First timer question on boned out quarter vs. bone in

duckclay

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Feb 24, 2012
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Hi all, I'll be heading out to CO in September for my first attempt at elk. Hell it will be my first mountain/western hunt of any kind. That said I've been lurking here since the site first started trying to glean some knowledge without becoming a pain by asking too many questions. Now something I'm thinking since I'm buying the stuff I don't have yet, is about game bags.
I realize that there are some great ones and I'll likely go with one of the ones suggested here so often (TAGS, Argali, Black Ovis, yadda, yadda...) Which size though? Up until very recently I just assumed that I would leave the quarters, bone in, and get them back to the truck. Now though there are too many states I'll be driving through that don't allow that. All meat hast to be boned out.
So, do I ..
A) Pack it out on the bone and de-bone at the truck
or
B) Bone out in the field.

I realize that there are other factors (distance to pack, etc.) but was just looking to get an opinion or twelve.

Thank you in advance!
 

rambo2345

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Feb 12, 2020
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I bone out the hind quarters and leave the front quarters bone in til I get to camp. The fronts are lighter and take a little more time to get all the meat off.
 

roosiebull

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i almost always leave bone in unless it will save me a whole trip, which rarely is the case... i like ice aging bone in, the results are always ideal, and the less meat exposed to dirt and air, the better.

in your case, if i had to travel through states that wouldn't allow me to travel with bone in quarters, i would not pack them off the mountain, it would defeat the purpose and i wouldn't pack the extra weight in that scenario... i want as much meat recovery as possible, and bone in is the best for that... if i had to bone out, i would be setup to separate all of the meat and kind of sort it out so it's quicker to finish processing later, and would bag it all in gallon ziplocks when back to camp (probably label the bags with a sharpie), and pack in a cooler with ice and keep it that way for 4-8 days before finishing processing, that way the meat recovery would be as good as possible, and you know it's all COLD and clean
 

mtnwrunner

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You'll get answers for both ways. For me and our group, we mainly backpack hunt so I see absolutely no reason to pack any unnecessary weight, as in bones, fat, bloodshot meat, etc. If I was fairly close to a pick up point, quarters would be fine.
I also use Argalis high country game bags......awesome.

Randy
 

Hondo0925

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May 8, 2022
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Pretty much what everyone else has said, it really just depends on how far back in you are. Don’t spend the money on the super expensive ones for your first elk hunt. The more expensive brand that Walmart or pretty much any and every hunting store in colorado sales will treat you just fine.
And realize that if you bone out in the field there will be significantly more meat loss. It’s so tough to bone out in the field and get it to the final processing spot and save all the dirty dried out ends. Just my experience.
 

cnelk

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Some good reading here that’s already been discussed


 

Shane S

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Jan 5, 2014
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Denver, Colorado, United States
No set plan for me. I’ve made this decision based on time of day and time of year, and whether or not I am alone. Harder to keep dirt off of meat when alone. Not sure what others do, but I feel like if there’s lots of flies and bees in midday September, I’ll keep them bone in till I can get meat to a cooler cleaner place to debone. In other words, get hide off and get it in the game bag and hanging as soon as possible. Sometimes will take one bone in quarter off the hill day of the kill, then debone early in the morning on second trip in. Get there while it’s still cool and bring a small drop cloth. Late season with snow you have lots of time to debone and be real clean about it. Unless you are in griz country, then it’s back to bone in and get it the hell away from the carcass asap! ;)


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Indian Summer

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Feb 17, 2013
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Forget about those different state requirements. Don’t strap your antlers in plain view for several obvious reasons and you won’t have a worry in the world. I leave bone in until it’s time to process. Less dirt/bacteria. Less dried out surface area. And you know what’s what instead of dumping balls of miscellaneous meat on a table and wondering.

Lots of good game bags on the market these days. Synthetic bags are great! I use TAG Bags and love them but take your pick. Larry Bartlett is a good dude and true blue hunter so I like supporting his business.
 

Jethro

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What states say "no bones"? I only ask because it would not the first time I've seen that posted about states that I knew the regs were "no spine and brain". Big difference between "no spine" and "no bones".
 

Tod osier

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Forget about those different state requirements. Don’t strap your antlers in plain view for several obvious reasons and you won’t have a worry in the world. I leave bone in until it’s time to process. Less dirt/bacteria. Less dried out surface area. And you know what’s what instead of dumping balls of miscellaneous meat on a table and wondering.

Lots of good game bags on the market these days. Synthetic bags are great! I use TAG Bags and love them but take your pick. Larry Bartlett is a good dude and true blue hunter so I like supporting his business.

I'm inclined to like this idea, BUT, there are states that throw up road blocks on the highway during season and hunters must declare if they have been hunting. I'd rather have it on the bone as you say.

Last elk I travelled through several states with (9 states), a quick check found that most considered it illegal to transport bones or brain tissue. We boned out of the field (easy pack out so no need) and put the meat in contractor bags with a couple bar rags in the bottom of each to absorb liquids and layered it in ice. Works well.
 

Tod osier

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What states say "no bones"? I only ask because it would not the first time I've seen that posted about states that I knew the regs were "no spine and brain". Big difference between "no spine" and "no bones".

Iowa is the first you would likely hit. I understand PA does not ban bones, but lymph nodes are banned, so you are going to have to do some dissecting to get those, which amounts to pretty much boning them out.
 

K1United

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To be honest, I would probably gamble on driving through with it on the bone too and just play dumb if pulled over. It’s likely going to be another hot year and I personally would not want to deal with the hot mess and meat loss in the field. The bones in a elk quarter do not add up to much, 8 lbs max, but they add structure to your loads and allow for better hanging/aging after. I use a giant igloo cooler that I won a $5 bet with that can fit entire rag bulls in; keep iced and antlers covered and you will be fine.

For game bags, I have used these cheep but well made bags for years and just buy a new set every so often to swap out the old ones:

Ajillis Elk Moose 6pc Game Bag Set https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0040DIF0A/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_T3DX5ETP1VA7KK3M4T49?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

Despite what guys are willing to pay for game bags, they all get old, nasty, and torn at some point—even the Gucci ones lol
 
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