Elk Meat Questions

PAElk

New member
Joined
Aug 4, 2013
Messages
6
Location
Latrobe, PA
I harvested a cow elk this year, 4th season, in Colorado. I gutted it, skinned it, and quartered it. I placed the quarters and the ribcage in cloth game bags, all within about 3.5 hours after killing the elk. We stored the bagged meat in the back of my truck(cap) spread out on top of coolers and other gear to let it cool. Temps were in the teens overnight. We delivered it to the processor at 8:30 the next morning and picked it up frozen the next day for the drive home to PA. It remained frozen, packed in dry ice, and is now in my freezer.

The steaks taste the same, but the ground meat has a strong taste to it. It tastes like the elk smelled the entire time I was skinning and quartering it. This one did smell a lot more than the other two I killed.

The processor was the same one I used for the two preivous elk, both bulls, and in both of those instances the ground meat was fine. There is the usual white matter, fat etc. in the ground, which always happens when you take one to a processor. The other two had that, and tasted fine. I don't think I had any bladder breakage. But I a am not sure if that matters anyway because I broke the bladder on one of the bulls and that meat was fine. This cow was quartering away when I shot, and the bullet nicked the front left side of he stomach before entering the vitals. There were some stomach contents, grass, maybe sage, that got on some of the ribcage. I tried to wipe/scrape that away.

I am guessing the taste has to do with the impurities stored in that fat and other white matter. Do some elk just have more of that than others? Anything I did in the skinning or quartering process that may have caused it? The stomach contents?

Any thoughts?
 

Jwill

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 7, 2011
Messages
1,340
Location
Virginia
Quartering it via the gutless method would've probably helped if your shot hit stomach/intestines. It's a much cleaner method IMO. Also hanging it would have been better than laying it out, but doubt that had much to do with taste in this situation.
 

swmt

Member
Joined
Dec 15, 2012
Messages
55
It doesn't sound like you did anything wrong with the animal. In my experience (well over 150 animals shot, butchered and eaten), if you cool the animal quickly and don't have serious contamination issue from stomach contents, an off taste can be the result of two things. 1). The individual animal. If the animal is older or was stressed before the shot then the meat can have an off taste. ( this is pretty rare, I've only experienced it on two animals, both very old - like over 12 years old). 2)Not enough care given during butchering to trim off all of the fat and connective tissue. Given that the off taste is in the hamburger where most of meat in need of thorough trimming ends up, this is probably the culprit. This is why I do all of my own butchering. I am not suggesting your butcher screwed up, just that it is very difficult to do a thorough enough job with a quick turnaround and a realistic hourly cost for labour.
 

PAElk

New member
Joined
Aug 4, 2013
Messages
6
Location
Latrobe, PA
Yeah, I would have liked to have let it hang overnight, but we sere staying in a little motel, so I tried to let it get as much air as I could by laying it out as if on racks on the coolers, folding chairs, frame pack, etc. Again, the steaks, backstraps, etc are fine. It's just the ground meat, so it has to be something specific to it.
 

RobG

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 10, 2010
Messages
4,994
Location
Bozeman, MT
Until I started butchering my own meat the burger was awful. I just figured that was the way burger was. Now that I grind my own meat the burger is excellent. I've probably done fifty animals myself, old, young, gut shot, broke bladder, stressed, you name it, and the burger is fine. The key is not to throw contaminated meat in the grind!

Methinks the butcher throws everything he can into the grind since he gets paid by the pound... plus they are too busy to really pay attention.
 

JLS

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 26, 2012
Messages
12,542
Location
Where the Wild Things Are
I have never had an animal have a sour taste or bad smell from a broken bladder. The mere presence of urine on the surface of a portion of the hindquarter is not going to taint the entire animal.

I agree with RobG, the burger I make is a heck of a lot better quality than I've gotten from meat cutters over the years.
 

idnative1948

Well-known member
Joined
May 10, 2010
Messages
3,720
Location
Boise, Idaho
PAE- I didn't understand from your post wether you ordered grind only or burger. If the later, that could be your issue. We learned the hard way about that..

Also, have taken some cows that smelled scanky bad when we walked up to them after the shot within half an hour (and not the best eating) and the bull had no off-smell at all.
 

Joe Hulburt

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 23, 2012
Messages
1,174
Location
Oregon Coast
I've never had a bad tasting bite of burger in any of the dozens and dozens of animals I have processed. They have died every death imaginable and usually in warm weather to boot. I have had smelly burger from the few I had the burger ground by a butcher. Scary to guess why that is......
 

WapitiBob

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 20, 2004
Messages
2,827
Location
Bend, Orygun
First question to ask is whether they ground any other meat with yours.
Second is what exactly went in the "to grind" pile. Some guys put all kinds of stuff in there, dry outer casing, tendons, blood shot, etc. Elk/Deer fat turns rancid.
 
Last edited:

sierrahunter

Active member
Joined
Feb 14, 2015
Messages
82
+1 Wapitibob.
It may not have been your animal, PAelk. Burger is commonly batch processed with other animals.
 

sbhooper

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 7, 2012
Messages
4,178
Location
North Platte, Nebraska
Until I started butchering my own meat the burger was awful. I just figured that was the way burger was. Now that I grind my own meat the burger is excellent. I've probably done fifty animals myself, old, young, gut shot, broke bladder, stressed, you name it, and the burger is fine. The key is not to throw contaminated meat in the grind!

Methinks the butcher throws everything he can into the grind since he gets paid by the pound... plus they are too busy to really pay attention.

This is right on the money. A processor is doing all he can in the time that he has. He is not usually going to just be grinding one animal. Time is money to them.

I have not had anybody else do my processing for many years. I know exactly what is in the freezer that way. We took some chunked meat to a processor years ago, just to have them make some breakfast sausage. The stuff we got back tasted great, but there was a lot of hair in it. Our meat was totally clean of debris. That was the last straw for me and I do it all now.

In your position, this is how I would have done it. I would have done the gutless on the animal. I would then de-bone the quarters and put them in bags. Same with back straps, neck meat, tenderloins and whatever you decided to keep. I don't get the rib cage thing, but that is your choice. Since you wanted it flash-frozen, I would then take it to the processor with instructions to freeze it. After getting it home, I would have had someone locally do it, so that I had a bit of control on it.
 

shootbrownelk

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 2, 2015
Messages
1,206
Location
Wyoming
Until I started butchering my own meat the burger was awful. I just figured that was the way burger was. Now that I grind my own meat the burger is excellent. I've probably done fifty animals myself, old, young, gut shot, broke bladder, stressed, you name it, and the burger is fine. The key is not to throw contaminated meat in the grind!

Methinks the butcher throws everything he can into the grind since he gets paid by the pound... plus they are too busy to really pay attention.

I agree with Rob's assessment, butcher working at breakneck speed and combining various animals into one big "Grind Pile" with one that soured in the mix. JMO
 

PAElk

New member
Joined
Aug 4, 2013
Messages
6
Location
Latrobe, PA
Thanks for all of the responses...
To clarify a couple of things...it was bigger older cow. It was the 4th day of the season and I am guessing these elk were pressured quite a bit, I don't know how stressed that made them. I did the quartering skinning with the animal on the ground, so when it came to the backstraps, tenderloins I decided to just take that entire carcass out, ribcage and all. I thought I would try to not waste anything. Maybe that was a mistake, because I probably brought a lot more of the stuff I didnt want along. The processor I take it to charges a fixed amount for an elk, so I dont think he had any incentive to give me more of the fat and tendon other than to save time. I just ask for as many steaks, chops, etc, and then what has to be ground to be ground. I know many times the ground meat from the whitetails we shoot here in PA is awful when processed at a butcher shop. I attribute that to the fat, etc. Since the ground meat from the two previous elk tasted fine, I thought that elk were not subject to that issue and/or that these guys took the time to processs it in such a way as to avoid that. They tell me its all mine. They have it set up like an assembly line. They tag it all with my number, and that supposedly stays with it throughout the process. It should not be hard to keep it straight. Maybe next year I can work out a plan to bring it back here and either have it done here or do it myself. I would be concerned about keeping it cold long enough. It is a two day drive out and two days back, with hunting 5-7 days, it is usually about 11 days round trip. I have never killed one on day one, usually takes me 4-7 days. But if I did get one early, it might have to stay cold for a week or more.
 

Southern Elk

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 3, 2015
Messages
2,938
Location
Montana
That's unfortunate. I, like some of the others have said, bet that there's a good possibility that you may have gotten a portion of someone else's meat that was tainted.

That's exactly the reason why I started processing my own meat. Around here most people get their deer meat processed into burger and sausage. I have personally seen the giant piles of meat that mine was lumped into at the processor.. They simply weigh your meat before they throw it into the pile to make sure that you get the right amount back.

We take very good care of our meat. There's no way that I'm going to chance getting back somebody's blood shot or spoiled meat.

Here's what I do out west and what we did with 3 deer from MT this year. Keep in mind we drive, so if you fly, I realize this is not an option. We quartered the deer and put them on ice. We replenish the ice and drain the bloody water as needed. A deer or elk can easily go a week on ice. Once we get back home we do our processing and then freeze the meat. I know a lot of people have it frozen, then thaw and process once they get home, but it's my preference to only freeze once.
 

JLS

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 26, 2012
Messages
12,542
Location
Where the Wild Things Are
Elk don't taste bad because they are stressed. If they are run HARD for miles prior to being shot, you can end with what's called a "dark cutter" in the meat industry.
 

chadv

Member
Joined
Nov 11, 2015
Messages
95
talow?

did you have tallow added? This would explain why just the burger has the bad taste.
 
Top