Storing meat in bear country

npaden

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Okay, I hadn't really thought through being successful on my upcoming Deer/Elk hunt until recently, but if we do end up with multiple animals or even just get one on the ground early in the hunt, what are the options for keeping meat around when still out hunting for more?

The way I'm planning this hunt there is a decent chance we may end up with a deer early in the hunt and will need a place to keep it for up to a week. Temps should be okay so I will need little to no ice, but keeping it bear safe is a different issue.

In the past my buddy has always had a truck with a lockable topper and we just loaded the meat into the coolers and washed the game bags up and headed back out.

On this trip I don't have a topper for my truck so I can't leave a cooler in the back of the truck with meat in it unattended. I actually can squeeze a 120 quart cooler into the back seat of my truck so that is an option I guess. I would need some ice in this scenario as the inside of the truck will be warmer especially if it gets some sun on it.

I know I can hang the quarters in a tree and have rope and pulleys for that, but I only have 4 good game bags so I need to re-use them if I want to go back out.

Cheapest option would be to just pick up some more game bags, I'm sure I can always use them at some point down the road. The ones I like are a little spendy at about $15 each, but I guess that's pretty cheap in the grand scheme of things.

Anything I'm missing or not thinking through?

Thanks, Nathan
 

Khunter

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Running for cheapo hunter of the year I see. ;) Why not. ��

4 bags is not enough for elk anyway so you are short and need more. You want a quality bag designed to do the job well. Big pillow cases are a cheap option? I think greenhorn mentions sing them. If a rookie like him uses them then they must be OK. :D

You said "we". Every license holder should have a set?

I have a couple full sets of TAGS bags on every trip and almost never need o reuse any during a single outing.
 

npaden

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I had a full set of caribou bags until my elk hunt last year where we ended up rolling 2 of them down the mountain in the dark and ruined them so I'm down to 4 now.

4 bags is plenty for a boneless elk, that's all I've ever used anyway. Each hindquarter gets a bag, both boned out front shoulders in a bag and all the loose meat in another bag. Each bag ends up weighing about the same, 50 to 60 pounds each on a decent sized bull.

I'm essentially outfitting and guiding this hunt for my brother. We will both have tags in our pockets, but I'm even providing his rifle for him.

So I'll probably end up buying another set of bags. Maybe even should buy 6. If we both got a deer that's another couple hundred pounds of meat. Worst case scenario if we had an elk and 2 deer on the ground and were hunting for another elk we would have 6 bags of meat in the trees and 4 bags with us to haul out the elk if we were successful... Maybe I need 8 bags!

I really like the Caribou bags. You think the Cabelas in Billings will have some in stock?
 
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sbhooper

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Hanging it is not always the answer, but is better than nothing. A buddy of mine killed a great bull on a bow hunt this fall. They were in BAD grizzly country. They had several encounters and one in camp that they scared off. Later, that bear was smart enough to destroy the rope that held all of their camp food up on a meat pole. Food dropped and Mr. bear had a feast, plus took the sack and a good little camp stove to parts unknown. They had to leave a day early, as they had no more food.
 

npaden

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I did double check some bear resistant approved containers and they make a dozen game bags seem cheap.

Maybe coolers in the back seat of the truck isn't the worst option? With a little ice and a cracked window it probably wouldn't get too warm. Especially if I could find a shaded spot to park. My back seat actually folds up and the cooler would sit on the floorboard. I could squeeze one elk into the 120 quart and I have 2 60 quart coolers that I think I could fit in the back seat area if I put all my gear in the front seats and slid the front seat all the way forward.

We would have to move the coolers to the back of the truck so we could put the gear in the back seat to drive anywhere though.
 

MT_elk

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One other thing to consider is the area you are hunting. There are a number of areas in MT now that require you have bear proof food containers. Just a suggestion so you're not surprised by this fairly new law.
 

Don K

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You know anyone with a truck tool box you can borrow? If you where near me I would lend you mine.

Mine has worked great in the past and I even have tossed it into a rental truck as it only takes 5 to 10 minutes to move.

Another option is look around for a topper just for the hunt. I picked up one for my truck one year for 25 bucks and a quick coat of paint and a custom latch I built with parts from Home Depot and it was good to go. Not a topper I keep on my truck all the time but one that works for trips when I want it.
 

Kaitum

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Portable electric fence chargers work. I've repelled more than one brown bear off my meat cache in AK using them.

Something I've heard other folks in AK mention but never tried myself is to use a cheapo radio running on batteries. I guess the idea being the noise keeps them away.
 

AH_14

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Nathan,
Would it be possible in the area you guys are hunting to take a half day and bring the animal to a meat processor???
You may/probably be able to just hang the meat and take it home when you leave---probably charge a little fee for the hanging......Or maybe you could just have them process it?

Just a thought---I'd get it out of there quickly if possible---
Grizzly proofing anything is darn near impossible!

Might be worth it to not have to worry about it,
 

Kneetopia

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Not to mention, keeping the elk in the coolers for a week is not the best meat treatment from what I have experienced. You will need to be extra vigilant in keeping any melted ice (water) from the meat. Ex. if you have the meat sitting in water, its a good way to start to lose good meat. Aging meat is meant to be in a dry environment where it can develop that "skin". I've seen meat start to rot pretty quick when it gets wet.
 

putm2sleep

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Toppers are $200 bucks used - You have a $700 pack, but not a topper for your rig?
And buy some game bags would ya?, what did you use to put that trophy of yours in?

To answer your question - bears will try and break in and get in vehicles if they want something.....then your rig is ruined. Get the meat our of bear country quick OR use one of those expensive e-fences to perimeter your camp.
 

ashersdad

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I was thinking the same thing as putm2sleep. Meat in the truck with windows cracked, might equal Mr. Bear in your truck. I'd actually pay good $ to see that so set up a trail camera on video mode. Haha jk.

Seriously though, with 2 guys with deer and elk tags, I'd be taking a bunch more game bags. I'm jealous. Sounds like it's going to be a fun trip. Good luck!
 

pondweed

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You might check with the Forest Service in your hunt area, they sometimes loan out electric fences the same as they loan out other bearproof containers (backpacking kegs and panniers).

I've also heard that, in addition to radios, bears tend to shy away from a flashing light.
 

Eyeguy

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Cayanne Pepper?

Have you guys heard of or tried sprinkling Cayenne on the ground around a kill to deter Lions, Tigers, and bears (ohhh my)? I guess when they sniff around they get a shot of cayenne up their noses and don't so much enjoy it? May be a mountain myth?
 

MT_elk

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You can still hang your food can't you?

Depends on where you're hunting. Here are some sites to check out:

http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/flathead/home/?cid=stelprdb5347448

http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprd3833756.pdf

Special Orders designed to minimize grizzly bear/human conflicts, have been issued by the Flathead, Helena, Lewis & Clark, Lolo and Kootenai National Forests. Storage of food, garbage and other attractants is restricted during occupancy and use on all national forests within the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem and all of Flathead, Kootenai and Lolo National Forests. These requirements are intended to help you avoid attracting grizzly bears into your camp or near to you while enjoying other non-camping forest activities. For your safety and for the recovery of the grizzly bear, your cooperation and compliance are needed.

I would recommend that you contact the local USDA or FWP and ask them the question.

Hope this helps.
 

npaden

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I'm really not terribly worried about bears actually getting into my stuff. I'm not even planning on buying a bear tag. I'm wanting to be in compliance with the forest service requirements more than anything.

If it was up to me, I think a cooler in the back of the pickup at the trail head full of iced down meat is probably going to be safe from everything except 2 legged predators this time of year. But that wouldn't meet the food storage requirements.

Current plan is to just go ahead and buy some extra game bags and some more rope and pulleys. I'm really just being a tightwad and I'm sure sometime down the road I'll be able to use them again. I didn't realize how nice it was to have a friend with a topper. I don't want one, but they are nice.

I did double check, and hanging is still an approved method of food storage in the CusterGallatin and the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest areas.

Statistically I doubt I will have to worry about it, but I'm just trying to be prepared for the possibility.

If we knock something down early I will check into a storage facility in Bozeman that will let me hang my game bags. That would be easier than having to mess with them if we end up moving spots for sure.

Thanks for the input. Nathan
 

Randy11

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I've got a bear fence I can stick in the mail for you Nathan, if you think it'd be helpful. I'm not hunting anywhere I need it this year.

*Oh wait, nevermind. You don't have boobs.
 

npaden

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Depends on where you're hunting. Here are some sites to check out:

http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/flathead/home/?cid=stelprdb5347448

http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprd3833756.pdf

Special Orders designed to minimize grizzly bear/human conflicts, have been issued by the Flathead, Helena, Lewis & Clark, Lolo and Kootenai National Forests. Storage of food, garbage and other attractants is restricted during occupancy and use on all national forests within the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem and all of Flathead, Kootenai and Lolo National Forests. These requirements are intended to help you avoid attracting grizzly bears into your camp or near to you while enjoying other non-camping forest activities. For your safety and for the recovery of the grizzly bear, your cooperation and compliance are needed.

I would recommend that you contact the local USDA or FWP and ask them the question.

Hope this helps.

If you just scroll down a little bit in that link it shows that hanging is in compliance even in the forests that you mentioned.
 

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