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Packing Out an Elk Alone on my Back

So to make a long story short. I am planning on backpacking 3-6 miles into the wilderness to bag an elk. Here in Oregon the daytime temps can reach 80 or 90 degrees even in the high country (worst case scenario). I plan on packing the critter out by myself on my back. My question is, if the weather is hot will the meat spoil before I can get it all out? How many trips should I plan on making to pack it out? I am a former Marine used to humping heavy loads on my back, so the weight isn't so much an issue as is the meat spoiling before I can get it all in a cooler in my rig.

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Packing Out an Elk Alone on my Back

I believe you have 4 hours from the time that blood quits pumpin' to get the meat to 40 degrees Think
At least thats how it was when I was in the restaurant business. Safe temp was below 40 and above 140 and 4 hours was the max. it could be in between those temps. Hope that helps some.

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Packing Out an Elk Alone on my Back

You go so many variables to consider. How long will it take you to skin the animal. Are you going to bone it out or take quarters(a lot more weight) Protecting the meat from blowflies is extremely important in warm weather and if it gets very warm(80-90 degrees) you go some serious concerns.
If you have never done anything like this before, I would almost guess you would fail miserably as I would think it will be quite a task for a couple of guys who have done it in the past.
Sorry for being so negative, but this is one hell of a job you're considering. And the amount of daylight available must be considered.
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Packing Out an Elk Alone on my Back

I'll most definitely be boning it out without gutting it because it's faster, and maybe taking enough hide for a head mount. I grew up cleaning and buthchering my own deer for 13 years, so I don't foresee any problems in terms of cleaning and boning it out. I know my way around dead animals.

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Packing Out an Elk Alone on my Back

I noticed that you also posted on another thread.

You have a genuine concern. That is a lot of weight to be hauling 6 miles out. On your own.
You should make arrangements with some of your buddies to help haul it out after it's down.

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Packing Out an Elk Alone on my Back

What you are planning is how I always do it (except for those hot temperatures).
A medium size elk takes me 5 trips.
Take the best and the most meat first (hindquarter).
Game bags are essential.
Keep a huge white 160qt marine cooler in your vehicle w/ blocks of ice.
Locate a large, flat boulder in a stream near the kill. Usually it will be shaded. Use it to store and cool the meat while you are hauling. The rock will conduct the cold from the stream into the meat pretty quickly (but only if it is a cold stream).

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Packing Out an Elk Alone on my Back

Thanks for the input fellas. Does anyone think the high temps can be overcome?

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Packing Out an Elk Alone on my Back

The shady area with moving water and rocks sticking out of the water works. You can lay the wrapped meat out on the rocks. It won't refrigerate it but it will definately cool it down. The one drawback is there may be flies enjoying the shade. Sprinkling pepper over the wrapped meat will keep the flies off.

3 miles in and 3 miles back. 400 lbs of meat, water and gear. 4 trips minimum, for a strong person. That's an all day event, in hot weather.

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Packing Out an Elk Alone on my Back

Thanks for the idea fuzzybear, it's pure genius. I was beginning to think my endeavor would not be possible.

fuzzybear wrote:
3 miles in and 3 miles back. 400 lbs of meat, water and gear. 4 trips minimum, for a strong person. That's an all day event, in hot weather.

Trust me, I've done much worse for far less. It's overcoming all the obstacles that make it so rewarding. If it were easy, it just wouldn't be the same.

KPB
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Packing Out an Elk Alone on my Back

I have been backpacking 5 to 10 miles into wilderness areas in Colorado to hunt Elk for many years. If you can get well off the trails, maintain a very low profile, and keep noise to a minimum, you will have Elk all around you. Two years ago, a herd of 13 were bedded down next to my tent opening mourning. The highest temperatures have been in the high 70's but that drops significantly after the sun goes down. By hanging the game bags in the shade, the meat cools at night and stays cool all day. I cant remember the details, but I remember reading that meat properly cared for, meat kept clean in game bags, hanging so that the air can circulate, will last about a week at these temperatures. I usually do two trips a day, so in two days all the meat is out. Makes for long days, but you sleep well! You do not want to store meat in plastic, but placing the meat in game bags, then into plastic bags, then into a cold creek, would be a good way to quickly lower the temperature if necessary. I would not recommend letting the meat come into contact with the water, as any bacteria would reduce the time you have before the meat spoils.

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Packing Out an Elk Alone on my Back

I think KPB is right. If you completely remove the hide and get the blood out as much as possible and wrap in game bags you should be all right for a day or two at least. Drying of the outlayer of meat seems to form a barrier for the rest of the interior meat (in the quarters).

I don't know if you have enough day light to complete the trip. 6 miles (max) round trip, 5 trips, and assuming a 4mph pace is 7.5 hours of packing and that assumes your only 3 miles in. 4mph is kind of fast for hard terrain with a load. If you bust one in the afternoon it would become an evening job. I guess you could take along a head lamp and bust it shortly after day break too.....

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