transferring elk stink to the meat

TauPhi111

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If you have been around elk, you know what they smell like. That pungent urine/barnyard animal smell. Not pleasant.

I had my opportunity to put my hands on a dead bull for the first time this September in AZ. While we were skinning it where it lay, I could definitely smell the musk of the bull on my hands from handling the hide. I didn't touch the tarsal glands (do elk even have tarsal glands?). In the excitement of the first elk kill I've been a part of, I didn't even think that this could transfer to the meat. However, some of the meat has had that unmistakable smell and taste to it after it was cooked. These have been the cuts of meat that are handled last when the most stink was on my hands and generally aren't trimmed - tenderloins (i know, so sad) and ground meat, some of which came from the neck and trim. The tenderloins were remedied with a milk soak, but other than chili and other heavily spiced dishes, I can't do much else with the ground. Everything else seems to be OK.

Next time I want to avoid this. Has anyone else ever had problems with transferring elk stink to the meat? How have you avoided this?
I imagine using rubber gloves while handling the hide and skinning then taking them off when you start handling meat would work, but I would like to avoid putting more stuff in my kit. Does alcohol-based hand sanitizer work? Let me know what you do.
 

DenverBulls

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I’m experiencing same thing with my meat (also first elk). Interested to hear what others say.
 

kscowboy01

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I shot a mature rutting bull last year and his ground meat stinks to high hell. Once it's cooked, there is no flavor from this smell. I've shot other mature bulls later in the year in NM and had no issue with smell. Maybe it's a one-off thing but of the 8 bull elk I've killed in the last 8 years, this is the only one that has a noticable odor. My girlfriend won't arrive until after the meat is browned and the stove fan has been running awhile. He was shot and taken to the processor the same day too...
 

Wrench

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My pard and I are beyond the half century mark on dead elk and have cut and wrapped them all our by ourselves.

Don't fret. You'll never know.

Over the years I've seen bladders popped, guts spilled, poop sitting on a tenderloin.

Bile and urine needs to be cut out asap....but beyond that, I can't tell and I have 4 women at home eating and they too can't tell.
 

Bubblehide

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I have never had such an issue. But I carry several pairs of latex gloves and periodically change them.
 

5MilesBack

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If you have been around elk, you know what they smell like. That pungent urine/barnyard animal smell. Not pleasant.
I don't know that smell. But I do know that wonderful pleasant rutting bull smell, and I love it.

I always skin down from the backbone and take the meat off the bones directly into bags, so there really is no smell on the meat.
 
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TauPhi111

TauPhi111

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Thanks all for your anecdotes. We did have a processor grind the meat and bone out the quarters just for convenience sake and the fact that my buddy doesn't process his own. We had a long drive back from AZ to OH. I always process every whitetail I shoot, so I would have preferred to process this elk myself, but his tag so his choice. I can tell you that next elk I have down I will be processing myself. I guess in the future I'll have to be more careful and be sure to either wear gloves or somehow de-scent my hands between handling hide and meat.
 
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TauPhi111

TauPhi111

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I don't know that smell. But I do know that wonderful pleasant rutting bull smell, and I love it.

I always skin down from the backbone and take the meat off the bones directly into bags, so there really is no smell on the meat.

I love it too when I'm hunting elk, but definitely not on he meat!

Surely though at some point you are grabbing hide then handling meat. No gloves or anything for you and no problems?
 

5MilesBack

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Surely though at some point you are grabbing hide then handling meat. No gloves or anything for you and no problems?
I wear gloves (only because I'm a nail biter), but starting on the backbone and working down most of the meat is already in bags by the time I get working on the evidence of sex. And that always goes in a ziplock with the smallest chunk of meat I can attach to it.
 

Short Track

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I had a deer that tasted so nasty after butchering, I threw it out.
It had a musky odor, taste. that I tasted while eating, Couldn't cook it out.
I ate a few pieces, and it wasn't worth it.
 

Jorge400

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My bull from this year was a stinker. However, thus far the only cut I have had that had that smell when I defrosted it was the tongue and I think it could have been from the blood (but who knows, could have been saliva). Once I washed it well the smell was very, very faint and none whatsoever once cooked. We were careful though to use gloves and replace them once we finished skinning (although I did not do this after caping. I just cut the tongue out).
 
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TauPhi111

TauPhi111

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Thanks for all your input guys. My theory that this is contamination from the hide is still panning out, but I'm also wondering if I could be dealing with a bit of widespread spoilage as well. We shot this bull mid afternoon in mid September in AZ and did not find it til next morning. Temps at night were colder and it was shaded all day, not baking in the sun...but it is still a dead elk in September with the guts punctured. The degree of nasty tasting meat is still hit or miss, but I am wondering if what I am tasting is the start of meat spoilage since it seems to be somewhat wide spread. Everything smelled fine while we were field butchering. I just don't know what the start of meat spoilage tastes like and the taste is so much like how the hide smelled. Every deer, bear, and pig I have shot has been recovered within a few hours, so I haven't dealt with spoilage before.
 

EchoLimaKilo

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I shot a whitetail doe this year in N Idaho and a fragment from the bullet split off and popped the stomach on the way through. This was one of the first critters that I've gutted in quite some time (usually going gutless) and some of that stomach juice got on the tenderloins and a bit of the back hams during the process. I cut it away on the back hams but decided to just thoroughly rinse the tenderloins and eat them. They definitely had the taste of gamey funky deer and it was similar to the smell of the stomach contents, hard to get past.

I'd imagine that if the stomach was punctured on that bull then the contents might have had time to "marinade" on some of the meat that ended up being ground and spread that flavor through the batch. Hard to say though, I usually bring a few pairs of gloves and change them out throughout the process too.
 

hunter4life

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Do the gutless method, which keeps your cuts and hands away from the belly that is covered in urine and stench. I have found that this is important because it will transfer the smell and taste to the meat. Several pairs of gloves would work too, but I don't carry any.
 

Ratspit

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I always wipe down my quarters with a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water as soon as I can. Gets any hair and/or smell off the meat. Plus it will kill any bacteria. When processing an animal in the backcountry, the rule in our group is one guy handles the meat and knife. The other guy touches the stinky parts. We do the best we can, not mix jobs. Nothing worse then opening a package of burger and smelling rutting bull.
 

Scolfieldkid

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I shot a mature rutting bull last year and his ground meat stinks to high hell. Once it's cooked, there is no flavor from this smell. I've shot other mature bulls later in the year in NM and had no issue with smell. Maybe it's a one-off thing but of the 8 bull elk I've killed in the last 8 years, this is the only one that has a noticable odor. My girlfriend won't arrive until after the meat is browned and the stove fan has been running awhile. He was shot and taken to the processor the same day too...
Is this stink coming from the urine on the skin or on the actual meat?
 
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