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packing out elk w/o horses?

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packing out elk w/o horses?

Old 11-14-2008, 06:40 AM
  #1  
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Default packing out elk w/o horses?

Question for the experienced elk hunters. How do you handle packing out an elk, without horses, when you are back in a few, severalmiles? I've done this a couple of times with horses,works great-- but would like to do a DIY without horses...

What works, any strategiesfor getting this done efficiently? Or is it just a backbreaking endeavor, taking a couple of days? Thx for sharing.
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Old 11-14-2008, 06:57 AM
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Default RE: packing out elk w/o horses?

I have been lucky enough to harvest a few elk. And only 1 I had the option to use our mules to pack out. What I do is bone out the animal on the mountain. I place all the meat into large pillow cases(because they are strong and keep the meat clean) tie them, and then secure them to a pack board of some kind. I have a bull pac and it works awesome. I take everything I absolutely can take. A average size elk can be packed out this way with 5 guys. But more makes the loads a little lighter. this year we actually weighed our packs when we got back to camp, to my amazment they did not weigh what I thought. The heaviest pack I had was a full hind quater bone included, with the hoof cut off at the knee. pack and all it weighed right at 100 lbs.. Which is heavy, put that on your back and you will believe it is more like 150 lbs.. Just to give you a idea. Oh yeah I always carry 1 ratchet strap on each pack as well as each pack has it's own supply of parachute cord, really strong and light! Good luck!
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Old 11-14-2008, 07:06 AM
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Default RE: packing out elk w/o horses?

It is just back breaking work. We pack out two ways depending on how far in it is. Both ways start off by quartering, skinning, and cutting off the leg as the knee. We usually leave the bone in for the packing out process because it gives the load a little rigidity. The only meat we bone out of course is the backstraps and the tenderloins. When we shoot the elk we pack the rack out on the way back to camp to get the pack frames. We then go back and load the pack frames this is when the two different ways come in to play.

If we are only a mile in or so and have a few people we will pack them all the way out each trip. If alone or way back in we relay the packs. Take one a hundred yards and go back for another and relay them down the hill.

So both of our way we can pack out in 5 trips. 6 including the first back with the rack to get the frames.

You must always think before you squeeze the trigger or release the arrow how far in you are and if the bull is big enough for the work lying ahead.
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Old 11-14-2008, 07:23 AM
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Default RE: packing out elk w/o horses?

We packed out 2 this year from about 4-5 miles back and at 11,500 feet. It took 5 of us all day for each. No real easy way to do it other than to lighten the packs by boning the meat. We put all the meat into game bags to keep the dirt and bugs off it. We all have good pack frames which do a great job of distributing the weight over your hips. Slow and steady is the way out and even though it is difficult it is a labor of love and it ends....It helps to have a few cold beers waiting at the truck.

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Old 11-14-2008, 08:30 AM
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Default RE: packing out elk w/o horses?

No easy way, strong back and legs will get your elk out. Only differnce I do, I hunt with my frame pack instead of leaving it back at camp. That way, if you kill you dont need to go all the way back to the truck or camp to start hauling. You'll be making the most out of your first trip out by having a full load.
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Old 11-14-2008, 09:26 AM
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Default RE: packing out elk w/o horses?

ORIGINAL: beech18

No easy way, strong back and legs will get your elk out. Only differnce I do, I hunt with my frame pack instead of leaving it back at camp. That way, if you kill you dont need to go all the way back to the truck or camp to start hauling. You'll be making the most out of your first trip out by having a full load.
Exactly what beech18 and the others said. I also keep straps and parachute cord on my pack frame along with a bagwith all my field dressing tools. My bull this year was two miles in and about 1/4 mile off of a good trail. 2 of us had hunted with our packs on and I was very glad we did. 3 of us hunting total and it took two trips to get 4 quarters out, the head, and the bag with the back straps, loins, and other meat we cut off the neck.


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Old 11-14-2008, 09:49 AM
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Default RE: packing out elk w/o horses?

Wehunt with a good internal frame backpack with plenty of empty space. The first trip out, the frontshoulder, backstrap and tenderloin comeback in the backpack in a game bag. Then we pick up a good pack frame to haul the hindquarters out. We had 3 of us and my elk was 1 1/2 miles off the trail head with only the last 1/4 mile of that on an established trail. It really wasn't bad at all. I shot it at 8:30 a.m. and we were back in camp at 1:00 p.m. On the second trip we let the oldest guy off the hook and he didn't have to carry anything back. The key is to have help. I can't imagine packing one out by yourself.

The only thing I would do differently is figure out a better way to haul the head and antlers out. I just carried them upside down on my shoulders and the tines dug in pretty hard by the end of haul.



Having good pack frames that fit you is critical. Hauliing out the hind quarter was a piece of cake in comparison to hauling out the head even though it weighed almost twice as much.



We were in grizzly country so the rifles came back with us even on the 2nd trip. That was kind of a pain but I guess it is better to be safe than sorry.
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Old 11-14-2008, 09:57 AM
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Default RE: packing out elk w/o horses?

I would agree that there is no easy way. If it isn't too far back, quarters on a pack frame will do the trick. If it is very far back, or there are a couple of steep ridges to cross, then I only pack the meat, rack, and ivories. No use taking the bones and hide out, unless your intent on using them. I have found that a flex framed pack (internal or external either way) carries the weight MUCH better than any rigid frames I've used. There may be a few really good rigid pack frames that are a cut above, but in my experience there is no comparison.


Be careful how much you carry. Just because you have the strength to carry 80 to 120 lbs, doesn't mean you should. We are not designed to carry that much weight up hill and dale. It can damage your back, your knees, hips and feet. You might not know the damage for a couple of years, but it can happen. Most bulls or large cows are going to provide 200 to 250 lbs of boned meat. Add the rack to that. Two guys can get that out in two reasonable trips.

Early season hunts are the problem. Get that beast quartered and hanging where it'll be in the shade ALL day, until you can get it all packed out. If you can get it into a shaded draw with running water, the temp will be several degrees cooler than the surrounding area. Getting the hide off of it makes a huge difference in how fast it cools as well. A friend had an elk down a couple of years ago: raghorn bull. He properly field dressed him, split the pelvis, and it sat in rain and falling snow all night. The next morning we started boning it out. It was still hot in around the hip joints. Later season elk will be fine for a couple of days if quartered and hung to cool. In that case, it'll likely cool fine over night and the hide left on will insulate it to keep cool during the day.
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Old 11-14-2008, 10:01 AM
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Default RE: packing out elk w/o horses?

I hunt with a Cabelas Gun and Bow Pack, and my buddy hunts with a Cabelas Elite Scout Pack (both the larger sizes). Both packs have an external compression unit. My buddy placed the head and rack in his Elite Scout Pack and strapped it in with the external compression, it held it in place great. I could have done a similar thing with the Gun and Bow Pack since I did not have my rifle in the compression unit.

As for the meat, we boned it into the large 3-gallon ziplock bags. This was great as it kept the meat from leaking blood on everything. I then just piled as much as I could carry in my pack and off we went. Had we not found horses to retreive the rest for us, it simply would have taken another trip or two to get all that weight out.

It is important to carefully select what gear you take in, if you may need the room in your pack to take meat out.

I would not carry the whole quarters out. That's carrying a lot of bone and hide you don't care about, and when the one-way hike is 7-8 miles I'm all for minimizing the work.

I did talk to a big dude who once hiked out of there with a quarter electrical-taped to the front and back of him. He did not highly recommend that method!
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Old 11-14-2008, 10:36 AM
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Default RE: packing out elk w/o horses?

Used Cabela's Alaska Guide frame with bagfor years and worked great (took top bar off, just gets in the way when trying to actually hunt). Last acouple yearsswitched toMystery Ranch Nice frame,Crew Cab bag set up. Both work well. I justuse aheavy duty garbage bag for my pack as a liner to prevent blood soaking rest of my gear when packing meat out. Proper tools also make or break the process.Always carry good knives with sharpener, somesort of saw, parachute cord is great, etc etc etc
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