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Question for Elk Hunters #8487562 12/27/21 03:23 AM
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DaveTexas Offline OP
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I was wondering how elk hunters pack out meat after a kill if they hike many miles tracking elk for the hunt.
I can understand taking the horns and back strap.
But do they spend days hiking back and forth retrieving the quarters if solo hunting?
Wouldn’t other wildlife go after the meat by the time you come back for a quarter?
Do all states have laws about wasting, requiring you take all 4 quarters and back strap?

Last edited by DaveTexas; 12/27/21 03:24 AM.
Re: Question for Elk Hunters [Re: DaveTexas] #8487571 12/27/21 03:33 AM
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You gotta pack it all out. A good frame pack is a must but you are allowed to debone the meat which makes it easier.

Unless you can get a vehicle to it, it’s either coming out on someone’s back or on a horse or mule


For it is not the quarry that we truly seek, but the adventure.
Re: Question for Elk Hunters [Re: DaveTexas] #8487577 12/27/21 03:41 AM
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I packed out an elk and mule deer this year so far, hope to pack out two mule deer next week.

Yes states have waste laws, with specifics amounts/parts. Also most states require have animal headgear to be last thing to carry out, not first.

Out side of grizz country it’s not much of an issue, buddy did have issues with wolves in Idaho but it wasn’t qtr yet the wolves found it whole before he found it.

As far as amount of time to pack out just really varys on terrain and animal size. Bull I helped with this year we packed out two trips with three guys. We could of done it again in one. My mule deer I did in two trips.

On elk, I normally do four trips maybe three if real far....two front shoulders, then rear with a back strap, then rear with back and then scrape(neck, ribroll/tenders, brisket) and horns. Same thing on deboning. If I have a hike, I debone to save weight. I try to hang on bone though as it’s cools better and easier to handle, then debone right before I haul out.

Right equipment makes life easier


Maybe this mule deer series will help. In the pack out pic, I have two fronts and a hind qtr first trip, second trip was rear scrape/backstrap/tebders and horns. My pack out was only 3/4 of a mile, if I had a long pack out I’d de-boned it to cut weight and probably did one load instead of two.

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Re: Question for Elk Hunters [Re: DaveTexas] #8487586 12/27/21 03:56 AM
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When I hunt I always have a pack frame and at least 4 good game bags with me. Where legal I also do the gutless method and bone them on the spot. After boning them out the meat is placed in game bags and hung to help it cool and to keep it out of the reach of things like coyotes and bear. Since I have a pack frame with me the first load of meat comes out at that time.

Serious elk hunters always have a plan for the meat and if you don't bring it all out the GW is going to ticket you in a heartbeat. Waste of game meat is a serious thing just about everywhere.


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Re: Question for Elk Hunters [Re: DaveTexas] #8487745 12/27/21 02:37 PM
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Bobo, you look well prepared sir

Re: Question for Elk Hunters [Re: DaveTexas] #8487755 12/27/21 02:44 PM
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Don't shoot it if you can't get it out.

Yes, packing is common and in Wyoming you are required to take quarters, straps and tenderloins and GW will check your cooler to make sure you have it all. Antlers can be packed first or last, doesn't matter.
A good pack frame is a must if solo.

We've changed our hunting practices as we get older, don't hunt areas we can't get our animal out with our own 2 feet.

Re: Question for Elk Hunters [Re: DaveTexas] #8487920 12/27/21 05:37 PM
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Listen to BOBO, if your going to shoot it you better bring it all out, and why not, Elk is my favorite game meat !


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Re: Question for Elk Hunters [Re: DaveTexas] #8487946 12/27/21 06:05 PM
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beyond a pack frame backpack, we also (when terrain allows) a 1-wheeled pack cart. it's built out of a bicycle frame and a couple metal wire baskets.

the handlebars are off the front of the bike. everything else is off the rear half. be sure to hook up the brakes, cause they are damned handy!!

not as good as a horse..... but better than nothing.

FYI, anytime I shoot one I (temporarily) leave sweaty clothes (ie shirt, etc) around the kill site to keep the place stinking like humans. thus far, I havent lost any meat to coyotes or bears.

it's not pretty, but it worked on my cow in October. smile my buddy and I put the shoulders in the saddlebags. each of us carried a ham on our packs. the loins, straps and heart came out with me on the first load the night prior. smile

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Last edited by Billy Goat; 12/27/21 06:34 PM. Reason: poor spellin

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Re: Question for Elk Hunters [Re: DaveTexas] #8487957 12/27/21 06:13 PM
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We pack out in quarters, with backstrap and trimmings in their own bag. [Linked Image]

Re: Question for Elk Hunters [Re: DaveTexas] #8487988 12/27/21 06:52 PM
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If hunting with snow on the ground get yourself an ice fishing sled ($100.00). We've slid several out in a sled.
As stated as you get older don't shoot them where you can't get to them.

Re: Question for Elk Hunters [Re: DaveTexas] #8487991 12/27/21 06:56 PM
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The area we hunt in CO, we find a cowboy or someone to help us pack it out on horse back. I plan ahead with phone numbers and contacts in case we down an elk. I used a guy a few years ago when I shot my cow elk. The 2 of us and 2 pack horses got it out in one trip. We were deep into the mountain with a lot of terrain. The cowboy got us to the kill site in 45 minutes, and back out off the mountain in 30 minutes. It took us 6+ hours to get there on foot.



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Re: Question for Elk Hunters [Re: DaveTexas] #8494848 01/04/22 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveTexas
I was wondering how elk hunters pack out meat after a kill if they hike many miles tracking elk for the hunt.
I can understand taking the horns and back strap.
But do they spend days hiking back and forth retrieving the quarters if solo hunting?
Wouldn’t other wildlife go after the meat by the time you come back for a quarter?
Do all states have laws about wasting, requiring you take all 4 quarters and back strap?




Some things to keep in mind.....

If your hunting mid to late seasons temperatures should not be a problem. It may take a couple days getting an elk out but its nothing but time, which you should have accounted for before you shoot it. Early season archery is usually ok also as most elk are up high, and by the time Sept 1st gets here lows are nearing freezing up high. But there are times when its still hot and thats when you have to decide on what your going to do if you shoot one way back and are solo. Let me tell you here and now....DO NOT RELY ON SOME JOE COWBOY WHO TOLD YOU ON THE PHONE IN JULY HE WOULD HELP YOU GET THE ELK OUT WITH HORSES IF YOU NEEDED HIM. Unless your with an outfitter you better be prepared to get the animal out yourself. Don't rely on renting horses, mules or llamas etc either. If its warm/hot and your the meat transporter stay closer to the roads/trails. If your hunting early seasons you do have better odds of renting stock for help but as the rifles seasons open up most packers/ stock rentals/ riding services etc. are moving there stock to winter range and shutting down for the fall.

We hunt with packs that are all inclusive now. Day packs with meat hauling capabilities. They are large packs but cinch down for day hunting (we use Kifaru) Get your meat in bags and hang on the north/northeast side of trees for all day shade. Have tracking poles on you while hunting, they help tremendously on the hike out with loads of meat. Just be prepared physically and mentally for the work thats ahead of you if you get an elk down. My longest pack was 4 miles and was a cow, took 2 days alone.

The best tip I can give you is find a good hunting partner. Killing an elk is easier with 2 people and the work is cut in half once its dead on the ground.

Re: Question for Elk Hunters [Re: DaveTexas] #8494907 01/04/22 04:39 PM
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Also, in most states just anyone can not pack your animal out for you, they have to be licensed to do that if they charge a fee.

Game carts can save quite a bit of work.
They will pack an elk quite well.

I can pack a bone in front quarter of an elk, if I can then just about anyone can too.
Boning out the meat or just removing the lower legs really saves on packing weight too. You can remove the lower legs with a good knife and if done right the tendon is intact for hanging the quarters once out of the field.

Just quartering the animal and laying up off the ground, on a sage bush etc will really help with cooling the meat.

We do not hunt in our pack frames, day packs that are capable of carrying out boned out meat work for the 1st trip out for us. The pack frames then go back for the rest of the meat. No extra trips involved. Many times when near say the atv we will just throw a quarter over our shoulder and carry it out. Not the best way but it works.

Bobo has it right, 2 folks make quick work of an elk. Spouse can get one gutless quartered in about 30-45 min. with my help holding legs, turning over the animal and help skinning certain areas.
We've taken elk in 60+ degree weather and just placed the quarters on a sage bush while we packed, the quarters would be cool to the touch in minutes with a nice breeze blowing across them.

They are just big deer, you can manage them but again we don't go down in the really steep and deep anymore for elk. Haven't packed one more than say 1 mile ever, we've been lucky with that.

Re: Question for Elk Hunters [Re: DaveTexas] #8495064 01/04/22 07:21 PM
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A fairly large day pack will usually hold about 20-30# of boned meat, and you can tie the cape and antlers on the outside. That makes about a 45# pack total, and is easily done by a single person to get back to the vehicle. Then having a true pack frame, and help will, get the rest of it out. If you want to find out what you can pack, or train and practice for it, get the bags of water softener salt. One of mine is 44$, and two is all you want to do.

My son in beast mode, coming out with 2 hindquarters and 2 shoulders from a big bull!!! The girlfriend had the backstraps, cape, and antlers on her pack.

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Re: Question for Elk Hunters [Re: Billy Goat] #8495083 01/04/22 08:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Billy Goat
beyond a pack frame backpack, we also (when terrain allows) a 1-wheeled pack cart. it's built out of a bicycle frame and a couple metal wire baskets.

the handlebars are off the front of the bike. everything else is off the rear half. be sure to hook up the brakes, cause they are damned handy!!

not as good as a horse..... but better than nothing.

FYI, anytime I shoot one I (temporarily) leave sweaty clothes (ie shirt, etc) around the kill site to keep the place stinking like humans. thus far, I havent lost any meat to coyotes or bears.

it's not pretty, but it worked on my cow in October. smile my buddy and I put the shoulders in the saddlebags. each of us carried a ham on our packs. the loins, straps and heart came out with me on the first load the night prior. smile

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Pretty slick! up


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Re: Question for Elk Hunters [Re: DaveTexas] #8495255 01/05/22 12:31 AM
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I get my Ranger Crew or a truck as close as possible. I've gotten my Ranger into spots that don't look feasible and that makes all the difference in the world. I always host a group of at least 5 hunters, so we divide and conquer. Some guys are way more helpful than others, but we always transport it all out in 4 hours or less.

Re: Question for Elk Hunters [Re: DaveTexas] #8495260 01/05/22 12:35 AM
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I have friends that have been and when I say, been I mean 10-20 years of.... Ive never been

From what I hear, pay the man...

Re: Question for Elk Hunters [Re: DaveTexas] #8495331 01/05/22 01:56 AM
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The food factor is one of my driving factors so leaving meat is of no interest to me. I had been told you have to pack everything out including guts and hide is that correct?


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Re: Question for Elk Hunters [Re: redchevy] #8495356 01/05/22 02:22 AM
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Originally Posted by redchevy
The food factor is one of my driving factors so leaving meat is of no interest to me. I had been told you have to pack everything out including guts and hide is that correct?



you don't have to pack out the guts or hide, but in Colorado you have to pack out the sex organ. Head is not proof of sex


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Re: Question for Elk Hunters [Re: DaveTexas] #8495773 01/05/22 05:58 PM
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In Colorado evidence of sex must be attached to 1 quarter, just skin around the testicles and leave them attached to the quarter. Do not cut them, or the penis, off if it is your evidence of sex, it has to be still attached.
Head attached to a whole elk would be legal.
Tie the tag to the meat, not the antlers. Keep it on the meat until you get home.

In Wyoming you can cut off the evidence and bag it separately with the meat. Sometimes it is easier to just leave it on a quarter instead of keeping track of a separate baggie.
In Wyoming you may also put the tag in your pocket during transport unless you are not in the vehicle with the meat, put it in the cooler with a quarter and the evidence of sex baggie then.

You are not required to pack out the hide in any state, I believe.

The regs can seem confusing but if you draw a tag folks can give you the right direction to look to make sure you do everything legal. Nobody wants to see another hunter get in trouble due to ignorance of a law. We like to see happy, successful hunts and lots of pics.

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