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1st time elk hunter questions.

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1st time elk hunter questions.

Old 12-19-2005, 01:03 PM
  #1  
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Default 1st time elk hunter questions.

First, the place we are looking at for hunting has average temps of 54 – 33 for the time of year that we are planning on going. If one of us was to kill an elk early in the week, what needs to be done to preserve the meat? I know lots of meat is aged, but it is aged at temps just above freezing. Will storing the meat in a cooler with ice suffice for up to a week?

Second, I have killed too many whitetails to count on my hands, however, the wall hangers have always escaped and I have a ton of experience skinning a deer, but none with capeing. Is it hard to cape, or just time consuming? If it is not that difficult, does anyone have any links, steps, or tips they can give? I could easily get the cape to the base of the skull if better left to a professional from that point, but what would I need to do to preserve the skull and hide until my return home?

Also, I have a general plan for the area and time we will be hunting, but neither I nor my hunting partner has ever been elk hunting. I spoke with one of my friends who has been twice and he has had luck, but experienced advice is always welcome. I am open to any quality information one may have, not simply limited to the questions above.

BTW, we will be muzzle loading or rifle hunting.
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Old 12-19-2005, 05:36 PM
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Default RE: 1st time elk hunter questions.

If the week you are hunting holds true on the average temps. your meat will be just fine if: 1) you get the animal hung and skinned soon after the kill and use either clean bed sheets of game bags to hang it in, 2) keep the meat in a shaded area, out of sun light for as much of the day as possible! The animal wouldn't need to be deboned, but either way it will be fine.
Capping a large animal, such as an elk, is pretty easy and it would be best if you capped out the head, espcially if it's warm and it will be a week before getting it to a taxadermist, BUT if it's cool then even that wouldn't be totally necassary. Simply make a straight cut down the back starting from behind the shoulders ending at the base of the skull. Make a straight cut from the back around the body, behind the shoulders, and pull all the skin forward to the base of the skull! Just cap down to the base of the head and cut off there, roll the cape upto the skull and keep it as cool as possible. Give the taxidermist plenty of hide to work with, nothing worse than making his job harder than it should be, or finding out that you didn't give him enough hide for a shoulder mount! Clean as much meat and blood from the cape as possible! Don't put it in a plastic bag, it needs to be covered, but with something that will let air circulate! That's how I've done several, moose and elk, and I've had no issues!
Get in shape would be my best piece of advise!
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Old 12-19-2005, 09:35 PM
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Default RE: 1st time elk hunter questions.

I've been blessed with good genes for cardio, but still plan on doing some PT. I did almost no training and hiked Longs Peak and the Chasm spur a couple years ago. I also spent a couple days on the Cont. Divide trail.

Do I need to salt the cape? Every site that isn't a taxidermy site says to salt liberally, but every taxidermy site says NO salt. Why the difference? If no salt what do I need to do, just hang in cool dry spot?
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Old 12-20-2005, 12:12 PM
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Default RE: 1st time elk hunter questions.

As Howler was saying, the temps should be fine, but weather is always unpredictable. Make sure you have good meat bags with you, and you may even want to de-bone your meat. Another good thing to have is some pepper. Pour pepper on the meat to keep off the flies and yellow jackets.

If you’re lucky to be near a creek, and temperatures get up there a bit, you can put the meat (already in meat bags) in plastic bags in the creek, then make sure to pull the meat out and hang it in the cool of the night.

Not knocking your genetics, but if you think you’re in shape that may not cut it. Be sure you’re in the best shape you can be. Hiking up to get a shot at a bull is one thing; packing out 500+lbs of elk meat, cape, and rack is another. So again, go with Howler on the advice of getting in shape. I learned that lesson the hard way personally. I thought I was in shape from a little hike I took earlier one season, I found out how much I wasn’t when I packed out an elk that late fall, and that was just a young spike elk.
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Old 12-20-2005, 12:39 PM
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Default RE: 1st time elk hunter questions.

Don't get me wrong, I do plan on doing some training. But the shape thing will be no problem, especially if I'm packing the meat out down hill. I've spent days (12+ hrs.) hiking with 70 lb packs. When it comes to phyical shape, my weakness is upper body strength, and lucky for me, cardio and strong legs will be more important for this trip. I try to work out on a regular basis, so training won't be a major burden on my daily schedule. Altitude is a factor I have very little control over. I've done fine scrambling 14'ers in the past,as well as hiking at the altitude I plan to hunt at.


What do you, and other hunters, do for training? Run or jog, hike, bike, stair machine, or other maybe. When I was doing lots of hiking I would load my pack with 50 -70 lbs and crank up the stair machine,just short of a running pace,for an hour or so, then jogfor2 - 3much beloved flat-lander miles. I hated that stair machine, but I think thats what worked best for me given I didn't have the time to do a regular pace for multiple hours.

Also, I maybe on horse back or have access to a horse for pack out. That would be nice.
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Old 12-20-2005, 01:43 PM
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Default RE: 1st time elk hunter questions.

I hate the stair master, or any other gym cardio machines for that matter. If you want a break from the boring machines, hang a bag in the garage, get a set of 1lb gloves, and go to town. Bag workout not only gives you good upper strength training, but really helps your wind and your legs. Go to more of endurance weight training instead of heavy “bulk up” weight training. Quite literally- Walk! Walk to work if you can, or park at the end of the lot and walk in. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. If it is not too far and you have the time, walk.

I used to have a gym membership and tried to follow the above when I lived in the city, but I’m moving to the country where I will have the advantage to do more hiking to get/keep in shape. Most of my hiking will also be in scouting my hunting areas, so as long as I don’t turn into too much of a couch potato, I should stay in good shape throughout the year doing what I love doing right out my back door.

If you get horses, you’ll never want to hunt again without them! Hope that works out for you too!
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Old 12-20-2005, 04:33 PM
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Default RE: 1st time elk hunter questions.

It's been my understanding that salt on a hide is your last option and only when temps. are a very real concern. It just won't be hot enough during elk season to really worry about the hide as long as you roll it up and keep it cool, clean, and dry! You don't want it to dry out, get hot, or have insects laying eggs in it/on it where you end up with maggots!
Putting the meat in a stream in plastic bags is a good idea, but it's best not to put the meat in plastic bags until after it has chilled. Get it chilled first and then in the plastic is alright.
As far as training for me, I live at about 6500', so that helps as far as the altitude adjustment. I push a mower(20" cut not self propelled)around about 2.5 acres in the summer, lite weight lifting, and stationary bike. The mowergot replaced this winter, so I'll have to find something else to do to replace that work out next summer, Thank God!
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Old 12-21-2005, 10:07 AM
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Default RE: 1st time elk hunter questions.

Another tip, which goes for any animals. If you can get the game head in a freezer, and the temperature outside is not cold, then buy some "Spot-Rot". I use this stuff, especially on hunting trips where I have a long drive home, or can't get the hide on ice quick enough. It's available at your taxidermy suppliers, and will give your the extra day or maybe 2 in warm conditions, without hair slippage. It's works great and well worth the money. But that's only it you want to save the cape. Good luck.

Here's some more info on it.
http://www.whitetailsystems.com/Stop-RotPage2.html
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Old 12-21-2005, 01:00 PM
  #9  
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Default RE: 1st time elk hunter questions.

ORIGINAL: Howler

It's been my understanding that salt on a hide is your last option and only when temps. are a very real concern. It just won't be hot enough during elk season to really worry about the hide as long as you roll it up and keep it cool, clean, and dry! You don't want it to dry out, get hot, or have insects laying eggs in it/on it where you end up with maggots!
Putting the meat in a stream in plastic bags is a good idea, but it's best not to put the meat in plastic bags until after it has chilled. Get it chilled first and then in the plastic is alright.
As far as training for me, I live at about 6500', so that helps as far as the altitude adjustment. I push a mower(20" cut not self propelled)around about 2.5 acres in the summer, lite weight lifting, and stationary bike. The mowergot replaced this winter, so I'll have to find something else to do to replace that work out next summer, Thank God!
What exactly is rolling the hide? I mean, I have a pretty good idea what it is, but what is the proper way or technique to do it?

You have to forgive my ignorance, I live in the country and a hunting "trip" involves walking from my front door.
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Old 12-21-2005, 01:20 PM
  #10  
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Default RE: 1st time elk hunter questions.

Fold the hide hairless side to hairless side and then roll it up, in other words, once it's rolled up, the hair side of the hide is only in contact with hair, and the hairless side is only in contact with hairless hide!
Clear as mud?
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