By Kevin T. Mead
Hunters new to the sport, and even some of us old-timers, might not be aware that the absolute best piece of venison is the tenderloin, not the backstrap. There seems to be a widespread misconception about the two.
I often hear hunters, even veterans, referring to a deer's backstraps as "tenderloins." This is incorrect terminology. There is a huge difference between these cuts of meat, and we should learn what it is.
The backstraps are the long, round cuts of meat located on the top of a deer's back. They run along either side of the spine and can be 2 to 3 feet in length.
The tenderloins are much smaller, only about 10 to 12 inches, and are located inside the deer's abdominal cavity, beneath the spine and toward the tail end. The only way to reach them is by field dressing the deer and cutting them away. This can be messy, but they are so worth a few extra seconds of effort to extract them.
These small but highly prized morsels are the most tender and delicious parts of the entire animal. If you have your deer processed, make sure to ask the processor to save them separately.
Some people call them weenie loins or breakfast loins and will cook them for breakfast, along with a plate of eggs and breakfast food. This is a tradition among many hunters.
I have my own tradition. Whenever I take a deer, I like to celebrate by frying up the tenderloins that very same day. There's nothing better than fresh venison tenderloins!
Remember this easy rule of thumb: backstraps are on the deer's back; tenderloins are tender on the inside.