how far is too far?

sk1

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i am just curious what you think is too far to pack an elk out without a packer....obviously this varies by age, physical ability, etc....however, keep in mind not letting any meat spoil. i keep staring at one of the areas i want to hunt really bad next year, but keep asking myself if im pushing my luck on getting the meat out in good shape. last year i hunted 5 to 7 miles or so in, this is 7 to 8. im not lacking in the physical ability department, while there is still some snow avaiable in late august, it's way out of the way and not helping the cause to cool your meat, but there is tons of water (thinking contractor bags and submerse meat to cool?)

ive tried to find a packer that i could call via satellite phone or something to come get meat, and there just isn't any.....all i find is other threads of guys looking for packers in the same area. i know people with horses, but you know how that goes to try and get them to make a 3 hour drive and a pack out for you at moments notice. also looked into llamas and pack goats, i dont want to go that route. i really dont even want a packer, but at a certain point the further you go into the wilderness it becomes necessary.

so at what point do you guys cut yourself off and say i cant go any further if im packing this out on foot? very subjective question, just trying to get some ball park ideas. also i didnt mention previously, terrain also plays a huge part.
 

vcb

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Sk1 just like you said weather is huge. Just depends if there is a cold stream with a pool that you can put the meat in, snow etc...last season there was no snow left where I was hunting and it affects keeping meat cool and a place to pump water for yourself. I think the important idea here is to have a plan. Not shoot the big boy and then try to figure it out.( you obviously do by thinking about this!) Last year my plan was to shoot the bull, quarter and hang on north side. Then pack up camp and head home. Next day tell the guys that work for me that today is a field trip! And hike back in to get it all out in one trip. If you had a steam and they are usually freezing cold.....I think contractor bags would work great to give u time to get it out solo.
 

Trout bum

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I agree that weather and terrain are important factors in making that determination. I primarily hunt solo. 6 or 7 miles for me based on where I hunt. Meat spoilage is a travesty in my opinion. The way I see it, if I can get the meat out without any spoilage I am respecting the animal. I will not take the shot if spoilage is imminent. I am glad you started this thread. I think this is an important topic. Thanks.
 

Backpack Hunter

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Obviously there a myriad of factors to consider, but in my opinion if you boil it down to the basics it really boils down to how much you want it, what kind of work you are willing to put in, what kind of sacrifices you are willing to make, and how much time you have available.

Most areas you are able to walk into 7+ miles you will either cross a stream or have one within a mile or two or three. If that is the case you can always pack the meat to the water, then pack from there back to civilization. It is very possible that it will add a couple of miles to your hike out, or it might be close but make the packout off trail, or it might mean you have to add some serious elevation to your packout. Either way in my mind it's a matter of what you are willing to do, and that is about as individual as you can get.

Of course if you only have 1 day to packout a 15 mile solo trip is out of the question.......well it is for me anyways.
 

Ross

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If Sept and by myself, I figure I can get an elk out myself 3-4 miles in without spoilage....come October and November when there is not as much urgency that would be bumped up to 5 miles......anything further in both scenarios would require assistance.....any elk by myself now adays and I pay for it physically for many days to follow, but with a smile:)........I always have my call list ready for this end to the hunt.

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Jared Lampton

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I agree with Trout Bum that this is a really important and often under-emphasized topic. Perhaps the question should be how long is too long to have meat out in the woods. Obviously it depends on the conditions as has already been mentioned. I have learned that it seems like you have about 24 hours. If the meat is not cooling (at least beginning to cool) in 24 hours you're going to have some amount of spoilage. In the right weather you can leave an elk just gutted out on the side of a mountain for 2 days and it wont spoil. Other times if you don't bone the entire thing out and get it in a cooler by the next day you could have issues. Putting meat in a stream is a great idea as long as the meat stays dry as water will only speed up the decay process. I always make sure I have enough room in my pack (even when I'm backpack hunting) to pack out 1 elk quarter on my first trip back to the car. That way, with only 3 quarters hanging on the mountain, the odds of finding enough help to get the rest out the next day are increased. Some of this is just common sense but also self control and knowing one's limitations.
Great discussion!
 

fencesitter

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Solid topic..... I tend to think that we believe at times, that we are bigger/fitter/stronger men, than we really are. I bone out all of my meat, regardless of how far from the LandCruiser, I actually am. So, if you are 5 miles into the backcountry, and you let the wind out of an elk, you'd likely be up against a literal marathon, in the form of a hike, at altitude, with a large load. You will quickly find out what you're made of, in a position like this, but I believe that most men would be guilty of "wanton destruction" (intentional abandonment of wildlife / carcass) at the end of the day, without a good crew (buddies, llamas, horses) to support the cause. Just my $.02.
 

Jared Lampton

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Solid topic..... I tend to think that we believe at times, that we are bigger/fitter/stronger men, than we really are. I bone out all of my meat, regardless of how far from the LandCruiser, I actually am. So, if you are 5 miles into the backcountry, and you let the wind out of an elk, you'd likely be up against a literal marathon, in the form of a hike, at altitude, with a large load. You will quickly find out what you're made of, in a position like this, but I believe that most men would be guilty of "wanton destruction" (intentional abandonment of wildlife / carcass) at the end of the day, without a good crew (buddies, llamas, horses) to support the cause. Just my $.02.

Good point.
 

dotman

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Obviously there a myriad of factors to consider, but in my opinion if you boil it down to the basics it really boils down to how much you want it, what kind of work you are willing to put in, what kind of sacrifices you are willing to make, and how much time you have available.

Most areas you are able to walk into 7+ miles you will either cross a stream or have one within a mile or two or three. If that is the case you can always pack the meat to the water, then pack from there back to civilization. It is very possible that it will add a couple of miles to your hike out, or it might be close but make the packout off trail, or it might mean you have to add some serious elevation to your packout. Either way in my mind it's a matter of what you are willing to do, and that is about as individual as you can get.

Of course if you only have 1 day to packout a 15 mile solo trip is out of the question.......well it is for me anyways.

X2...
 

CrzyTrekker

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Of course this will vary a great deal from hunter to hunter and is also dependent upon weather, availability of water, and fitness.

For me the limit is about 4 miles straight-line distance from my Jeep. I hunt in a couple areas where there is no trailhead, and no formal trails. I park off the side of the road and bushwhack into my area. There is a lot of water in the area, but I've had cool weather and have not had a chance to test the "backcountry cooler" (contractor bags in the stream) just yet - I am sure it would work really well.

I personally think the biggest factor is your physical fitness. I run and lift weights year round but tend to shelve those workouts in favor of real-world training just a couple months before I go hunting, including a lot of high country hiking, walking 4-6 miles around the neighborhood at a 15-minute-mile pace, and eating like a horse. If you train for backpacking by backpacking then you know your feet and joints will not fall apart during the second or third pack-out with meat on your
back, and your prior training record will give you a very good picture what your limits are.
 

KMT

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3 to 4 miles would be my max. I archery hunt, and early in the season, I would be afraid to shoot an elk that I couldn't get boned out and sitting on ice in under 24 hours. I can get a boned out elk back to my truck in two loads, and think I'm in descent shape. But the second load is usually pretty rough.
 

Matt Cashell

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I have done the long-brutal-on-the-back pack outs, but I much prefer to walk the horses right to them.

In the early season I highly recommend packing a spray bottle and powdered citric acid. I was stunned at just how long our AK meat kept this year.
 
OP
S

sk1

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yeah i read some great things about citric acid -- i actually just made note of it today to look into soon, i cant remember what article i was reading, heard its great for keeping flies off and stuff as well

id love to walk horses up to a downed elk, hasn't been in the cards however
 

Jared Lampton

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Yep the citric acid works really well. I had the same experience of being surprised how long caribou meat lasted in warm weather on a drop camp hunt in AK. The meat had cooled out well the first night which was key.
 

a3dhunter

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I would say that is too far being solo.
If you had some help, or had a packer lined up then great. Otherwise, rent a horse or mule, something that could haul out the full load in one trip.
Having a stream would help, but you are still looking at a hell of a pack out without some help. Too many variables that could go wrong.

i am just curious what you think is too far to pack an elk out without a packer....obviously this varies by age, physical ability, etc....however, keep in mind not letting any meat spoil. i keep staring at one of the areas i want to hunt really bad next year, but keep asking myself if im pushing my luck on getting the meat out in good shape. last year i hunted 5 to 7 miles or so in, this is 7 to 8. im not lacking in the physical ability department, while there is still some snow avaiable in late august, it's way out of the way and not helping the cause to cool your meat, but there is tons of water (thinking contractor bags and submerse meat to cool?)

ive tried to find a packer that i could call via satellite phone or something to come get meat, and there just isn't any.....all i find is other threads of guys looking for packers in the same area. i know people with horses, but you know how that goes to try and get them to make a 3 hour drive and a pack out for you at moments notice. also looked into llamas and pack goats, i dont want to go that route. i really dont even want a packer, but at a certain point the further you go into the wilderness it becomes necessary.

so at what point do you guys cut yourself off and say i cant go any further if im packing this out on foot? very subjective question, just trying to get some ball park ideas. also i didnt mention previously, terrain also plays a huge part.
 

Beastmode

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I can do 10 miles if all variables are perfect for deer. Thats pushing it though. Elk I would say no more than 3-4 solo. Too many factors to go wrong, doing multiple trips on your own. As stated before many variables need to be considered before the animal is killed.
 

luke moffat

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Annually I pack out caribou 12 miles one way...a big bull is around 400-450 on the hoof and around 90-120 boned out. My wife and I split that load plus a wolf hide last year...yeah it sucked but it only takes time and energy. :D
 

Sameir

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I was tracking and it impacts maintaining beef awesome and a place to push water for yourself. I think the essential concept here is to have a strategy. Not capture the big boy and then try to determine it out.( you obviously do by considering this!) Last season my strategy was to capture the fluff, one fourth and also on northern part.
 
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