Killer Venison Sliders

Are you tired of tough, deer processor grade burger patties lacking flavor and charisma? This is simple, easy and perfect for deer camp, kids birthday parties, tailgates and black tie wedding receptions. But seriously, it’s a no-brainer recipe. Make two batches as it will go quick!

Double batch for July 4th! Welles was pumped.


  • 1 package of King’s Hawaiian rolls (this is a key. Don’t use anything else)
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (I prefer sharp cheddar but any good burger cheese will work.)
  • 1lb ground venison (I prefer 1.25lbs for a little more meat)
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet Vidalia onion (don’t skimp on the onion)
  • 2/3 cup diced tomatoes. This is a small amount and will mix well without a strong taste. Add more diced tomatoes for your preference.
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard.
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce.
  • Salt and pepper.
  • 1lb of bacon. Please don’t use low grade quality bacon. Think about the time, money and focus it took to secure your venison. Why waste it on cheap bacon?
  • Bread & Butter pickles. Unless, you’re crazy like my wife and prefer hamburger dill pickles.


  • 1 stick of butter. Real butter. Not that chemical infused imitation butter Fabio slings.
  • 1/8 cup of brown sugar. There is no substitute for brown sugar. Simply, the best.
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce.
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard.
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds.


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Cook the pound of bacon to your liking. The finished product will need to be crumbled into smallish pieces. The sliders eat better with crumbles, as opposed to strips, in my opinion.

3. Without separating, cut the package of rolls horizontally in half and arrange bottom halves in a greased 13×9 inch baking pan. Pro tip – make sure to use a serrated bread knife and ask your wife for help.

4. Spread 1 cup of cheese over the bottom rolls and bake 4-6 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Make sure the pan is greased.

5. In a large skillet, brown the ground venison and onions; drain if needed. I don’t add fat to my ground venison. Try not to overcook the meat as it’ll continue to cook during the final steps.

6. Stir in tomatoes, mustard, worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Cook, crack another beer and stir 3-5 minutes or until combined.

7. Spoon the mixture evenly over rolls. Top with the remaining cheese and then the crumbled bacon. Place roll top halves on sliders.

8. For the glaze, in a microwave-safe bowl combine butter, brown sugar, worcestershire sauce and dijon mustard. Microwave until butter is melted, stirring occasionally. I find it best to cook at a 50% power so it doesn’t explode. A paper towel covering the bowl also helps. Listen, I get it, this mixture seems like it won’t blend well or taste good. However, this may be the secret of the “killer slider”.

9. Brush the glaze generously and evenly over roll tops. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

10. Bake, uncovered, 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.

11. Pour a whiskey and grab a plate full before the sliders are devoured!

This is not an original recipe as I found variations through several channels.

Waffle House style Venison Texas Cheesesteak

Venison is sustainable, renewable red meat and this was obviously the right choice to christen my blackstone griddle.

By no means is this an original recipe. It’s simply my favorite dish from the world renowned, Southern culinary institution that is the one and only Waffle House.

  • Venison backstrap sliced super thin. Mix in melted butter, salt & pepper.  Make sure the butter has cooled some so it doesn’t add much heat to the meat. Grill hot & fast.
  • Vidalia sweet onion grilled w/ butter and oil.
  • Hash browns grilled with oil & covered w/ cheese.
  • Texas toast buttered and grilled.
  • Pair w/ Modelo.

WTOC Savannah Afternoon Break

I must say, it was pretty cool to discuss wildlife conservation with a new audience.  I wonder how many viewers had zero knowledge of the extreme population issues quail and turkeys face in the South?  Check out the link below.  I’m certainly no Dan Rathers but I guess that’s obvious.  The link below has the entire clip.


An Open Letter to Whitetail Hunters

Below are hunting related thoughts to consider as we drift into the 2022 season. These talking points are not common knowledge. I learned them from making mistakes and paying attention to the many land stewards that invited me to hunt over the past 3 decades.

This is not to sound preachy. I know some of y’all have rather thin skin. I’ve been guilty of every item below. I decided to write this because hunting media won’t cover these subjects.
They are too busy covering the latest 200” buck and developing the newest gimmick guaranteed to kill a booner.

Knowledge comes with experience. It’s perfectly fine to not know everything in the hunting woods. Asking questions is how you progress as a hunter and conservationist. I’m always asking questions to learn from those with expertise.

Mistakes happen but humility is the way to be invited back. As my father has always told me “manners will open doors that money cannot”.

Aiming for the head is the most unethical shot you can take on a whitetail. Many hunters fancy themselves marksmen because they can drill a target at 300yds. Well, the paper target doesn’t move. It’s not a wild prey animal with a sole purpose to survive and continue the species. The head moves more than any other part of a deer. I’ve been on way too many headshot tracking jobs. You either hit a bullseye or you blow the jaw or nose off. Head wounded deer are typically never recovered and will ultimately die from complications stemming from the poorly placed shot.

Never attempt to hunt with a rifle that hasn’t been zeroed in during the current season. If you need to shoot at the landowner’s range, discuss it prior and make arrangements to show up early. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve hunted with someone that claimed their rifle is “absolutely on” only to learn it is indeed off after they wound or miss a deer. Furthermore, checking the zero is also practice which every hunter should do every year.

If your bullet or arrow hit is off from where you were aiming, don’t blame the deer, wind, bullet or broadhead. Only the hunter is to blame for a bad shot. Read that one again. If you don’t know what happened, ask someone with experience. 97% of dreadful shot placements come from making poor decisions.

Unloaded guns kill. Plain and simple. Many accidents happen when the person “thinks” the gun is unloaded. I witnessed this in college when a friend decided to prove that a .270 rifle was unloaded. He pulled the trigger and the blast was deafening. Always keep your bolt or action open. I know you know it’s unloaded but others want to see for themselves. Kids pay attention to what adults do and don’t do.

Bowhunting is a high level, top tier skill. Treat it that way. This may be a hard pill to swallow but a bow and arrow is far less effective than a rifle. You should never take a risky shot and always understand your limitations. Anything beyond a 50 yard bow shot on a whitetail deer is highly unethical. It’s ok if the deer wins.

The ultimate goal for hunting should be wild game meat. Read that sentence again. It’s not a competition. We are all on different playing fields both literally and metaphorically.

Bigger bucks can’t be grown in a year. There’s no “easy button”. Shoot more does and improve the habitat. Those are sure fire solutions to increase antler size.

Unfortunately, I actually have to say this next point. I wish I were kidding but I’ve been with several “experienced” hunters that have done this and saw no issue. Use a real flashlight. Your cell phone light does not count. You owe it to the dead deer you shot that has a faint blood trail.

Never point the muzzle at anything you don’t plan to shoot. Unfortunately, this happens all too often.
The majority of buck mistakes happen at dusk. I really don’t want to look up how many buttons and spikes were shot at our farm because hunters jerked the trigger too late and couldn’t see the small antlers. It’s ok if the deer wins.

If you kill more bucks than does, don’t complain about not seeing more mature bucks.

When in doubt, don’t shoot. Only pull the trigger if you are 125% sure what you’re looking at. Specifically, if it’s a buck, you should know the antler size and age estimation based on the body. If not, it’s ok if the deer wins. I used a buck as the example but the truth is hunters shoot other hunters all the time. Way, way too often in our advanced society.

“Ground shrinkage” and “He’s not the biggest” is an excuse for regret. You pulled the trigger and you killed the deer. Own it and respect the animal that’s now dead. Celebrate the wild meat and learn from your mistake. There is nothing more irritating to me when someone has a blunder and disrespects the animal that they tagged to make themselves feel better.

A scoped rifle is not a gimme shot. Practice. Practice without a hunkered down vice grip. Know what your bullet will do. Without a foundation of instinctual shooting, one can absolutely
have a bad shot when a large buck steps out. Which unfortunately, I have seen countless times at our farm. Sometimes, the deer is hit and never recovered and sometimes it’s a clean miss.

Good luck this season. Remember, conservation is above all.

Mark Haslam
Southeast Whitetail

Wired to Hunt: Episode 529

It was a very rewarding experience to share my story with Mark Kenyon on Wired to Hunt. Mark is a phenomenal interviewer and I’m humbled to have been asked to record with him. I’m not a pro or formally educated wildlife manager. However, I think my experiences and success through failures will resonate with listeners.

Ep. 529: Working the Land for Southern Whitetails with Mark Haslam Wired To Hunt Podcast

Today on the show, I'm joined by Mark Haslam, the 2019 NDA Deer Manager of the Year, to discuss his experiences, lessons learned, and best practices for improving whitetail habitat in the South.   Connect with Mark Kenyon and MeatEater Mark Kenyon on Instagram , Twitter , and Facebook MeatEater on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube Shop MeatEater MerchSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Season End Analysis + New Year Projects

Deer season has wrapped up in most of the Southeast and it’s time to analyze last year and plan for 2022. I’m going to run through several habitat and herd management objectives to employ right now.

2021 Season:

Food Plots – What worked & what didn’t?  Evaluating and assessing each year is crucial to save both time and money. Seed, fertilizer and chemical cost should be up this year.

1. Was there over browse to prevent full plant development?  This is often overlooked and likely a signal to either create additional food options and/ or thin the herd. Different tactics have worked for us to keep deer at bay until the plot is browse tolerant.

Sunn hemp needs about 24″ before it becomes browse tolerant. At that point, we’ll remove the rope and scent for deer to feed. Similar to forage soybeans.

2. Is the plot a supplemental food source or a kill site? Warm season plantings should be managed to feed wildlife for many months and cool season plots could be either a kill site or offer winter long nutrition. Both have benefits and it’s imperative to understand each option prior to burying seed and praying for rain.

3.  Did hunter observation on fields increase or decrease from 2020?  This could show signs of a shift in bedding or declining stealth like stand access.   Whitetails quickly identify stand sites and human presence during the season.  Sometimes, you may need to relocate the stand or just simply stash it deeper in the woods or brush it in better with cut limbs and trees.    

3. Were deer utilizing food plots during daylight hours? Were they at ease and felt safe or pour in at dark? It doesn’t take much to create safety in a wide-open space for whitetails. Incorporating edge feathering, tall transition areas or cover screens are all easy tools to increase daylight movement. Furthermore, transition areas and cover screens can be planted or native food for wildlife and that’s a win-win!

Antlerless deer – Was there sufficient doe tags filled on your property?  For that answer, you need a grasp on the local herd density.  Talk with your neighbors, farmers, ag extension services, state game biologist and DNR agents.  You’ll get many opinions but there should be a common theme. 

Without a doubt, practicing QDM (Quality Deer Mgnt) can become tricky. As more mature bucks are harvested and captured on trail cameras, it’s very easy to lose sight of the doe population. We fell into this scenario many years ago. Even one season of insufficient doe kills may take years to correct the buck to doe ratio.

Summer & early fall are great times for doe surveys. Many hunters underestimate the number of does that should be harvested annually.

In my opinion, the standard 25-30/ deer per square mile is way off in many pockets of the Southeast.  Specifically, areas of vast pine farms and agricultural land. As you increase bedding thickets and food, you’ll increase the carrying capacity. Therefore, you must ramp up doe harvests. Better habitat = more tags to be filled for a balanced herd. This is a whole post in itself for another day which I’ll cover soon.

Taking does early before the rut is an excellent tactic to meet harvest goals. Waiting until after the rut can be a challenge. Get a jump start early and enjoy a better rut.

Hunter Observations – Hopefully, you’re keeping a hunting log and recording each sit. If not, you need to start! The data can be compiled and uploaded to a variety of management software platforms.

Below are data examples to analyze. You can further breakdown stats by stand location, food source, temperature and many other figures. Without these data points, it would certainly be arduous to maintain a healthy, balanced herd. Now is the time to evaluate and plan for upcoming habitat and hunting projects.

  1. Total # of hunts
  2. Total # of does, bucks and fawns (separated by seen and killed)
  3. Avg does, bucks and fawns seen per hunt
  4. Fawn Recruitment Rate (is the population trending up or down? You think there’s a coyote predator issue but is there really?)
  5. Buck to Doe Ratio (paramount data point significance)
  6. Avg weight (past years showed a drop in doe weight so we increased harvests. This could also show signs of nutrition deficiency)
  7. Sightings & Harvests by moon phase (after 16 seasons of statistics, there is no major swing in movement based on moon phase – Shocker!!)
  8. Sightings & Harvests for a.m. and p.m.

Are you seeing adequate mature bucks for your property?  We went through a phase of low buck sightings.  Aggressive doe harvests and better stand rotation boosted buck kills over the past 5 seasons.  I will add that more older bucks are seen hunting off destination food sources.  6 of the last 7 bucks I’ve killed have been out of a mobile stand. 

Too many does?  For instance, if you’re observing 10-15 does for every buck, you may have a problem. Are all stands on a destination food source? If so, you should definitely incorporate hunting sites outside bedding and within timber blocks.  Tracking jawbone age and weight data will help monitor the doe population.  I will be sharing our hunting log and harvest data from the past 15 years soon.  I’m hoping to generate a real discussion on deer densities and the issues we are seeing at our farm.   

Letting young bucks walk doesn’t mean your stands will be crawling with prime, well-aged antlers within several years. With age comes wisdom. If you aren’t killing bucks that mature on your land, it’s time for a habitat and/ or hunt setup overhaul.

2022 Immediate Attention –

Prescribed Fire – Burn areas should be identified asap and firebreaks cut.  
Certainly, this is the best management habitat tool for the SE.  Food, cover, and safety for deer, turkey & quail.  Keep in mind, you can’t just burn any timber block.  It has to make sense with the property layout, and you need adequate sunlight to make a difference. Controlled fire can be accomplished easier than you may think.  Contact your state forestry commission or a property manager/ land consultant. We run a 3-year burn cycle at the Farm.

Compared to food plots, fire has very little cost involved to stimulate the native seed bank for acres of food and cover.

Bedding – The ever-revolving cycle. It’s what keeps me up at night!
This is how I annually assess:  What will I be losing in bedding within the next 2-3yrs and how will I replace it seamlessly?  An ever-revolving cycle of new bedding thickets is key for hunt-ability on your land.  Trying to kill a buck on a food plot is challenging without close bedding.   Thickets can be created on leased land without disrupting pine plantations.  Remember the best defense against predator fawn mortality is thick, nasty bedding cover.  Not trapping ‘yotes.

Diversity is King. Smaller clear-cut sites are killer for deer bedding and fawning cover.

Fragment the land and you’ll be able to control where deer bed. Plan ahead and establish thickets where you want deer. A location away from human traffic where you won’t easily bump them. A checkerboard approach around thinned timber and/ or food plots will offer safety and solid buck movement during breeding season. When the mythical “October Lull” arrives, hit the woods between bedding sites and you’ll find whitetails.

Early Successional Food Plots – A tractor and harrow can create acres of natural wildlife food over the next several months. It’s an awesome tool if you’re unable to burn. Hit firebreaks, logging trails and field edges. Anywhere with good sunlight. Disturb the earth and let the native food bank germinate.

Blackberries from early successional light disking. Deer love them and they are loaded in most seed banks!

Please feel free to drop a line with any questions. Management tools and tactics are not one-size-fits-all. It mostly depends on your neighborhood, property size and your goals as a land steward and hunter. You can always make a difference and leave the land better for the next generation.

Wired to Hunt – Rut Fresh Radio

I was a recent guest on Rut Fresh Radio to discuss the current buck activity in South Carolina. Check it out!

Ep. 478: Rut Fresh Radio 11/10/2021 – Spencer Kills Two Bucks Wired To Hunt Podcast

This is the 11/10/21 episode of Rut Fresh Radio! In each show, Spencer interviews hunters across the country to get the latest intel on whitetail buck movement. This week he talks to whitetailers from Iowa, South Carolina, Ohio, and North Dakota. They discuss trends like weather patterns, moon phases, crop status, hunting pressure, sign making, and more. For more content that's relevant right now, check out these articles from Wired To Hunt: Why Transitions Are the Perfect Rut Setups – Alex GyllstromCan You Burn Out a Rut Stand? – Dylan TrampHow to Kill a Pressured Buck During the Rut – Tony PetersonWhat is the Whitetail Lockdown? – Mark KenyonConnect with Spencer and MeatEaterSpencer on InstagramMeatEater on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Decoy a Buck in the South

Deer decoys aren’t just for the midwest.  You don’t have to be around agriculture fields or large, well manicured food plots but they can certainly help!  From my experience, knowing your local peak breeding time and where does will be late October & early November are the key factors.

I’ve always thought the best decoy is a doe and I’ve killed several good bucks with that style.  Why not mimic a doe in heat?  What is a buck really looking for – a hot doe or rival buck?  Why not entice a jacked up, testosterone fueled bruiser with a doe ready to breed?

When the first does enter estrous cycles, it’s time to implement this method.  The estrous scent is unmistakable in the woods.  Usually, in my part of South Carolina it hits the third week of October.  At this point, bucks are up and running around with one task in mind. It’s then time to readjust your approach in the whitetail woods.

Through scouting and herd intel, you can lure a buck of any age class within bow range. Even in increased hunter density areas. It’s not an every hunt tactic to use. Only when conditions are right and wind is in your favor. I may only hunt with a doe decoy once a year and have gone a couple seasons without using it. It’s certainly not suitable for tight areas.

Key Points:
1.  Know where does bed and where they travel to feed.
2.  Scouting does is key during the rut.  Hunt does to kill bucks. Don’t overthink it. If you find does, you’ll find bucks. You’re hunting bucks but they’re hunting does.
3.  I wouldn’t target buck bedding areas.  They are moving more and may be bedding at other sites.

This was my first decoyed buck. Late October 2008. He appeared on the edge of the field in tall grass with no shot and eyes locked on the decoy. I hit a low bleat call and he slowly eased in. I took several “practice shots” with the safety on to calm my nerves. This was my first buck on the Farm after passing bucks for 2 years.

Ideal Locations:

  • Food plots
  • Ag fields
  • Clear cut sites (next to dense or light cover).
  • Thinned & burned pine blocks. It should be adjacent to thick cover or a staging area. 
  • Bottomland hardwood sites.  Again, the area should be next to cover as mentioned above.
  • Outside doe bedding areas.  Play the wind and don’t spook the does.   

I find it best to give deer a buffer of least 75+ yards before they lay eyes on the decoy.  You don’t want to spook anything.  Especially, a doe.  That being said, I’ve never had a doe become alarmed from my decoy.  They’ll look briefly but that’s about it.    

10/20/15 – Peanut field surrounded by 5 yr old pine thickets. Does were feeding around the decoy. The perfect storm. After several bleat calls he charged into the field.

Killer Scenarios:

1.  A buck has been cruising past you several times and you’ve been unable to get a shot off or maybe he hangs back in a staging area until dark.  

2.  A doe food source is loaded with fresh buck sign; scrapes, tracks, rubs and is prime for a mature whitetail to pop out. 

My Setup:

  • Position on the opposite side where you think a buck will enter your field of vision.
  • Do not place the decoy close to your stand unless bow hunting.  You don’t want deer possibly catching your movement.  
  • Use scent where legal.  I prefer Tink’s 69 in the scent bomb re-usable cans.  Play the wind and position the scent to drift where a buck should appear.
  • Bleat calls can be effective but don’t overuse it.  
  • Grunt calls can be good to entice a buck within earshot to check out the scene.     

10/17/20. The hunt for this buck lasted 24hrs and is a story for another time. The footage on my homepage is this whitetail.

*** Always be safe when transporting and setting up the decoy.  Wear orange and never assume anything with other hunters.  Even while on private land.  Check local game laws before using a decoy. *** 

Deer Tracking Dog

This is a relatively short piece as I didn’t do any type of formal training with my labs. I used a basic system that turned my best friend into a deer recovery machine. Better than any hunter I know.


  • Quicker recovery time of game.
  • Ability to track wounded deer without a visible blood trail.
  • A trained, skilled dog establishes obedience.
  • You can assist neighbors and fellow hunters in your neck of the woods with tracking jobs. Maybe one day, you’ll need a favor from them or a hunting invitation!
  • Incorporating your dog with the pursuit of whitetails creates a bond like no other. A bond that you won’t share with anyone else at deer camp.

My first lab, Duke, took to blood and the scent of deer fairly quickly. After a deer kill, I’d locate the animal but would not move it or step on any blood. I always wore rubber boots to help mask my scent. The idea was to know where the deer expired before releasing Duke. Sometimes he would stay on the correct path but if he did not, I could steer him the right direction.

It’s imperative to watch your dogs mannerisms and understand how he or she reacts when they follow the scent with good blood, no blood or when multiple whitetails flee the kill site in the same direction. Over time you’ll learn how your dog handles each situation. Keep in mind, they will encounter all kinds of smells: deer, raccoons, opossums and armadillos just to name a few. I’ll cover how to forge a thirst for deer over any other animal in the whitetail woods.

This buck dropped 15 yards from my doe decoy. However, I still used the opportunity to allow Duke to find the deer by walking him in downwind.

After several deer retrievals, you can start to gauge the dogs interest with deer and blood. However, it will take several seasons to fully develop the skill as it’s all about reps. The major key element for tracking success – allow the dog to spend time with the deer. At the skinning shed or the back of your truck, provide time for your canine to sniff, lick and get acquainted with the animal. They need to take in all scent glands, urine, organs, guts and blood. The latter is the most critical. If they try to, permit the dog to ingest blood as it’ll become a treat and create an primal craving. This alone will be the fuel to find the next wounded deer. The newly acquired love for deer should eliminate a dog from straying down a trail after another species when tracking.

Duke & Duck never miss cocktail hour at the skinning shed.

Both Duke and Duck developed a fondness for blood, raw meat and anything they could sneak from the skinning shed.  Without question, this drove their natural instinct to hunt, track and use their nose. I’ve always given my dogs raw meat and organs at the time of kill.  However, small quantities is crucial to leave them wanting more and to maintain solid health.

Do’s and Don’t:

  • Do use a leash. I find it better to know exactly where the dog is and what it’s doing. However, you need to keep up the pace and not slow down your dog. I prefer a leash, as opposed to, the bell or barking method to reduce unneeded pressure on the deer herd.
  • Do reward your canine when the deer is found. Positive reinforcement and a piece of raw meat has worked for me!
  • Do let the dog stay on a trail even if you see no visible blood. If the scent runs dry you will be able to tell by the dogs mannerisms.
  • Do keep in mind the wind direction and if you need to sweep in downwind.
  • Don’t let people get ahead of the dog.
  • Don’t let any hunters that aren’t skilled at tracking anywhere near the kill site or blood trail until the dog is trained.

A hunt I’ll never forget. Duke stopped and pointed a wounded buck that was bedded down purely on instinct. The deer has looking right at Duke. I never taught him actions to take with deer still alive. RIP buddy.

Very quickly your dog will learn when it’s time to track a deer and flip into “hunter mode”. Once training has been implemented and the fire is lit, you’ll have a better tracker than any hunter you know.


Buckin Struttin Outdoors Podcast

I was invited on the Buckin Struttin Outdoors Podcast as a guest for some whitetail junkie talk. A deep dive on the species and the challenges of hunting them.

Give the episode a spin and follow the podcast! I could talk all day about whitetails.


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