Get to Know: Maui Nui Venison

Posted by Dave Allee on

Sourcing partner highlight:

When you buy venison from a specialty market or order an elk burger off the menu at a restaurant, that meat is more than likely coming from one of two places: 

A. New Zealand

B. A high-fence elk or deer farm in the USA

This is because we have very strict game laws around the buying and selling of wildly hunted meat.  Why the strict game laws? Because in the 1800's we decimated the once-thriving game populations of this country through wanton waste and market hunting.  Certainly you have seen the old black and white photos of mountains of buffalo skulls.

We treated a finite resource like an infinite resource, and almost lost our incredible game species forever.

Fortunately, we know a heck of a lot more about game management than we did 150 years ago. 

There are rare exceptions to the above rules regarding the selling of wildly-harvested meat.

One of those exceptions is the folks at Maui Nui Venison

Axis Deer (also called Chital) are originally from India, but were introduced to the Hawaiian Islands in 1867.  And then introduced to the Island of Maui in 1959. 

With no natural predators, a lush environment, and rich volcanic soil to fuel growth, the Axis Deer flourished. As in tens of thousands of animals—which for a delicate ecosystem like the isolated islands of Hawaii, can be detrimental.

Lacking any large native herbivorous mammals, Hawaiian plants are not adapted to ungulate browsing and trampling. Invasive feral deer, pigs, goats, sheep, and cattle are responsible for widespread destruction of lowland ecosystems and continue to degrade remaining native ecosystems, including critical forested watershed that are vital to Hawaiʻiʻs water and soil resources.

Enter Jake and Ku'ulani Muise, who founded Maui Nui Venison as a way of turning an invasive population of deer into an incredible, sustainable source of delicious protein. 

The deer are harvested in the field, under the watch of a USDA inspector, and then are processed and packed for shipping.

The environment that these deer live and thrive in—right up to the moment of their death—is about as ideal of an environment as you could hope to be nourished by. They live and eat free roaming across the landscape and are harvested with care. 

Rich VOLCANIC SOILS, remarkable PLANT DIVERSITYand intelligent WILD GRAZING are what makes Maui’s Axis Deer so healthy.

The goal is not to decimate the Axis Deer population in Hawaii, but to manage the numbers and keep a lid on the population growth, as to reduce the species' impact on the landscape. Rarely will you find a more thoughtful team than the one Jake and Ku'ulani have assembled.

We are very proud to partner with Maui Nui as a key ingredient in our Wild Harvest Box. We are passionate about sourcing the very best food, and shifting the way people approach the table. 

Want Maui Nui Venison and other incredible wild foods like it delivered to your door four times per year? Subscribe to the Wild Harvest Box and join us in reclaiming the very best food that nature has to offer.

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