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Thread: Meat care on float hunts

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    Member Longkj's Avatar
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    Default Meat care on float hunts

    I wanted to see if anyone had any good ideas for meat care on a North Slope float hunt. My concern is the float and the 20+ hour drive back home. Any ideas on what you have done to keep it clean, cool, and dry? And maybe some ideas about how to hang it in camp when you dont have too many trees or other supplies around.

    Thanks in advance!

    Longkj

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    Member TWB's Avatar
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    Default Meat care on float hunts

    Check the meat and trophy care section. This subject has been covered pretty extensively, you should find great photos as well.
    We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home; in towns and cities; in shops, offices, stores, banks anywhere that we may be placed

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    well, I can give my 2 cents...

    the first 24 hours is by far the most critical.. in my opinion really sets the tone for how the meat will be. You have to get it chilled as quickly as possible. Getting it quartered, away from the other parts really helps.

    If you are lucky the first night will be a good clear cold one... as often is the case it can be over cast and rainy.. this really complicates the task.

    If it chills well the first night it can stand some days where conditions are not ideal... if the first night is warm, and damp you are in a bit of a race against time.. and typically when I get a warm first night my hang time is reduced to 3-5 days. A good chill on night one I've hung meat 10 days.


    Another thing I really believe in is leaving it on the bone at least till the flesh goes into.. then out of rigor. Some flight services ask you to bone the meat out(sounds like you are driving).. ideally try and get three days on the bone.. at least a long 24 really helps quality.then if you have to bone it.. it ages much better.


    A canoe is a great make shift cooler.... laying quarters across the gunnels gives the meat good air flow on all sides... and is low to the water.. typically as cool a spot as there is.. a blue tarp handy to cover up if it rains.. then off again if it clears.. that first night really is critical.

    Once you are cooled out and have a good crust.. the 20 hour drive should be pretty easy... and the quarters together hold the cold pretty good at that point..

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    Member jaydog's Avatar
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    If you don't have a copy, Larry Bartlett's "Project Bloodtrail" DVD has some really good info on taking care of meat in the field.

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    Member Birdstrike's Avatar
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    A couple of good options while in camp are to pile up a bunch of willow and then spread the meat out on top. That will allow air to circulate above & below. Another option is make a tripod with your oars and hang as much of the meat as possible. You can fashion a teepee type tent with a tarp if there is a threat of rain. I change my game bags daily so that I have dry bags around the meat. I keep the meat and raft separate from my sleeping area surrounded by a 2nd bear fence.

    Ideally while floating you could also spread the meat out on top of some brush to allow airflow. On both of my North Slope float hunts I did not have the extra space in the raft for that so I just covered the dry meat in a tarp and placed a kid on top. There's not much you can do on the drive home other than to keep the meat dry and allow some airflow if there's not a lot of dust on the road. I did not have any spoilage issues even though it was 5-6 days in mid-August between harvest and the processor.


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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    If it is hot, you can place the meat into some compacter bag and use the river to cool it, I would not leave it unattended while doing this because river levels can rise quickly and meat lost. There is usually brush and debris along the river to use to keep the meat off the ground to let air flow under it. Have a large tarp to keep it covered, but tie it in a way to allow air flow. I have used the antlers to keep the meat elevated and covered with a tarp. The oar tripod like above works well too. I have seen lots of blow flies there so make sure to have good game bags and keep them tied tight, the flies can get to meat in minutes and lay thousands of eggs before you know it, seen it too many times.



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    Member Longkj's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the good info and pictures. This will be my first time hunting on the slope and I would like to come home with some heathly meat. Have any of you ever tried GOTE game bags? I got two of them for XMAS and they seem to be very nice.

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    This is a topic that i cover with my float hunt groups every fall. Meat care is critical and test the first 24 hours is very important. Keep in mind if your on a 10 day hunt and the night time temps are not real cool/cold you need to think real hard about squeezing that trigger! Dealing with meat for a weekish can be tough.

    High and Dry! Spend a day or 2 after the kill in a camp where you can cool your meant and dry it. Building up that skin on your meat is soooo important. Build a meat rack in an area that sees some breeze and is cool or shaded. Allow the meat to hang for 24+ hours and then start the raft trip. Make sure that you can keep the meat from piling up on your raft. I send out all of my rafts out with suspended floors so the meat does not sit on the floor. Water splashing in your raft will cause meat to spoon fast! When you stack your meat in the raft don't stack it like wood! Allow some room for air to circulate between your bags. Consider using citric a cit spray on your meat id it warms up. Choose high quality game bags rather than the cheap ones. i like TSG bags and I have been using the same ones for about 5 seasons. They wash up and and can be reused for a long time.
    Unpack and wash that raft every night! Nothing attracts a bear faster than a stinky raft! I lost a raft on the Wulik River a few years because a client left it bloody! Pricy and tough to float in! Remember that you must hang meat every night!

    I guess the key is dry and cool and a raft in not a frig!

    Walt
    Northhwest Alaska Back Country Rentals
    Float and drop hunts
    Unit 23-Kotz
    www.northwestalaska.net

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    Member Longkj's Avatar
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    Default Meat care on float hunts

    Thanks for the info Walt. It's people like you that give me a little more confidence about how I'm going to care for the meat on this hunt. I'm going to be renting my rafts so I think I'm going to formulate a good plan with my frame and oars so I can make a good frame to hang and dry meat.

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    Member jojomoose's Avatar
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    I know we are supposed to hang every night but how do we do this in the north slope/tundra area? I saw that great info below about the meat cache but that looks much harder to keep it high and dry with a cache. I see that you do float seminar type event in the fall, do you have any more info on those? and do you guys know if there are going to be anything at this year sportmans show about meat care where there are no trees, and you are weight limited due to flying in? still some badass info, thanks for your guys help.

    Maybe we will be able to prop the meat up on empty jim beam bottles? just a thought....

    joe.

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    Default Meat care on float hunts

    Improvise.

    Drift wood. Paddles. Rocks.

    Heck it might even be cold enough to where meat only needs some minor hands on.

    This fall our moose never left the raft for 6 days due to proper staging and near freezing temps every night.
    We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home; in towns and cities; in shops, offices, stores, banks anywhere that we may be placed

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    Somewhere I have a pic of 2 of my clients who flipped the raft and made a drying rack with the frame and oars. The deal with hunting in the tundra is not to complain about what you don't have but to work with what you do have! I cannot stress this enough guys..... Clean Your raft every day, every day! Life can suck big if your raft gets eaten by a griz!


    Walt
    Northwest Alaska Back Country Rentals
    Unit 23-Kotz
    Float hunts and Drop camps

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    Member Longkj's Avatar
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    Hey Walt! When are you going to have another seminar? Sounds like something I would be interested in. I would like to sit in on one of Strahan's as well at some point... Thanks again for the info. I sure would like to head out to unit 23 sometime. Sounds like Jojomoose and I need to plan a trip your way 2014.

  14. #14
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Meat Care in Open Country

    I don't know how I missed this thread--

    Okay here are some thoughts, and some links for you. First off, we've got a couple of videos on our YouTube channel, AKSUPERSITE. The first one is on Game Bags. Some stuff in there you really need to know (if you don't know already). The video includes some instruction on meat handing in open tundra where there are no trees from which to hang it. Second, check out the one on Tools for Meat and Trophy Care.

    Next, have a look at our page on Meat Care. It covers all the high points and should be of some help to you.

    Finally, here are some ideas for open tundra country, and for that long drive home:

    As I am sure you know, one of the basics is keeping that meat off the ground. Contact with the ground always results in the game bag getting damp at the point of contact. Same is true of meat bags that are in contact with each other for very long. You need good airflow around those bags to prevent this. Here are some options to create airflow on float hunts in open tundra country where there are no trees:

    1. Build a brush pile. It's relatively common to find willows and other brush along the river corridor. You can gather dead limbs and make a pile upon which you can place the meat bags. This allows air to flow between the bags and the ground. Place your caribou antlers atop the meat bags, and secure your tarp over the antlers, when you're storing the meat in camp. The tarp keeps rain and dew off the bags (don't forget that on clear nights, dew or frost will collect on those bags and they'll get wet).

    2. Bridge the quarters across tundra hummocks. This is the least desirable solution, because the tundra is often damp. But you will get SOME air flow between the hummocks and at times that's the best you can hope for.

    3. Bridge your meat bags across your oar shafts. In some cases you can make a meat rack out of your oars by resting two of them parallel atop a pair of higher hummocks to get the ground clearance you need, then bridge your meat bags across the oar shafts. Alternatively, you could bridge the oar shafts from the tubes of your boat, to a couple of dry bags. This will give you the ground clearance you need. If you're using this method, I recommend you turn the bags over every few hours, because the meat will develop moisture at the point of contact with the oar shafts. And again, place the antlers atop the meat, and secure the tarp over the antlers. The antlers give you airflow over the top of the meat.

    There are many situations where you can use the oar shafts or even your rowing frame for a meat rack. You just have to get creative. It's worth the trouble. Remember, when you pull in to set camp for the evening, that meat is going to sit for several hours. It's worth it to take the extra time to do it right.

    Finally, on tarping the meat. Don't let the tarp rest on the meat bags, and don't tie the tarp all the way to the ground. You want air to circulate under the tarp, drift over the bags, and out the other side. If you are using a tarp that's colored on one side and silver on the other, pitch it with the silver side up. The meat will stay cooler. The dark side, exposed to the sun, attracts heat.

    As to the drive home, I would find a creative way to use your raft frame to keep the meat off the bed of your pickup. Maybe prop the frame members and your oar shafts atop your dry bags and packs at each end, and lay the meat bags atop the frame members. Secure the antlers on top of the bags, but be sure nothing sharp is positioned to puncture the bags or you'll have fly problems. Then, secure a tarp over the antlers, if dust or rain is going to be a problem. If there are no dust or moisture issues, just leave the bags exposed to the sun and the breeze of traveling will keep them dry. I would stop now and then to feel the meat and make sure it is staying cool if you expose it to the sun. It's possible that it could get warm. If that happens, tarp it in such a way that you have good airflow. I would avoid loading it directly in the bed of the pickup if you can. Besides the moisture problem that will develop at the point of contact, some pickups have warm spots in the bed where the exhaust runs underneath. You could cause spoilage from that.

    Hope it helps! And I am embedding one of those videos for those who are too lazy to click the link!



    Take care,

    -Mike
    Last edited by Michael Strahan; 01-14-2013 at 23:25.
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    Member Longkj's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info Mike! I'm going to sit down with the raft rental place and come up with a good idea to hang the meat using the oars and frame. Jojomoose and I have read Float hunting Alaska's Wild rivers and became pretty obsessed with float hunting here in AK. We may not have been hunting in AK for very long but we have realized that floating quietly down a river is what we want to do. The logistics, planning, and meat care are our main concern right now, and we want to do it right.

    Thanks again for the info! Hopefully in the future Jojomoose and I will get chance to shake your hand and pick your brain!

    LongKJ

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