Leupold BX-4 Rangefinding Binoculars

How do you pack

Ridge Runner

New member
Sep 21, 2003
On the ridge
Now that the season is coming up and we have went over the what is the farthest you have packed, how about a bit into the once you have it down and the real work starts. Now this will be my first elk hunt if drawn so am taking all this in and logging it in the brain for when and if the time comes. I was reading a good article on the Alaskan method of quartering and it sounds like a great way to do it. Being that I will not have horses it does sound like the way to go. Pros and cons if any? How about deboning on the spot? My feelings on the quartering is that you can get it hung in a tree while you are working on the others and start cooling down pretty quick. Any suggestions??
Here's my 2 cents
I use 4 heavy cotton meat bags and keep them and my parachute cord and my knives in a premade meat pack rigged up and ready to go.
I gut the elk and take the head off, GPS waypoint mark the kill or flag out of th timber with surveyors tape, go to my truck with the tagged head tied on or carried over my day pack on my back and stash it somewhere away from the kill but near the truck or locked in the canopy if you have one, I do this to prevent the possibilty of having a dispute over the kill (there's some unscrupulous bastards in the world), I grab my pack and then go to work, I debone or 1/4 depending on length of the pack out and availabilty of help and the weather.
To me, once your into skinning and processing the meat, its imerative to get it bagged and hung up if possible really soon, keep it clean and keep the flys off and start heading for the truck and then the meat locker. Good Luck
Before I had a horse, my first trip out was like mentioned above. I would take out the head and put it in the truck, grab my frame pack and take one quarter out at a time. I have yet to debone one though. I have never had to leave an animal in overnight either. How far in I would go depended on how much time I had to hunt before dark and have always been lucky enough to get them out before dark. I bring a big can of black pepper with me to keep the flies off. Now that I have a horse, I quarter it and throw them in my saddle panniers, sinch them down good and tie the head on top and walk out leading my horse. I ride in on my horse and tie him up and hit the timber. I mark my horse on my GPS and when an animal is down, I mark it on my GPS and also flag my way out of the timber to get the horse. I do not gut the elk anymore and cut it when I return with the horse and load the horse.
Why pack out bones? I pack out meat and antler, cape as well if its a good bull.

I have never mounted a bull as I've never killed a real bruiser. But I have no problem getting $100-$150 for a mature bull cape in the green.

Meat goes in thick cotton bags (rice bags), they are a little smaller than a pillow case. I don't even bother gutting the animal.
Welcome Callinallelk. I have read a bit of your exploits on another forum, Jerry steered me over there. YOu certainly take some dandy bears and elk! I would certainly like to be entertained by your calling an elk in for me!

I plan to bone most everything I shoot, unless it happens to be real close to the rig or there are horses nearby. I personally dont want to carry anything out I aint going to eat.....except for the headgear of course!!

Good Luck,

On another note what would be considered wanton waste in Idaho?? Would you have to clean out between the ribs also???.

[ 06-21-2004, 06:07: Message edited by: Ridge Runner ]
In Idaho you do have to clean off the ribs and neck. If I have mules, I always quater, and instead of splitting the back bone, I just cut down each side with a knife Be careful not to cut into the back straps. Then roll the bull over and pop all the ribs with saddle axe. then you kind fillet the neck off, and probably save 30 pounds of backbone that you leave in the woods.

If backpacking, of course I bone the meat. Or if its too far I just pack in a frying pan, and eat the bull before packing out the cape and horns.

I have never in my life packed out a head. I guess I'm just not a very good packer, but I can never get them to ride. They do look very cool on the donks, but I can never get to trail head without having to repack several times and soring the stock. I'm always time ahead to cape the head, cap the skull, and put the cape between the rings and go.
This was one of my finest long distance packs. This was a wild elk in wild country. It was a tough gruling work out, but I survived and am here today to share..
Yep Russ.......that pic has all the elements of a fine hunt.....a pickup, total darkness and a Q-beam......
and people do underestimate the difficulty in squeezing of a shot under artificial light :eek:
Geez Russ.. And to think I have been dreaming of being 3 ridges over and 5 miles back in and having to deal with getting a bull out.
When all you really do is drive out into a field with your truck, blind them with your light, and whack em then just load them in the truck :confused: ;) I feel like I have been raped
. And to think I even went out and bought a new pack for it, when I should of saved the money for gas for the truck or batteries for my flashlight ;) :D

The trick to getting a rack to hawl properly on horses is to tie a stick between the royals, thus making a triangle. Then you can tie it onto a cross buck with the tines sticking up and it rides pretty good.

I start things pretty much the same as in KC's article. Same tools and equipment in my daypack, and the same method for gutting. Except I like to keep the head/horns slightly uphill, not necessarily directly uphill, depending on the steepness of were the bull fell. And you'll need to determine before starting if you’re going to keep the cape.

If not;
then I open the hide up to the neck, split the brisket (with the saw) and prop the chest open with a stick, to assist in cutting the wind pipe as far up as I can and emptying the chest contents. If it's early in the day, I do not take the head to camp after gutting. I make use of the available light to get as far as I can in dressing out the bull. I have never boned the meat, but wished I had on a couple of long steep pack outs. Next I make a meat pole or two (depending on the size of the surrounding trees) to hang the pieces on, as they come off the bull. After gutting, and completing the meat poles, I begin the skinning process. Using the hide and a spare space blanket I carry in my daypack to keep the meat as clean as possible, I begin to skin the bull removing packable pieces as they become exposed and hanging them on the meat pole. When skinning I’ll generally begin with the hind quarters. Removing legs at the knee when they are in the way or no longer needed to be tied back to assist the process. I take the hams off (when exposed) at the socket, leaving the spine intact. After skinning to the front shoulders I split the bull in half at the forth rib, most times I am able to use my knife to get through the vertebrae between the 4th & 5th ribs. Skinning the front up to the neck, I remove the head at the base of the skull. I then place the elk, back up, on the hide/space blanket. Using the saw I split the bull down the spine till I get to the first vertebra where the neck is attached to the shoulders, then cut to one side. I pick the side to go too based on my cutting; I leave the neck attached to what appears to be the smaller of the two pieces.

Five pieces hanging; two hams (2), tailbone/spine and four ribs on each side (1) (heavy piece), front shoulder/remaining ribs/and half a back bone (1), front shoulder/remaining ribs/half the back bone/and the neck (heavy piece).

I use dental floss, carried in my daypack, and the used space blanket to erect a small tarp over the meat pole. I find the fluttering blanket keeps the birds and predators away till my return for the meat. And the reflective surface keeps the meat from direct sunlight in warm temps.

I then return to camp with the head and horns (heavy piece :D ).

My process mostly remains the same. Heading for camp with the head and horns will very, depending on how far in you are, and how comfortable you are walking out with a flashlight. Make sure you mark the meat well with surveyors tape, even if you have a GPS.

Good story WW...
This elk was an absolute fluke.
I shot him on public ground, he came into a watering tank. I got him at five thirty pm the first year I hunted in Montana. I was five weeks solid, hunting down in Jackson Mt, White hall and the Big hole. I had finally went back to White Hall to the end of a dirt road, saw a tank and walked up to it. Instead of cow tracks as seemed to be the norm, this one only had elk tracks around it. I set up a tree stand and climbed on in at five pm. This guy walked out of the woods and down to the tank, I hit him with an arrow at 18 yards and that is my first year in Mt.
The rest of my hunts since then have been hard learned and hard earned.
That was my first elk to process and it took hours... I'm glad we all learn as we go. It takes a lot less time now.
I may not get monsters, but then again, I don't activly look for them, I am still learing the deeper sence of what nature is and these lessons take more than just tromping the mountains, or reading books of which I do also... ;)
T Bone. Good idea on the rice bags. KC great article and very detailed, Arcat I like the idea of just bringing the frying pan and eating it there. Gives ya a better excuse to stay out longer ;) All good info and hope I get to put it to use this fall. Come on draw! :D
KC, I use the stick all the time, and sometimes a 120 qt cooler between the beams to get the cooler out also. What i can't get to ride is the head with cape and horns attached. It sticks up too high and always gets off balance. I guess you could use the spiderweb method and just tie to everything and get it to ride but if you wreck it would be a real mess. 30 minutes caping has always been time ahead for me.

What is this crossbuck you speak of? My pack saddles have rings.

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