THE FIRST thing you want to do with that venison is take it out of the freezer and wrap it again. If it doesn't have at least two layers of freezer paper or plastic around it,freezer burn will quickly ruin the splendid meat some hunter worked so hard to bag.

The next thing is to make sure the label tells you everything you'll need to know when you forget (and you will forget) exactly what was in which package. If it's deerburger, that's at least a shame if not a sin, because venison is too lean to make suitable patties. The local custom of mixing it with ground fat pork is a pity; try beef kidney fat, and not too much of it. Or make it into meatloaf, as moist as possible. In any and every case, venison should be cooked as little as possible, and it cooks half again as fast as the equivalent cut of beef.

If you're lucky enough to have steaks, roasts or chops, they should be treated the way the French handle filet mignon: with some reverence and much circumspection.

If you have stew cuts, reserve the best of them for kabobs, because the toughest parts of a deer are not very. Broil them very lightly.

In stew, use the fragments in the stock and add the bigger pieces, seared very lightly, not more than half an hour before the dish is to be served, so that they come out medium to medium-rare. It will change your whole attitude toward stew in general and venison in particular.

Venison has a delicate but penetrating flavor that is more often than not ruined in American kitchens by machinations designed to deal with the so-called "wild taste." There is no such thing. It's simply the taste of venison, and if you don't like it, don't soak the meat in salt water or marinate it in wine or load on the spices or do any of those other crazy things mothers and cookbooks recommend. Just give it to someone who appreciates it.