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Lots of experience on this forum. After seeing some photos of spoiled and dirty meat in the “tough cow” thread, I’d love to hear some tips for field care. From the time the arrow is fired until the meat is wrapped. I’ll start...
I bought a 10 pack of those silver space blankets off amazon. They were cheap, like $1 each in bulk. I carry one in my pack for anemergency, but when I kill an animal, I spread it out and use it as a ground cloth. It’s almost weightless in the pack and keeps your meat clean.
^^I do this exact thing, they work great to set your quarters on.
If you're skinning a bull change your gloves once you get to cutting and handling the meat. That way the gloves you used to touch his urine covered stanky hide are not the same gloves you are using to handle that delicious meat!
Great idea ^. I pack a few plastic painters tarps. The cheap ones.
Yep, I use a plastic drop cloth to keep the meat clean as well. I get it skinned and bagged as quickly as possible. I hang the small stuff in a tree, and the quarters I prop up against a tree...all in the shade. I want body heat dissipated FAST!
Never thought about those silver space blankets. I read on a thread to get a piece of 4x8 Tyvek. Assembling a new pack for the 2019 season when I draw 16D in NM!-) You experienced guys on here, which would be better? And what do you use?
Used Tyvek this past fall for moose. It was OK. I feel like I thought there was a drawback besides the crazy noise but I can't remember what it was. If you're in grizz country use Tyvek to keep them at bay. You just want it to be light and compress down. Maybe the space blankets take less room.
Not much for field care tips other than take proper time for photos. You only get one chance at photos, and you've got all day and night for meat work. I like to take my meat care slow and methodical but even so an elk is done in an hour or so, moose depends where they lie. They way some people cut in a panic it's like they're working in a thunderstorm and it's only a matter of time before the bolt hits where they're cutting. No good can come from that.
I used Tyvek before and was not impressed either. I did however soften it in the wash machine. Most places I hunt don't offer much hanging opportunity, so I build a cache. I also grind most of my meat so I'll slash the bigger muscle bellies to release heat.
I had a double space blanket that worked great, packed down small, and weighed next to nothing.
Tossed it after the last use, and bought some cheap ones...no bueno! The "silvery" coating material, was coming off the thing, and sticking to the quarters!
Be sure the critter is dead before you grab that hind leg ! :-)
The tyvek makes a great ground cloth for your tent, but is too big and noisy in your bag for putting meat on.
I’ve you don’t have a ground cloth you can pile deadfall in a row and then lay fresh cut pine bows over the top. You’ll get some needles on the meat, but it’ll breath well and stay clean.
Orange para cord is a real time saver.
Nothing worse than looking for that length of green para cord mixed in with the ground foliage to tie up a leg or tie up a game bag to a tree.
As all have pretty much covered...Although, in hot conditions I'll split the back quarters to the bone, if not de-bone all the way...Depending on time and distance! just another way to get heat out of the meat...
The bottom of north-facing timbered slopes and/or creek bottoms will be much cooler during the day if the weather is warm.
Remember what a "space blanket" is used for. Dirt on the outside of the meat doesn`t effect the taste of the meat. Spoilage from excessive heat will.
You are better off laying meat over a few branches to get air circulating under it....thus cooling it faster.
Don’t gut the animal. Take the quarters, and back straps. Cut a couple ribs near spine and pull out the tenderloins. Bone out the neck if you want it.
Leave the rest for the coyotes.
Along with Lou, I was gonna say cool meat as quickly as possible, different ways to do it but get it done. Shawn
Franklin, nobody is leaving quarters on a space blanket in the sun. It’s a clean place to keep them while you cut up the animal.
Here’s another one that’s helped. By the time I get to the tenderloins there’s usually a decent amount of bloat which puts pressure on the lions and makes it harder to remove. Wait until everything else has been removed then puncture the diaphragm by the front shoulder. It’ll smell, but it will release a lot of pressure, making it easier to remove the tenderloins.
I like to let the meat air dry . It gets a nice crust in just a hour or so. I also take it out of the bags if hanging at night for multiply days.
Create a place to hang all 4 quarters before quartering A small white pillow case works great to lay out your knives, sharpeners and rope on. Eliminates searching for theseon the forest floor and it also doubles as a great bag to bring those tenderloins back to camp for a celebratory feast.
X2 Huntman…..years ago we would smear the outside of the meat with blood and sprinkle pepper on it. It glazed over fast and hard and the pepper kept the bugs away.
Speaking of cooling, at our longtime base camp we kept a couple of old sleeping bags. We aged the meat in the cool north-facing timber and after it got a rind we wrapped the hanging quarters in the sleeping bags during the day to insulate. We've aged meat for a week like this, even down at 8300'.
Debone immediately. It definitely makes a difference. I learn from my mistakes. I also do like Hunt and let it sit awhile before bagging.
I'm in va on the coast & anymore most of deer season is well above. deer hanging temp so I kill em gut em asap & put em in 120qt or larger coolers & stuff & cover with ice. a large doe over 100#s will easily fit in a 120qt cooler
Will, my bull 3 years ago I didn’t bring bags. I left the quarters hang over night in a tree. I got back and there was a crust so hard you couldn’t cut it with a havalon. It was like a Kevlar vest from dirt and spoilage. That bull was absolutely amazing.
Did ya debone it? Would've been better if you did. My experience anyway
Make sure you have plenty of game bags handy - you never know when you'll shoot 2 elk by yourself :)
Brad you’re the only one in Colorado that gets to shoot them in the flats next to the road! I can barely get one out of the mountains!!!!
Will, I might debone next year. Baby steps! ;)
If possible I like to cut the quarters off with the hide on, hang from a limb or deadfall and then skin and debone. It's a lot cleaner and easier on the back.
For the tenderloin, vent as mentioned earlier by cutting the diaphragm or opening the belly muscle about mid belly (or don't), then cut the gut area open along the spine. After that go in two ribs up from the rear and cut that end of the tenderloin off. Roll and cut it loose and then cut around where it hits the pelvic and remove.
So i am going on my first DIY OTC elk hunt this year in Utah. I know it will be 80 degrees during the day. After reading many ideas, my intention is to gut the animal as soon as possible. Because i will be alone it may take me awhile to process the whole animal. I will then quarter and remove all of the meat from the carcass and place on wood or something to cool down. Then place in game bags and haul to truck. I know chances of success are slim to none but thats ok, i'm a bowhunter and failure is quite common. I worry about the meat more than killing an animal. Because i love to eat what i harvest.
Keep it off the ground as much as possible.
Tip? Kill them near the road and drive to them! :)
Gut um quick and turn them tits up so heat leaves soon. Roll them up on sticks or rocks to let heat get out off ground, even while butchering.
In my experience Elk quarters will cool faster the first 24 hours hanging then packed in a cooler of ice
Air flow on a moist surface even at 50-60 degrees cools amazingly fast.
I use a $5 nylon webb hammock that I can tie between two trees or like last years elk harvest I tied it up over the top of a spring in the timber. Weight is nothing and when done it gets tossed in the washer for cleaning. Keep it in a Crown Royal bag in my daypack and I know a lot of you have one of those laying around wondering what you could use it for.
All of these things will help out a lot. Hammock is a great idea for just about and field dressing. Thanks for that one Stryker.
I also like to get the quarters off and hanging. I will take a small sapling and bend it over. Take a front quarter and bend the knee, hang it over the sapling and tie the hoof back to the leg. Then it is easy as pie to get a bag over it to keep the flies off it. Tie the rope on the hoof first and I can do this unassisted. I do this for all the quarters then I come back and de-bone them. I will strip the bag and lay it open below the quarter then debone right into it. Break apart the hinds to let them cool. I will spend an extra hour and cut 20 lbs of BS off so I don't have to carry it. I leave lots of room in my bags so when I get the first one done I can flatten it out and lay it on a cold rock in the shade. I will move it around to a new cool spot every so often. Its surprising how much the rock warms up under the meat. Ever sit on a cold rock? Not for long I bet. Hind end stays much warmer standing with air around it rather than the cold rock against it. By the time I have the last one done the first one has cooled nicely and I can start to assemble a load to haul. The last thing I do is hang the bags of de-boned meat before I leave. 4" thick meat on a cold rock will cool faster than a 12" blob in the bottom of a bag hanging. Oh and I almost forgot. Rubber glove and a cut proof one over it on the non knife hand. Goes on first comes off last. Really the biggest thing that has improved my field dressing is keeping calm, taking my time, keeping things clean and making good decisions utilizing the environment around you for cooling purposes. Rushing will save you next to nothing and will likely cause you to make mistakes that can really cost you. Not to mention I really don't think meat cools much in a wad against your back while you are packing it. Might as well strip out as much heat as possible before it gets hung or packed.
I see a lot of people talking about tyvek being loud... you can toss it in the dryer for a little while and it softens it up tremendously. Loses most of the noise. That's what I've done in the past when I've used it in a floorless tarp.
Elk are big critters. Be prepared. Have a good Backpack and the physical ability to get the meat out. If you are not prepared you don’t belong in the elk woods. After talking to the local Game warden. It’s amazing to me how many people go elk hunting and don’t have a pack or only have a fanny pack. Thinking they can drag an elk out.
"Game Bags" only became a "thing" a number of years ago. Prior to that everyone simply hung meat and packed it out. It worked then and it works now. In Canada we hardly even sell any game bags. Only part that kills me about the meat crust is that you then have to trim that and it's meat lost. But you can't really get around that other than leaving hide on. When fly in moose hunting I only used a bag to keep the meat clean so that when we fling it on the airplane floor it isn't sliding on diesel spills or whatever.
Try to never let meat sit on meat. It will spoil. starting at that spot super fast.
APauls, you don’t have blow flies and yellow jackets in Canada? Maggots can cause as much, if not more, meat loss as anything. A quality game bag allows the meat to breathe, as well as keep it protected. That’s the main reason I get my meat in a quality game bag ASAP.
+1 Ermine. I once guided a couple guys from Texas who insisted they could each grab a leg and drag an elk out.
One other important thing - if you have a time constraint, MUST be back at work Monday, have an aitplane flight, etc., keep that in mind. I know of guys who have left meat in the woods because they didn't have time to pack it all out before they had to leave for the airport.
I have walked away from a couple bulls because each time I had to leave camp the next day for a business flight and knew it would be a two day pack job.
norseman please educate me iv never killed an elk but I have killed a lot of deer a few pigs & bear and a whole bunch of tuna to 600 #s & I absolutely need to know how something in 50-60 degree open air is gonna cool quicker then in ice please explain
"Only part that kills me about the meat crust is that you then have to trim that and it's meat lost. "
Bingo. I dont let the meat get much of a crust anymore. Way too damn much waste for the reward.
Get it back to camp and into a cooler and keep the moisture in the meat.
You will cool 101 degree elk meat faster to ambient air temp by hanging then placing in a cooler. You will get NO circulation of cold if cooler bottom or sides is touching meat or if meat is touching meat. You are just wasting ice.
All I’m saying is if you get meat hanging right away in elk hunting temps you don’t want to or have to get meat crammed in an ice filled cooler right away. Hanging in the shade or with overnight cooler temps is optimal and saves you ice for your scotch.
Tuna temps are around 68 So if it’s 70 degrees on the boat...yes, ice makes since
That hammock is a great idea....also the meat on meat thing is big. That`s why I do as HDE showed in his pics. Hang with the bone to cool then debone, I don`t like the "puddle" of meat thing.
I`ve seen flies lay eggs on the outside of game bags so I try to repel the flies when possible.
You`re getting some great tips here "Empty Freezer"....good luck.
I'm getting it all, hope I can put it to use soon. This site is so awesome for learning. I don't think there is a better place to learn about every aspect of bowhunting, from on the hoof to in the belly. The things I have learned have had a huge impact on how comfortable and confident I am in the field. Bless You My Sons
Norseman, the only issue with your explanation is the "save ice for scotch", why water down your scotch? :-)
Get the meat deboned and in your game bags hung in a cool spot, (creek). We have been bringing a small chest freezer and generator with us in our horse trailer, freezing the meat..
Don't feed the coyotes and birds the rib meat. Three swipes per rib and roll the meat off in one piece. They weigh at least eight pounds each side.