Leaving elk overnight.

NDHunter

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If a guy makes a marginal shot on an elk and leaves it overnight, what are the odds that it won't be spoiled in the morning? From all that I've read, guys have said that even if you shoot a bull, gut it and then leave it overnight to skin and debone, they have had meat spoil on them. So if you decide to leave a bull overnight and find him in the morning, to me it seems like the whole thing would be bad. Thoughts?
 

wapitibob

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I don't leave Elk overnight, unless it's already in bags hanging in a tree. Square on gut shot or liver shot would be the only exceptions and then because both will take 5 hours minimum for the critter to die. Hip joint ball socket and neck will probably sour on the ground side.
 

bigeasygator

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With a buddy that shot one late one evening on a second season Colorado rifle hunt. Due to the steep terrain he left it for the next morning. Late October and temps dropped below freezing at night. All the meat spoiled by the time we got to it the next day. In this case it had less to do with the outside temperatures and everything to do with the internal temps of the elk. Learned my lesson on that trip. I'd do everything in my power to safely recover that animal ASAP and get him opened up and the hide off it at a minimum.
 

dotman

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I would wait a few hours and then turn the headlight on and start tracking (this is where a really bright headlamp comes in) If you find a fresh bed with blood wait another hour or 2 before you resume because you bumped him. Late Aug and Sep are not times to let an elk just sit overnight in my opinion.
 

ckleeves

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With a buddy that shot one late one evening on a second season Colorado rifle hunt. Due to the steep terrain he left it for the next morning. Late October and temps dropped below freezing at night. All the meat spoiled by the time we got to it the next day. In this case it had less to do with the outside temperatures and everything to do with the internal temps of the elk. Learned my lesson on that trip. I'd do everything in my power to safely recover that animal ASAP and get him opened up and the hide off it at a minimum.
X2

From what I have seen even in late rifle seasons with elk left overnight at a minimum most everything on the ground side is ruined and some of the top side in certain areas.

Archery season I would get it quartered at least. I think even with gutting you could lose some of the hindquarters.
 

Titaniumman

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It makes me crazy to watch some of the hunting programs where I hear the same "after we reviewed the footage we decided to wait until morning to go after..." line. I just can't do it. I won't sleep until the animal is taken care of. I work too hard and have gone too many years without an elk to risk wasting one. Get the meat off the ground or better yet off the bones as quick as you can and get it cooled out.
 

broncoformudv

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Titaniuman I am with you, too many shows and videos talk about waiting till the next day and then looking for wounded animals. To me there are two things wrong with this; 1-that animal is out there in pain till it dies and 2-it is going to spoil a lot of meat depending on the temperature, where you hit it, and how long it is dead prior to you locating it.
 

cmeier117

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Why do people wait till the morning? Is it because they want to get some sleep? I would be so jacked I couldn't wait. I am with Dotman on this one and that is why I carry 2 headlamps, one is a 230 lumen one that will light up the side of a mountain. If you do find one and its late take a couple hours to get it hung and cooled and if you get tired take a quick hour nap or something. I wouldn't risk meat spoiling and I would really want to locate it before night is over. Why would someone want to not even find it or start tracking it?
 

dotman

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I think the reason in the mountains is two fold as to why people don't go after, afraid to bump a poorly hit animal and scared of what lurks in the dark. My guess is fear of things that go bump in the dark are the biggest reason when talking mountain terrian. As for tv well I think they just like to act like an expert and probably can't track in the dark.
 

JG358

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As for tv well I think they just like to act like an expert and probably can't track in the dark.
That and its an easy decision to wait until first light when the only part of the animal they're really after doesnt spoil.
 

Ross

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Watching shows and seeing them leave animals until the next morning makes me sick! As noted by others, the part of the animal left touching the ground will spoil overnight even when the temps get low. We owe it to the animal to do what we can to retrieve it that night and getrdun gutted/hung etc so the next day you are good to start packing. If prepared butching at night is no big deal, I just know it will take a little more time and am extra careful with the knife, etc.
 

HellsCanyon

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Last year my partner shot his bull right at dark in Sept. We thought it was a good hit but accidentally snuck up on the still alive bull in the dark. We didn't want to risk bumping the bull and losing him so we backed out and came back and found him at first light. Broke him down and packed him out without losing a lb of meat.

Mike
 

In God We Trust

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I guess I am against the norm on this. If you do make a terrible shot, tracking an animal in the dark and bumping him increases the chances of loosing him for good. As far as meat spoiling August and September are a little too hot. I have gutted and used the old stick in the cavity to prop it open and let the heat leave the elk on numerous occasions here in Colorado late October and November without loosing or spoiling any of the meat. I make sure I am back in there first light and usually the meat is nice and cold. I agree that at least quartering the elk and hanging it is the best policy.
 

broncoformudv

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Ok how many of you are afraid to go look due to things that go bump in the night? If that is the case I don't recommend you going bear hunting. :)

The only animal I have had to track in the dark so far was a black bear and I jumped it and shot it, sure was a lot easier than waiting till morning and finding it, if that was even going to be a possibility after the rain washed the blood away and the bear recovered enough strength to cover some serious ground.

Three times I have left animals after shooting them and each time we gutted them and propped the chest open with sticks, twice it was 30 degrees out so not much chance of anything spoiling, and the other time it was getting down in the low 40's at night. On several occasions I have taken care of the animal in the dark and packed it back to camp at O'dark 30.
 

sanchomaes

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Get out the headlight and plan on pulling an overnighter. I have witnessed elk spoiling in the end of October in colorado. Losing meat in September would be par for the course.
 

Titaniumman

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I guess I am against the norm on this. If you do make a terrible shot, tracking an animal in the dark and bumping him increases the chances of loosing him for good. As far as meat spoiling August and September are a little too hot. I have gutted and used the old stick in the cavity to prop it open and let the heat leave the elk on numerous occasions here in Colorado late October and November without loosing or spoiling any of the meat. I make sure I am back in there first light and usually the meat is nice and cold. I agree that at least quartering the elk and hanging it is the best policy.
Understood, I was refering to September bow season temps which typically change the game in this regard.
 
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