Deer Camp Chili


  • Half-pound of bacon, chopped into pieces and rendered down to add some grease to the pan
  • One or two onions, diced
  • Two- to three pounds of coarsely ground venison
  • Chili powder to taste, split into two portions. We generally use three to four teaspoons in a pot
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • One 28-ounce chopped tomatoes or two 14-ounce cans of Rotel diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • One can of beer or beef broth
  • One or two cans of chili beans, hot or mild, or one of each
  • Whatever else you think might be a good addition. Ancho or chipotle chili powder adds a bit of heat and another layer of flavor. Sliced smoked sausage is a good addition. I even toss in some leftover pulled pork from time to time. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to cooking chili. When we made this, it was raining too hard to stand around the fire and roast our hotdogs so we borrowed one of my dad’s favorite chili tricks and dumped a pack of hot dogs into this batch. Worked like a charm.


  1. Start the bacon over a low fire, cooking till the bacon is crisp and fully rendered. Dump in the diced onions and simmer till the onions are translucent and soft. Add in the ground venison and brown with the onions.
  2. Once the meat has browned, take the opportunity to season everything to taste. I like to add my chili powder in a couple of batches, one now, early in the cook, and one late in the cooking process. As the chili powder cooks, the flavor changes and mellows. Splitting the powder into two batches blends the flavor. I generally salt to taste and add at least a teaspoon of chili powder at this point, then simmer a bit longer to meld the flavors.
  3. Next, pour in the tomatoes and the beer or broth. Now, I am a purist when it comes to my chili, and think that beans are best served on the side, if at all. But I am outvoted four to one in this family, so the beans usually go in at this point in the cook. Now is the time to add any other ingredients you might want, then pull the pot away from the heat and slowly simmer the chili for an hour or so. Just before you are ready to serve, stir in another teaspoon or two of chili powder and check for flavor. Add a bit of salt and black pepper if needed and serve.

Recipe courtesy of Michael Pendley/Realtree Outdoors/Timber 2 Table.



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One Response to “Deer Camp Chili”

  1. Ariel

    Sounds like a great meal for deer camp this year. Eat two bowls and sleep like a baby.