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Meat/Trophy Shipping Options
Contributors to this thread:
Flyingarcher 13-Mar-24
Blood 13-Mar-24
IdyllwildArcher 13-Mar-24
Bowfreak 13-Mar-24
Bou'bound 13-Mar-24
KY EyeBow 13-Mar-24
IdyllwildArcher 13-Mar-24
Blood 14-Mar-24
Bob H in NH 14-Mar-24
Mike B 14-Mar-24
bghunter 14-Mar-24
Bob H in NH 15-Mar-24
fisherick 15-Mar-24
butcherboy 15-Mar-24
ahunter55 15-Mar-24
DonVathome 15-Mar-24
John in MO / KY 15-Mar-24
Smtn10PT 15-Mar-24
IdyllwildArcher 15-Mar-24
Mule Power 15-Mar-24
Blood 15-Mar-24
JSW 16-Mar-24
From: Flyingarcher
Hello all again. I am going to be hunting Roosevelt Elk in September this year in Western Oregon. I am from Illinois so obviously it's quite the journey and was planning on using the airlines to fly into Eugene. As someone that likes to plan for success, I want to get my logistics for meat and trophy transport set ahead of time. Anyone have suggestions for shipping meat and/or a trophy back to Illinois? It's my first elk hunt so I am guessing 300-400 lbs of meat off the bone plus headgear.

From: Blood
Find a friend or business who has a big FedEx or UPS business account and use that. It’s the cheapest option. Ship 2 day air and freeze everything before hand.

I've flown to Oregon to elk hunt, but ended up just driving back with the meat and antlers on a separate trip. The meat cutter and taxidermist were fine with me leaving the stuff.

I'll say one thing, you have to realize the issue with time. This stuff takes a lot of time so if you plan on bringing back your trophy/meat, it can chop an entire day off of the end of your hunt if you haven't filled your tag because you have to stop hunting before you otherwise would due to not having time to get the meat out of the woods and ready in time before your flight.

Time doesn't matter if you fill early, but when you fill on the last day like I did, the shit is hitting the fan as far as time/flights/logistics. Getting on a plane with unfrozen meat is a problem because it leaks. Antlers need to be properly protected - you can't just show up to the airport with a dead elk head, obviously.

Best to drop everything off and have it shipped, IMO, unless you're driving.

Also, you're not going to end up with 400 lbs of meat. I got 220 lbs off of my 2-3 year old Roosevelt, which is similar in quantity to the three 4-5 year old Rocky Mountain elk I've killed. They're bigger, but they're not that much bigger and 6+ year old (mature) Roosevelts are extremely rare in Oregon.

From: Bowfreak
I would drive. I know it is a long drive but any other way you do it is going to be a massive pain in the butt.

From: Bou'bound
Absolutely drivable.

From: KY EyeBow
I'd suggest you try and calculate driving and see if you can make it work. It will be very expensive to fly the meat and antlers back separately, or with you, for that matter. When you live East of the Mississippi, it definitely takes more time and $$ to do these trips!

I wouldn't drive. I've driven a lot across the west and midwest and now that I live in AK and still hunt the lower 48, I've flown a lot to hunt too. IL to western OR is 30+ hours of driving.

That's two solid long days of driving each way and flying is one day each way. Those extra two days are enough for the logistics and you don't have to spend 4 days driving, which sucks.

Just have a plan for where you're dropping off your meat and trophy if you kill an animal beforehand. Lots of meat cutters and taxidermists are used to shipping. There's also the option of flying back to OR to pick up your meat/antlers once they're both ready and then driving back home and that can be done in a long weekend.

The advantage of doing that is that hunting is not a sure thing and if you don't kill something, you'll be glad you flew instead of driving your empty vehicle back.

Also, western OR has very steep hills that are very conducive to the gleeful activity of getting air under all 4 tires of the vehicle that you're driving and it's better to do that with a rental car than your own truck. I found multiple spots on my trip.

From: Blood
What Idyll said. Don't drive. It takes up too much hunting time. Bring your animal to a butcher, have them process and freeze it and ship it back. Use the power of a lower cost business account for FedEx or UPS and ship 2 or 3 insulated boxes in two day shipping and you’ll be happy.

I guess you could also take some of the meat home as additional baggage if you fly. But I know you’ll be pay a good deal there with 5-6-7 bags.

From: Bob H in NH
I flew it back as luggage several years ago. Was 4 boxes of meat @ 50 lbs, then loaded up the carryon. Shipped the skull fedex in a box with clothes and boots. Didn't take the cape. At the time was $50 each bag after 2. I also upgraded to first class which gave me better rates and made the costs almost the same

From: Mike B
Seems there's good and bad parts no matter which way you go.

Me? I would choose to drive it, in a heartbeat. Nothing causes me more stress than being stuck in an airport with 5000 other people I don't know. Plus, if the weather is good it's an easy drive.

No GPS needed. Take I-80 all the way across til you hit US 30 at Little America in Wyoming, take US 30 towards Cokeville, then stop at the Ranch Hand in Montpelier for an awesome breakfast. Hit I-15N at McCammon and run to Pocatello, then I-86 west to until it becomes I-84, and follow that all the way to Portland. It's two good days of driving, but you'll see some beautiful country on the way.

Get the meat into a freezer for a day before you head back, then pack with plenty of ice and it'll stay frozen all the way home.

But then, that's just me. I hate flying and hate airports even worse.

From: bghunter
I spent 28 years avg about 8 hours a day behind the wheel of a car. I will fly whenever I can.

If you factor in gas, hotels, meals for the days driving and hopefully no other issues with your car you may break even with the costs of shipping meat and antlers home.

You can always donate some of meat if you want too.

From: Bob H in NH
What about fly out, drive back?

From: fisherick
I have posted several times on here how to ship/ transport meat and gear.

From: butcherboy
I would drive it as well. Just plan for extra days before and after your hunt. I used to ship meat all over the country for hunters and it is really expensive.

From: ahunter55
Drive for me & I have many times. Shipped an elk once. Last day kill several years ago. Dropped off at butcher. They packed, shipped. Very costly.... I brought rack/cape with me.

From: DonVathome
By far cheapest and most reliable is checked bags. I travel light. A mature bull will have 200# of meat or less undell you get a huge one. I know they can be a little bigger then the Rockies I am used to. I can get 70# in my carry on & personal item. Trim meat good and then 1 bag with 100# of meat and you are good. Split horns & cape in another checked bag with gear or meat to get to 50#.

You can also donate some meat - IMO giving someone who really needs it is much better than paying the premium to ship a 3rd bag home that is overweight. I feel it is greedy to bring it all home if you are not going to use it all. Look up FHFH


John in MO / KY's embedded Photo
John in MO / KY's embedded Photo
I think your best bet is to fly the meat and antlers back as checked baggage. Here is a picture of my moose meat, antlers, and duffle that I flew back from Edmonton to Cincinnati. The 15 gallon Rubbermaid totes are cheap, reusable, and hold almost exactly 50 lbs of meat. The meat was frozen solid when i started my trip and only the outer parts had started to thaw by the time I was home.

From: Smtn10PT
Buy a one way ticket there. If you dont kill buy a one way ticket home. If you do rent a vehicle and drive home.

When I flew back from Alaska with my caribou the cheapest option was to freeze the meat and put it in waxed boxes and bring on as extra luggage. Get as close to 100 pounds per box as you can. My meat was still frozen after flying from Fairbanks to Philly and driving home 3 hrs. It took well into the following day before I could begin to seperate the meat to get it cut up.

It takes time to get meat frozen and you have to find a place to do it. I've had blood dripping out of both carry ons and checked bags and it can get you stopped. You don't want to be that guy that pulls your carry on out of the overhead and sprays blood across your fellow travelers and their stuff, trust me.

From: Mule Power
You will not have 300 to 400 pounds of meat. Ship all your gear home UPS. Put your meat on the airplane. It’s cheaper to ship your gear be cause it doesn’t matter how long it takes. Standard ground. If you ship meat, it has to be next day.

Just do a search for “Bowsite getting meat home” on Google and you’ll find this topic talked about 1000 times.

From: Blood
What are you guys paying for baggage fees? All I can find is $40 or $50 for the first and second bag and it goes up from there. $100 for the third. $200 plus for the 4th and 5th. Hundreds more from there.

Figure you have two bags of gear - a duffle, a bow/rifle case and a carry on going there. Then you need at least 3 more bags of meat, cape etc. going home.

If you have a good business account, it only costs a few hundred dollars to ship the meat on 2 day.

You can have your hotel freeze the meat for you if needed. I’ve done it. Ask them. You can even freeze the cape and put it in your carry on. It’s about 50lbs which is their limit. Pack the cape in a garbage bag and freeze it.

I’ve seen these threads come up a lot and no one seems to have tried it this way. There has to be other guys that have done this….

I’ve driven from CT to MT and back - it sucks. And it takes 3-4 days off your hunt. Fly and ship the meat.

From: JSW
I always bring it home as checked baggage. I've brought capes and horns back from Kyrgyzstan as checked baggage. Just do some research ahead of time and you can do it. I just brought a box of fish from Costa Rica. It cost $35 extra as a checked bag.

Since they are now charging exponentially more for each bag, consider just bringing home 2 50# boxes of meat and donating the rest.

That said, lately, I'm inclined to drive if at all possible. I've driven from New Mexico to Manitoba twice in 2 years. I drove to Michigan for the Comptons event last year. Flying just sucks now days. If you have the time, drive.

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