Sheep pack out methods

jakelogsdon

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2020
Messages
164
Just wanting to get some input from you guys on your methods of pack out. I've seen and heard about 20 different ways to skin the cat. But I'm just curious to see what you guys do. How much meat will you try to eat in the field? Do y'all saw the skull cap or leave intact? Where are the best ways to cut weight? I'm guessing I had close to 70 pounds on the last pack out.
 

AK Troutbum

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2012
Messages
5,280
Location
Chugiak, Alaska
No two ways about it, the absolute best way that I've found to pack out a sheep is have someone else do it. :)
I've only boned out one sheep and after that I decided that it was best to just take them out in quarters. I've never actually weighed just the leg bones, but I really don't think you shave very much wt. boning them out unless you end up leaving a lot of meat on the bones. I also feel that dealing with bone-in quarters are way easier to handle and much easier to keep clean. For the head, I've always just cut the lower jaw away and packed out the horns and skull intact, but I only do this because I never bring a saw to skull cap it with. As far as eating meat in the field, we typically cook the loins, and sometimes straps, over an open fire (just a ceremonial thing), although last year for the first time, we also did a rib cage over the open fire, but that was on a goat hunt.
 
Last edited:
OP
jakelogsdon

jakelogsdon

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2020
Messages
164
Probably going to fire cook some ribs if I'm lucky enough this year.
 

Yellowknife

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 9, 2012
Messages
1,638
Location
Fairbanks, Alaska
It varies. I've done it most ways.

In 2018 I kept the meat on the bone for several days while we went looking for another sheep. I prefer to do that if I going to cache it to keep the raw muscle exposure as limited as possible. Deboned it only for the the final long push, and probably could have skipped that. We had two hunters + two sheep in the end, so we ferried and did the pack out over two days.

2019 I was solo, but close enough to the trail head to keep in bone-in. Got most of it out the first day, and then back the next morning for the rest. That is the ideal system if it works.

2020 there was two of us, and one ram. We deboned at the kill site because we knew it was going to be a long walk back the next day.

We have kept the skulls on the last half dozen I've packed out. Removed the lower jaw, eyes, and as much muscle as possible I don't want a bunch of mounts in my house, so I euro anyway. If I was solo and planning a shoulder mount I'd probably bring a small saw to cap it.

I've found the meat to come in at +/- 60-70 lbs, shoulder capes are +/- 3 lbs, and a skull/horn will vary widely based on mass, but seem to be around 15 lbs if I recall correctly. More than that if it's a big one... but I usually shoot small ones, so not an issue for me! A whole sheep is an 85 lb job and if you single pick it, the pack will be 100+ with just day gear and rifle.

I've done two solo, and after those experiences, I'm more open to ferrying loads now. If I'm on rough ground, a single pick slows me down enough that the time difference for a second trip isn't as great as one would think.

I don't leave any meat in the field, and have even packed out the heart. I may trim extra fat. While I usually cook some of the meat, It's usually close enough to the trailhead / airstrip that it's not been a factor in the packing.
 

duchntr

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 31, 2013
Messages
712
Location
Anchorage,Ak
I always say I'm gunna do some fire roasted ribs but I seem to have a problem slowing down and enjoying my time after tagging out. A sheep between 2 guys is nice which is the only time I weighed my pack after a pack out, it was 92 I think. My last 2 sheep my partner and I doubled so we just one tripped them back to the car, no way I was going to ferry loads over multiple mountain passes, but that's just me.

In my mind there's no real way to cut any significant amount of weight, besides the obvious trimming of fat and bloodshot meat, deboning and cleaning up the skull as Yellowknife does. Let me tell you Id rather be walking back to rig under a heavy load then walking back with an empty pack, that really sucks lol.
 

oenanthe

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2014
Messages
341
Location
Fbks, AK
I've never actually weighed just the leg bones, but I really don't think you shave very much wt. boning them out unless you end up leaving a lot of meat on the bones.
I've weighed the leg bones on a couple of sheep. Just because I like to weigh stuff. :)
Long story short, boning out saves you about six pounds (if you leave very clean bones, which I do). That's worth it to me if I'm carrying a sheep out solo. But if you've got a partner and only carrying half a sheep, then the 3 pounds each might not be worth it.

I've boned out every sheep I've packed out solo - because I was near my limits and every pound mattered. And on the flip side, I've never boned out a sheep when I had a partner to help carry it out.
 

oenanthe

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2014
Messages
341
Location
Fbks, AK
I've found the meat to come in at +/- 60-70 lbs, shoulder capes are +/- 3 lbs, and a skull/horn will vary widely based on mass, but seem to be around 15 lbs if I recall correctly. More than that if it's a big one... but I usually shoot small ones, so not an issue for me! A whole sheep is an 85 lb job and if you single pick it, the pack will be 100+ with just day gear and rifle.
Lots of good info in your post and I agree with all of it. I'll add a few weights:

The smallest ram I ever shot yielded 60 lbs. of boned out meat. The horns (capped) weighed just 6 lbs. This was a 30" 6-year old, well past full curl, with 12" bases. Skinny!

The heaviest ram I've shot yielded 82 pounds of boned out meat, and that was weighed 5 days later. He was big and fat and nine years old. His horns (35" heavily broomed) weighed 15 lbs. Note that 82 lbs. of sheep meat will not fit in a SG meat bag! :)

And I never leave the heart either, that's some fine eatin' right there!
 

AK Troutbum

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2012
Messages
5,280
Location
Chugiak, Alaska
I've weighed the leg bones on a couple of sheep. Just because I like to weigh stuff. :)
Long story short, boning out saves you about six pounds (if you leave very clean bones, which I do). That's worth it to me if I'm carrying a sheep out solo. But if you've got a partner and only carrying half a sheep, then the 3 pounds each might not be worth it.

I've boned out every sheep I've packed out solo - because I was near my limits and every pound mattered. And on the flip side, I've never boned out a sheep when I had a partner to help carry it out.
Good information for sure. I’ve never been on a solo sheep hunt, but if I ever do go on one, I’ll probably just treat it like a solo goat hunt, and make multiple trips. I’ve come to the realization that my days of packing out 100+ lb. loads, over any kind of distance, are over. I’m okay with carrying bone in quarters, less wt., and making multiple trips. I don’t feel like I’m too old to make the pack outs, I just feel that at 52, I don’t need to tax my body to the point of injury with the heavy pack outs. Take it easy, carry less wt., and repeat is my latest moto.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Jimss

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2015
Messages
1,232
I've been on 2 dall sheep hunts and 4 bighorn hunts. There is no way I would have not de-boned the meat on any of these trips. De-boning immediately cools meat down and I've never had a problem with keeping meat clean....just place it in game bags.

One of the dall sheep trips my partner and I both harvested rams and packed them out of an ungodly steep and rocky glacier gorge in one trip. Every pound shed of bone was definitely worth it. I don't think we could have carried 2 rams out in one trip. The weight and bulk of 2 rams plus capes...plus rifles, spotting scopes, tripod, gear, etc. was fick'n nuts without any bones!

The 2nd dall sheep was harvested "relatively" close to our base camp. We still de-boned the ram to make the pack out easier. We had camp plus a life-sized skin to carry out so the loads were still heavy and bulky.

All of the bighorn hunts were shot in super steep and deep places from a truck. The fewer the trips the better so rams were de-boned.

It really doesn't take much time to de-bone a ram. It's also nice to use the "gutless" method to speed up the process. I would venture a guess that bone weight of the front legs is higher than the actual weight of meat. The hind legs have pretty hefty bones.

I've been on over a dozen mtn goat hunts and have de-boned all billies. All of these have been packed out in 1 trip. There is no way I could have done this without de-boning. I do the same for elk, muledeer, and sometimes even antelope!

You can't eat bones and why pack them out? Not boning may save a tiny bit of meat? If you use game bags the meat is clean and cools off super fast!

My preference is to bone and pack...I'm not getting any younger....but I certainly am getting wiser!
 

Decker9

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 10, 2015
Messages
214
Location
BC goat mountains
Iv only packed one stone sheep, day 8 of solo hunting, but with my pack dog. My pack was right on 100lbs with gear, meat, cape and horns, and my dogs pack was 17lbs with sheep meat, and probably 5-7lbs of sheep fat in her belly.
I’m still in my younger years, but I can see ferrying trips in the future for solo hunts, or adding another dog.
 

oenanthe

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2014
Messages
341
Location
Fbks, AK
Good information for sure. I’ve never been on a solo sheep hunt, but if I ever do go on one, I’ll probably just treat it like a solo goat hunt, and make multiple trips. I’ve come to the realization that my days of packing out 100+ lb. loads, over any kind of distance, are over. I’m okay with carrying bone in quarters, less wt., and making multiple trips. I don’t feel like I’m too old to make the pack outs, I just feel that at 52, I don’t need to tax my body to the point of injury with the heavy pack outs. Take it easy, carry less wt., and repeat is my latest moto.
I know right where you're coming from, and I'm right there with you! :)

The last sheep I got on a solo trip (2016) was the first one I ever double-carried. That was at age 55. It was a fat sheep (the 82 lbs. of meat mentioned earlier), and I had a packraft as well. It was about 6-7 miles to the put-in. A single load would've been over 140 lbs. and would've broken me!

I'm not sure if I'll ever carry a sheep out in a single trip ever again. But that's OK!
 

Jimbob

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2012
Messages
971
Location
Smithers, BC
Only one sheep hunt so far.

Deboned meat - 60 lbs
Skull and horns skinned out - 18 lbs
gear and 8 days of food - 60 lbs
cape left on the mountain

I was really tempted to ditch the 8 days of food but I couldn't bring myself to it. All the money and food prep for the trip and then just leave that to the animals? no way. In hind sight though, I would ditch the food and bring out the hide. I wont do a shoulder mount but I would tan the hide myself and make a nice rug.

How much does a cape weigh? what about full hide?

I cannot wait to feel that pain again.
 

ljalberta

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2015
Messages
724
I’ve only done one pack out on a bighorn. I had the full head, deboned all the meat, plus my gear and a couple days of food left. I didn’t bring the cape (euro mounted), but wish I had to sell it.

I weighed the full load at the trailhead, but I didn’t weigh the deboned meat itself. I’d guess it was closer to the 50lb mark than 60. I could be wrong though.

I did it all in one load over the course of two days. It was brutal, and I swore I’d never do it again. But, the memory of the pain fades and I’d do it again in a moment if I find the right ram.

If I was closer to the truck I might consider splitting it into two loads.
 

Bambistew

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 5, 2013
Messages
219
Location
Alaska
I weigh most of my meat bags when I get home, they've ranged from 55 to 82 of boned meat. Capes are 4ish, and full skulls (dall) have ranged from 15 to 21, most in the 18-19 range. A skull weighs 7lbs if I remember right, skull capping doesnt save much weight as most of the weight is in the cores. But would save 2ish lbs if capped. The bigger rams are noticeably bigger. Average rams are somewhere in the middle.

I usually bone out on the hill, but have waited if early on in the hunt. Usually make 2 trips out, but have made a couple singles and struggled through it. It sucks with a full camp and sheep.20160918_162806.jpg
 

Sammckeeth

Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2016
Messages
65
Location
Montana
As stated earlier the only way to significantly cut weight is to have someone else carry it. I’ve done a few with two people for one sheep and they’re manageable. Mine from last fall was a solo trip with camp and full body cape, it wasn’t an enjoyable experience.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
Top