Backpacking trips required to pack out an animal (elk / deer)???

fencesitter

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sk1 drafted an interesting post in the elk forum, titled "how far is too far?" It made me think about the typical number of loads required to extract a big game animal, out of the backcountry. I'd be curious to as to the approach that you guys/gals would typically take, but I've never really thought much about it, as I've always called in buddies to help me pack out meat, when I've been on a solo hunt. However, in most instances (not all), I've had buddies hunting somewhere on the same mountain range, that I'm on, when I've let the wind out of an animal. If in a predicament, I'd probably be looking at the following, if I were in a bind and was unable to secure any help, with an assumption of being 5 miles from the vehicle:

Trip 1 (from kill-site back to civilization / truck) - Boned out Rear quarter / Front quarter (5 Miles)
Trip 2 (from civilization / truck to kill-site - and then back to the truck) - Boned out Rear quarter / Front quarter (10 miles roundtrip)
Trip 3 (from civilization / truck to kill-site - and then back to the truck) - Tender Loins / Backstraps / Antlers (10 miles roundtrip)

I'm 5'9", with a current weight of between 145 - 150lbs, and I would consider myself pretty fit. However, the above marathon hike, might let the wind out of me! :) What approach would you guys take to packing out the meat? I'm sure that some would take a different approach. Would you take the antlers out first? I always get leery about antlers getting ripped off, so I always tend to think that they are safer, when left in the backcountry, until you are ready to make a final departure.

Thanks guys!
 

Jared Lampton

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You have described the daunting reality of killing an elk 5 miles from the truck and having to do it all yourself. Not all guys can carry a boned rear and front quarter of an elk that far in tough terrain so you're talking about a quite capable individual, let alone do it twice and still have to go back for antlers, backstraps, tenderloins, rib and neck meat.
One of the best options which has already been mentioned is to utilize a cool stream to buy time. Make several shorter trips (if possible) to get all the meat to a place where it will cool first then at least you wont be as panicked about spoilage. If it's not getting below 50 degrees at night and there's no cool stream nearby, then you don't have much time.
The reality is that packing out an elk solo (before it spoils) from 5+ miles back may not be doable for some guys. Gotta know your limitations.
 

mtnrunner260

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Epic - I like the idea of staging the pack out and it makes me think of some cooler shaded up stream location in my area.
A guy could utilize those if he knew where they were beforehand. I might even scout some out a bit.
 

sk1

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im not even going to post my plans for packout as ill just get laughed at lol. i like to go heavy on the first trip and get lighter from there on return trips if possible. this year on a mature cow i did both boned out hind quarters and backstraps on a 3 mile trip out in 20 inches of snow or so....and then would have gone back for the rest but on that occasion i had a hunting partner to do it. can i do the same with a mature bull? time will tell, i can promise you ill try...maybe the backstraps will have to go with the front shoulders.

on a different cow i did the boned out hind and bone-in front (dumb) learned my lesson never leaving the bone in again, and also gear.....and then went back for the rest the second trip....same scenario late season 20 inches of snow about 3 miles

hopefully no snow but longer packing distance in the early season will even things out for me....ive never had to do it but am hoping to have a few chances to in late august, time will tell.

anyways my goal is two max trips for an elk, possibly a third for camp and horns depending. deer i want everything out in one trip and camp....hence the reason for a dt1 bag, go big and go home(with your meat :D!)
 
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Jared Lampton

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sk1, you're an animal if you can get a mature bull out in two trips plus day gear...more power to ya! From my experience a mature bull, totally boned out goes from 225-300 lbs. Totally boned out 2.5 yr old bulls typically go around 180lbs +/- ...more doable for sure.
 

sk1

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im not going to say i can or cant do it, until i have pictures and experience to prove it......what i can say is i know i can handle 125lbs, give or take depending on the scenario. if not for this site and people telling me how great trekking poles are, that weight would be reduced significantly....trekking poles for hauling are the chit

i would assume im not in the minority on this site and most people can handle around 100lbs.....because i was completely unexperienced last year, all my gear packing in came in at 84lbs, im hoping to have that down to 55 or 60 this season for the way in...now that camp would have required an extra trip for sure lol.
 

dotman

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I would say solo is a min of 3 trips for me but I do know a few that can and do take mature bulls out in 2 trips.
 

Matt Cashell

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Man,

You guys are tough. I usually run four quarters separately with the trimmings thrown in with the fronts, and the head comes out with one hiney.

You have to watch those super heavy loads in extreme terrain, you can really get hurt. More weight equals a greater chance of injury, and more serious injuries when you get one.

I was thinking though, I have never actually packed a bull totally solo. Probably a pretty good feeling of accomplishment.
 

Justin Crossley

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Dirtytough has packed out an entire boned out bull elk from Colorado before in one trip minus the head and horns. That pack out was around three miles I believe.
I could not even come close to that. 130 lbs is about the max I would try to pack out.
 

littlebuf

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ive done a bull solo 5 miles in.yup it sucks,but it can be done. you just need to have a plan and be ready to stick to it. took me 14 hours from bull down to all the meat,cape,horns and camp back at the truck. i thought that was pretty good
 

bobhunts

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Not sure what everyone elses bull weighs but the last one I shot in 2012 ..I got 180 lbs of processed meat All quarters were packed out bone in and I will never continue doing that anymore. I hunt with one other and sometimes two others. Seems when I punch the tag it is with three of us and we can do it in one trip with all of us including our regular gear. When I say that if I were doing a solo hunt be prepared to do at least three trips and maybe more if you are packing a cape.Bob.
 

Broken Arrow

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+1 on the back country cooler. The area I'm planning to hunt has at least 4 creeks along the main trail my plan is to pack meat from creek to creek mathematically the mileage would be the same but the trips with a load shorter in duration.
 

Jon Boy

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If you are talking just meat, I would guess that is pretty firmly on the heavy side. Avg. is under 200, I would venture.

I would agree with that, especially if your boning it out in the field. I believe the wyoming game department came out with a study on live weight vs de boned weight, ill try and dig it up.
 

sk1

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i dont really consider myself tough, just stupid....id rather do much more in a couple trips than less in more trips. i completely agree, the more weight the more dangerous it gets, i had a few mis-steps on some steep snow covered slopes this year that could have ended bad, where as if i had less weight i would have had more control. with that much weight it hardly matters, once you start slipping you're mostly at the mercy of your load if you lose control

i learned my lesson this year, ill never carry anything with a bone in it, unless im helping someone and we are only doing one trip and all im needed for is to carry one quarter or something like that. maybe my numbers arent realistic, all i know is what ive done and what i plan on trying to do
 

sk1

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I would agree with that, especially if your boning it out in the field. I believe the wyoming game department came out with a study on live weight vs de boned weight, ill try and dig it up.

ive seen that study, its very detailed but i still felt like it was on the heavy side
 
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