younger animals taste better and are tenderer than older ones. Use young game in most recipes; reserve older game for stews and braising.

 –        Aging game will help tenderize it and add flavor. As an example, you should age an old gobbler for about a week before freezing it or cooking it. 

 –        Less is better. Simpler recipes are not only easier; they respect the nuances of game meat. Use sauces, spices and seasonings sparingly to enhance, not overpower your game.

 –        Fresh is best. When a game recipe calls for herbs, purchase them as you need them from the grocery store or start a small herb garden. Old herbs have little taste. Greg Wagner’s favorite herb to use with wild game is rosemary!

 –        Wines and Wild Game. To keep things simple, use white and rose wines for upland game birds, red wines for everything else.   

 –        Let it soak! Let wild game meat soak in marinades overnight, or at least for an hour or two. This will help add flavor to and tenderize your meat.

 –        Rub it in. Sprinkle herbs and rub seasonings on your game meat with your fingers and then let it sit a while before cooking. Brush a light coat of olive oil on meat that has been dry rubbed to help seal in favors and moisture.

Dan Small says turning dead critters into delicious meals is not a daunting task. Dan summarizes: “Keep your game meat moist, serve it hot and use seasonings sparingly and your guests will start calling you a gourmet chef!” Right on, Dan! Bon appétit!

 By the way, feel free to share your favorite wild game cooking secrets and recipes with us by leaving a comment. Thanks!