Mule Deer, Elk and Western Big Game Hunting - MonsterMuleys.com

Leaving elk overnight

 
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DonVathome
(1189 posts)
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Jan-23-17, 
05:14 PM (MST)
"Leaving elk overnight"

I always see stuff about this and hear drastic different stories.

I liver shot an elk with bow in Sept years ago. I knew I gut shot so left overnight. I shot him right at sunset. I tracked at first light it took me 1-1/2 hours to find him and sun had just risen and hit him. There was frost here and there (dew other places). so temps were 30-35.

I found an immediately butchered him the meat was fine.

Fast forward to 2016. I shot a medium size cow about 30 minutes before sunset. Problem was temps were in teens, cloudy and some wind. I thought she crossed the creek to me. It turned out she crossed a bend, meaning she was still on the other side. I had a 2 mile hike out in snow and low teens temp - and water was deeper then my boots. I could not cross without risking frost bite.

We started to trail 1 hour after light (so as not to bother to many other hunters). While hiking in (over an hour) it occurred to me that mid December nights are a loooot longer. Found elk and started butchering close to noon. Temps had warmed at it was raining 35 degrees).

I was very very worried about my elk when I realized I did not butcher her until about 18 hours after I shot!

She was bloated a lot, even meat was! Anywhere I stuck my knife went pppsssshhhh!!!!

Got her cooled off fast and had long flight home with delays. Luckily we flew out the next day and temps dropped to single digits, or below 0 overnight. Got meat to 35 degrees quick.

Got her home and it was the best eating elk I have ever had.

So meat was ok.

FYI for reference.

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  Table of Contents  

 Subject   Author   Message Date   ID 
 RE: Leaving el...  elkassassin      Jan-23-17   1 
  RE: Leaving el...  257Tony      Jan-23-17   2 
   RE: Leaving el...  Elkrazy01      Jan-23-17   3 
    RE: Leaving el...  PleaseDear      Jan-24-17   4 
     RE: Leaving el...  Zeke      Jan-24-17   5 
      RE: Leaving el...  mmwb      Jan-24-17   6 
       RE: Leaving el...  txhunter58      Jan-24-17   7 
        RE: Leaving el...  Deerlove      Jan-24-17   8 
         RE: Leaving el...  huntin50      Jan-24-17   9 
          RE: Leaving el...  desertpoint...      Jan-24-17   10 
 RE: Leaving el...  Soj51hopefu...      Jan-24-17   11 
  RE: Leaving el...  DW      Jan-24-17   12 
   RE: Leaving el...  Vanilla      Jan-24-17   13 
    RE: Leaving el...  mtmuley      Jan-24-17   14 
     RE: Leaving el...  idelkslayer      Jan-25-17   15 
      RE: Leaving el...  Vanilla      Jan-25-17   16 
       RE: Leaving el...  176mulie      Jan-25-17   17 
        RE: Leaving el...  dz      Jan-25-17   18 
         RE: Leaving el...  operation400      Jan-25-17   19 
          RE: Leaving el...  Gator      Jan-25-17   20 
           RE: Leaving el...  nfh      Jan-25-17   21 
            RE: Leaving el...  Togwotee      Jan-25-17   22 
             RE: Leaving el...  hank4elk      Jan-26-17   23 
              RE: Leaving el...  Togwotee      Jan-26-17   24 
               RE: Leaving el...  BPKHunter      Jan-28-17   25 
                RE: Leaving el...  BenHuntn      Jan-28-17   26 
                 RE: Leaving el...  Togwotee      Jan-28-17   27 
                  RE: Leaving el...  Weatherby      Jan-29-17   28 
                   RE: Leaving el...  treedagain      Jan-29-17   29 
                    RE: Leaving el...  DonVathome      Feb-05-17   30 
                     RE: Leaving el...  DW      Feb-05-17   31 
                      RE: Leaving el...  CAelknuts      Feb-06-17   32 
                       RE: Leaving el...  DonVathome      Feb-07-17   33 
 RE: Leaving el...  1911      Feb-08-17   34 
 RE: Leaving el...  wapiti99      Feb-08-17   35 

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elkassassin
(15896 posts)
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Jan-23-17, 
06:19 PM (MST)
1. "RE: Leaving elk overnight"

Hunting in them kind of Temps You 'MIGHT' be Ok!

In My Eyes on an Elk You'd best Get them Gutted & Skinned ASAP!

The Front End on an Elk Holds Lots of Heat & Will Spoil Quickly!

It Was them Damn Lake Trout that took them Elk
out!

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257Tony
(3523 posts)
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Jan-23-17, 
08:17 PM (MST)
2. "RE: Leaving elk overnight"

I agree with Bess, if you can't get them taken care of that night, don't shoot.

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Elkrazy01
(47 posts)
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Jan-23-17, 
09:01 PM (MST)
3. "RE: Leaving elk overnight"

Only 2 experiences i had with this.
First was a spike shot with a bow right at dark. Was warm to hot temps, like a low of 40 at night and high of 70 mid day, but shot wasnt perfect and not much choice other than to let him sit. Found him next morning around 8 am when it was 50 degrees out, so a 14 hour sit max, and the meat was perfect, which i was surprised but it was a small bodied elk.
Other was a cow shot around 2pm. Good vital shot but was dry and she didnt bleed much in thick timber, dry ground. Couldnt find her but next day we luckily walked up on her around noon, 20 hour sit. It snowed 6 inches that night. Cut the quarters all off only to learn the meat had definitely soured. Much bigger bodied than the spike. Temps were high of 35ish and lows around 20.

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PleaseDear
(8040 posts)
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Jan-24-17, 
03:27 AM (MST)
4. "RE: Leaving elk overnight"

+3

'if you can't get them taken care of that night, don't shoot.'

Robb

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Zeke
(8272 posts)
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Jan-24-17, 
10:53 AM (MST)
5. "RE: Leaving elk overnight"

I've left almost every elk on the mountain over night but only after quartering and hanging (or at least stacked on brush for air circulation). I've had some really late nights and long hikes in the dark but it's all part of the deal.

I've never had to leave one whole on the hill over night and hope I never do. So, I guess I'm not giving you much help on what will or won't work with an elk left out whole.

Zeke

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mmwb
(2221 posts)
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Jan-24-17, 
11:34 AM (MST)
6. "RE: Leaving elk overnight"

There is no specific formula. Get to them ASAP and get the quarters opened all the way up at the minimum.

A friend shot a bull with his bow up the Snake River Canyon, years ago. He had four inches of snow on him the next morning. Meat was still hot to touch at the joints of the hind quarters. The meat was fine, but if it had been warmer there would have been some souring.

I'd never write one off. My first elk was bow killed at 6 pm. I didn't find him until 7:30 the next morning. 2nd of September. Had one roast that was bad. The rest was fine. It was warm and I lucked out.

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txhunter58
(5711 posts)
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Jan-24-17, 
11:48 AM (MST)
7. "RE: Leaving elk overnight"

Don. You are a braver man that I. Or maybe just luckier? If I had any animal that leaked air everyplace I stuck it including the meat I would not eat it. The only thing that creates that air is bacteria.

venor, ergo sum (I hunt, therefore I am)

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Deerlove
(4129 posts)
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Jan-24-17, 
12:02 PM (MST)
8. "RE: Leaving elk overnight"

Like Bess said that front end (neck) will go quick even with freezing temps.

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huntin50
(965 posts)
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Jan-24-17, 
12:28 PM (MST)
9. "RE: Leaving elk overnight"

A friend shot a bull elk a few years ago. It was the first part of October. Shot it 5 minutes before dark at 50 yards. It was so cold you could see your breath. We didn't have a good camera or cell phone back then. We wanted some good pictures and propped the bull up, and thought as cold as it was we would come back in the morning for pictures and bone out the bull. (The bull had not been running around prior to shooting the bull.)

Early the next morning the puddles in the road had ice on them. Se started with pictures and boning out the bull prior to the sun coming up. The bull was bloated, and most of the meat was not good.
Lesson learned.

My Uncle a retired fish and game officer told me after asking him about it, said he has seen elk that were laying in snow and left overnight spoil before morning. You need to get the heat out of them. As mention, neck, front shoulders are places where the heat gets trapped.

I agree if possible, at least open up the cavity, make a few cuts, and you will do better saving meat.

Texas, a Veterinarian, knows what he is talking about.

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desertpointbrian
(1075 posts)
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Jan-24-17, 
04:28 PM (MST)
10. "RE: Leaving elk overnight"

I used to help a butcher out on weekends. I can't tell you how many spoiled elk showed up. Especially on the front end even in 10 degree weather an elk can spoil rather quickly.

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Soj51hopefull
(601 posts)
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Jan-24-17, 
05:12 PM (MST)
11. "RE: Leaving elk overnight"

One thing to consider is not knowing when exactly an animal passes in the night can change things. If an elk was shot bad just before dark and basically suffers all night then dies just before dawn the meat will probably be ok with the heart still circulating blood. Crappy scenario, but if that heart quits circulating and it sits all nite it can be bad.

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DW
(8585 posts)
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Jan-24-17, 
06:42 PM (MST)
12. "RE: Leaving elk overnight"

I've said it a hundred times, decomposition begins the second the heart stops.

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Vanilla
(886 posts)
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Jan-24-17, 
08:04 PM (MST)
13. "RE: Leaving elk overnight"

I'm sure there are people that have left elk overnight and been okay, but I'd never want to do it. My butcher told me that it didn't matter how cold it was, get the hide off an elk as soon as possible. Of course, bad things happen even with the best plans and intentions. Do what you can do.

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mtmuley
(4511 posts)
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Jan-24-17, 
08:37 PM (MST)
14. "RE: Leaving elk overnight"

Elk can be left whole overnite. I don't bow hunt, so it's normally fairly cold when I've done it. And I've done it dozens of times. Each scenario is different, you just have to know what you are doing. mtmuley

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idelkslayer
(193 posts)
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Jan-25-17, 
07:59 AM (MST)
15. "RE: Leaving elk overnight"

The way I see it by the time the temps get cold the elk have grown in their winter coat and built a nice layer of fat. All of that is meant to keep them warm through the winter. So even though it may be could outside the hide and fat will retain heat in the meat for a long time.

In the warmer months of September the hide and the heat work against you.

Bottom line for me is to find the animal and then be at the kill site skinning and quartering until the meat is hanging no matter how late it gets. Why risk it if you can find the animal?

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Vanilla
(886 posts)
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Jan-25-17, 
08:37 AM (MST)
16. "RE: Leaving elk overnight"

The hide alone will trap/retain heat like crazy. Just this year I saw a cow elk killed in single digit temps, quartered with hide left on and the quarters put in back of the truck. It was 4-5 hours later that the skin was taken off, and the warmth was still there, after having been quartered out, in the back of the truck, in 5-7 degree weather. Imagine a whole animal in 35-40 (or more) degree weather, all the way overnight. No thank you!

Again, my preference even I couldn't get the animal out that night, would be to process it and hang it until I could go back and get it.

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176mulie
(27 posts)
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Jan-25-17, 
12:11 PM (MST)
17. "RE: Leaving elk overnight"

I've done it once. Shot a cow with 30 min of light left starter the climb up to her. Got dark and head lamp was super dim. I thought with the highs in the single digits and low in the negative I was good I sadly was very wrong most the meat had spoiled. Did not have a bad smEllen but raised like a elk smells.never will I leave an animal over night.

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dz
(949 posts)
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Jan-25-17, 
12:37 PM (MST)
18. "RE: Leaving elk overnight"

My first elk was a cow back in the early 80's at about 10 in the morning. I came from a non-hunting family. So with no experience I gutted her and put the liver and heart back inside. I don't remember the temps but she was laying in about a foot of snow. When we got back to retriever her the next morning. The back Q that I had laid the liver on was spoiled. The whole animal had a stench. We ate most of it being our first one we didn't know what elk should taste like. Since I don't stop till they are cut up skin off in bags hanging in a tree. Even if I have to carry one out all night which I have done many times.

DZ

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operation400
(5 posts)
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Jan-25-17, 
04:06 PM (MST)
19. "RE: Leaving elk overnight"

We've left elk overnight a dozen times during the Sept. bow hunts in southern NM and have never had one ruin. Find them at first light and in a freezer by noon. Even when we've had trouble finding them and didn't get the meat out until late afternoon, it was good.

Maybe we've been really lucky?!

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Gator
(15095 posts)
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Jan-25-17, 
04:20 PM (MST)
20. "RE: Leaving elk overnight"

Winter coat, seem to hold alot more heat then a thinner coat.

"I have found if you go the extra mile it's Never crowded".
>Life member of
>the MM green signature club.


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nfh
(5153 posts)
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Jan-25-17, 
05:38 PM (MST)
21. "RE: Leaving elk overnight"

I have left elk over night several times. 15 miles in the back country things happen. I usually leave my pack animals in camp and use my horses to close the distance, usaully running the horses a mile or 2 to get to them before dark.

Then after a kill I always gut the animal. If I have my pack aninals I indoan quarter the elk and don't have to gut them.

Then early next morning I get to the elk asap. Have never had meat spoil. Im at 8000-9000 feet and October is mostly cold temps.

The worst case is grizzly bears. They never eat the meat over night. They usaully bed up nearby. I have had one bear piss around and on the elk. You don't want to leave them quarterd out at night cause a bear will tend to burry the quarters. .

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Togwotee
(5054 posts)
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Jan-25-17, 
08:34 PM (MST)
22. "RE: Leaving elk overnight"

LAST EDITED ON Jan-25-17 AT 08:34 PM (MST)

We've left dozens out overnight and for days sometimes until we get the horses to them. had a bobcat chew on one and that was the only problem ever.

This was late October/November in easten OR so temps ranged from 60 above to sub zero.

We get the hide off ASAP if it's above freezing and get air under them by rolling them on sticks , rocks whatever.

Rain is a bad deal. we get them out or covered if it's very wet. I always leave a shirt or something on the carcass for scent. I don't know if it help or not but it doesn't seem to hurt.


Stay Thirsty My Friends

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hank4elk
(1786 posts)
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Jan-26-17, 
07:27 AM (MST)
23. "RE: Leaving elk overnight"

I lost half the meat on a buck I lost tracking in the snow @ sunset in MT. Found it early the next morning & the whole bottom half was bad.
I quit bowhunting after that and never give up if I do shoot one now in the evening.I pass on the shot if I'm not sure I will drop it.
On elk it's get them out of the sun & or skin ASAP.If it's where you can't load into a truck after gutting quick,it's the gutless,skin & quarter into bags and up in the trees out of the sun.
The cow I shot @ shooting time before sunrise in 12 deg (windy, so zero) was steaming good when I walked up to get my truck and was back in 30 min. The sun had hit her and she was already swelling & blowing gas. I started gutting and she just kept get warmer.After I hoisted her into truck & in my hanging tree it was only 8am and I had to take the hide off to get it cooled.
Tip.The sun at high altitude is intense & will cook one inside even if it's on snow and it's in the teens.
As stated the neck will sour quicker than the hips even.Get the esophgus out ASAP.
I have left some gutted & propped open overnight,but never lost any meat since that buck in 78.

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Togwotee
(5054 posts)
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Jan-26-17, 
09:31 PM (MST)
24. "RE: Leaving elk overnight"


If you found a place where a dead elk gets warmer at 12 degrees I'd just bring some salt and pepper and wait for dinner.


Stay Thirsty My Friends

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BPKHunter
(1591 posts)
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Jan-28-17, 
07:46 AM (MST)
25. "RE: Leaving elk overnight"

I too believe from personal experience that you should never leave any animal whole overnight no matter the temps. Clearly the bigger the body(elk, moose, buffalo), the more heat, but those winter coats must me considered as well.

Bad conditions then I, at min, quarter with hide on then get off ground if temps near single digits overnight. With legs removed, only takes min time to get to neck, straps, and loins off.

Have quartered off one side and flipped elk over to expose other side to 10 deg 15mph conditions.overnight to find meat near joints at near normal body temps next AM. Can't imagine leaving anything on carcass anytime at all in Sept, or even on the bone.

Lastly, this is a very big reason to be sure to avoid anything but highly confident shots.

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BenHuntn
(257 posts)
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Jan-28-17, 
08:58 AM (MST)
26. "RE: Leaving elk overnight"

Ok here's what you need to do.
1.) gut elk
2.) remove esophagus (Bacteria factory)
3.) expose as much meat to open air
4.) put stick in rib cage to air out.
5.) put logs or rocks under carcass so air can circulate
around carcass.
6.) make sure the back legs are spread apart.

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Togwotee
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Jan-28-17, 
09:38 AM (MST)
27. "RE: Leaving elk overnight"

Getting meat to your camp doesn't cool it any faster. obviously the chances of it being eaten by a scavenger is much less but that's the only advantage.

If you're boning to pack it out as we usually do I like to let it cool at least overnight before I bone it. it's much easier and cleaner and while I've never had warm boned meat sour in plastic bags I feel better putting it plastic after it's cooled.


I've seen people do so many things I was sure would ruin meat yet they had no problems I think you'd have to work at it to damage meat in temps below 50 degrees for a few days. I can honestly say in my 45 years of hunting and with 100's of animals taken in out party we never lost 1 ounce of meat to spoilage. and I don't think we're magic we just use common sense. gut it, skin it, keep it dry, forget about it.

Hot weather is obviously another matter but one we never contend with.


Stay Thirsty My Friends

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Weatherby
(364 posts)
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Jan-29-17, 
09:45 AM (MST)
28. "RE: Leaving elk overnight"

I've learned from sad experience, that not only does heat cause meat spoilage, but heat combined with moist habitat, can cause incredibly rapid spoilage. I've also found that even on freezing nights, if they aren't opened up quick, and ultimayely die in a sponge, wet tundra, wet willow area, etc., the meat will surely be spoiled by the morning. I agree with hanging the meat asap, but it's even more critically important if they tip over in a wet topography.

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treedagain
(4231 posts)
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Jan-29-17, 
10:19 AM (MST)
29. "RE: Leaving elk overnight"

LAST EDITED ON Jan-29-17 AT 10:21 AM (MST)

I have shot over 20 elk myself with plenty more that i was involved in. Until this yr i have never left one over night. Got them quartered and packed out. I did 2 this yr myself in Wyo in Dec both late in the day. Not the smartest thing to do to pack that night with Sub zero temps did not make it easy along with bliz conditions on the 2nd after i got it broke down.

Next time i will wait until morning, just quarter and come back.

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DonVathome
(1189 posts)
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Feb-05-17, 
12:32 PM (MST)
30. "RE: Leaving elk overnight"

I agree not to shoot if you cannot at least gut the elk, I have left many elk gutted overnight, I also prop open back legs, skin top back leg and logs under so air circulates. You will not loose meat this way if temps are 50 or below IMO. Definetly ok when temps are 40 or below. When I hear stories where people claim to have lost meat this way I simply do not believe them - not possible - and yes it is an exact science! How do you think good cow steaks are aged 30 days! Granted size, wind, varying temps and changing temps make it impossible to figure out but estimating is pretty easy.

Had I known elk was on the other side of a creek I would could have easily picked a different one - but again she crossed the creek but just a bend no way I could have known creek was between me and her.

No way I could cross without getting severe frostbite, very very cold, 2' deep running, 15' across, 2-3 mile hike to any road/vehicle.

And also keep in mind I did not freeze that meat for days. Next day was mid 30's we were there 2 or 3 more days AND had a looong delay in flight with meat at Denver airport inside for 4 or 5 hours. Also meat in carry on bags on 2 flight, and at home put outside overnight. So even after that meat was not frozen for 4-5 days.

Granted I bet I really pushed it but bottom line is all meat was 100% ok.

The only elk I ever lost I found right away, bow NM in AM with frost in AM. Gutted him and had a long hike out and drive around to get back in. Problem was my guesstimate for sun was off and what I thought would be shade was not. Elk laid in blazing sun with tons of bees and flies. Yuck. Then long hike out and drive to butcher.

I ate the meat but it was clearly partially spoiled, tasted not good, I ate all or most of it but not good.

Like I said I was not worried until during long hike in it occurred to me that I was gone from her for much longer then it would seem!

It still seems odd to me by the time I got her gutted it was 20 hours from when I shot her! Dark early, respected other hunters and did not head in for first hour or two and looong hike in. It just never occurred to me I could shoot an elk at dark head in early but be gone almost a full day!

Again this post is as an fyi knowledge is power.

Also a good thing I now bring on all hunts is a small infared thermal reader. I think it cost me $10 and weighs less then an ounce. Point at surface push button and read temp. I always have big cookouts at my house after a hunt so people can eat fresh never frozen meat so this things is GREAT for checking meat and getting it right to 33 degrees for best aging.

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DW
(8585 posts)
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Feb-05-17, 
10:27 PM (MST)
31. "RE: Leaving elk overnight"

When I hear
>stories where people claim to
>have lost meat this way
>I simply do not believe
>them - not possible -
>and yes it is an
>exact science! How do you
>think good cow steaks are
>aged 30 days!

Gutted, skun, halved and hung in a cooler in about 30 minutes!

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CAelknuts
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Feb-06-17, 
10:53 PM (MST)
32. "RE: Leaving elk overnight"

Well, I hate to say this, but; I've had to leave several bow shot elk till the next morning. These were early to mid-September elk in Arizona and New Mexico. Not exactly cold country. While I don't think these elk died early in the evening, not a single one had any meat go bad. I got on them very first thing the next morning and boned them out ASAP. Nights were in 40s-50s and daytime highs 80s-90s.

My theory is that early season elk in the southwest are adapted to dissipating heat and actually do better overnight than later in the season when their winter coats have come in, fat has built up and they've adapted to retain heat. That said, I never want to leave an animal overnight unless necessary.

I did once lose a caribou in Alaska that we had to leave overnight. By the time we got to it the next day, it was completely spoiled. Again, colder temps and a heavy coat.

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DonVathome
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Feb-07-17, 
07:43 PM (MST)
33. "RE: Leaving elk overnight"

CAELKnuts I buy that, makes sense, thinner hair. I never thought of that but good point!

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1911
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Feb-08-17, 
08:58 PM (MST)
34. "RE: Leaving elk overnight"

Saw a cow elk quarter spoil very recently shot in sub six temps. If you don't gut and skin straightaway you are flirting with spoilage. But lets be honest. Most spoilage occurs in the freezer while the meat sits for months on end like some sort of food preservation science project.

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wapiti99
(78 posts)
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Feb-08-17, 
09:21 PM (MST)
35. "RE: Leaving elk overnight"

i think also, it depends on when the elk dies during the night. if it dies shortly after the shot or if in a gut shot animal, may live for 6-8 hours after the shot then expire. regardless, i wouldn't leave an elk overnight unless i was unable to find it that night. skinned, quartered and bagged is a different story however
jus my 0.02 cents

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