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Location: Summit County, Colorado
Joined: 03/17/2005
Posts: 18
Elk field dressing and quartering

Has anyone viewed the DVD "From the Field to the Table" produced by the Colorado Division of Wildlife? I am thinking about purchasing it. I need some field dressing and elk quartering assistance.

I got my first elk this year on top of White Slide Mountain north of Kremmling, Colorado during the 2nd rifle season. After my elk was down and field dressed, I enlisted the help of my friend (experienced deer hunter). Because neither of us had ever quartered an animal before, and because the cow was 1 1/2 miles from the nearest road access, we had a tough go (note to self: small soft backpacks are not great for packing elk hind quarters). We got all the meat out of there and down to Kremmling Wild Game Processing and everything worked out just fine. My family is really enjoying the meat.

But, there has got to be a better way! I probably spent 4 hours working on the cow where I shot it, including field dressing and figuring out how to quarter it. I also need some sort of visual aide that would help me remove the backstraps and tenderloins in the most convenient manner. One more thing, my wife was royally upset when I showed up without the hide. She is an excellent seamstress and she was going to make something for me. I hear about it all the time...

If you've seen the DVD let me know what you thought of it. Any other advice is appreciated. Thanks!

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Joined: 12/13/2005
Posts: 3
Elk Quartering

I hunt cows every third year with great success. I have taken them down in some god awfull areas and been in the same situation. However a couple of tips.

1. Get the quartering part out of your head and think 6 pieces instead of four.
2. Start by lying the cow on its side and skinning one entire half of the animal to the middle of the spine.
3. The entire front shoulder is held on only by cartledge and can be easily removed with a knife (no sawing needed) Cut the back straps out of the half you have skinned and load it in a pack with the frint shoulder. Trip number 1
4. The hind section is a bit tougher but realy is easy as well and can be removed with minimal sawing. Its a bit heavier so I pack out the straps with the front. Cut your meet from between the ribs and what good meet you have left. Its not a lot and this makes good ground meet anyway and pack it in with the rear hind section. The ribs have little meet and realy its a waste of energy to carry out all of that bone as part of a quarter. Trip two
5. Fold back over the hide you peeled to the spine and roll the animal over on it and repeat2 through four.

Remember, an experienced Elk hunter spends a good three months getting in shape to hunt that altitude and depth into the forest. A healthy three year old cow will yield as much as 500 pounds of meet to pack out. You need to be prepared to hike out with a 100 pounds or a bit more on your pack frame.

Alamosa's picture
Location: Southern Colorado
Joined: 03/25/2005
Posts: 245
Elk field dressing and quartering

A couple of tips that have worked well for me.
Predation is a problem and time is an enemy. You may only get 1 trip on the day of the kill. I try to get the most valuable part first. Separate the hind end. Don't split the pelvis yet. Take a thick strap (your belt?) that won't cut into your shoulders and double it through a slit on each rear leg between the shank and tendon. Sling that strap across your shoulder one leg in front of you one behind and elk butt on your opposite hip. This provides a surprising amount of leverage and you will be able to carry the rear half of a small to medium size elk. This will give you the ability to quickly get some of your best meat to safety and you don't need to have a pack along with you to do it. Now you can return with a pack for the next trip. It seems to take about 3 one-man trips for a small elk, and 5 one-man trips for a big one.

I like racks of ribs and standing rib roasts so I plan ahead for that and section the ribcage accordingly. There is a lot of flexibility as to how this part is cut and babyback size racks will stack and pack nicely. I will cut rib racks into equal sections that will fit into my dogs packs and enlist the dogs to help with the hauling.

Everything else pretty much the same as already mentioned.

Some good info in the following article:

Location: Summit County, Colorado
Joined: 03/17/2005
Posts: 18

Elkman and Alamosa,

Thank you for your instructive comments. I do very much appreciate your assistance. Hunting is a great pastime, as I have discovered, and I'm looking forward to my next hunt.


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