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Packing Elk in Sept

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Packing Elk in Sept

Postby Kessler10 » 12 14, 2015 •  [Post 1]

With how unseasonably warm it has been the last few years in Sept what are best practices for when you get an elk down in archery season and say its around 75 degrees during the day and dipping to 30-40 degrees at night.

Scenario:

2 guys get an elk down at 10AM in the morning 4-5 miles from base camp/truck. Will get into the low 70's during the day and mid 30's at night. Terrain is fairly undesirable to get back to base camp/truck. Main question being if we are able to get half of the meat back to back camp and on ice and not able to get back to the rest until the next morning, what would be best thing to do to try and preserve the meat you leave behind and have to come back and get?

When its warmer out is it better to leave bone in or bone out to preserve meat longer? any other tips? Max amount of time you would have with temps getting into lower 70's during day and mid 30's at night to get elk all packed out without spoiling any of it?

thanks!
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Re: Packing Elk in Sept

Postby CurlyTail » 12 14, 2015 •  [Post 2]

I have always felt that it is critical to get the skin off the Elk as quick as possible so that the meat can cool off quickly.

I like to let the meat dry for 30 min or so before putting in the game bag as moisture accelerates bacterial growth. Especially for the pieces of neck and rib meat that all get thrown together for burger. Warm and wet is not good. I lay out all the pieces on a garbage bag, let them dry, then flip them and dry the other side also. Not many bugs where I hunt luckily.

I like to find a heavily shaded location to hang the quarters out of direct sunlight . A nice cool breeze is helpful.

I think your meat will be fine for a half a day in the 70's and one night in the 40's - just don't sleep in and get on that second load before things heat up again the next day

Leave the antlers for last - they will not spoil!

This year we shot our Bull at 5:30 pm, carried out the first load after midnight, up and on the trail by 6am, and carried two more loads until dark the next day (70's) and the meat was fine. Very tasty in fact. You should be OK with 24 to 36 hours to the coolers.
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Re: Packing Elk in Sept

Postby Swede » 12 14, 2015 •  [Post 3]

In the situation you describe, look around, and place the meat in the coolest shaded place possible. Bone out the big chunks, like the legs and neck. Let the air get to the meat on all sides. Hang it near a stream if possible. Don't worry. It will be fine if you are diligent in taking good care of the meat when you get it out of the forest.
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Re: Packing Elk in Sept

Postby Indian Summer » 12 14, 2015 •  [Post 4]

If it's mid 70s up in the elk hills it probably won't dip to the 30s at night. You'll be lucky to see low 40s.

It's only 10 am so you have plenty of time to do this right. Obviously the first thing you want to do is get your elk quartered asap. Normally I'm a bone in and even hide on guy. When I pull the hide off of quarters at camp or wherever my meat is as clean as possible. Immaculate! But in this case the heat will force me to play things as safe as possible.

I'll still leave the bone in but I'll remove the hide. I usually pack a front out first in bow season but in this case I'm having both guys take a hind. The reason is they take longer to cool so I want to get them iced down asap. The fronts will cool down on their own just fine. I'll get the fronts in the shade and off of the ground. Keep in mind the sun will move so make sure that they won't be getting any direct sunlight all day long. You could hang them which is nice because they get more air. Two guys can hang quarters easily, especially fronts. If there are no suitable trees you can pile up enough pine boughs (which is a lot) to get the meat well off the ground so air can circulate over the quarters.

Roll the carcus as far down the hill as you can to keep birds etc away from your meat.

If there is a creek or even a draw nearby where the air is cooler and you can get the fronts there that would help with mid day heat. Pack the hinds out. If you have time to get ice do it no matter how tired you are. Dry ice is best for sure. Pick up enough for the front quarters too. Once you do that you can get some sleep. No need to go back for the rest right away. Start super early the next day though to pack the rest out and get it iced. Done.
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Re: Packing Elk in Sept

Postby saddlesore » 12 15, 2015 •  [Post 5]

I sure like for the meat to go thru rigor and then relax as it will mean a lot tenderer meat and it can't do that once it is deboned. Having said that,if you ski and quarter the elk,hang it in the shade,you should be good for 3 days if the temps are the30's at night. That includes your packing time. I muzzle loader hunt in the 2nd week of September and that has been my experience. Anything over that and you had best have a lot of ice available. Even at that,with the three days included ,with ice after that,you have a good chance of losing meat. The meat has to get down to below 40 degrees and kept there in the icing stage.
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Re: Packing Elk in Sept

Postby VT Sasquatch » 12 15, 2015 •  [Post 6]

The thought of an elk spoiling is a nightmare for me. Like "The Old Man and the Sea." I have never shot Anthony bigger than a whitetail so I can't add much.
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Re: Packing Elk in Sept

Postby Swede » 12 15, 2015 •  [Post 7]

Indian Summer wrote:I'll still leave the bone in but I'll remove the hide.


Why would anyone pack bone 4-5 miles? One mile is my limit even under good conditions. Game bags are lite. Remove the bone and the meat will cool better. The coyotes out there need something too.
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Re: Packing Elk in Sept

Postby Indian Summer » 12 15, 2015 •  [Post 8]

I think me and Paul are on the same page here Swede.... lumps of meat in game bags aren't as easy to pack as a rigid quarter that stands upright when lashed to a pack. That's the short answer.

The other reason is.... have you ever help just the bone from the hip to where you separate it at the knee? It doesn't really weigh all that much.

But for me the main reason is that every time you take a knife to meat you are exposing more surfaces to contaminants including plain old air. Then once all of those surfaces dry they need to e trimmed so you lose way more meat.

A quarter is best left as intact as possible until it is ready to be processed. IMO
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Re: Packing Elk in Sept

Postby Swede » 12 15, 2015 •  [Post 9]

Indian Summer wrote:me and Paul are on the same page here Swede


Every year the local butcher turns away several elk that are bone soured, because they did not get out in time, and did not cool properly. A friend left his un-skinned elk on the snow overnight and had to cut out soured parts. Me and the butcher (poor grammar) would rather have sweet meat and not take unnecessary chances. I have packed a few elk too. I never noticed how much easier it is to pack meat bone in. I would agree, it helps to keep the meat clean if is exposed as little as possible. I normally leave it in, if the elk is not too far from a truck, but never 4-5 miles.
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Re: Packing Elk in Sept

Postby Indian Summer » 12 16, 2015 •  [Post 10]

[quote="Swede"] A friend left his un-skinned elk on the snow overnight and had to cut out soured parts. [quote]

Sounds like he didn't get it off the ground. Snow insulates. People think that laying a quarter in the snow is like putting it on ice but that couldn't be further from the truth. If there was snow on the ground and he had at least leaned the quarter up against a tree it would have been fine. That is assuming he found it right away and got it quartered out.

Cutting out bone soured parts doesn't work either. Bone sour starts at the bone so if you can see/smell bone soured meat from the outside it's even worse on the inside so trimming it is useless and it's usually a total loss.
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Re: Packing Elk in Sept

Postby Brendan » 12 16, 2015 •  [Post 11]

Indian Summer wrote:I think me and Paul are on the same page here Swede.... lumps of meat in game bags aren't as easy to pack as a rigid quarter that stands upright when lashed to a pack. That's the short answer.


This doesn't address your other two points, but the TAG BOMB (Boned Out Meat Bags) are designed to address this. Long and narrow to hold the meat in a shape resembling a quarter so it doesn't all lump to the bottom. Larry Bartlett designed them with input/design from Aron Snyder over on Rokslide, and they work pretty darn well in that regard...

http://www.pristineventures.com/product ... -bags.html
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Re: Packing Elk in Sept

Postby Indian Summer » 12 16, 2015 •  [Post 12]

Brendan wrote:
Indian Summer wrote:I think me and Paul are on the same page here Swede.... lumps of meat in game bags aren't as easy to pack as a rigid quarter that stands upright when lashed to a pack. That's the short answer.


This doesn't address your other two points, but the TAG BOMB (Boned Out Meat Bags) are designed to address this. Long and narrow to hold the meat in a shape resembling a quarter so it doesn't all lump to the bottom. Larry Bartlett designed them with input/design from Aron Snyder over on Rokslide, and they work pretty darn well in that regard...

http://www.pristineventures.com/product ... -bags.html



I know Larry very well. We talk all the time and he is a wealth of knowledge. I'm about to buy an inflatable boat from him. I use TAG bags myself but haven't tried the TAG Bomb.
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Re: Packing Elk in Sept

Postby saddlesore » 12 16, 2015 •  [Post 13]

I'm sure glad I don't have that bone in, bone out problem. :lol:

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Re: Packing Elk in Sept

Postby Kessler10 » 12 16, 2015 •  [Post 14]

saddlesore wrote:I'm sure glad I don't have that bone in, bone out problem. :lol:

Image


and saddlesore drops the mic.....nice...... :lol:

The smile on your face in that pic is one I did not have when packing out elk meat on back. had that smile when i got back to the tent though. Wait i was to tired to smile.
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Re: Packing Elk in Sept

Postby Swede » 12 16, 2015 •  [Post 15]

For sure hunters have their individual way of handling their meat. The objective is to get it out before it spoils and to keep it clean. Different people have different ways. I am sure Joe is right about the guy that had his elk bone sour overnight in the snow. The meat did not cool, plain and simple. The night he lost his meat, it was near the temperature when it can be rain or snow, even though I don't remember any new snow or rain that night. I was not there to see it, but many of us have left or elk out overnight in warmer weather, and it was fine. I admit to being a little more worried about my meat than some. Some folks talk of not liking elk because it tastes "gamey". My elk does not taste gamey. Yours won't either if you take good care of it.
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Re: Packing Elk in Sept

Postby saddlesore » 12 16, 2015 •  [Post 16]

So true Swede. Once I pull the trigger and the elk is on the ground. Hunting stops and it is all about getting prime meat in the freezer.

Hide off immediately. Even it means getting back to camp at O Dark Thirty.

Meat left on bone to get it to go thru Rigor and then released. Hung over night at least. In bear country , I pack it out the same day and then hang in camp. If necessary, I hang a tarp over it to keep it in the shade a day or so. I take at least two big coolers with 1 gallon jugs of ice in them. Get the meat on ice,go to town and buy 8-10more blocks f ice and replace the jugs as they will mealy quickly.

We have small 6x8 walk in cooler that we then leave the elk in for a week at 38 degrees, two if it is an old tough one then it butcher ourselves.
Besides guys learning how to kill an elk,they need to put more emphasis on how to hunt them and then how to properly take care of the meat once th y do kill an elk
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Re: Packing Elk in Sept

Postby Swede » 12 16, 2015 •  [Post 17]

I don't want to hijack the thread, but lets talk about this rigor mortis process. What does leaving the bone in have to do with it? I have done the gutless method, and have quartered elk where all of the bone was left in. I have never noticed any particular difference in the meat. What have others experienced? What does removing back-straps and tenderloins from the bone have to do with their meat quality? Has anyone noticed a difference with the legs? In every case I have allowed the meat to cure for a few days before processing.
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Re: Packing Elk in Sept

Postby saddlesore » 12 16, 2015 •  [Post 18]

When meat is removed from the bone, it contracts ,but never relaxes.If it is still on the bone,that contraction is less and but is still present. After rigor sets in and then stops and relaxes, the meat does also. That isn't very good explanation, but it is the best I know how to do.

For years with the CWD scare,of course a lot of us used the gutless method and the back straps was removed form the spine. Myself and several others always wondered why those back straps were tougher than the round steaks even, So we still did the no gut but when we had the hind and front quarters remove, we would do kinda of a semi gutting. Then cut the ribs off right at the top,below the back strap. Then bring the spine out intact with the back straps.

Amazing,we started to find our back straps tender again.

Guys that de-bone the entire elk do not notice it because all the meat is tougher than it should be.Aging a week or so helps, buy letting that meat go thru rigor and come back out really helps.

Next year after your kill, go back and do a standard quartering or as I have explained and let the meat hang at the kill site over night. You will see a difference . Unless it is some 12-15 year old bull and then you can't do anything with that except grind it aneven then the ground will be tough
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Re: Packing Elk in Sept

Postby Swede » 12 16, 2015 •  [Post 19]

Thanks Saddlesore. That is a good explanation even if it is not as technical as some scientist would say it. Probably what has kept me from noticing what you describe is the variableness I have found between elk. Most elk properly taken care of are great. Some are good, but do not raise to the great level. The cow I shot this year was my fattest ever. She was fairly old, and barren. I thought she would be tender enough to cut with a fork. She is a little tough. I was very surprised. I gutted and quartered her. Sometimes I wonder what happens at the butcher shops. I have suspected I did not always get the same animal I went in with. I have no basis for making any complaints. I just don't know why things turn out the way they do.
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Re: Packing Elk in Sept

Postby saddlesore » 12 16, 2015 •  [Post 20]

That is why I always butcher my own.

Don't feel bad Swede.It took me 21 years to draw a tag in a coveted area.I killed a great bull,but it took me 5 years to eat the darn thing he was so tough.Then this year after 16 years,I drew moose tag.CO was never going to give me a bull tag, so I applied for cow moose tag. It took me about 15 minutes to kill one on opening day. Turned out to be at least 7 years old. She isn't as tough as that old bull, but she is chewy. I should have shot the yearling calf that was with her.
Last year,I shot two elk. One was about 18 months old and was classified as antlerless. The other was a small 5x about 3 years old. Both are tender and tasty.This year I shot an almost identical small 5x and it is the same.I really prefer to eat cows though
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Re: Packing Elk in Sept

Postby elkstalker » 12 17, 2015 •  [Post 21]

Like said before, the important thing is getting the skin off and any meat you leave hanging. I would add that you want to be sure to hang in in a tree/spot that will provide shade all day long, as the shadows will shift with the suns movement. If you have to hang it also try to find a spot in a creek bottom/draw that is well shaded. It can be quite a bit cooler and the downslope winds will help cool the meat as well. Depending on fitness level you may also be able to bone out a hind and rear and carry them together, although the longest I have done that for is 3 miles, it is quite heavy.
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Re: Packing Elk in Sept

Postby Indian Summer » 12 17, 2015 •  [Post 22]

Maybe that's how I got into the habit of not caring about the bone being in.
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Re: Packing Elk in Sept

Postby saddlesore » 12 17, 2015 •  [Post 23]

Yep. Are those both mules?
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Re: Packing Elk in Sept

Postby Osprey » 12 18, 2015 •  [Post 24]

I'm new to Elk hunting shot my first Elk which was a 5x5 this past season and I quartered it out gutless method. The meat tastes fantastic I've been eating it 2x a week maybe more just ate some burgers last night :D . My dad ate a backstrap steak about a week ago and he said it was tougher than Deer. I cut the backstraps off in long strips at the kill site. He read online that Elk have more connetive tissue on the backstraps than Deer? My meat hanged for around 4 days prior to butchering and it was a late Elk CO 3rd season so meat was pretty much cool from the first cut to freezer in Indiana it was iced the entire drive and hung in meat locker prior to butchering. The Back straps were froze in sections via vacum pack I was debating on aging a couple days prior to eating after a section is thawed. I also have steaks from the hind quaters will those be more tender haven't ate any of those yet. Any ideas what the best way to tenderize the Backstrap steaks? The tenderloins were amazing non wild game meat eaters were asking for more, my only regret is not having enough vac to come back for a Cow Elk hunt :lol:.
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Re: Packing Elk in Sept

Postby Swede » 12 18, 2015 •  [Post 25]

In all of this discussion about packing, including the talk about Rigor Mortise, I think we have overlooked one important part. How far can you pack an elk on your back? It was given, that it would take a couple of days and the temps were written down for us. Really everything, every place and everyone is different. I consider myself to be in good shape, but at my age, that is not the same as I was at 40. For me to pack a good sized 1/2 elk out 4-5 miles would be an awful job, even on a good trail. Make some of that uphill and a lot through blow down trees and brush, or other bad terrain, and the meat will likely spoil before it gets to a cooler. Indian Summer feels a lot more comfortable with this whole proposition. After seeing the pack he had on his avatar; I understand. Joe, did you ever have to carry out a mule that was too tired to go on? lol
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Re: Packing Elk in Sept

Postby CurlyTail » 12 18, 2015 •  [Post 26]

Good point Sweede. I am comfortable with one day (high in 70's)and up to two evenings (low in the 40's) to get my meat out. I have not pushed it further than this, and have always been able to get out my meat in that amount of time.

However, If you were in deep enough, that might not be physically possible and you would risk the meat. I think people need to be comfortable with the idea of butchering and hiking out their Elk throughout the nighttime hours. Once we recover an Elk, there is a strong sense of urgency to get it to the coolers ASAP and a full nights sleep is not to be expected.

Also, distance from the truck is not always a good measure of how much time it will take to get out with a 100lbs. pack. This year, our Elk was only 1.5 miles as the crow flies from the truck. But it took 6 hours round trip due to steep terrain, an avalanche chute to go up, and no trails.

You also have to factor in the time you give the Elk to expire. For a good double lung shot, you can hope to trail and find your Elk in an hour or so. But for more marginal shots, you may need to give it 6 hours or more before starting to track. If you recover an Elk that has set for that long with the skin on, your sense of urgency should be redoubled.
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Re: Packing Elk in Sept

Postby Brendan » 12 18, 2015 •  [Post 27]

I carry Tag BOMB bags and all meat goes into those. I haven't had to do this, but I've heard some people say they will drop these straight in a stream to keep the temperature down (The material has a much finer mesh than some other bags). I personally brought 2 big contractor bags and would have put the meat inside those and then in a stream if i had to. Where I was hunting - I always had water relatively close to me.

This is a great watch - a podcast with Aron Snyder on the subject. The youtube version is at the link, but you can also download the podcast to your phone or MP3 player and listen on the go.

http://www.grittybowmen.com/gritty-podc ... ron-snyder
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Re: Packing Elk in Sept

Postby saddlesore » 12 18, 2015 •  [Post 28]

Although water does not hurt meat, mosts streams in Colorado at least have Giardia in them.That can contaminate the meat,plus several other organisms may be present. Unless one can be sure that the meat is completely sealed in plastic or ?, I would sure not recomend putting any meat in a stream.
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Re: Packing Elk in Sept

Postby Brendan » 12 18, 2015 •  [Post 29]

saddlesore wrote:Although water does not hurt meat, mosts streams in Colorado at least have Giardia in them.That can contaminate the meat,plus several other organisms may be present. Unless one can be sure that the meat is completely sealed in plastic or ?, I would sure not recomend putting any meat in a stream.


That's what the contractor bags are for. While some people have done it without plastic and its better than losing the meat, if you put them in the bags and they are completely sealed, then put in the water to keep cool. But, that's ideally after they've cooled down to ambient temp by hanging and dried out some so they're not stewing in the blood and condensation in a plastic bag. Not advocating throwing hot bloody meat in a bag and closing it up...

If you're in a scenario where they do have to go directly in the water - you could either have them tested after the fact, freezing the meat solid will kill Giardia or just cook to 160 degrees which isn't medium rare, but works too..

If you're prepared - Mother nature does give you some options that are better than letting meat spoil..
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