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You killed an elk, quartered it and put it in game bags. Now it is late, hot and the processor doesn't open until morning. Did you ever put all the meat in the cab of your truck and blast the A/C all night?
nope.....coolers and ice. Years ago the grocery store in Dotsero let us put our coolers in their freezer with the lid propped open to freeze our meat for like $10.....that was sweet. Not sure they would pass a health inspection in that situation and doubt you could find a store that would agree to such a deal these days.
Otherwise, find a damp, low cool spot where the down thermals are strongest and hang the meat there.
Jordan, a little over twenty years ago my parents, brothers and myself had killed 11 whitetails in about 7 days. My mother owned a quick stop and we had deer hanging in the back of the beer cooler and moved all the ice out of one freezer into another and filled the empty one with deer, lol. 3 growing boys requires a good deal of meat.
As far as the elk goes it’s a good idea to have a coooler or two with ice if possible. Even without it I haven’t elk hunted anywhere that the nighttime lows weren’t below 50 degrees. That included SW New Mexico in early September. Meat can hang overnight and part of the next day in those temps.
Bag it and hang it from a pine tree overnight for cooling air circulation. If there is a flowing creek hang it above or submerse it in contractor bags. Some buddies of ours tried stacking meet in the back of the SUV and ran the AC overnight, some meat had spoiled.
Btb your profile says Colorado. If it’s killed during archery season hang it in a tree overnight and head to the processor in the morning. It’ll cool enough to keep overnight. You can hang over a creek as well, it’s usually cooler next to the water.
In the past, I had a cooler full of ice that would hopefully still be cold when i killed. I have kept boned elk in ice water for several days then wrapped and froze it. That worked great, chilled and aged both.
This is what I am trying this year...I got some large freezer packs and I am putting my small chest freezer in my truck camper. I will freeze everything solid before I hit the road. Every time I come back to my truck to resupply, in will run my little generator for a few hours to cool everything back down. Once I kill, the 34 degree F packs and meat go into the cooler.
If I need to stay out for a lot longer to help friends, I will butcher the elk right there in my truck and put it in the freezer. Run it till they freeze and leave the 0 degree F ice packs in with it.
Better cool that meat down before it hits the cooler. Hang it then put it in the coolers.
What wytex said. A cooler is an insulator, even with ice in it. Hung in the Colorado high country night air is the best option. It's getting down into the 50's here at the base of the foothills at night.
It was 41 degrees when Paul and I camped out at 9k last weekend
coolers, ice and salt the ice, if you drain the cooler and add ice as the heat is pulled from the meat and the ice melts, you can soft-freeze meat in 6-10 hours
We made block ice at home, put it in the coolers on the trip up and covered them with a cheap sleeping bag and a tarp on top of that. It lasted for days.
Duh....yes cool the meat before throwing in a cooler.......I thought that was obvious but great to be clear in pointing it out.
I like to save milk jugs and 2 liter soda bottles to rinse out then fill 3/4's with water and freeze solid in my chest freezer then use those instead of bag or block ice. That way the only water the meat is exposed to in the cooler is condensation.
Having been a meat cutter for nearly 30 years, and specializing in game processing for many years, l'd have to say that the most important thing is to release the body heat from the muscle. This is best done by boning the meat out as soon as possible. Once back at camp I have spread the meat out on top of my truck or on a game pole in smaller bags to help release even more heat. Next morning it all goes into an ice chest for the transport home.
If you can't get quarters to a cooler the next day, your sleeping bags work wonders at keeping it cool longer. Of course your tent will smell a bit like a bait station the next night.
Okiej's tarp use is very important. I have several silvery ones that reflect light but it's really keeping the moving air off the cooler surface that makes it work.
On Kodiak, after a deer my hunting partner killed on opening day was cooled, we double wrapped it in contractor bags and submerged it in a lake with the top zip tied to a PFD. The meat was in that lake for 6 days and was perfectly fine. We kept a small amount of the meat in another contractor bag in the stream for daily use and it, along with the salami and other perishables we had in it, lasted for 10 days.
There you go Brad. In the mountains it isn’t hot enough at night to spoil It once its been broken down off the carcus.
Do people set around and come up with this kinda stuff to just make life harder?
The op's question was pretty specific jordan.
Once meat is cooled, if kept in the shade it will stay cool. Keep meat out of water in a cooler. Bacteria can grow well below freezing and some below zero. That`s why commercial freezers run at about -15 degrees.
The reason I even posted this is, last year the butcher asked me if I cooled the meat with the A/C in my truck. So if he asked the question then someone must have done it.
Btb 2 years ago I killed a bull in very early September. I hung him overnight in a tree. It took me 2 days to get the bull out with temps in the 70s. Luckily I didn’t bring meat bags with me the day of the kill so the crust that formed was hard and thick. That being said, when I got him to my suv I tossed it in the back and turned on the rear ac blowing directly on the meat. I had never let an animal hang in that temp for so long and was worried. I got to the butcher and the meat was chilled from 5 hours of a/c. I asked the butcher how it looked and he said “amazing! If everyone took care of their animals this well my life would be a lot easier.” Sometimes I think we overthink this stuff. Me included.
Side note, I asked what he meant and he said he gets way to many animals that someone decided to gut then drag down a dirt road with their quad.
I believe the temp where meat starts spoilage is like 50 degrees for a period of time, so if your killing elk in September in Colorado, night time temps are fine, just get it in coolers the following moring.. So, hang it in a tree overnight, then drop it into coolers in the morning.. Another method I've read about if coolers aren't an option, is using ice,sleeping bags and tarps to create kinda a insulated sandwich that you can put in the bed of a pickup.. from what I remember, I you lay down a sleeping bag, then tarp, ice, lay down the quarters on the ice, add more ice, then tarp and sleeping bag over the top, fold up the sides .. never done it, but I believe it would work and in a pinch would probably be good enough. . Other than that, find a nice shaded north facing slope by a creek and hang....
I think you might be on to something....I thinking that might be the hot new item in hunting. Cooling meat racks for the inside of a truck...lol
Dang, that hurts. But true. LOL
I have kept elk quarters ( bone in) hanging for a week in first week of sept. Nite temp in low 40’s , good game bags, keep in shade during day. Good as any
Aron and Chris Roe were touting just dumping the game bag with the meat in a creek behind a dam and leaving it submerged for days. I think Aron suggested putting the bag in a heavy contractor trash bag first but Roe (if I understood him) just dunks it without the trash bag. Not sure I am down for dunking meat in water without the trash bag to protect it. Also promoted rotating the meat in the game bag to make sure the meat in the middle gets a chance to lose heat.....that sounds like fun.
This thread ties into the "game bag" one. If you take quarters back to camp with bone in it is a lot easier to get it cooled down as you get complete cooling and airflow on every side. After it cools....debone for the pack out if you want. I don`t as quarters are so much easier to handle. I don`t care about a extra couple lbs. You can strap a quarter to a bare pack frame and rock on. No need for these $900 Hollywood back packs to haul meat.
I'm not sure you can get complete cooling and airflow on every side if one side of the meat is not exposed due to the bone.
I bone the meat off, put in game bags, hang it off of tree branches to keep the bags in the shade as much as possible.
The meat cools as I go get what I need to pack it out and return to 'Leap Frog' the loads of meat down and out...…..
As loads of meat get back to the truck, it goes into a cooler (150qrt), repeat process until all the meat is out and in the cooler then I bring out the head/antlers/cape....
Good luck, Robb
Running mountain stream or lake in sealed contractor bags, let me cool before placing in bags and it will last several days. Never did an elk that way but a few deer and never had an issue! Shawn
But a pile of meat DOES get cooled on all sides? Meat left on the bone keeps the meat in the longest, most spread out form. Meat off the bone will lose it`s shape and "puddle" in a game bag. Most hunters then pile more unboned meat on top of it, this is NOT the best way to handle meat in the bush.
The only way boning meat cools quicker is to have and use a Bunch of game bags.
So I suppose the way to get complete airflow and cooling would be to expose all sides to air so all sides can release the heat.
You suppose correctly. You knew that though.
For some reason this gets peoples blood up. Do what you do. I have for years deboned everything. Except Elk. And, the reason for that is the heat in early season. You get it to the first night hanging in game bags bone in and, keep it in the shade during the day and, you have got a lot more time then most realize. If you have it deboned it better be cold and, you had better rotate it if you don't use a bunch of bags.
Here’s what I do then debone for packing out the next day
Last year opening evening, I just layed the quarters over a couple logs, put game bags over them, packed out the loose meat and came back the next morning for them
How does a bone in quarter hanging in a game bag cool faster than a boned quarter hanging in a game bag?
^^^^ because the meat in all in clump
I think the concern (perhaps myth?) is that the bone holds in more heat and takes longer for the interior meat next to the bone to cool......vs boning out and releasing that heat and exposing the inner meat to cool air. I get that the loose meat then tends to wad up in a ball and you have the same problem unless you reach in and rotate the meat in the bag periodically......which would expose it to even more potential contamination.
Short answer, do what works for you.
If you cool the meat first then debone the next day it doesn't really matter if its a big ball of meat in a game bag. It's already cool and the meat on the inside of the ball won't heat up anymore than the outside. If anything, the outside meat will heat up before the inside does. Once it's cooled, in bags, and then kept fairly cool, it will last for quite a while in the mountains. The trick is to cool it out first, then debone. Also, keep the meat in one big chunk instead of seperating all the individual muscles. If you are worried about a big ball of meat then debone the quarters in one big piece except for the knee down keeping the bone in from that point then place in your bags and you can hang from the hock on hind legs and a tendon on the front legs. For me, it's just easier to debone everything in one piece. Neck meat is also kept attached to the backstrap, rib meat and brisket is kept as one big piece as well.
I have tried to educate hunters for close to 27 years now on proper field care and deboning techniques. Some listen and it's a pleasure to cut that animal up. Some don't listen and they end up with less meat because of spoilage or it's covered in filth. I have seen it all and am amazed every year because I see something that makes me shake my head sometimes.
Nothing fancy here. Quarter, put in game bags, hang or place on branches in a tree, and start packing to the icechests in the truck. Then head home and chill in the fridge for a few days rotating the meat periodically. If the meat gets a crust on it at any time, no big deal. Nature's way of sealing the bad stuff out and protecting it.
I've been told that boned meat can be a problem when it's hot and balls up in your pack.
When I bone out my meat, I just shake the bags around every couple hours and mix it up and stuff cools off just fine.
Ive also placed the quarters in low hanging branches overnight. When you're by yourself, you just get it done
"When I bone out my meat, I just shake the bags around every couple hours and mix it up and stuff cools off just fine."
Works even during non-hunting seasons :)
Almost every elk I’ve killed was quartered, put in game bags, hung on tree branches overnight and hauled out on horses the next day . The temps here in NM in September are lows in the 30 s to 40s over night and highs are usually in the mid 70s never had a problem with the meat.