Need some advice from you backcountry elk slayers

ccc23454

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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.
I dont even remove quarters just debone on critter, faster and cleaner! Shoulders can be tricky but rears are easy, do it a few times and it gets easy.
 

4ohSick

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Helena, MT
I'll throw in a plug for a space blanket (mylar) - they're cheap on Amazon, pack super small, very light, and good to have in a pinch. And then you can lay it out to work on meat. I'm with the others who have recommended cutting at the knee and keeping bone in, both for meat quality and packability. I'll add that the time of your kill is a factor here - if you drop one 5 miles in at first light, then maybe it's worth taking the time to debone, but if you kill one right before it gets dark, getting it quartered and bagged and getting on your way seems like a way better choice than trying to debone in the dark.
 

go4thebighorn

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Plan on using your optics as much as you can. Remember feed if scouting before opening day, then hunting the opener. Any time after that, remember sanctuary with small pockets of feed. Always good to have a cow call ready.
I debone everything. Even if I kill at night, Ill hang the quarters on the bone to cool, then go back in the daylight and get it off the bone to haul out and continue cooling.
No matter what, just figure its going to be a lot of work, but one of the most satisfying things you can ever do. Good luck
 

Stone_Ice_1

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Helena, MT
No calls for me in October. If they are making noise the chances of them coming to you are low, but with a gun and knowing where they are just go in towards them.

Boned out for me, but it depends on distance. Over about 3 miles and I'm not lugging those bones out. Those bones are really heavy. Next time you are cutting one up, after you finish taking off the meat off one of the legs just give the leg bone a lift and you will be amazed at how heavy they are and how much weight you won't be packing out.
 

willy

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Oct 10, 2013
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I prefer to bone out and use a portion of painter plastic to put meat on as I take it off of bone.

If it's going to be a short relatively easy pack out, bone in is done. However, it has to be boned out eventually so why not on the mnt.

A cow call is a great tool to have for reasons stated above. Where I hunt a bugle is going to draw attention from other 2 legged predators and I'd prefer not to call those to me.
 

Bob-WY

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Feb 24, 2020
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I always have a cow call around my neck, and while moving around I will have a diaphram in my mouth and quietly chirp periodically.

Once down, I leave bone in, but remove at the knee. Helps pack it better. The "meat bag" is always hard to get it to sit right on the pack, like strapping down jello.
 

jtm307

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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?
1) I often bring a cow call because I THINK I may use it to stop a moving elk, but in practice, I have never actually had the opportunity or the need to use it.
2) I have always packed bone-in. I've never packed out a bull solo, but I haven't had trouble packing out a mature cow in 3 trips solo bone-in. I often don't even skin the quarters right away. I usually hang the meat for a week or so, and I feel like I'd have too much meat loss if it was de-boned immediately after the kill. Also, rigor mortis tenderizes the meat more effectively if the fibers are still attached to bone and cannot contract.
 

JLDemo

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Kansas
Diaphragm calls would be the only call I carry during that time of the year. I can't recall any elk I've taken in October or later that have respond to calls. Nearly all have been spot and stalk or pure dumb luck.

I normally pack bone in and in multiple trips. I've only ever once boned out an elk and that was because we had more than one elk down. I don't have any scientific reason why I have always packed bone in.
 

trb

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Colorado
Agree with what everyone has said about a cow call being handy and worth bringing, even if just to let off one call to stop a moving animal for a shot.

I do not bone out, but I have never questioned my ability to get meat out. I agree with what many have said that it packs out nicely with bones in. One tip that I learned and have been utilizing is making one long cut to the bone on each quarter to release heat more quickly. Even if it's cold out, meat is a powerful insulator.
 

jhudson1

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Dec 11, 2015
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Elko Nevada
Lots of great information here. As far as a call, I've carried a Calls M All for the last 20 years everywhere I go. It's amazing how many different sounds you can make. Try one.
About the same time I started boning out everything. Here in Nevada temps are almost assured to be elevated. Bone it out, hang it where you can and let the wind cool it down.
 

Brian in Montana

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Ramsay, MT
I have not read any of the previous replies, so forgive me if I'm repeating someone else's sage advice...

1. In any rifle season, you're more likely to call in a hunter than an elk. In Montana anyway. You might take along a cow call, but that would be just to stop an elk passing through a park or something along those lines. Just chirp a couple times on a cow call to get his attention and give you a still target. Beyond that, calls won't avail much in mid- October as the rut has wrapped up and elk are moving, or already in, their winter/post rut range. Get up high with a good pair of binos and keep your pack strapped up and ready to move out at the fringes of the day. Be ready to close the distance if you see a bull "feeding out" in late afternoon. They might surprise you at how early they move from bedding to feeding areas at that time of year. But seriously, learn all you can about spot and stalk hunting. That will be the method, most likely, in the time of year you're talking.

2. Take along some good, light weight not- bulky game bags, a couple of decent knives, and bone out. I never pack out anything I don't plan to eat or hang on the wall. Why would you?

Good luck.
 

ImBillT

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Oct 29, 2018
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I’ve never hunted that far north, but I’ve heard bugles in NM in the third week of Oct, and bugles in CO in the second week of Oct. I rarely pack a tube though. I’m just not much of a caller. Perhaps if I was an archery hunter.

I don’t debone quarters after doing that on my first elk. I think they cool faster in a game bag on the bone than in a game bag in a round lump of loose meat. However, there are 30-35lbs of bone in the quarters. That is significant. You could drop almost half of that by deboning just the shanks. I just don’t want to debone my shoulders and hams until the meat is both cool, AND out of rigor, and I haven’t had en elk come out of rigor before I was on the road. I would recommend quartering, and hanging the quarters while you make your first trip back to the truck. The cape is 30-35lbs, if it’s legal to take the head before the meat, that’s another 30-40lbs. If you’re mounting it, the head and cape are a full load or close to it, especially if you’re packing your binos/spotter/rifle etc. back to the truck on the first trip. When you get back you can debone the shanks. IF you get past 24hrs and the meat is out of rigor, then by all means debone the quarters if you want. You’ll still have 15lbs-20lbs of bone in the shoulders and hams, so depending on how many loads you’re trying to do it in, that might be worth the effort. My cow last fall got to around 36hrs before it was all back at the truck, but was still stiff as a board.
 

Redman

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Indiana
As others have said always keep a diaphragm call with me, but don't use it to find elk in rifle season. I use it to stop them if need.
I have boned out and left bone in. Solo long trips I bone out. Perfer bone in it packs better, less meat loss, and ages better.
 

nwihunter

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Feb 8, 2015
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Valparaiso, IN
I’m a pretty inexperienced elk hunter myself but i took my first bull while bugling during an October rifle season. I was given some good advice to try bugling from another hunttalker that was familiar with the area I was hunting. I called in my first bull ever that came in silent from close to a 1/2 mile away. He would have walked right over me had I not stood up to scare him off. This was the first bull I had ever seen so I about crapped my pants when it got that close. It was the day before opening day so no shots fired. Went back to the same spot opening day and called in a different bull and shot him. Both bulls were very young and came in without making a sound. Not really sure if it would have the same affect on a mature bull but I was more than happy with the barely legal bull I got.
 

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