I generally drive, put everything in coolers and head home. A normal drive is 30+ hours and I have never even had close to a problem with spoilage.
I have quite a few friends that fly in, they dry ice everything then ship it home.
1. Recover the kill as quickly as possible.
2. Get the meat off of the bone as quick as you can.
3. Get the meat in game bags, nylon bags, or cheap pillow cases quickly. Something you can tie shut but breathable.
4. Get it cooled down by putting the bags in a stream, or as I did last year dig a hole in a snow drift, and bury the meat. Kept my deer cool for the remaining 3 days of the hunt.
5. If you are packing it out make sure you have a cooler in the truck. Park your truck in the shade at the trail head if possible and make sure the cooler is cool.
6. Make the trip to the nearest convenience store and get ice on it. The only reason I didn't recommend ice in the cooler to begin with is at 5 days you will have more water than ice if you leave it at the truck.
I have never flown meat, so I don't know what to to tell you there. Hope this helps.
Depends on the airline but it is gonna cost alot to get an elk home. When my friends have hunted with me here in co and flown they flew the frozen processed meat at a cost of around 200.00 for 3 50 lb coolers and a big carry on stuffed with their optics etc. and I shipped all the rest of their stuff bows, clothes, antlers etc for around 75.00. The problem is once you get over 3 bags the cost goes thru the roof (like 200.00 for each bag). When I have flown on hunting trips my wife has been with me so combined we get 4 bags free since at the time I was gold or whatever they call it on united. I have no experience shipping meat so I can't tell you anything about it but it is probably cheaper however shipping is pretty high right now also.
ck there will be 4 of us and i dont expect more then one of us to kill so im hoping we can bring the meet home on the plane and ship our gear home like you recomended but if we kill multiple bulls and we do have a "if u shoot it u mount it rule" then we may have a problem getting all the meat home. we'll be hunting in western wy do they have any kind of meat donation programs out there?
Flatlander....I'd start by calling some local meat processors where you will be hunting. Here are some ideas I have used in the past.
1. Some meat processors will cut meat and donate it to charity. Often you have to pay the price of the processing.
2. If you want to bring some or all of the meat back, have it cut, wrapped and frozen in Wyoming. A lot of processors are geared to get the meat done VERY quickly during hunting season, but you should locate a meat processor ahead of time and call ahead and see if you can expect a 1 or 2 day turn around. Once the meat is cut and wrapped you can carry it as luggage in ice chests. An elk can fit in 5 or 6 ice chest that would be 50 pounds each or less. If you have more then say 8 hours to get the meat on the plane, I would put dry ice in the ice chest to keep the meat frozen solid. You cannot have dry ice in your luggage at check in, so you will have to get rid of it before you check in. I've always had a rule of thumb that solidly frozen meat will travel for 24 hours in an ice chest without a problem. A cape can be frozen and carried the same way. Some meat processors will ship frozen meat, but you are talking overnight shipping costs, or refrigerated truck. As far as the antlers and cape, years ago, antlers were split at the skull so they could be placed together to reduce the bulk, then wrapped and taken as baggage (the taxidermist can repair that in the mount). Not sure if that is kosher any longer. What I did with a New Mexico bull a few years ago was to locate a taxidermist ahead of time and have him mount the bull and ship the mount by freight. Taxidermists do that all the time.
3. You could have the processor make dry type sausages (salami, meat sticks, etc), and jerky that would not need refrigeration, and then ship that by regular UPS. Since that type processing takes some time, it may take a few weeks until your meat is shipped to you.
Again I would call a meat processor where you plan to hunt and explore the options.
Umpqua pretty much nailed it. I've flown from AK with coolers full of frozen fish, never had a problem with that. Do pay strict attention to the 50-lb. limit or you'll be hit with over-weight bag fees (no huge coolers). Have something like bubble wrap to take up the extra space in the cooler if there is any (it'll insulate too). If you have any time between picking up the meet and getting on the plane, check to see if you can find a hotel with a walk-in freezer to store your coolers, those are easy to find in AK but not sure about WY.