First timer question on boned out quarter vs. bone in

Indian Summer

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Man, I don’t know where all you guys are hunting that worry about getting elk meat cooled down immediately - maybe the Sahara Desert or something?

Where I hunt - 9k - 10,000’ even on a hot day it MIGHT get to 65 for a couple hours in the afternoon. And that’s in the sun.

Some nice shade, with a breeze, will cool down any meat during the day.

I’ve said it before - elk meat ain’t ice cream. ;)
Ditto! Will it cool faster off the bone? Yes. Does it cool fast enough on the bone? Yes definitely. You’re not laying it flat on the ground in the sun like a woman at the beach right! Get it in the shade and hang it or at least lean quarters heavy side up against the trunk of a tree and you’ll be fine. Hell we do that with the hide still on! Never had a problem. Get it cut free from the elk and get it off the ground…. Bottom line.
 

K1United

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Man, I don’t know where all you guys are hunting that worry about getting elk meat cooled down immediately - maybe the Sahara Desert or something?

Where I hunt - 9k - 10,000’ even on a hot day it MIGHT get to 65 for a couple hours in the afternoon. And that’s in the sun.

Some nice shade, with a breeze, will cool down any meat during the day.

I’ve said it before - elk meat ain’t ice cream. ;)
I’m 45 minutes up the road from you. And hunt the exact same elevations and temps.

I just don’t see the efficiency of a brand new hunter trying to bone out an elk (solo?) in warm weather. Not all of us can buzz through an elk in 45 min like you;) Not a new hunter anyway, no offense to the OP.

It would make sense if one could justify it with less loads but I don’t see that being the case for most. But Ive been wrong before and welcome any good examples of weight/trip savings. There’s always new tips and tricks to learn. How many loads/trips are you averaging between bone in vs bone out?
 

Indian Summer

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And something else to think about… once the meat is cooled down which is better? What melts faster a bag of ice cubes (bones out meat) or a block of ice (unboned quarter)?

AND… regardless of that everything stays cooler in a cooler… hide on! An unboned quarter with the hide on will stay cold through the heat of the day better than any boned or skinned meat. And you know that your meat isn’t getting one bit of dirt hair or bacteria on it. Nature’s game bag! My quarters stay like that until they hit base camp. Then I hang them, skin them, remove EVERY single piece of dirt/hair and slip a game bag over them for transport to home or the processor. Bomb proof!
 

BRTreedogs

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Man, I don’t know where all you guys are hunting that worry about getting elk meat cooled down immediately - maybe the Sahara Desert or something?

Where I hunt - 9k - 10,000’ even on a hot day it MIGHT get to 65 for a couple hours in the afternoon. And that’s in the sun.

Some nice shade, with a breeze, will cool down any meat during the day.

I’ve said it before - elk meat ain’t ice cream. ;)
Its usually over 100 opening week of archery in Oregon, yes at mountain elevation.

I've gotten carried away on a few mornings and barely gotten myself back to the truck.
 

Holocene

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I leave meat on the bones for a few reasons:
  1. Cleaner end product
  2. Faster in the field
  3. Muscle meats have a chance to enter rigor mortis then phase out -- this topic was covered by a meat scientist on Meateater a while back. He talked about how if you cut meat off the bone immediately it can enter rigor mortis and seize up like a hardened ball. Keeping the muscle attached to bone and letting it relax yields more tender cuts. Think about it -- we hang domestic meat for a few days for precisely this reason.
  4. My family likes to eat the bones for marrow, stock, dog treats, etc. This year, right as COVID lockdowns were ending here in Oregon we had some friends over and 3-4 people brought their dogs. Cut up bones were a huge hit!
Of course, some boning out happens. I bone out rib meat, neck meat, tongue, and smaller bits.
 

brushape

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Depends how much weight you feel like carrying. I generally bone out the front because I just grind them anyway.


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OP
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duckclay

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Still really appreciate the comments everyone. I don't know that I'll make a decision beforehand with so many variables but now I have more information to make that when the time comes. Also, no offense taken K1United. I've cleaned everything from deer to gators but nothing as large as an elk.
 

slim9300

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I used to say under a mile to the truck and I’m taking it out bone in, but with how quickly I can bone them out now and the CWD stuff in Montana, I pretty much bone everything out. Not to mention if you can keep the meat clean, it’s the best and fastest way to cool the meat quickly (leading to better tasting meat).

In Montana we kill 4+ does and 2 bucks every year between me and my partner. It takes no more than 20 more minutes on a deer to bone it out versus quartering. On an elk it probably adds us another 45 minutes of additional work at the most. Last year between my wife, partner and myself we broke down and fully butchered/packaged 7 elk and 12 deer.

I’m a big fan of the Carnivore game bag set from Caribou Gear. They are perfect for what you are doing. I have set of full sized game bags also but they get much less use these days.


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slim9300

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I leave meat on the bones for a few reasons:
  1. Cleaner end product
  2. Faster in the field
  3. Muscle meats have a chance to enter rigor mortis then phase out -- this topic was covered by a meat scientist on Meateater a while back. He talked about how if you cut meat off the bone immediately it can enter rigor mortis and seize up like a hardened ball. Keeping the muscle attached to bone and letting it relax yields more tender cuts. Think about it -- we hang domestic meat for a few days for precisely this reason.
  4. My family likes to eat the bones for marrow, stock, dog treats, etc. This year, right as COVID lockdowns were ending here in Oregon we had some friends over and 3-4 people brought their dogs. Cut up bones were a huge hit!
Of course, some boning out happens. I bone out rib meat, neck meat, tongue, and smaller bits.

I have broken down over 200 elk and deer in every way possible over the last 20 years and I have never experienced what you are referring to in your third point. Elk are always a coin flip when it comes to tenderness, but deer are almost always ‘tender’ in my experience. There are easy ways to deal with tough meat if the OP is curious.

On the flip side, I have witnessed bone in hind quarters from elk that have been off the animal (and skinned of course) for 12-24 hours where the center of the quarter meat is still warm/hot when I go to bone it out. Elk hind quarters hold heat incredibly well. It my opinion that is detrimental to good tasting game meat. I don’t like to ever keep meat on the bone when it’s warmer than 50 degrees. My preference is always to bone it out however.


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Holocene

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On the flip side, I have witnessed bone in hind quarters from elk that have been off the animal (and skinned of course) for 12-24 hours where the center of the quarter meat is still warm/hot when I go to bone it out. Elk hind quarters hold heat incredibly well. It my opinion that is detrimental to good tasting game meat. I don’t like to ever keep meat on the bone when it’s warmer than 50 degrees. My preference is always to bone it out however.


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Very good point here. I'll agree that I don't like to keep meat on the bone when it's warmer than 50 degrees -- even 40 degrees preferably. Luckily, on the Oregon coast it gets down to that temperature about half the nights during archery season and certainly during rifle season. Lots of cool creeks and high mountain wind that are a natural refrigerator.

If in a balmy situation, I'd definitely bone out and get to a cooler in camp or town ASAP. That "bone sour" meat is no good.
 

royowens

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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.
I agree that packing out bone is of little use unless you are only a hundred yards from the truck. I don't know of states that require meat to be on the bone, except for some hunts in Alaska. At any rate the type of bag needs to be breathable and able to repel flies from getting through to your hard earned meat.
 

Indian Summer

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I agree that packing out bone is of little use unless you are only a hundred yards from the truck. I don't know of states that require meat to be on the bone, except for some hunts in Alaska. At any rate the type of bag needs to be breathable and able to repel flies from getting through to your hard earned meat.
Funny how we all see things differently. I think removing the bone is of little use. If you’re an elk hunter you’re not looking for a vacation that’s a cushy walk on the beach. Cowboy the fk up and leave your meat unexposed to dirt and pack a little bone. Hey there’s your answer…. Unexposed to crap! That’s the use. Lol
 

Indian Summer

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Here’s a suggestion. A damn good one… call a meat processor and ask him if he would prefer that you bring him whole quarters or bags of boned out meat and see what his answer is and why. Seriously.

Here, I’ll make it easy…… call Hamilton Packing in Hamilton Montana at 406-961-3861 or Matts Custom Meats in Jackson Wyoming at 307-733-2046 and come back here and let us know what they tell you.
 

Seamaster

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That is not really a fair suggestion. Most processors will charge an extra fee if the meat is taken off the bone due to having to trim where some guys got their meat dirty, and the difficulty of identifying different cuts. It slows them down. Most normally charge this extra fee whether the meat is dirty or clean. For a DIY butchering job on meat that has not been drug through the dirt and pine needles it does not have much, if any, relevance.
 

slim9300

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Here’s a suggestion. A damn good one… call a meat processor and ask him if he would prefer that you bring him whole quarters or bags of boned out meat and see what his answer is and why. Seriously.

Here, I’ll make it easy…… call Hamilton Packing in Hamilton Montana at 406-961-3861 or Matts Custom Meats in Jackson Wyoming at 307-733-2046 and come back here and let us know what they tell you.

I’m my own meat processor. I trimmed, cut up, ground and vacuum sealed 4 elk and 8 deer last season alone on my own and average about 10 animals per season for just my wife and me. In speaking to myself I far prefer not having bones once I get home. Lol. I did bring home 2 deer last year with bones attached (since the landowner doesn’t want the waste on their land) but the rest of the animals came home boned out and cleaner than you might believe. I am OCD as heck so I’m sure most meat processors prefer bone in because the average hunter is a heathen with hair and dirt on their meat.


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Indian Summer

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You’re not the average guy and your last sentence says it all. That’s a lot of work and time but no doubt it’s the way to know exactly what you’re getting. I once brought 2 caribou home all the way from Quebec to do them myself.
 

cnelk

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My processor charges by weight brought in - regardless if bones are in quarters or not.

I’m a cheapass - I debone the quarters at home - then decide if I want process myself or take them to the processor.
 

slim9300

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You’re not the average guy and your last sentence says it all. That’s a lot of work and time but no doubt it’s the way to know exactly what you’re getting. I once brought 2 caribou home all the way from Quebec to do them myself.

Fair enough. I can’t even recall the days when I brought my meat to a butcher for steaks and burger. For pepperoni, jerky and landjagar I bring about 150# of boned out, FULLY trimmed and vacuum sealed meat to this German deli about 60 miles away. I simply don’t have time to do my smoked meats and I like to try new stuff every few years. These places have always ask me why my meat has no fat and silver skin and looks ready to eat. I always tell them it’s because I eat it. The rest of my trim gets turned into dog food with about 20% potato and I go through about 100# of that per year.
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roosiebull

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Ditto! Will it cool faster off the bone? Yes. Does it cool fast enough on the bone? Yes definitely. You’re not laying it flat on the ground in the sun like a woman at the beach right! Get it in the shade and hang it or at least lean quarters heavy side up against the trunk of a tree and you’ll be fine. Hell we do that with the hide still on! Never had a problem. Get it cut free from the elk and get it off the ground…. Bottom line.
I agree, and I don’t think an 80# glob of meat in a game bag cools much faster than a bone in hind in reality
 

slim9300

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I agree, and I don’t think an 80# glob of meat in a game bag cools much faster than a bone in hind in reality

I try to put no more than 50-60# per 16” by 30” game bag. This makes them about 1/2 full and allows you to lay out the meat on some elevated surfaces and cool it very quickly due to being spread out inside. In many cases a good portion of the boned out meat gets a decent cool from laying on the ground while I’m filling the bags prior to packing. Sometimes I’ll take a nap and give the meat an hour before packing up. It could easily be mostly cool in that period.


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