Meat care in the back country.

cmeier117

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Okay I was sitting awake last night thinking about my Elk trip this year. (6 nights 6 miles from the truck with me, my dad, and dad in-law) We are hunting in a unit that is any elk and any deer and all of us are shooting to fill freezer. So If we don't get anything we are doing something wrong. But I started thinking about meat care that far back and what would/should we do in certain situations? If we get one down do we hang it in the shade and how long can we leave it there if the temperature is X number of degrees? Do we put it in contractor bags and set in creek? Do we pack it out right away and drive the meat somewhere and come back later and finish our hunt? So I ask you guys what have you done in the past and what would you recommend for other guys to do? I know there are a million different scenarios that could happen just curious. BTW if it matters at all we are hunting 2.5 hours from our house and are processing our own meat. My father in-law got a meat grinder!! My Grandpa lives near us and would happily drive to the trail head with coolers full of ice and take meat where ever if we needed him too. I was thinking if we shot something on day one for instance. Anyway let me know your thoughts.
 

BuckSnort

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Every answer evolves around the weather.. If its warm weather and you got an elk down I'd try and get it out in a couple days max.. For most of the western states there was a lack of snow this year so I doubt you will have a snowbank or much if any snowmelt to keep it cool in...
 

fire arrow

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Elk, quarter it out when you get to it. Even 12 o'clock at night, and hang it in the shade. Then pack it out to TH, and have grandpa take it in for you. Deer same thing, but once quartered, and game bagged up, could leave in trees in the shade for a day or two. People will say you can wait longer, but you shot it, and it is your responsibility to take care of the meat. That means freezer ASAP. I have lost elk meat in the past because of, it can wait until the morning. Never again.
 
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cmeier117

cmeier117

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Elk, quarter it out when you get to it. Even 12 o'clock at night, and hang it in the shade. Then pack it out to TH, and have grandpa take it in for you. Deer same thing, but once quartered, and game bagged up, could leave in trees in the shade for a day or two. People will say you can wait longer, but you shot it, and it is your responsibility to take care of the meat. That means freezer ASAP. I have lost elk meat in the past because of, it can wait until the morning. Never again.


This is kind of what I was thinking. I have an empty chest freezer and my parents have a large freezer that is empty. We kind of talked about that everyone helps take one load out and the guy who shot it takes the final load out while the others hunt. If that many are needed. We will be deboning the meat too so it will weight less. If we shot something later in the hunt and weather permits we may wait a day so we can hunt more but I agree with what you are saying.
 

Brandon Pattison

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Good thread. Be carefull throwing a bunch of warm meat in a freezer. Try to keep the pieces seperated because the meat in the center will take longer to cool and possibly spoil. This is especially true for trappers because some of them throw the whole body with the fur on in the freezer at once and the fur insulates the little bodies.
 
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cmeier117

cmeier117

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Good thread. Be carefull throwing a bunch of warm meat in a freezer. Try to keep the pieces seperated because the meat in the center will take longer to cool and possibly spoil. This is especially true for trappers because some of them throw the whole body with the fur on in the freezer at once and the fur insulates the little bodies.

So take meat out of game bags and into wrap smaller portions in butcher paper? Or a freezer bags? Or just put in freezer on trays or something until you are ready to process? I knew not to put a huge piece of meat in freezer but this is another good thing to talk about.
 

2rocky

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Game down means a trip to town. End of story.

Homemade cooler with frozen jugs of water at the trailhead can buy you a day.

The saying is "Life begins at 40 degrees." That means if the meat is 40 degrees or warmer, there is bacterial growth occurring. Refrigeration slows this down. Freezing even more.

Here on the Nor Cal Coast it can be 90 degrees at noon and we'll have a blacktail carcass to the locker that night at 5.

My Tule elk I killed at 7:00pm in August at 80 degrees, was in the locker that night at 11:30. It wouldn't have waited until morning.

My 2011 elk hung quartered for 3 days at 40 degrees in Wyoming. I wouldn't have pushed it any further than that though.

Usually an elk spends the night hung in camp then the next morning goes to the TH and to town.
 

HellsCanyon

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Just make sure the meat is cooled down before you toss it in the freezer or if you do toss it in the freezer, make sure each piece has contact with the freezer air on one side or that they are all stacked neatly. Wouldn't worry about it causing any problems if you did stack it in there, they will eventually cool!

I agree with pretty much everything posted. Biggest issue is get the hide off that animal ASAP! Only situation I would take exception for is a poor hit at last light and you don't want to risk bumping the animal. Head back to camp and be back tracking BEFORE first light next morning! You want to get that hide off and meat cut up and in the shade ASAP. If its 60* or less out (sun temps) I never worry too much about meat as long as you have each quarter to its own game back and hung in shade cooling. If you have a creek don't be afraid to put the meat in black garbage backs and sink 'em for a few hours. I would think 2 days hanging in shade would be about your max timing unless its nice n cool out. You'll probably have more time if it gets freezing at nice because meat can take a long time in the shade to thaw out during the day. Just use some common sense and you'll be fine!

One thing we've notice as well, is that meat tends to hang and keep better if left on the bone. Not sure HOW much effect or if this is entirely true, but its the way we've seen it. If you are going to bone it out, wait until you're ready to hike it to the trailhead.

Good luck!

Mike
 

broncoformudv

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Most guys I know of that hunt sheep early when the temps are warm stick the meat in contractor bags and submerge it in creeks to keep it cool. It is hard to beat that for proper meat care in any temp much less warm ones.
 

sk1

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is that the general consensus that an elk down just before dark should still be at least quartered and hung that night? again assuming warmish daytime temps 70-80 degrees with im guessing nights anywhere from 45ish to 60
 
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cmeier117

cmeier117

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is that the general consensus that an elk down just before dark should still be at least quartered and hung that night? again assuming warmish daytime temps 70-80 degrees with im guessing nights anywhere from 45ish to 60

That is what I would do...
 
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cmeier117

cmeier117

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One thing we've notice as well, is that meat tends to hang and keep better if left on the bone. Not sure HOW much effect or if this is entirely true, but its the way we've seen it. If you are going to bone it out, wait until you're ready to hike it to the trailhead.

Mike

Good point and one I haven't really considered. With my situation of having my grandpa willing to drive to trail head I would most likely have him come the next day. I would probably just bone it out right away if it was going out the next day.
 

Backpack Hunter

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I skin and debone most everything, sometimes quarter. Everything is hung and then packed out as soon as I can get it out.
Personally, if I was in your situation I would have whomever tagged out haul the meat to the trailhead and put everything on ice that way everyone else can continue their hunt. Having said that there is no way my dad would let me haul all the meat out on my own and vice versa, but it always sounds good in principle.
 

HellsCanyon

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is that the general consensus that an elk down just before dark should still be at least quartered and hung that night? again assuming warmish daytime temps 70-80 degrees with im guessing nights anywhere from 45ish to 60

No matter the time of day its always a good idea to get the animal process quickly. I hate to leave an animal over night as they taste like crap imho. We don't even gut our animals anymore, always use the gutless method right then and there. Its quicker and the meat not only cools better, but also tastes way better. We've noticed a huge taste and tenderness difference in our meat if we get it skinned and cooled right away. Best muley I ever ate was my partners deer last year that we shot Nov 20th, and he was RUTTED UP hard. We had him quartered and hung within 2 hours of the shot and he tasted amazing and was really tender! I ate 70% of that deer as steaks over the rest of the winter/spring and it was great. Lot better than the 3 year old bull elk we killed in sept and had to leave overnight and process the next day at daylight...

Mike
 
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cmeier117

cmeier117

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I skin and debone most everything, sometimes quarter. Everything is hung and then packed out as soon as I can get it out.
Personally, if I was in your situation I would have whomever tagged out haul the meat to the trailhead and put everything on ice that way everyone else can continue their hunt. Having said that there is no way my dad would let me haul all the meat out on my own and vice versa, but it always sounds good in principle.

That is kind of what we were thinking. I wouldn't load them up with too much meat anyways. They are older than me and I don't want to have to haul out a dead elk and my dad! ;) But seriously the shooter takes two trips out and if only 3 are needed, one guy goes with you on the first trip and the shooter takes the 3rd out himself. Heck if I was the shooter I may go into town with my grandpa and shower and eat a home cooked meal by my grandma then go back... ;) Haha
 

ohhiitznik

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I'll be going solo so this is a very big part of my hunt planning. I plan on taking an extra garbage bag or two so that if I kill an elk I can submerge deboned meat in the creek while I pack things out. I plan on fully deboning the elk and taking it out in 3 trips.
 
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cmeier117

cmeier117

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I'll be going solo so this is a very big part of my hunt planning. I plan on taking an extra garbage bag or two so that if I kill an elk I can submerge deboned meat in the creek while I pack things out. I plan on fully deboning the elk and taking it out in 3 trips.


What is everyone's take on how many lb's of meat for a bull? Deboned of course and a cow?

I know this could vary but it is a good thing to know I think or have an idea.

200lb's cow and 300lbs bull?
 
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