Cooler Set Up for Elk

Hit Man

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Dec 13, 2017
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Does anyone have a recommendation for purchase of the right size and number of coolers for a boned out elk in the back of a pickup truck. I am planning to drive from CT to WY in September with my F-150 that has a 6 foot bed. I've heard you can fit an elk into one 100 quart cooler and one 60 quart cooler, but that takes up a lot of room in the bed of the truck. Anyone have a better idea for transporting the meat home after the hunt? Thanks.
 

Mthuntr

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The more coolers you have the better off you'll be. Might suggest getting a small trailer. OR a small trailer with a deep freeze and generator is something I see a lot lately.
 

D-Mac

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Dec 29, 2017
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Loveland, Colorado
You might could fit an elk into a 100 and 60 quart cooler. There are a lot of variables here though. Are you going to package any of the meat? Are you going to be able to get a hard freeze on it? I see you are planning on boning it out. Big difference in a cow and a bull also. I’ve fit a cow quartered up (legs cut down though) into a 120 and a 40. Elk are big you have to plan accordingly. You can always stop somewhere after you kill it though to purchase another cooler. For size note this is a cow elk, doe and bear all crammed in here in four coolers, haha a good week! If I can do it in a Jeep you should be fine in a pickup6472B3D5-74F6-4F0A-BEDC-D91857677343.jpg
 

Duck-Slayer

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great state of Idaho....
I use a 100qt Coleman and a 40 qt Cabela's cooler, frozen ice jugs and boned out. It keeps the meat nice and cool for 4-5 days if you hang it outside for a night before you put it in the cooler. I do this and than age them in the cooler for a couple of days. Works great.
Matt
 

Ryan2782

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Boise
I recommend the small chest freezer and generator. Turn it on and run it, it's great insulator and can last several days as a regular cooler with out buying ice. Just remember to take your items out while running it when being camped. Otherwise I like RTIC Coolers for the price and what you get. I use RTIC coolers, my friend drives from the midwest and uses the freezer generator combo.
 

1_pointer

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Indiana
I can't imagine you not being able to fit an elk into those two coolers, especially if you bone it out. I have an even smaller truck bed than you and use at least one of the coolers as dry storage until it's needed. The stuff stored in it gets crammed somewhere else.
 

Scrappy

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Don't forget you can fill the coolers with gear for the ride out there
 
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What we did was just get a wooden crate, line it with 2" foam insulation, put a plastic liner in it and make a lid out of foam and plywood. Put in the quarters, nailed it shut and the dry ice was almost untouched the whole 30 hour drive from Colorado to Pennsylvania. Cost $80ish to make, is 4' by 4'. We had it in the back of a trailer. I can't see paying several $100 for a cooler.
 
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If you're going by yourself you wouldn't need something so big but we had 4 guys with us. We planned for "best" case scenario and we all tag out, it didn't happen but it's something you kinda have to plan for.
 

Elkish

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Apr 13, 2017
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I take a 150qt igloo full of ice and a 55qt food cooler. I can usually fit a quartered elk (bone in) in the 150 and have the 55 for any overflow if needed. This seems to work well. I’m not sure about boned out...
 

tom338

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I can put 2 70 quart Coleman extremes side by side right behind the cab of my f150---6 1/2 foot bed however. Its a tight fit but it is a perfect fit. My partner put a small bull boned out into a 150 quart Coleman extreme with frozen 1/2 gallon milk jugs in the bottom, one layer. A bigger bull will need more cooler. And if you want to keep the cape for mounting you will need something more for it. I had to use 3 of my 70 quart coolers to fit my meat and ice--same size bull as my partner. I just picked up another 150 quart Coleman extreme cooler for this fall. If you put block ice or frozen jugs they work great. Another trick is to put your ice in a freezer bag that does not leak, ice will last longer. I had some blankets I bought while moving from u haul that I use to put around the coolers and keep them covered up. I will never own a high priced cooler--the extreme series works to good and are way more cost effective. They would probably work even better on a longer trip with some dry ice. I drive from MN to Wyoming and back from New Mexico once. Never had to add ice. Cool your meat down by letting it hang a night is the key.
 

F250

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I have been hauling a chest freezer from New England to western states and Canadian Provinces for decades. You can find a cheap freezer on Craigslist. We haul food for the trip on the way out, and game on the way back. We only plug the freezer in when we are stopped for the night.
 

BBHPRO

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Dec 7, 2016
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Ramsey MN
I used the Coleman extreme 150 coolers as well fits easily in my F150. We brought 2 young bulls, and 2 mullie bucks to MN from Montana last year in 2 150 quarts, and a 70 quart for any extras. I like to fill one with frozen milk jugs and the other one with gear.(picked the coolers up for $70 at Sams Club)
 

Tjd

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After some clown broke into my horse trailer and stole my coolers, i figured its easier to just strap the meat to the roof of my cab... and drive home real fast to keep the meat cool.
 

Dr. Vette

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Apr 22, 2015
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Michigan
150 quart Igloo coolers are only $69 at Sam's Club, so even if you need more room you can likely buy another cooler when you're out there.
Your coolers should work, but if you need to haul home a cape for a mount, plan on needing extra room.

I use a hitch hauler ( https://www.amazon.com/ROLA-59502-Steel-Cargo-Carrier/dp/B0016I8E1M ) on out west trips, and a large cooler will easily fit. It frees up space in the pick up bed then too, and a couple of ratchet straps will hold a cooler in place.
 

Chester

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Jan 3, 2017
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Washington
I went big with my setup. We usually don’t only have one tag to fill. I bought a grizzly G400 . I took it to Idaho last year on a 14 day trip . It held two bulls and a whitetail BONE IN until I got it back home with the meat cutting room. Still had jugs of ice frozen solid. Downside is it does take up a lot of space in the truck bed and you really have to organize gear around it.
 

jvanderlinde

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Jun 13, 2012
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Mayer, MN
I made this cooler out of foam, spray foam, and sheet metal, I figured its around 450 quarts, It will hold 2 boned out elk with ice. Costed me around 100$ to make. The only bad part of having a really big cooler is moving it when its full.rig pic 2.jpg
 

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Millsworks

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I give another vote for the freezer and a small generator.
I used a 120qt. cooler along with a small chest freezer and put meat in the cooler after freezing it solid in the freezer.
Definitely the way to go.
It was great to keep the groceries in also while I was in Wyoming last fall. Never had to buy ice either. Just freeze some jugs of water for the coolers.
It gives peice of mind to know you don't need to drive to town every few days to get ice.
 

Tinner2216

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Jan 28, 2018
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Central Minnesota
We also use a chest freezer. Takes up a little more space but works great to use as for storage on the way out. Another added benefit, it is not easily thrown in the back of some losers truck. Good luck
 

CampRipleyLF

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Nov 20, 2013
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Minnesota
I have a RTIC 65 that works just fine for one Mule Deer. Never killed an elk but have seen plenty in the wild and some harvested, I'd think 2 or 3 would be sufficient.
 
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