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Thread: Bison meat.

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    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    Default Bison meat.

    My daughter is the holder, or will be when permits come out, of a Delta Bison permit. The bull permit.
    It was suggested we would get a better quality of meat if a young, or immature bull was taken. I know that in general, young animals have maybe more tender meat. With that said, does anyone have any experience with mature bull vs. immature bull meat. A younger bull will yield less meat likely.
    Interested in others experience.
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  2. #2
    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    more meat.....always better.

    with the nice cool weather, age the front/hind quarters for a good long while. Point a nice high CFM fan on the meat through this process. Lastly........I'm jealous, it's been years of putting in for the drawing........no dice.

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    Member Matt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by martentrapper View Post
    My daughter is the holder, or will be when permits come out, of a Delta Bison permit. The bull permit.
    It was suggested we would get a better quality of meat if a young, or immature bull was taken. I know that in general, young animals have maybe more tender meat. With that said, does anyone have any experience with mature bull vs. immature bull meat. A younger bull will yield less meat likely.
    Interested in others experience.
    I'm curious myself. Regardless, I'm only going after a big bull this winter.

  4. #4

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    I've killed many cows and bulls, young and old. My preference for food is a yearling.


    An old bull bison can be some of the toughest meat there is. I killed a 17 year old bull once, and I couldn't count how many times I had to sharpen my knife while skinning the beast. It sounded like I was running the blade on sandpaper. Most of the meat was double ground into burger and the burger was chewy. Pressure cooked meat turned into thin elastic bands. There was no way of making the meat tender. Despite that, he still tasted great!

    For the best tradeoff between volume of meat and tenderness, choose a 3-4 year old bull. Choose a yearling or two year old if you want bloody steaks and roasts.

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Given the choice, I'd go for a 1.5 - 2 year old every time. Same for bison, elk, moose or caribou. Best quality meat and reasonable quantity at that size/age.
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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    For big stuff I like three to four year old. Also prefer aged beef over veal
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    I have first, okay second-hand, experience with this situation. My dad drew the Farewell tag about 8 years ago. He was in his 50's and had hunted Bison with several of his friends who had drawn the tag. He would do the flying and the deal was that he would get 1/2 the animal. He had never been drawn himself, and when he was he claimed he was going to shoot the biggest, oldest, nastiest bull he could find, believing it would be his one and only opportunity to harvest a true 'herd' bull. After 14 days of solo hunting he finally got set up on a small band of Bison that were finally on the side of the river he could get to. He chose the largest bull in the small herd, which ended up being a medium sized bull of 5 years. The words I'm typing right now can't do justice to how we ate that winter. We get a moose (the big kind, 50+" whose meat we age and meticulously take care of) every year, and sheep and deer are usually additional table fare. None of these came close to the eats we got from his 5 year old Bull. I've never eaten anything like it, whether it be in a restaurant, pumped with steroids, hand fed in a box to minimize movement before slaughter, etc...

    So, if you can harvest a mid-sized bull, based on my experience you won't be disappointed.
    Experience is the name every one gives to their mistakes. ~Wilde

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    I "hunted" a 5 or 6 year old bull from a ranch in Montana. By "hunting" I mean not hunting at all, it was a shoot. Parked at the fence, got in the "outfitters" truck, drove about 200 - 225 yards, got out and shot it over the hood of the truck. The bull even had an ear tag. Price was right, three bulls were tearing down fences and they wanted them dead so I did it. Sold the head as it wasn't a trophy at all even though it was pretty big.

    This was range fed and most likely had a very easy life compared to an Alaska bison. However, the meat was out of this world. I had some of my friend's two year old cow meat, which was pretty good, and the older bull was way better. It was so good that my friends and brother kept taking meat out of my freezer. Best meat I've ever had. Congrats on the tag.

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    I shot a very old, large bull in the Farewell area and though it was tasty, it was very tough meat. I've had meat from a few different mid-size to small bison from the Delta herd and they were much easier on the teeth. It could in part have to do with the difference in feed, though.

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    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    Thanks for the input. Just gotta hope we get a choice.
    So for you guys that have experience, how much meat, weight wise, did you get from your Bison?
    I can't help being a lazy, dumb, weekend warrior.......I have a JOB!
    I have less friends now!!

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    Default 7-8 yo bison = tough

    I shot a bull that was aged by a bio to be 7-8 years old. We didn't quarter him; we sixth'd him, and still each piece took two guys to carry. First animal and the only one since that I've had professional help to butcher.

    I had him cut Fred Flintstone type 2 inch think Tbone steaks and much more fancy cutting. Those steaks were too tough to chew, and greatly lacked that "great steak" flavor. I reground it myself doing a double grind like I always do when I grind, and it came out as very nice burger that is very healthful to eat. (second only to ostrich I'd heard)

    If I had a permit today I would not shoot another extra-large. No home needs two bison mounts, especially when the first one is a full frontal mount and takes up the space of a full sized bed, complete with diorama of him stepping over a large (his own) skull.

    Doing it again today I would shoot a 3-4 year old as judged by the 'fro, beard, and horns, making sure he also had good body mass and no bad injuries; when they fight for herd dominance they can really hurt each other.

    Some things that I did right on mine:

    - Shooting 300+ practice rounds in the weeks before the hunt. By the time I went afield with the permit I could land all rounds within a 3 inch diameter circle, out to 150-175 yards.
    - Have lots of helpers that are just a phone call away but not by your side while shooting.
    - Have your taxidermist all hired. Having discussed in detail how to cape him beforehand, the taxidermist gets plenty of hide to work with. No cuts in the hide where there should not be.
    - Study the internal anatomy of the bison; its different than all other big game. If you're shooting for particular internal organs or bone you'd better know where a bison keeps those items.

    And finally, one very optional and I know controversial (on this forum) issues: Consider whether you're going for the double boiler, heart, or neck vertebrae. If you're in terrain where within a half mile of him there is land inaccessible to retrieve him - if so, you'd better pass on the shot or break his neck. Even with a heart shot he could get there, and its likely he already knows where there is; bison do this stuff for a living.

    If you decide to be open to a shot on his vertebrae, the good news is that bison neck vertebrae have about a 6 inch diameter when mature. Hit that and he will not take even one more step. Not one.

    I was overly cautious (according to some that observed) and would not shoot until my 3rd successive stalk on the same bull. Then I was 100 yards away and using a dead rest. Squoze off one and the next thing I knew my bull jumped straight up, vertically, and then landed on his back where he had formerly been standing. Feet in the air.

    Though we knew I'd made the neck shot (only way to drop one that fast) we could not find the bullet hole, nor even a drop of blood no matter how hard and long we looked. While skinning we of course did find the bullet exactly where we expected, and then did find a very small entrance hole in the hide. Weighing my .06 Barnes bullet (heaviest they made then; forget the exact weight) afterward we found it to be within about 2 percent (it was under) the weight retention numbers that Barnes had been advertising. I was pretty darn happy with it. I still have the mushroomed bullet today.

    Because I already have one, I always apply for the cow bison permit as my first choice. Since if I drew I'd go for a younger one, I wouldn't want to keep a trophy bison hunter from fulfilling their dream hunt; a younger to mid-aged cow would be the perfect second bison for me.

  12. #12
    Member Milo's Avatar
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    Personally, I'd leave it up to the hunter.
    Death is like an old whore in a bar--I'll buy her a drink but I won't go upstairs with her.

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    I can't tell you how old my bull was but he was a good one. 4 4/8's shy of making B & C. Taken in Delta in November 1993 at 30 below. Took him to local processor in Fbks and let him age in the cooler for 2 weeks. That was some of the best wild game I have ever had. T-bones could be cut with a fork. I can't remember the ratio of meat that we ended up with in the freezer. The Fish and Game estimates are accurate that I have seen published before. Bison are large boned and you just don't get the amount of meat that you would from an equal sized moose. In 94' I had a family member draw a tag as well. That time we harvested a much smaller bull and I'll guess it was about a 3-4 year old. Had it processed by someone else but they couldn't age it so there was a noticeable difference in the quality of the meat. It was still good but the old bull was Prime in comparison and I suspect it was due to the aging of the meat. Congrats on obtaining a tag and good luck!

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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    Great tag- congrats.

    I've eaten pieces and parts of several bison and I believe the older they are, the tougher they're apt to be.

    Had a roast from a real old bruiser quite a while back- it was tougher than my boots, although in fairness I suspect field care was not the best. Aging is pretty darn important. Just as important is cooking method (which is true of any wild game actually). If your daughter's goal is table fare, a younger bull is more reliable.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    I think one very important factor is being overlooked. Most folks have mentioned the importance of aging the meat and I second that. The first step in aging is to not let the meat freeze, especially not before rigor mortis has set in. If it does freeze it will be fabulously tough. As you might imagine, it can be very difficult to keep your meat from freezing if you shoot one at -30 which is pretty common in delta through the winter.

    that said, I have eaten parts of several bison ranging in age from yearling to 6 years old. The 3-4 year old bulls have been just as good as the youngsters and with a lot more meat on them.

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    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Milo View Post
    Personally, I'd leave it up to the hunter.
    The hunter will be 13 yrs old at the time of the hunt.
    I can't help being a lazy, dumb, weekend warrior.......I have a JOB!
    I have less friends now!!

  17. #17
    Member Milo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by martentrapper View Post
    The hunter will be 13 yrs old at the time of the hunt.
    Perfect. I would call that an opportunity.
    Death is like an old whore in a bar--I'll buy her a drink but I won't go upstairs with her.

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    Member fengib's Avatar
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    I hunted for a big bull in delta for 16 days a few years ago. I ended up settling on a 3 year old after not being able to connect with a mature bull. Best meat I have ever tasted and made a beautiful shoulder mount. No regrets on taking a young bull.

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    I took a 3-4 year old bull last fall. He was a tiny little guy considering his age but he's been mighty tasty. That is all except the few packages of ribs I had processed. They taste and smell a bit gamey when cooked up. All the other rib meat went to hamburger and that all tastes fine.

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    Member BRWNBR's Avatar
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    I had a calf from farewell years ago.... It was awesome!! I have a farewell tag for this fall, I'll be happy with anything but a middle age cow or young bull would be awesome!! Then a grizz off the guts the next morning!!
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