When you head to the grocery store, your meat choices are usually limited to industry standards like pork, beef and chicken. Occasionally you’ll find other options, like duck or goose, but they’re often limited to holiday seasons.
Wild game is a great way to supplement your diet, but if you’re concerned about calories or protein intake, it can be a challenge to keep track of what you’re eating. Which wild game is the most nutritious?
Getting the Nutrients You Need
Nutrition can be complicated, especially in a survival situation. It’s important to collect a basic working knowledge of these nutrients to help you make the most informed decision when it comes to choosing your meals. Modern nutrition is broken down into three primary macronutrients: fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. The average adult needs:
- Between 0.7 – 1.0 grams of protein per pound of body weight
- Between 0.25 and 0.4 grams of fat per pound of body weight
The rest of the calories you eat during the day should be allotted to carbohydrates. You can calculate these numbers starting with your body’s basal metabolic rate, or the number of calories that you burn while the body is at rest.
Then, adjust for your activity level — because you will need to consume more calories during the day if you are more active — and then adjust again based on your weight goals if you have any. If sustaining your current weight is the goal, then don’t adjust the number of calories up or down.
Thanks to fast foods and other convenience foods, our diets tend to be higher in fat and carbohydrates than are typically considered healthy. Incorporating wild game can help balance those less healthy choices out.
Don’t Forget the Micronutrients
While the three macronutrients are important, they aren’t the only things that you’re going to need to stay healthy. Micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, are also an essential part of a healthy diet. Without them, various health problems can occur.
Too little iron in your diet can lead to anemia. Too little Vitamin C can lead to scurvy, a condition that used to plague sailors who would spend months at sea with little to no access to fresh fruit.
Studies have found that in addition to the problems that micronutrient deficiencies can cause directly, they can also contribute to the morbidity and mortality of various chronic and infectious diseases. Many wild game animals, in addition to containing protein, also offer a lot of micronutrients.
Racoon, for example, is full of iron, thiamin and B12, while opossum is a great source of riboflavin. Fatty fish, like salmon, anchovies or sardines, provide high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Introducing different wild game animals into your regular rotation can be a great way to ensure that you’re getting as many micronutrients as possible in your diet.
Comparing Common Wild Game
Let’s take a closer look at the benefits offered by various wild game animals that you might encounter.
Wild fowl are a great source of protein and are often easier to hunt than some of the larger creatures on this list — with a few exceptions:
- Snow Goose — 121 calories per 100 grams, with 22.7g protein and 3.6g fat.
- Alligator — 143 calories per 100 grams, with 29g protein and 3g fat.
- Dove — 145 calories per 100 grams, with 22.9g protein and 1.8g fat.
- Wild Pheasant — 148 calories per 100 grams with 25.7g protein and 0.6g fat.
- Squirrel — 149 calories per 100 grams with 21.4g protein and 3.2g fat.
- Mallard — 152 calories per 100 grams, with 23.1g protein and 2.0g fat
- Jackrabbit — 153 calories per 100 grams, with 21.9g protein and 2.4g fat.
- Wild turkey — 163 calories per 100 grams, with 25.7g protein and 1.1g fat.
Now while these are listed in order of calories, some — such as the alligator (which is considered white meat) offer more protein with fewer calories than say, the mallard or the pheasant. Alligators are a bit more challenging to hunt, though, so make sure you keep that in mind.
Red meat is usually what we think of when we picture hunting, but as with most things, not all wild game is created equal.
- Moose — 130 calories per 100 grams with 22.1g protein and 0.5g fat
- Elk — 137 calories per 100 grams with 22.8g protein and 0.9g fat.
- Bison — 138 calories per 100 grams with 21.7g protein and 1.9g fat.
- Antelope — 144 calories per 100 grams with 22.5g protein and 0.9g fat.
- Ostrich — 141 calories per 100 grams with 29g protein and 1.9g fat.
- White-tailed deer — 149 calories per 100 grams with 23.6g protein and 1.4g fat.
- Wild Boar — 160 calories per 100 grams with 28.3g protein and 4.38g fat.
Most of the large quadrupeds on this list are considered some of the best wild game in the world because they are high in protein while remaining low in fat. If you’re concerned about adding more fat to your diet, prey like the wild boar might be a great option.
Which Wild Game is The Best for Nutrition?
This isn’t an exhaustive list of all the wild game that you might encounter during your hunts, but it should give you a good idea of where to start if you’re planning to start adding it to your diet.
When it comes to the question of which wild game is the best for nutrition, the answer is that depends. It depends on what you’re hunting as well as your nutritional needs. The ones that we’ve listed above are a great place to start, but you don’t need to stop there.