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Butchering an Elk - Gutless
I have heard about a gutless method for field butchering an Elk. From what I have heard the gutless approach makes a lot of sense - now - I need specifics on how to do it.
Colorado DOW sells a tape call Down to The Bones
Neat method,but be aware some states require you to take all edible meat,this means rib cage meat as well.
Rib meat is not a problem with gutless. All you have to do is cut between the ribs to take those little strips and you still leave the guts neatly inside.
This is the second side on my 07 elk. Sure is nice having a partner but you can do it solo.
No problem at all getting all of the meat- even for the heart, liver kidneys. Just go get them AFter all the meat bags are cooling in a tree, and clean.
A lot of people are concerned about the tenderloins. They are along the backbone and connected in front of the floating ribs and to the pelvis. they are outside of the abdominal membrane so with a little care they will stay perfectly clean.
After taking off the rear legs just press down on the abdominal wall and reach under the floating ribs to feel the head of the tenderloin and cut it free. Work it back to the pelvis and cut that connection too. Roll the critter over and repeat.
Bugles Gutless Elk Quartering is illustrated in step by step pics at the link.
Pictures 7, 8 and 9. just remember www.BowJackson.com and look for Elk Hunting info.
Judy and I spent much of three days cutting, trimming and wrapping it.
That is a 12" filet knife to show how big a small elk backstrap and tenderloin is.
That apron is Waaay out of date.. 8^)
The complete story is at the link.
I appreciate all the great info.
Don't be misled into thinking it is hard to do or takes great skill. Truth is, it is the easiest way to do it and I now do 95% of my deer that way.
But here is one tip the tape may not show. If you do not plan to have the head mounted, make your first cut straight down the backbone, head to tail. Then cut from throat to top of ribcage and down each leg. You will have four nice pieces of skin to lay the meat on as you remove it.
I use it for everything too, bear, deer, elk, squirrels, rabbits, ok so maybe not small game, but it is too easy and works great saving the whole hide or just a cape it doesn't matter. Get good game bags too, Alaskan for me.
I've been using it for about 5 years and it's GREAT, wish I had known about it 20 years ago. As stated many times before, you really need some good game bags, invest is some you can reuse.
One trick I've learned regarding the tenderloins is after you've got all the other meat off poke a hole in the gut sack (be sure you're looking away) and it will usually "deflate", making the job a whole lot easier, especially if you're by yourself. Otherwise you really need 3 or 4 hands if the gut sack has started to bloat up and push against the backbone, which it usually does.
I have used the gutless method for years, so am pretty familar with it. My question is about the number of loads it can be reduced to. I have always left the bones in for packing. I end up with four loads for the backpack plus the first trip in my daypack in which I carry out backstraps, tenderloins, neck meat and antlers. I've always had partners and/or my son to help me pack out (except for one time), so one to two trips max to the site and it is done. But my son is starting medical school this fall so he won't be there to help me (yes, I am very proud of him!) and with work schedules I'm not certain if my hunting partners might be available. I just want to be prepared to do it myself. So, can you reduce the number of trips to 3 after the initial small load in the daypack? If you remove the bones, how do you split the load up? I'm looking at a new area this year which could take me further back (longer pack!), so any advise would be appreciated.
Depends on how strong you are and how big the elk is. I hunt with the Schuh pack frame with fanny pack on as do my hunting partners. My last elk was a spike bull. I did not bone it, just skinned and quartered. I am 5'8" and 145#, my partner is 6'4" and 265#. Because I had killed two other bulls in almost exactly the same spot in years past, I was not very excited about returning (1 1/2 miles from a road with about a 1500 vertical foot gain to the kill site). We sucked it up and each of us took half. Each pack weighed in at between 85# and 90#. It wasn't fun, but it sure beat the heck out of another trip back UP the mountain. We are both still alive today and unharmed, so we did survive.
That being said, it can be done in two trips, solo. I would count on probably three trips for comfort. When I hunt solo, I both fronts on the frame so my first trip out isn't bad at all. A hind and back strap/rib/neck on each of the next two trips make for a long day, but certainly manageable. My last solo trip/kill was done that way. I was 2 miles from the road with the elk down at 0800. I was pulling out of the parking area at 1500 with everything loaded. If a little gal like me can do it, so can anyone!
For you folks who may not know or be aware that the Northwest Territories puts out a 41 minute video free for the asking. The video was put together by the Metis council and is filmed actually out on the land which shows in great detail the whole process from start to finish right up to saving the stomach lining and other internal parts(for those who may want to have a new dining expierence). A great little video and well worth watching.
I have no idea as to number of loads. It depends on toomany factors. But I bone out all the cuts on big game. What you end up with is two back straps. Two tenderloins, two boned out hind quarters and two shoulders. Then add whatever else you want to keep and the antlers and cape.
When I do deer, I usally do them on the tailgate of my truck, in my garage. I end up with one pile of meat and one garbage bag of refuse. I bone out the hindquarters and do a three-cut on the front shoulders. A 150 pound deer will yield about 60-70 pounds of boned meat.
On a smaller elk, like a young cow or bull I've done it in 3 trips counting the first one out. After the kill and butchering I can take the backstraps and tenderloins (20-30 lbs) out on my fanny pack (it has shoulder straps, but it is still a load) then divide what's left into two loads, like 1 shoulder + 1 hindquarter (all boned out) + 1/2 neck and 1/2 other scraps and use a good pack. If you hunt with a pack frame obviously you could take more out the first trip. I will sometimes leave the shoulder blade in cause it doesn't weigh much, but all the other big bones stay in the woods. Each of these loads are usually in the 65-80 lbs range, which is close to my comfort limit, depending on terrain and what shape I'm in. I usually leave the shanks and most of the ribs for the coyotes. I do bring out the brisket and all of the neck meat I can filet off. With a really big elk it would take more trips for me, or hope I have some help.
Only way to go. A little trick for the tenderloins is to use a Wyoming Saw or Tree Saw and "CAREFULLY" angle the saw and cut the short ribs out of the way. It just makes it easier to get em out in one great tasting piece.
Blackfly it says that NWT website has been moved do you know where else I can see this video?
I'm solo again this year and plan on going gutless for the first time. I'm a little confused but think that "Bowriters" tip is a good one... I've never caped an animal and if I had it mounted I always just paid for a cape... I suppose if the bull was big enough I'd do it.
Great method ,we use it on our deer but thinking of trying it with elk if i get one down.FYI carefull doing this with caribou they swell up fast.We got three down in a 1,2,3 shoot scenario after gutting one. I started at the top (backbone)worked my way down, and just as my father-inlaw stepped over the hill the guts exploded in my face and mouth!Probably one of his favorite memories of our hunts?Well obviously the guts had swelled between the ribs ,so when my knife ran down the ribcage I hit just enough to taste it for the next several hours!
Simple as everyone says...and take a second knife to do the "paunch poke". I doesn't have to be a very big hole
Take your time with the first...you'll do fine.
We've cleaned rabbits the same way for over 25 years.
Colorado DWF has a dvd you can order showing deboning elk