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Thread: Packing out

  1. #1

    Default Packing out

    Hello all, I have been a member here for a few months, but don't post much since I live in Nebraska and subsequently, do all of my hunting here. I just have this fascination with listening to all your guys stories and looking at your pictures. I do have a question on packing an animal though and I thought, who better than to ask than the guys who do it all the time. I have always been a whitetail hunter and have never needed to worry about this, but here goes. I plan to do a bit of mule deer and antelope hunting this year with my bow out in Western Nebraska. There are some pretty big expanses of public land that I would like to traverse. I bought a new pack and am willing to do as much hiking as it takes to be able to harvest an animal. If I actually shoot one, I plan on quartering it and then packing it out. So my question is, what do you do with the quarters to keep them clean, etc. I guess I have heard of big game bags and cheese cloth, do these sound right? I am trying to get everything around that I need now, so any advice would be appreciated. I can't wait to make it up to Alaska someday, but for now, I guess I will deal with what Nebraska has to offer. Thanks.

  2. #2


    Smart question mj! Details will depend on distance involved, and especially ambient conditions including temperature and flies. The game bags are intended to keep flies out and allow some drainage and airing, but they do little for keeping things clean. If it's not too hot and I can assure that the quarters won't hit the ground or anything else, I will use the bags solo on a bare pack frame, but not inside a pack.

    I use plastic garbage bags of the meat is going inside a pack, but I'm not dealing with Nebraska heat. It keeps the meat cleaner and helps avoid soaking the pack in blood. But if it's hot, I'd be in one big hurry to get the meat out and someplace cool where I could remove the plastic bags and move the meat into game bags to air, cool and drain.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Northwest AK

    Talking bow season

    Does the bow season still begin before rifle season pause for two weeks during that time, then continue into Jan.? If that is still the case, you have several options depending on your schedule and location.

    The favorite one I used while hunting up around Chadron was hunting after snow was on the ground. 1 tracking was easier, 2 a cheap plastic sled with extra holes to run rope through to lash down meat made packing out easier. (just bring extra rope to help yourself get out of some of those big draws and canyons you may encounter) I'd still use game bags or leave the the hide on as those pine needles are a pain to pick off the meat.

    without snow, in warmer temps game bags, and a frame pack would probably be the easiest, unless you have access to a horse

    Good luck, there are some big ones running around there as well as some big whitetails. You may even stumble into some BIG Bull elk-take your camera.

  4. #4


    Thanks for the help guys, it is appreciated. More than likely, I am planning an early season trip, probably around the end of we are talking temperatures that are probably going to be warm, maybe anywhere from 60 to 80 degrees. I would like to get out there before antelope and grouse hunters push everything around. If things do not work out, I might make a second trip out sometime later on in the season. So high temps wouldn't be an issue then and it sounds like garbage bags might just work fine then. I guess I will look at purchasing some game bags to try and keep things cool during the early season hunts. I will just deal with a blood soaked pack! Thanks again for the comments.

  5. #5
    Member walk-in's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    North Pole

    Default garbage bags

    Be very careful with garbage bags. The meat will not cool nearly as well as it does in cloth bags, and you run the risk of spoilage even at temps when you might think it would be OK. The only time I use garbage bags (and I haven't done this in years) is when it is very hot and I want to submerge my meat in a stream to cool it down. I bag my quarters in regular game bags and then seal those up as tightly as I can in garbage bags before putting them in the water. As soon as they come out of the water, they come out of the garbage bags.
    As for cheese cloth bags....I wouldn't waste my money on them. Get the heavy cotton ones that look like big laundry bags. They do a much better job keeping your meat clean, still breath well, and can be washed and re-used.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2007

    Default pack frames

    take a serious look at the Cabela's "Alaskan Guide" pack frames. These are well made and very versatile.
    Also, ditto for the heavy game bags.
    Good luck
    Never give a gun to a duck...

  7. #7
    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Valdez, Alaska

    Default You said

    You said "quarter". If I had the time I would de-bone too. Unless you are worried about the dog.
    "Never again shall one generation of Veterans abandon another".
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  8. #8


    I was extending my Alaska experience a little too far into Nebraska on my reco for plastic bags, mj. I'm hunting in colder conditions for larger animals and usually taking several half-day or day-long trips to haul out one animal. Bloody packs in camp or on the trail cause us serious bear problems as surely as meat laying on the ground. Not something you have to contend with in the badlands, and with the heat of your early hunt the plastic bags are assuredly a bad idea, as others have pointed out.

  9. #9


    Something that speeds meat transport and thereby helps reduce spoilage risk is a game carrier, maybe in combination with a sturdy plastic toboggan. You can buy game carriers, buy plans to build your own, or just improvise as I did. Google "game carrier" and you'll find lots of examples, including several models from your neighbors in Sidney, NE. I made my game carrier from 20" bicycle wheels scrounged at the waste transfer station, an aluminum extension ladder that I had retired, and the handle from a deceased lawn mower. I put a camo paint job on it so I can stash it in the woods.

    The toboggan goes on top of the carrier, along with camping gear if needed, and I haul each to strategic locations while hunting or right before the season opens. The toboggan is to get the meat to a trail, then the wheeled carrier takes over. It does a fabulous job on trails and forest roads, unless they're very steep and then things occasionally get "interesting." Some commercial versions have hand brakes -- I'm adding one to mine before this fall.

    If you build one, give it a good shake-down cruise with a heavy load before the hunting season, to ensure it's up to the job.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Phoenix Az

    Default Packing meat


    Let me begin by saying the the advice offered in this thread is on target. I pack hunt every year in Arizona and it is not uncommon to have 80 degree weather on a November rifle hunt. Depending on you hunt dates heat can be effectively dealt with with proper planning and equipment.

    Here is my primary approach. Plan your hunt so the odds of an evening kill are high. The majority of my kills have been in the evening. Hang and skin your animal in a tree or a large bush. I would sleep next to the carcass as there is not an issue with bears or critters larger than coyotes. It will cool down over night, blood will drain, meat will stiffen as it cools making it easier to bone out in the AM. Even in Arizona the nights cool off well into the 50's or lower before sunrise. Carry a small plastic trap (10' x 10') so that you can open it up next to your animal and lay the boned meat as you trim the carcass.

    Be prepared to pack out at first light if not sooner. As the sun rises it will begin to warm the air and the meat. This can be slowed by covering the meat with either a sleeping bag or your jacket as you are loading your pack or as a shield to insulate the meat as you pack it out. It is also important to keep the sun off your pack as you hike. Most packs will not insulate enough to keep the meat at a cool temperature.

    If there are two hunters / packers the work is twice as easy and you have someone to talk to. I have packed out many deer and elk with only one bad experience. Packing a 70 -90 pound pack is not easy or enjoyable after a few miles. Your boots may be as important a choice as your pack. All my packs (Cabalas Alaskan Frames and bags) have a strap the pulls the shoulder straps together. It saves the shoulders and worth their weight in gold. We also use walking sticks, and use the pack bladders to hydrate. I hope this helps.


  11. #11
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 1999
    Anchorage, Alaska

    Default Keeping meat cool in warm weather

    Lots of good advice here already, and here are some additional tips:

    I'll spare you the long pack commercial, because it looks like you already have a pack you will use. If for some reason you are still looking (or for those who are), I would recommend the Moose Pack by Barney's Sport Chalet. It is by far the best, strongest, most comfortable pack I've used for packing meat. This is the pack that Cabela's imitated, but the Barney's pack is much stronger, and is the preferred pack of most guides in Alaska.

    As to the warm temps, if you have a stream nearby, place individual quarters in plastic trash bags, strip all the air out, and submerge them in water for about an hour after they come off the critter. Water literally sucks the body heat out of meat about 25 times faster than air of the same temperature and this is a very effective quick-cool method. We do it all the time in Alaska and I have found that you'll pick up another three or four days in the field that way. Do not leave it in plastic bags though! The meat must get a hard glaze on it in order to prevent spoilage from surface bacteria. For that you can use citric acid powder mixed with clean water. Spray the meat liberally, let it glaze, then bag it as normal. You will have to constantly monitor that meat once your animal is down- this becomes your primary job after you take the shot.

    I disagree with the idea of removing the bones, unless you will have it out of the field and to a butcher shop within a day or so. Meat keeps MUCH better on the bone; that's why the Alaska Department of Fish and Game requires meat to be left on the bone in many of our Game Management Units up here.

    If you're going to cape your animal out for a mount, spend some time at your local taxidermist's, going over skinning, fleshing, turning ears, splitting noses and lips, and even turning the eyelids. Yes, EYELIDS! This is especially important in warmer weather, where the pores in the hide can open up and the eyelashes will slip on you. Make sure you have plenty of salt on hand. For a deer I would recommend at least 15 lbs. You could try the TTC product offered by Cabela's; a light-weight salt alternative. I have not personally used it, and am not totatally comfortable recommending it yet. Still, others on this website have used it with good results. The main advantage is the weight savings. I tried to post a link to it from the Cabela's site, but could not find it there. Anyone got a link?

    Hope it helps! Keep the questions coming!

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  12. #12

    Default Check your regs!

    I am originally from NE and I belive you can only half a deer in NE. I belive skinning and quartering prior to checking it in is against the regs. I would double check before you quarter one out.

    What part of western NE are you planning to hunt? Send me a PM if you would like to discuss further.

    Good luck.


  13. #13


    Again, thanks to all those that replied. I have learned a lot thus far and your suggestions will definitely help out come this fall.

  14. #14
    Member hntr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Eagle River


    When I lived in NE it was required to check the animals in with in 72 hrs and they had to be whole.

  15. #15


    It actually states in the Nebraska regulations that an animal may be quartered as long as there is evidence of sex on each quarter. Now I am not quite sure yet how you keep evidence on each quarter and that is something that I will need to get clarification on, but at least I know I can do it. I actually heard rumors that the Game and Parks may get rid of the requirement to check in deer sometime in the near future. We'll have to see if that pans out or not. There seams to be a lot Nebraska transplants up there in Alaska, maybe you can make room for one more in a few years!


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