New to the forum...excited to read what you guys have to say. I'm a fairly accomplished smoker with chickens and turkeys, but have finally decided to use some of the venison I got this year for some smoked venison summer sausage...but have a few questions since I'm new to it. First, I realize this is a semi-dry cured sausage by definition, but do I really need to use Morton Tender Quick (table salt + nitrite + nitrates) to reduce the risk of botulism bacteria? The brine or cure I use for chickens truly does more for the flavor than protecting against bacteria. The salt in the brine is just NaCl (table salt). But it's low risk since I generally operate the smoker at 200F until the internal temp of the meat is 170F. But with venison....I would be operating the smoker at a lower temp initially....so the threat of bacteria is higher I presume. I was going to smoke like this: 140F: 2hrs 160F: 2hrs 180F: Until internal meat temp is 155F. I talked with a local commercial smoker and he mentioned to start the smoker at 160F and not to worry about the Tender Quick? Any thoughts on this? Every local well known, commercial, non-backyard guy I talk to says this.....but is it really ok?