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    Member big_dog60's Avatar
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    Default meat care when weather turns warm

    Last year I had meat hanging and there were a couple days of warmer then usuall weather. This year I am doing my hunting trip a little earlier and am conserned that I may have difficulty keeping the meat in good shape. I will be looking at hunting moose and caribou.

    Essentially does any one have any sugestions, if I need to keep my meat good for a couple day in unseasonably warm weather?

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    hang it under a tarp with good airflow to get the meat skinned over, you know dryish, then once you've got a good dry meat in the bag, try to find a small stream nearby. throw the game bag in a large trash bag, tie the top and toss in. your meat shouold stay dry as long as the bag is ok, and the water will do a great job of sucking any heat out that may be in there. even the warmest running water i've crossed up here is still probably way cooler than the air on a warm day. keep in water during the heat of the day, then pull out of plastic at night and rehang under tarp, should keep for awhile like that

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    sorry, don't forget ice/snow if your area permits, i guess thats a given though

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    Quote Originally Posted by winibezold View Post
    throw the game bag in a large trash bag, tie the top and toss in. your meat shouold stay dry as long as the bag is ok,
    I have used this trick before in MT when elk hunting and a friend of mine this last year suggested trash compactor bags. They are a little bit heavier mil plastic and tend to be more durable with less chance of getting holes poked in them which = soggy meat and unhappy hunter! They are a little bit heavier if you are going to pack in, but worth the weight.

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    Sad story, but I am convinced you can keep meat in most weather by hanging it in the shade. We had a smoking hot hunt in the mulchatna in the 70s every day but kept the meat fine hanging under trees and tarp int the breeze. Sadly, we lost a bunch later when the flight service in Iliamna piled in on a tote and left it on the runway. Hanging in the shade and air circulating is key...
    I come home with an honestly earned feeling that something good has taken place. It makes no difference whether I got anything, it has to do with how the day was spent. Fred Bear

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sollybug View Post
    Sad story, but I am convinced you can keep meat in most weather by hanging it in the shade. We had a smoking hot hunt in the mulchatna in the 70s every day but kept the meat fine hanging under trees and tarp int the breeze. Sadly, we lost a bunch later when the flight service in Iliamna piled in on a tote and left it on the runway. Hanging in the shade and air circulating is key...
    Agreed, I haven't hung anything with daytime temps in 80s, but have done several in the 70's just fine, once they skin over as was said, they hold very well. Getting that initial 98.whatever degrees out of the meat after the kill is crucial, after that you can bet on cool nights if it's clear and warm during the day. That cold sinks in, and a 100 lbs quarter is a pretty good cold storage unit if kept in the shade.

    Another trick is if you have the option of a good cold rocky beach (of course not if it's already hot but.....) laying the meat on that cold rock cools it faster than air due to the physical differene between convection (airflow) and conduction (surface to surface contact of things of varying temperatures).

    My most difficult meat care has been at 60 and hard rain and no sucker holes to let the meat skin up, lots of trimmin of slimy ends on the open cuts once we got it home.

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    A couple of points to consider:

    1. When you harvest an animal, the core body temp is 101 F. The hind qtrs should come off first since they are the most dense portions that need to cool ASAP. Quick dismemberment provides opportunity for the meat cuts to begin the essential cool down.

    2. If there is a water source nearby, sink the meat within contractor bags under water for a minimum of several hours. Close to evening hours, remove meat and allow air flow to dry the surface before sacking them in TAG Bags.

    3. Before the meat goes in bags, apply citric acid (1 oz powder to 1 qt water) and allow to dry before bagging. Reapply citric acid every other day for best results. The goal is to lower the pH to slow bacterial growth and deter flies and maggot hatch.

    4. Provide shade and ventilation.

    Rules of Meat Care:

    A. Cool core temps to below 50 degrees as soon as possible (usually takes about 30 hours if you dont immerse in water).
    B. Lower the surface pH to reduce bacterial threats
    C. Dry meat is better than wet meat in warm environments (>70 degrees), but cool wet meat and airflow aids in rapid cooling.
    D. Transport to final processing as soon as possible.
    E. Provide shade to reduce UV exposure, as well as air flow to help cool and dry meat.

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    Member TWB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Bartlett View Post
    A couple of points to consider:

    3. Before the meat goes in bags, apply citric acid (1 oz powder to 1 qt water) and allow to dry before bagging.
    Larry,

    I've messed a bit with different blends but is your measurement exclusive to the Indian Valley Citric blend or the Caribou Gear kit?

    That's been my go-to and I use about the same concentrate.
    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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    just citric acid, not commercial blend.

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    Quote Originally Posted by big_dog60 View Post
    Last year I had meat hanging and there were a couple days of warmer then usuall weather. This year I am doing my hunting trip a little earlier and am conserned that I may have difficulty keeping the meat in good shape. I will be looking at hunting moose and caribou.

    Essentially does any one have any sugestions, if I need to keep my meat good for a couple day in unseasonably warm weather?
    I wrote a section on Meat Care here, some time ago. You might check that out. It was derived from my experiences as a registered big-game guide here in Alaska, together with over 25 years conducting seminars on Alaska big-game meat and trophy care. Though there's a lot to say about the proper field care of Alaska game meat, your question about warm weather issues is pretty focused, and is worth some direct answers. You'll hear a lot of things from folks, but if you are not careful, you could end up in trouble. For example, I would not recommend using the river as a refrigerator. Water can be used to quick-cool meat right off the carcass, (the "water cool method" is discussed on the page I mentioned) but the only time this should be used is to prevent bone sour from occurring. One of the primary rules of meat care is to keep it dry. This is intended to prevent (or stall) the growth of meat-spoiling bacteria, which depend on moisture to thrive. Immersing meat in water, even if it's in a plastic bag, causes the entire surface to become wet. This means you have to start the drying process all over again.

    The use of citric acid solution is not directly related to warm-weather spoilage. Citric acid solution only becomes necessary when a failure to control surface moisture has occurred. I have carried it in my pack for over 25 years and can think of only one occasion where we could have used it. In that case, half our moose was in synthetic game bags, and because those bags did not facilitate drying of the meat, we ended up with surface moisture and a "slick" surface on the meat. A slick surface indicates severe proliferation of meat-spoiling surface bacteria. But because the meat was already on its way out of the field, we skipped treating it with citric acid solution. It was in okay shape when it arrived at the processor, and we didn't lose any of it. The other half of that moose was in regular cotton game bags and was dry and in excellent shape.

    On float hunts involving packrafts, inflatable canoes and other small boats, meat almost always gets wet from splash-over. Every day. This makes it impossible to follow one of the cardinal rules of meat care (keep it dry). That's one reason why I don't prefer these boats for float hunting. That said, hunters who prefer these smaller boats must be prepared to spend significantly more time on meat care. River water and game meat have similar pH levels (6.8-7.0), which is ideal for bacterial growth. Therefore you must acidify the moisture on the meat, and (hopefully) dry it as well. In most cases, this means spending time at the end of every float day pulling wet game bags off, mixing up some citric acid solution, spraying all of the meat, hanging the meat to dry, and perhaps hanging the bags to dry, for re-use the next day. The citric acid will wash off the next day (because you are bathing the meat in river water), so you will have to do it all over again every day you float. None of this is a deal-breaker for smaller boats, but it does mean more work for you and a possibility of spoilage anyway. As I said earlier, I carry it in the field, but have never had to use it. Most of my hunts are float hunts, but I use boats that allow good ventilation of the meat, well above the splash zone. When I pull the meat out of the boats at the end of a float day, all I have to do is hang it. It's not wet. The game bags aren't even damp.

    You didn't say whether you were float hunting though. If you're on a drop hunt, the only issue you may have in warm weather is bone sour. Cool the meat per my earlier instructions, right at the kill site, get a nice dry surface on it and you should be fine. In terms of hanging it for maximum cooling, use a tarp that's colored on one side and silver on the other. Pitch it with the silver side out. It attracts less heat this way. If skies are clear, roll up the shady side of the tarp. Pitch your meat pole so the pole is parallel to the river, so the tarp scoops those upstream and downstream breezes. Hang the meat near thriver, in a shaded area if possible. All of these methods will help; sometimes the difference in preventing spoilage is only two or three degrees. Call for an early pickup if you have to, or cut your hunt short.

    Of course, your best meat care option is to avoid shooting game when the weather is likely to prevent its proper care. If you had warmer weather last year and are concerned, why would you go earlier this year? Especially when this particular summer has been so warm?

    Mike
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    Once the meat has cooled, wipe it down with a rag wet with white vinegar. That treatment will also keep a side of bacon from developing mold for several weeks, regardless of the temperature.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan View Post
    ...Of course, your best meat care option is to avoid shooting game when the weather is likely to prevent its proper care. If you had warmer weather last year and are concerned, why would you go earlier this year? Especially when this particular summer has been so warm?

    Mike
    Mike, can't really answer for the OP, but I can say that plenty of people (like myself, as a teacher) have time constraints. As you can imagine, the last week of August and the first couple weeks of September are busy for me! Also, if one has the Tier 1 constraint, they have a very, very narrow window for an either sex meat animal, or, barring that, competing with a lot of hunters who are also after a limited resource in a limited period.
    Some folks just don't have the luxury of an overabundance of time and money to choose a cooler period. Guess I might have the time after retirement if the body is till up to the task.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sayak View Post
    Mike, can't really answer for the OP, but I can say that plenty of people (like myself, as a teacher) have time constraints. As you can imagine, the last week of August and the first couple weeks of September are busy for me! Also, if one has the Tier 1 constraint, they have a very, very narrow window for an either sex meat animal, or, barring that, competing with a lot of hunters who are also after a limited resource in a limited period.
    Some folks just don't have the luxury of an overabundance of time and money to choose a cooler period. Guess I might have the time after retirement if the body is till up to the task.
    I have no issues with that. My comment was intended to provoke some thought among those with broader options. There's no finer eating than an August caribou, in my book. Unless it's an August sheep.

    -Mike
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly 2 View Post
    Once the meat has cooled, wipe it down with a rag wet with white vinegar. That treatment will also keep a side of bacon from developing mold for several weeks, regardless of the temperature.
    I know some folks are still using vinegar for the acid wash, but it's impractical in the field. Especially compared to citric acid powder. And the other thing about the powder / solution is that it can be made stronger if necessary.

    For those interested, we carry Indian Valley's "GameSaver" Citric Acid Powder in our store now ($3.25) and our shipping charges are a fraction of theirs-

    Mike
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    A problem area that has not been address is bone sour. The meat spoils around the bone and as far as I know the only way to keep if from going bad is to keep the area around the bone cold and dry. When the meat go bad it does not smell and the only way to find out if it bad is to cook and eat it.

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    Back about 1974 or so, I'd worked a sheep/caribou hunt as assistant guide for Nick Botner. Nick had one more hunt, and as I was done and returning home, we were going to watch Nick's kid, getting him started in school for the year. Must have been early September.


    A couple days later Botner brought us a hind leg of a caribou, skinned, all glazed over, and with a couple spots of maggots crawling in it. I asked Nick, "What do you want me to do with that?" Nick took the leg into our meat house, laid it on the table, cut out the maggots, sliced off a steak, and trimmed the edges. Can't recall whether it had a bone-in or not.


    "Moose, elk, caribou, deer," Nick said, "spoil from the outside in. Cut off the bad, and what's inside is fine. Bear and pork spoil from the inside out and will kill you."


    Nick's words, not mine. We ate the caribou.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MacGyver View Post
    A problem area that has not been address is bone sour. The meat spoils around the bone and as far as I know the only way to keep if from going bad is to keep the area around the bone cold and dry. When the meat go bad it does not smell and the only way to find out if it bad is to cook and eat it.
    Bone sour is discussed on our page, "Field Care of Alaska Big-Game Meat", which I linked to earlier in this thread. I also discussed it in this thread. Bone sour results from fluids around the bones becoming rancid. The cause of bone sour is failure to cool the meat adequately in the hours immediately after the animal's death. Bone sour is easily identified in the field by a strong rank odor. If you cut into the quarter, you will see a greenish color in the fluids around the large bones. By the time you smell bone sour, the entire quarter is spoiled and cannot be salvaged (though the law requires you to bring it out of the field). Cooling meat that has already spoiled will certainly slow down further rotting, however it will not save the meat that has soured. Nor can this area be dried, as can the surface fascia tissues. Removal of the bones in the field is marginally beneficial in preventing spoilage. Though it removes a heat source (the bones themselves), it does so by opening a four-foot-long wound channel in the quarter, exposing those tissues to contamination by surface bacteria. This area will not dry in the field, rather it will continue to seep blood and other fluids, adding to the contamination problem. This is exactly why ADF&G requires meat to e taken out of the field on the bone, in most cases.

    My suggestion to hunters who discover a strong, foul odor on one of the quarters is to isolate that meat bag from the others, to prevent cross-contamination.

    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus
    "Moose, elk, caribou, deer," Nick said, "spoil from the outside in. Cut off the bad, and what's inside is fine. Bear and pork spoil from the inside out and will kill you."
    Marcus, Nick is incorrect. Game meat, regardless of species, spoils in one of two ways; From the inside-out (bone sour) or from the outside-in (surface contamination from dirt / debris, rut-tainted fluids, or bacteria). It is true that each big-game species in Alaska presents unique meat care challenges, but these have less to do with spoilage than with parasites and diseases. The issue your friend was talking about with bears and pork was most likely trychinosis.

    -Mike
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    The only time I saw bone sour meat was when my brother-in-law left a moose laying on a pallet for a couple of days and then gave it to me. I butcher all my own meat and smell each piece as I am cutting it up and my wife double check me. The meat did not smell but tasted bad when we tried to eat it.

    I talked to a couple of butcher shops to find out what happen and they told me the only way to tell if the meat is bone sour is to cook and eat it. I would think they would know how to test meat to make sure it good to eat. There words not mine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MacGyver View Post
    The only time I saw bone sour meat was when my brother-in-law left a moose laying on a pallet for a couple of days and then gave it to me. I butcher all my own meat and smell each piece as I am cutting it up and my wife double check me. The meat did not smell but tasted bad when we tried to eat it.

    I talked to a couple of butcher shops to find out what happen and they told me the only way to tell if the meat is bone sour is to cook and eat it. I would think they would know how to test meat to make sure it good to eat. There words not mine.
    You can sometimes smell it where the femur emerges from the hindquarter, but probably not every time. Makes sense when you think about it, as it is the fluid around the bones which goes rancid. It's not hard to imagine some of that fluid oozing out around the exposed bone end. I imagine it depends on how advanced the spoilage is.

    I recall being given some moose meat one year, from a guide service I knew (no idea how well the meat was cared for, as I was not in the field on that hunt). It was a hindquarter and a front shoulder. The hindquarter had a bad smell to it, and when I took it out to Doug Drum (the owner of Indian Valley Meats, near Anchorage), I explained my concern. He took one sniff in the ball joint area (the end of the femur) and immediately said, "bone sour". He took a long slice along the femur, and the meat around the bone was green and had a much stronger odor. Doug explained that once bone sour starts, the entire quarter is spoiled. That was my first encounter with bone sour (I have never lost game meat to spoilage on animals my hunters or I have harvested). So I asked Doug to give me the rundown on it. I have since done some study of it, as I spend quite a bit of time instructing my hunters on proper meat care, and I want to be sure I am providing accurate information to help them prevent spoilage (I am a commercial hunt consultant and I spend a lot of time reviewing proper meat and trophy care practices with my hunters).

    I guess my point is that you can indeed determine whether or not a quarter has soured (in at least some cases). Making that determination in the field is relevant because it alerts you to the need to prevent cross-contamination of other meat. And my final point is that bone sour can be prevented by proper practices in the field.

    -Mike
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    agreed, citric acid is best used for extended period when handling meat is a tough and necessary priority. I use it when i have to. Good points Mike. The deal is, you have to know how and when to use a particular method because each situation presents with different requirements.

    Keep in mind that cool is more important than dry in every situation. Moisture is a problem when heat/warmth is a variable. Otherwise, cooler meat even when wet is my best option.

    The slimy surface if treated with citric acid is not a grave concern, but if warm and slimy...donate to the food bank. You get the point.

    Common sense goes a long way with meat care. Cool over dry, or cool and dry, or dry and warm...sometimes we have scenarios that warrant extreme measures. Our goal for each other is to educate ourselves on all options.

    Good luck this season. My guess it'll be a warm dry year until mid september.

    LB

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