Alaska meat transportation

midwesthunter

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Northern IN
Been looking at doing various DIY hunts in Alaska, Those who have and have been successful, how do you get your big game meat home, and is there an average price per pound to budget for? Coming from the Midwest, driving isn't feasible. Seems when i do some research on this topic, prices are all over the place.
 

Hunting Wife

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We stressed about this probably more than anything else when we went. We didn’t have to deal with a really big animal but we brought back a whole deer in a Rubbermaid tote and some ducks for the taxidermist in an insulated seafood box. Flew Alaskan and just checked them as baggage. Even with one whole day of flying (something like 22 hours) they were still frozen solid when we got back to Montana. This was late November.

There wasn’t room for a bunch of totes on the float plane, so to get back to town we stuffed frozen deer quarters in our dry bags with our gear. Originally we were prepared to ship gear home and just leave the meat in the dry bags, but with just one deer decided to pick up a tote and check one extra bag to get it all home with us.

It should have cost us about $225 more in baggage fees (deer was overweight on top of three checked bags apiece and we aren’t Alaskan Airlines members) but it turns out if you are nice to the airline people when it’s a bad travel day, they can do you some favors
 

mtmander

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Alaska Airlines charges $75 for each extra bag (cooler) and the weight can also be over the 50 pounds but under their max. This is one option , there are others.
 

Gellar

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I am fortunate because I have a brother who lives in Alaska. When we are successful we go to Cosco and buy however many coolers we want to bring home full of meat, usually about 200lbs between two of us flying back to Iowa. We freeze it and pack it to the weight limit. My brother takes the rest. If he already has a full freezer he gives it to friends who may not.

We looked into the Alaska Meat Express and would go this way if we were ever bringing home an entire animal or animals. But after looking at the website, I am not sure if he is still in operation. http://www.alaskameatexpress.com/
 

Bambistew

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Really hard to give you a solid answer as the logistics of getting it from the field to a major city in Alaska are just about as daunting as getting it home from there.

As mentioned checked baggage is the way to go, IMO. It won't be cheap, but its a hell of a lot cheaper per pound than any other method, sans air cargo with can be a PITA.

Check to see if Alaska Air Cargo ships to an airport near you. Get all paperwork lined up before you go if you plan to ship cargo, you can drop it off before you fly home, and have someone pick it up on the other end for you. Air Cargo usually runs $1-1.5/lb similar to taking it as baggage.

I think shipping is the easy part. The hard part is prepping and getting it frozen or in a state that it can make the trip. Alaska Air has a freezer, I would inquire about use. You may be able to use them, or not. Some of the larger hotels also have big freezers you can rent/use.

Shipping by USPS, UPS or the like will run you a minimum of $2 a pound for 2-3 day shipping, and $4-5 for overnight. I ship fish down south every year in insulated fish boxes, send it priority 2 day or what ever it is from the PO. It gets there in 2-3 days, still frozen... in the summer. In the fall I would think this could be an option as well, easily. If you were to have a butcher cut/wrap it for you. The butcher will charge you a premium to put it in a box though, for what ever reason, I imagine it would cost you about $3/pound plus cut/wrap fees at about $1/lb.

Getting antlers home isn't any cheaper... Air Cargo is again the way to go. I'm not sure if AK Airlines still flies antlers or not with baggage. Also be aware that most airlines charge you to fly antlers, and will fine you if you don't declare them. So stuffing the odd moose shed or small caribou antler in your bag could end up costing you.
 

Randy11

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I had bad luck with AK air cargo. The cargo gets bumped in favor or checked luggage, and who knows where your meat sits while it waits.

They guarantee that they'll get it delivered within 48 hours. Ours took like 55, and they didn't charge it for us. Our frozen meat showed up back in Montana thawed out though. When I dropped it off they said it'd likely get to MT within 6-8 hours, so I didn't insulate it as good as I probably should've, that was my fault.

It was also kind of a pain in the ass getting signed up for air cargo in the first place. I had to take a day off work to have a guy drive out to my house and sign me up.

Checked baggage seems like a lot more of a sure thing to me, and worth the extra price for piece of mind.

Edit to add: if you fly within Alaska on Alaska airlines they give you a stupid amount of free checked baggage. We flew from Kotzebue to Anchorage with two boned out caribou, all our hunting and camping gear, and it was like 50 bucks.
 
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traper986

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I have had better luck with Alaska Airlines air cargo. Become a know shipper a few monthes before hand and the prices aren’t bad at all. Just make sure they fly to an airport near you. The best I’ve found to use for shipping are the fish boxes and you’ll have no problem finding them up here you can buy callapsible ones or with styrofoam containers inside. I think they work better then a lot of coolers and weigh almost nothing so you don’t lose any on a big cooler. Good luck!
 

ewludwig

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MinnesotaHunter and I both shot bears in SEAK. We deliberately flew Alaskan Airlines as I heard they treat sportsmen well. We checked three fish boxes at 50lbs or less in each. Also checked between 3-4 additional bags between us. We were nice to the representative checking us in and she didn’t charge us a thing for any of our baggage. One fish box got beat up a bit, but overall it couldn’t have went any better. I will def go out of my way to fly Alaskan again.
 

CampRipleyLF

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Some good information from all, I don't have any skin in this game because I haven't been nor plan to go in the next 5 years. But this is good information to know because I will likely be planning a moose hunt to Alaska some time in the next 10-20 years!
 

shaffe48

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Bought a 55 quart cooler with wheels from Walmart. Fit all meat and skull from my average bear with a bit of dry ice and cool packs. Meat was pre-chilled. Checked as baggage for $75. Fish box would be cheaper than cooler but no wheels and I was my own.
 

mdhunter61

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Really hard to give you a solid answer as the logistics of getting it from the field to a major city in Alaska are just about as daunting as getting it home from there.

As mentioned checked baggage is the way to go, IMO. It won't be cheap, but its a hell of a lot cheaper per pound than any other method, sans air cargo with can be a PITA.

Check to see if Alaska Air Cargo ships to an airport near you. Get all paperwork lined up before you go if you plan to ship cargo, you can drop it off before you fly home, and have someone pick it up on the other end for you. Air Cargo usually runs $1-1.5/lb similar to taking it as baggage.

I think shipping is the easy part. The hard part is prepping and getting it frozen or in a state that it can make the trip. Alaska Air has a freezer, I would inquire about use. You may be able to use them, or not. Some of the larger hotels also have big freezers you can rent/use.

Shipping by USPS, UPS or the like will run you a minimum of $2 a pound for 2-3 day shipping, and $4-5 for overnight. I ship fish down south every year in insulated fish boxes, send it priority 2 day or what ever it is from the PO. It gets there in 2-3 days, still frozen... in the summer. In the fall I would think this could be an option as well, easily. If you were to have a butcher cut/wrap it for you. The butcher will charge you a premium to put it in a box though, for what ever reason, I imagine it would cost you about $3/pound plus cut/wrap fees at about $1/lb.

Getting antlers home isn't any cheaper... Air Cargo is again the way to go. I'm not sure if AK Airlines still flies antlers or not with baggage. Also be aware that most airlines charge you to fly antlers, and will fine you if you don't declare them. So stuffing the odd moose shed or small caribou antler in your bag could end up costing you.
Bambi, AK Airlines still does ship antlers - in 2017 we went to a store in Anchorage (it might be called the Container Store or something similar) and had a cardboard box built, they packed the antlers (which were split down the middle) in Styrofoam pellets. It was oversize, so AK Air charged us $75 to fly it back to Washington DC.

As all have said, freezing the meat and taking home as checked baggage is the simplest route to go. As Bambi said, getting it good and frozen (i.e., having access to a good, large freezer) for out of town visitors is the challenging part.
 

shaffe48

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I merely chilled mine using first the 40 degree outdoors and then some hotel refrigerators. But after applying dry ice some of it ended up frozen. Pretty sure I could have froze it through with dry ice if I was trying

As long as your flight turns out all right like mine it's no big deal
 

Gary

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In 1991, I flew 9 boxes of moose meat (all at 70+#) from Anchorage to Philly. NONE of it was frozen. The bull was killed on the last day of the season (9/25) and boned out in the field. 2 days later we were back in Anchorage, where we stayed for an additional day (2 nights). The boned meat was packed in waxed boxes, with a heavy contractor bag liner. The boxes were left outside overnight with the lids open and the bags opened, to facilitate cooling. It was shipped as checked baggage and all arrived at Philly when I did. Another days delay to get the meat to the butcher.
Some of the best venison we've ever eaten.

You can worry about getting your meat frozen prior to shipping it home, but IMO its a waste of good worry. Make sure its well chilled and go for it.
 

averagebrooutdoors

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It really depends on what you are hunting and where in Alaska you are hunting. I've hunted blacktail deer and black bears in Southeast Alaska multiple times. Each time we just put the meat, hide, and antlers in a fish box and check it as checked baggage on Alaska Air. But my dad did a moose hunt further north in a remote location in Alaska and they ended up having to donate most of their meat to locals and left the horns with a taxidermist up there that will ship his mount to him when it is done.
 

oxn939

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I merely chilled mine using first the 40 degree outdoors and then some hotel refrigerators. But after applying dry ice some of it ended up frozen. Pretty sure I could have froze it through with dry ice if I was trying

As long as your flight turns out all right like mine it's no big deal
This is the big question for me- freeze it with dry ice once you get to back into civilization before flying it home, or leave it refrigerated? Think I'll probably opt for the latter so as to allow myself good conditions for vacuum packing when I get back.

Keeping a Caribou refrigerated for a week or so- too long? Good to go? Part of a beneficial aging process? What do you guys think?
 

traper986

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IMG_0366.JPG This is how I checked two caribou from Adak with Alaska Airlines. They have something they call.. Antler Express I think. Looks funny but its what they told us to do!
 

shaffe48

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Maybe refrigerated is a risk if your bags get delayed. I was going to freeze but as mentioned by others was having a hard time finding anyone on a holiday weekend. The freezer in the hotel room just wasn't big enough but the refrigerator was. Perhaps with Caribou you'd want it figured out more proper.
 
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