A year later I’d have to figure out my story, but that’s half the fun!
The challenge is packing an elk out. And camp. Without meat spoiling. I can shave a few pounds by boning out the meat but I am looking at 5 trips out to get meat, antlers/cape and camp out. I could do 4 trips but is riskier for me once top 100 pounds on my back.
If you have hiked 18 miles in 24 hours with 100 pound packs then 2 miles in is a chip shot. If have a buddy then can sing songs on the pack out. If sol and are headed in 3 miles then is 27 miles in 24 hours with 100 pound packs.
Good luck and stay safe.
Some people bone out and leave the neck meat and cows weigh less, but you have to be prepared for a bull and then his antlers as well.
The advice he gave is sound. However, his weights are inflated. With the average camp weight, no elk broken down weighs what he is suggesting here. Figure 125 pounds less for a bull and camp. 150 less with cow and camp. That's with a heavy camp. If you can pack 65-80 pounds a load, that's three loads. Very doable. Hard? Yes. Unrealistic? Nope. Be prepared and, have a good time. God Bless
Doing the "gutless method" will most definately leave some meat weight behind, so at the end of the day, 4 easier trips is all it would take and less or lighter with a smaller bull/cow.
If you're really getting all the meat off the animal, just the neck, briscuit, heart, rib meat, and the rest of the trim is a HUGE load - I'm talking 80 lbs. A bone in ham off of a mature bull elk is it's own trip unless you're a huge guy/want to risk injury. You can take both the shoulders bone in or bone out with the straps and TLs. You're not going to take the head/antlers with cape out with much more than the straps.
It can be done in 4 trips. Camp is another. I've never done it in less than 5. Three miles in, three miles out is 6 miles. Times 5 trips, is 30 miles. Then there's camp. You have to do the math.
Better to hike in 3/4 of a mile to 1 mile and turn 90 degrees from the trail to the right or left (whichever is nastier terrain) and go a mile. Then you're away from where everyone else is walking. You hunt from there and then it's 1-2 miles to get your elk out.
This is why I am extremely choosey what I shoot. Some of my worst adventures and memories is hauling meat.
Two years ago, I leap frogged. Jury still out whether I like that or not.
Last year I shot a large bodied 270's 6x6 that yielded 285 lbs. of boneless meat prior to trimming fat, etc.
A few years ago I shot a very large, 360" 6x7 that yielded over 350 lbs. of boneless meat.
I've also shot smaller bodied bulls that yielded closer to 200 lbs. of boneless meat.
It has taken me up to 5 days to pack out elk solo...
*Edit: In regard to the boned out meat weight on my bulls. I have no reason to lie or exaggerate. While I may not have as much experience with elk as some guys, I do have experience with cutting up, packing out and processing about 15 elk and I have been processing my own deer for about 40 years. I personally weighed all of the boned out meat from my bull last year and wrote down the weights of each bag of meat. The weight totaled up to 285 pounds. Two buddies were with me when I shot that bull and they helped with breaking him down and packing him out. They both commented on how big the body was and how big and heavy the hind quarters were. Both of them also killed bulls on that hunt after I left. Later when discussing meat weights with one of my buddies, he said that he also weighed the meat from his bull and it was about 10% less than mine so he had about 256 lbs. of meat. He felt that made sense since according to him, the body on my bull looked considerably bigger than his.
On the 360" bull I killed a few years ago, the body on that bull dwarfed any other bull I've ever seen in person, including last year's bull. My taxidermist used the biggest form available and he said it really wasn't big enough to fit the cape. To me it makes total sense that I got well over 300 lbs. of meat off of that bull considering that last years bull with a rack about 85 inches smaller and a smaller body yielded 285 lbs. meat.
I'm not trying to criticize or second guess anybody, but I'm wondering if I/we are more diligent at removing all edible meat (such as all leg shank meat, neck meat, flank, brisket, rib, etc.) from the elk carcass than some guys do...?
I just have a hard time believing a lot of elk are yielding as much meat as a 1000 pound steer. But, according to guys here, they are packing out that much weight every year. I reckon.
If your intent is to hunt 76, and not necessarily the Wiminuche... Then I'd prefer the areas outside the wilderness to the NW (Pole Crk and Lost Crk). But there are elk up pretty much every TH in the wilderness. Just pick one and go... It might be a mile before you're into them, it may take 4... But you'll find'm.
There is nothing wrong with leaving the bones in, packing out the entire head instead of a caped skull plate, etc., as long as you don't mind the extra weight. But if you are prepared and do a thorough job, you will be much closer to 250 pounds for even a good bull, and under 200 for most cows. Which is still a daunting task for most people, but manageable with the right mindset.
I agree that most people should stay close to the truck and the roads. Many really can't handle the drudgery of packing meat. Besides, I like to be a lone in the back country...
Find solid shade preferably with a breeze. Bridging over a stream or a large cool boulder as in my picture helps. Make sure the meat isn't in a big ball where the center cannot cool.
A long meat pack on your back heats it up so I like to do it in one shot and get on ice. Horse packing meat heats it up pretty good too.
If its in a bad spot initially and you need to leapfrog it to a better location ...then that makes some sense. Keeping it cool of course is top priority.
I've backpacked meat as much as 9 miles into the Wieminuche on foot...its no fun. We've done 8- 12 miles many times walking in mules.....even that is a pretty good workout.
By "leapfrogging" it means to take it part way each time leaving what you carry out in the shade and likely propped up to keep air flow around it. At the end of the day, you still carry it just as far. The one hanging in the pic was done this way mostly because a bear was on the carcass the next morning and did not want to leave it alone that long between trips.
Once it is cool from the night before, it takes a lot to spoil it as all the body heat is gone and it can only heat up to what ambient air is.