I am getting mixed advice on preparing venison jerky at home. Some people/sites advise to cook venison to internal 160 degrees in oven prior to dehydrating to kill any potential bacteria that may be present. Please advise who does/does not cook prior to dehyrating
Jerky does not need to be pre-cooked, in fact the process of making jerky probably predates the invention of cooking.
The process of salting and drying (and additionally adding sugar, acid, and/or smoke) inherently kills or inhibits growth of bacteria and mold. As long as your meat is cut thin, evenly salted, and well dried you do not need to pre-cook it.
Since the meat is thin, cooking it beforehand will just result in overcooked, stringy meat. If you are using the oven method or a food dehydrator with a heating element the meat will end up cooked.