By BRUCE AUCHLY
Elk shoulder seasons this year will allow hunters in some hunting districts to go after antlerless elk starting Aug. 15.
If you are one of those hunters, are you ready to deal with a downed big animal in summer’s heat?
Here are some tips from a wildlife meat processor:
- The animal’s bones retain heat and cause meat to sour. Expose large bones to ambient air before they transfer heat to the muscle. Better yet, remove the bones.
- Split down the spine from the inside, through the spine and backbone to the hide. The carcass should be opened up all the way from the pelvis to the neck.
- Open up the round area of the back leg by cutting through the round into the bone. That’s another place that is a significant problem for heat retention.
- Have lots of ice available. Bring an extra cooler with blocks or bags of ice. Ice stored in a closed cooler will last for days and be available when you need it in the field. Blocks last longer than bags. Drain water from the cooler to maintain the ice.
- Skinning a carcass cools it fastest, but if you’re making a short trip from the field to home or field to camp, you can fill the body cavity of an unskinned elk with ice bags to help cool it. Beware, however, as body heat can remain in the thickest parts of the animal, such as the hindquarters, and stuffing with ice is only a temporary measure.
- If it’s too warm to hang an elk outside, skin and quarter it and put the meat on ice. A large cooler will hold most or all of a cut-up elk. Remember to leave evidence of the animal’s sex. See page 15 of the 2016 deer, elk and antelope regulations.
- Know where the nearest meat processing facility is located and know hours of operation. Do a little homework before hunting so you will know where and when you can take your game to cool it quickly.