Caribou Gear

Need some advice from you backcountry elk slayers

dannyb278

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Aug 4, 2015
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567
So after applying for 6 years straight, I believe i am finally on the verge of drawing a Wyoming elk tag, in the southern Bighorn Mountains. This will be my first elk hunt and I'm already regretting not going out on cow hunts previously to at least get some elk hunting experience before chasing bulls for the first time.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated, but i have two specific questions i'd like to have answered if possible.

1. Do you spend much time calling in the middle of October on a rifle hunt? Should I even bring a tube along?

2. If I manage to stumble into a elk and get one on the ground, do you prefer boning out the meat completely for the pack out? Why or Why not?

Any advice for this long time hunter but 1st time elk hunter would be greatly appreciated. Thanks ladies and gents.
 

JT88

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Oct 2, 2020
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329
Location
Montana
Doubt you'll be hearing any bugles that late but it's not impossible. Most likely you'll be doing a lot of glassing for elk in the early morning / evening hours and glassing / scouting / looking for fresh elk sign in likely country throughout the day. Elk are vocal animals so I always carry a reed for cow calling in case I need to stop a moving animal for a shot or something

As for meat: If you're solo, I'd highly recommend being prepared to bone out the meat and pack it in game bags. Unless you happen to shoot something really close to a road, multiple trips packing bones will wear you out way quicker than the deboning process will

Hope this helps
 

GrantK

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Aug 30, 2018
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176
Location
Western CO
1. almost none, I have a bugle with me on rifle hunts and occasionally use it, I wouldn't count on calling much in October but sometimes a bull is fired up and it's worth having in the pack, I wouldn't be using calling as a primary tactic though.
2. if I'm a ways from the truck I prefer bone-in for hindquarters, boned out for the rest, the femur isn't that heavy and I think it makes them easier to deal with and they sit better on a pack, plus I think you end up with better meat if you can hang it on the bone for a bit, meat that is boned out immediately tends to be tougher in my experience.
if you are reasonably close to the truck bone-in fronts are great, Oso Bucco with the bone from the shanks is one of my favorite elk recipes...
 

publichunter1

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Apr 8, 2016
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Location
WY from MS
I don't think I fall into the category of elk slayers as there are far better ones on here however here are my thoughts.

1) I would bring a tube in the truck just in case you run into animals still talking but I wouldn't take one out with me unless I heard some. Not worth the bulk that time of year.

2) I always debone just to cut down on the weight. I hunt/pack by myself so it makes a huge difference.
 

pre6422hornet

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May 21, 2015
Messages
516
I personally have had success chirping on a cow call will still hunting in the late october time frame if you are downwind and they hear you first you would be amazed how close you can get. Kind of like putting on a turkey call while walking in the whitetail woods.

Bone out for me. It will be cold enough that spoilage will be close to zero chance I would imagine. Take your time and enjoy the pain!
 

Pedropistola

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Jun 9, 2020
Messages
82
Depends on the unit around there, some seem silent while others are pretty loud. I prefer to use llamas for my packouts now. I spend some time up there so Pm me if you've got specific questions
 

Hockaday2017

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Jan 23, 2022
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Location
Northwest Colorado
ALWAYS carry a call when you're hunting elk. They weigh nothing and take up almost no space. Like many others have said and many more will say, you can use them to stop and animal in a pinch or bring one in. Ive called bulls in clear into November with cow calls. Just because they aren't bugling does not mean they wont be curious and come in silent. Hell, even if they are on the other hillside 300 yards away they might step into an opening out of curiosity. Seen it happen many times. As for the bone in/out question. I leave them in as it helps with rigidity and how the meat is shaped. If you are planning on hunting solo I would highly recommend trying to find someone to go with you unless you are hunting from the road. Im not sure if you've ever seen one on the ground but an elk is a large animal to deal with by yourself if you're miles deep. I've killed or been apart of more than 100 elk kills and every-time I walk up on one I am still flabbergasted by their size. I cant imagine that feeling when you walk up on a moose!
 

Lilhowie83

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Jun 19, 2020
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473
Location
Southeast Idaho
1. Always carry a few diaphrams with you.

2. I never bone out, I cut everuthing off at the knee. I don't feel like I can keep the meat clean enough deboning it on the mountain, I like to let the whole quarters hang between packing out each quarter I feel like it's cool enough in mid October that you don't get any bone sour, and I like to pack the quarters out whole, I feel like they keep their shape and pack better.
 

Hilljackoutlaw

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Jan 15, 2019
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4,034
1. Always carry a some calls...even a tube. You will never forgive yourself if u happen to need it.

2. Elk 100% pack better with the bone in, but I'm not dumb and sometimes it's just the smarter move to debone in the field and save the weight. I would just play that part by the situation you find yourself in when an animal is on the ground. It's hard to explain the weight until it's on your back and your climbing up a steep canyon rolling over dead falls wondering what in the heck you got yourself into.
 

Redside

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Jul 13, 2016
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323
Agree with the others carry a cow call. I once successfully got a young rag horn to stop and bugle at me while I was running through knee deep snow pushing on a hoochie mama. I wouldn't count on that but it made him stop and I was able to make the shot. That was mid Nov.

I've done quarters both ways. The further back I am the less I want to carry bones. They are nice for hanging quarters though. Take a light weight flat tarp for laying the meat on for keeping it clean while boning, that helps quite a bit.
 

Caseknife

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Jul 1, 2012
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360
Location
NE Washington
I always have a cow call in my pack, usually where it is not too accessible.....

I have never totally boned out any game animal. The majority of my elk kills have been quartered in the hide with a hatchet down the backbone. The quarters are then hung in a tree, two per tree, hide out, bows are tucked in around the quarters to keep the birds away. Next day we will go in with pack frames, skin the quarters, always remove the lower leg, now keep the second leg bone for Oso Buco, and sometimes remove the spinal column. Caribou game bags are the ticket.
 

Bluffgruff

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Jun 23, 2019
Messages
854
Location
Colorado
Can't comment on calls

For the meat, considerations are meat quality, meat care, ease of carry, and weight of bones. These things are affected by the temps and the distance to the truck. Always put meat into caribou type bags to keep bugs and critters out.

Meat quality goes up with aging the meat in cool temps

Meat care is easier if you aren't rolling a quarter around deboning it when it's still sticky from fresh blood, even if it's on a tarp, which helps some.

Meat is easier to carry if it is on the bone because it doesnt ball up in the bottom of your pack.

If you're 15 miles from the truck, you're gonna want to ditch the 7lb rear leg bones and 5lb front leg bones.

My strategy (low number of events) is hang or elevate quarters at the kill site overnight if it's going to be 40 degrees or less at night, carry out loose meat immediately, come back the next day and carry the quarters out whole over short distances (less than 5 miles), or debone the next day if longer distances.
 

Ranger250

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Feb 17, 2022
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2
As far as meat goes. Two good knives or knife with interchangeable blades,plenty or rope or bailing twine works well for hanging quarters,game bags,last and not least a very good pack frame. Learned from mistakes and experience. I would also debone lighter and easier packing. Good luck
 

Wallow

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Joined
Mar 5, 2018
Messages
84
Lots of good advice. I always pack a contractor size garbage bag and then slice it so it's flat. I segregate the meat by cut on it and then bag it. The contractor bag is much lighter than a tarp.
 

Bluffgruff

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Jun 23, 2019
Messages
854
Location
Colorado
I just use my internal frame pack for everything. Backpacking, daypacking, meatpacking, etc. One pack does it all if it's a good quality pack.

Also, silnylon tarps are light and cheap.
 
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