Desert elk meat care.

MTNMARAUDER1776

Junior Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2021
Messages
16
Location
Colorado
Okay folks I'm looking for some input from those that have harvested an elk in actual desert conditions. I'm a western Colorado local, and have hunted the desert areas for deer and elk in later seasons, when temps were manageable/cold.But never archery because I was scared of the heat... But with all the fires in the past couple years, I've got displaced elk rutting in the low country where I'd normally only find them during the winter months. Thinking of trying my hand at a desert hunt for archery and have a spot that could pay off.... have zero help as far as pack out goes but the spot I'm thinking of hunting is easily accessible and within 3 miles of the truck. I'm in good shape. and pride myself on being able to cover ground fast. Is a solo elk hunt/ packout feasible in 90°+ weather without your meat spoiling?
 

MNTC

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2019
Messages
517
Location
Colorado
Tough question for solo and 3 miles in.. I would make sure you had a super clean shot, get the hide off immediately, hang it quickly in the shade while managing flys and get to packing out. Bring more game bags then normal and bone it out.. Less meat in the bags when hanging to get it cool faster. I wouldn't leave a full rear intact for long if it's 90 out. Is there any stream nearby? I knew a guy who had a similar situation and waited til just about dark to shoot one and packed it out in the night. Still high 60s at night. Was 90s during the day. He boned it out and did 3 trips before sunlight. Thing was fine. 3 miles is a poke for having to make many round trips, solo, in that heat. If it's 3 miles on a trail it can go quick. 6 miles round trip starts to add up fast though. I think you can make it work if you take the proper care right out of the gate. I would bring a tarp for shade and get that sucker strung up quick. Having another guy with you would be very beneficial though.
 
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go_deep

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 7, 2021
Messages
440
Packed my son's out last year from about 2.3 miles in mid 90's. Deboned everything, no hide, the meat we couldn't get out on the first trip we hung in the shade, worked just fine. We did have a large cooler of ice with, just in case he killed one.
 

Gerbdog

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Joined
Jun 8, 2020
Messages
390
Location
CO Springs
So long as you make a clean shot and can find the dead animal fast your fine... if the bull gets away and lays on the ground for 6+ hours while your trying to find it.... yea your in trouble. Down in NM we hunted in warm weather pretty often and so long as we got on the elk fast and got it hung up the meat was fine.... but if the elk got away from us and it took us 6+ hours or over night to find.... we have lost the meat on the side of the elk lying on the ground. Nothing like the risk of losing meat to motivate you and push your limits on getting the meat out fast! You said yourself your in good shape and proud to cover ground, i'd say go for it and make that clean shot.
 

CougarBlue

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2020
Messages
122
Location
AZ
Warmer daytime temperatures are the name of the game hunting here in AZ. Even in the high country, you have to be aware of it. However, I've never lost meat to heat when handled correctly.

My approach, like it or hate it, is to go gutless and get the quarters, backstraps and tenderloins off and hanging up in the shade first. From there, you can process and debone at a more relaxed pace but getting it hanging in the shade and breeze will be fine. If I don't have a good place to hang it, l lean the bags I can't pack out against the trunk of a tree as deep in shade as a I can get them.

It was said earlier, the only thing that ever gives me concern is when someone doesn't make a clean shot and the animal running out of sight. Those are the times you run the risk of spoilage.
 

Hoodie

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 6, 2020
Messages
506
Location
Oregon Cascades
I killed a cow on August 1st last year in the desert on a 90 degree day.

I was shocked at how quickly the meat cooled down once it was bagged and hanging. And I wasn't even really able to hang them in the shade. My butthole was a little puckered coming back for the second load, but all the quarters were cool to the touch and had a nice crust.

Cutting a slit in the quarters to the bone and pinning it open with a sharpened stick will give a place for all the heat to escape and prevent bone souring.

There's a good Elk Talk podcast on hot weather meat care I listened to before that hunt. Highly recommend it.
 

b_comptonwild

Junior Member
Joined
Sep 7, 2020
Messages
15
Okay folks I'm looking for some input from those that have harvested an elk in actual desert conditions. I'm a western Colorado local, and have hunted the desert areas for deer and elk in later seasons, when temps were manageable/cold.But never archery because I was scared of the heat... But with all the fires in the past couple years, I've got displaced elk rutting in the low country where I'd normally only find them during the winter months. Thinking of trying my hand at a desert hunt for archery and have a spot that could pay off.... have zero help as far as pack out goes but the spot I'm thinking of hunting is easily accessible and within 3 miles of the truck. I'm in good shape. and pride myself on being able to cover ground fast. Is a solo elk hunt/ packout feasible in 90°+ weather without your meat spoiling?
People keep recommending hanging your elk in the shade. Depending on where you are hunting there may be no shade! Your best option might be to pay some buddies in beer to help pack out. Oh, and maybe gifting some meat.
 

otmeeks

Junior Member
Joined
Aug 2, 2020
Messages
12
A while back my brother shot an good bull in early September in Arizona, we had to leave the elk over night before we could recover it. When we found it the guts had started to rot but the meat seamed fine. We quarted it and had it hanging in a cooler within 5hours or so, but buy the next day the meat started smell and spoiled. The meat processor told us to always debone meat in heat like that, the bone holds heat and the meat will spoil from the inside out.
 

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