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Thread: Trash Contractor Bags: What size for moose?

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    Default Trash Contractor Bags: What size for moose?

    Hey gang, I'm putting together the final odds/ends of my gear list for an upcoming moose hunt. The suggested meat care equipment includes trash contractor bags for submerging meat in the river in order to dissipate heat when the weather is warm.

    Mr. Strahan's write-up says to take bags that are at least 3mil thickness and 4ft tall. After searching around for various options, the closest match is the common 42 gallon size, which are roughly 3' 9" tall. Will that be large enough to contain an entire moose quarter on the bone, or should I look for something larger than 42 gallons?

    Any insights/criticisms are appreciated. Thanks!

    http://m.homedepot.com/p/HUSKY-42-Ga...050B/202973825

    https://www.amazon.com/Plasticplace-.../dp/B001C0QKO2

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    Member c6 batmobile's Avatar
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    Would probably depend on the size of the moose and where you trimmed the bone down to on the quarter. Mine would have fit in a bag of that size if needed. Someone that shot a bull with a much larger body probably not.
    Makin fur fins and feathers fly.

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    Thanks for the replies. Tigerpaw, that's on point. I'll give those a try. Thanks!

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    I'd probably go with the HD 55 gal. bags and double up on them if you're gonna throw them in the water. AIH sells them...
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    If you get trash bags, make sure they are the unscented ones. don't want those chemicals on your meat.

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    Thumbs down Meat in Plastic bags...

    It is a common mistake for hunters to place meat in plastic bags and then find that the meat has turned sour. This is huge loss of meat and a wonderful food source that your family will not enjoy. I always advise my hunters not to ship meat in plastic as heat cannot escape and it provides a perfect environment for bacteria. In the field meat can tolerate warm conditions if there is air circulating around the meat, i.e. cloth meat bags. Meat needs to be hung so air can cause the meat to develop a skin and this will not happen in a plastic bag

    Shipping: If your shipping deboned meat back home placing the meat in a plastic lined meat box will work and can be a requirement for shipping on some airlines but the meat better be frozen or once again you are inviting bacteria and wen you get back home you may find sour meat.


    Walt
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    I agree with GR.

    I have medevaced many folks with botulism because they stored meat in a plastic bag. About a third of them we had to intubate and transport on a ventilator.

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    I would wager any amount of money that Michael's packing list suggestion of contractor bags isn't for primary storage of meat. It is likely intended to be used for quick cooling of meat in a river if air temperatures make that necessary.

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    Yes indeed, the sole purpose is to cool game meat in the river, not for general storage in the field.

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    Game bags for meat. Trash bags for trash. Some trash bags (at least in the past) are treated with insecticides.
    Hunt Ethically. Respect the Environment.

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    I confess my ignorance here, but I thought cooling meat in the river using contractor bags was common practice when weather turns warm. Is that not the case?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnboy View Post
    I confess my ignorance here, but I thought cooling meat in the river using contractor bags was common practice when weather turns warm. Is that not the case?
    yes it works and save your meat for couple days in the river. if you have a shovel digging a hole to frost line or close to will do the same. Keeping the meat in game bags will keep a lot of dirt off. I was sure the question for plastic bags was to get the meat back to town. most small airlines transporting meat don't want blood getting in or on the airplanes or other peoples baggage. it dose not hurt meat to be in plastic for the duration of a airplane fight. but not stored in plastic bags without freezing.

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    I see the need to cool meat and yes the trash bag would keep it dry but....I have always choose not to drop an animal if temps were high enough to risk spoilage. I guess the only time I would risk the warm temps would be if the night time temps were cool enough or I had a pick up (pilot) arranged soon after that critter hit the ground.

    I have passed up on animals because the temps were too high. I know I have the benefit of living up here where if I was coming up from the lower 48 it might different. From my 13 years of hunt planning and outfitting I think the trash bag is a tough decision.


    I was at Alaska Seafood and Sausage dropping off a clients meat last year and the owners son, Martin refused to accept a group of hunters moose that came chilled and in plastic bags. Martin's explanation was simple... I can't risk getting bacteria into our processing facility.


    So keep it safe and keep it simple. If you're going need to chill the meat than maybe its too warm to shoot that animal. I am sure chilling the meat in a trash bag works fine but it is just not something I have experience with.


    Walt
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    Average highs where/when I'll be this September are in the low 40's, so these would be unusual circumstances (based on average). Either way, it'll be a game time decision (pun intended). Many thanks for the insights.

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    yeah it's a legit practice to cool meat in contractor bags and immersed in a water body. The trick is not leaving the meat too long as to retard ventilation...only to cool the dense cuts. If i go underwater with meat, 2-3 hours at most unless the temps are sustained above 75 degrees for much of the day.

    The issue is sweating and drainage which accumulates in the contractor bag, and it surrounds the meat like a cell of fluid while underwater due to the pressure around the meat bag...when you pull it out of the bags you'll commonly notice substantial accumulation.

    if you dont carefully manage this practice you'll have sour spoilage due to the skanky fluid and absorption odors.

    lb

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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Bartlett View Post
    yeah it's a legit practice to cool meat in contractor bags and immersed in a water body. The trick is not leaving the meat too long as to retard ventilation...only to cool the dense cuts. If i go underwater with meat, 2-3 hours at most unless the temps are sustained above 75 degrees for much of the day.

    The issue is sweating and drainage which accumulates in the contractor bag, and it surrounds the meat like a cell of fluid while underwater due to the pressure around the meat bag...when you pull it out of the bags you'll commonly notice substantial accumulation.

    if you dont carefully manage this practice you'll have sour spoilage due to the skanky fluid and absorption odors.

    lb
    Yes, you'll want to only cool it and pull it out of the bags when there is still enough heat left in the meat to help dry, and start to build up the crust.
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    Default Contractor bags and compactor bags

    I wrote the section in question and posted it in the meat care section here on the site. I recommended two types of bags, based on my practices in the field on guided hunts over the last 20 years or so...

    TRASH COMPACTOR BAGS

    Used for a pack liner in order to keep blood out of your pack. I've packed without compactor bags, but it does make a mess, particularly if you've just removed the meat from the river, where it was in Contractor bags. The bags facilitate easy loading of the meat into a backpack bag, because the meat bag just slides right into the pack, even if the bag is a little tight. Some hunters tie the meat on the outside of the pack and forego the trash compactor bag, with the idea of drying the meat as soon as possible. I understand the logic of that, however the meat is already wet when you take it out of the Contractor bag anyway, and if your pack from the kill site to camp is relatively short, as it often is on float hunts, it's really not a big deal. A bigger concern is the exposed game bag getting torn on the brush as you pack your meat to camp. This is especially important with the thinner synthetic bags. They're pretty tough, but they can be torn on alder limbs and such.

    As was mentioned, do not use the scented bags!

    CONTRACTOR TRASH BAGS

    These are the larger bags used for meat immersion in cases where that's necessary. You do not always need to do it, but if you do, you'll want several bags, so you can at least immerse the four quarters. The hindquarters take the longest to cool, and I can tell you that it takes longer than you might think. We shot last fall's bull late in the day and when we got to the kill, the hindquarter temp was 102 degrees Farenheit. Water temperature was around 43 if I remember correctly, and the ambient air temperature was 47 degrees. After soaking overnight for eight hours, the meat had only dropped 25 degrees, to 75 degrees Farenheit. I was not satisfied with that temperature, so we gave it another four hours and it only dropped another five degrees. At that point we pulled it and began the drying process. First by hand-stripping the surface moisture off of it, then by placing it in a well-ventilated, covered area to cool. By day three, the meat had arrived at the ambient air temperature.

    I use the Husky trash bags sold at Home Depot. They're the biggest I can find.

    I understand the comments about putting meat in plastic, and when the water-cool method was first described to me, it was suggested to put the meat directly in the river. I believe the trash bag does have insulating properties, albeit they are low. I believe this issue is more than compensated for by the benefits of keeping glacial silt, debris, and microorganisms from penetrating the fascia, where they can create issues. Granted, giardia and cryptosporidium will die on cooking the meat, but what do you do with glacial silt that has penetrated the tissue? You'll end up skinning the whole quarter again, and even then you won't get out all the grit. Plastic is not for meat storage in any way! It's only a barrier used to keep additional contaminants off the meat while you are rapidly reducing that core temperature in order to prevent bone sour. I don't believe anything positive is accomplished by immersion after the body heat is out of the quarter, by the way. The whole point of the water cool method is to drop the core temperature as quickly as possible, and it's only necessary where there is a potential risk of bone sour.

    Hope it helps!

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan View Post

    These are the larger bags used for meat immersion in cases where that's necessary. You do not always need to do it, but if you do, you'll want several bags, so you can at least immerse the four quarters. The hindquarters take the longest to cool, and I can tell you that it takes longer than you might think. We shot last fall's bull late in the day and when we got to the kill, the hindquarter temp was 102 degrees Farenheit. Water temperature was around 43 if I remember correctly, and the ambient air temperature was 47 degrees. After soaking overnight for eight hours, the meat had only dropped 25 degrees, to 75 degrees Farenheit. I was not satisfied with that temperature, so we gave it another four hours and it only dropped another five degrees. At that point we pulled it and began the drying process.
    Although I guess every bit of cooling as quickly as possible is advantageous, but I have to wonder if it is even worth it in a case where the water temp is only 5 degrees or so difference than the outside temp?

    I take it this was a big bull, so big hinds. Do you think then a 12 hour soak would be a good average time? At 70 degrees, do you feel there was still enough heat in the meat left to help the drying process? I only ask because personally I can't remember if I've ever put meat in water before. So incase I ever do I want to do it right. Did you remove the other pieces from the water any earlier?

    Thanks Mike.....
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4merguide View Post
    Although I guess every bit of cooling as quickly as possible is advantageous, but I have to wonder if it is even worth it in a case where the water temp is only 5 degrees or so difference than the outside temp?

    I take it this was a big bull, so big hinds. Do you think then a 12 hour soak would be a good average time? At 70 degrees, do you feel there was still enough heat in the meat left to help the drying process? I only ask because personally I can't remember if I've ever put meat in water before. So incase I ever do I want to do it right. Did you remove the other pieces from the water any earlier?

    Thanks Mike.....
    Great questions.

    The only pieces we put in the river were the four quarters. The ribs cool fast enough on their own, and of course there are no bones in the rest of it, so strictly speaking, there is no risk of "bone sour". Those cuts are thinner anyway, and have never been a concern.

    I used to advocate a short soak of four hours, but after last year's experience, where I actually took temperature readings, I am re-thinking my approach. I don't believe an overnight soak will hurt anything at all. I hear your perspective of leaving enough core heat in those larger quarters to facilitate surface drying, and I have advocated for it for the same reason for many years. But I'm starting to question that practice as well. I wonder whether internal heat in the meat really does anything to facilitate surface drying at all, or if we're not better off just to get that core temperature to drop as fast as we can, then let the surface dry as it normally would. Last year, because of the wet weather, we had a devil of a time keeping the outside of the meat dry consistently, and this was the very first hunt ever, where I was actually compelled to use citric acid solution to remediate bacterial growth. Carried the stuff in my pack for over 25 years, but never needed to use it, until last fall.

    For me it helps to think of this as two separate processes, for the purpose of preventing two different kinds of spoilage. Meat spoils in one of two ways: from the inside-out, or from the outside-in. In the former case, we're talking about bone sour exclusively. Bone sour develops when the core temperature is not reduced fast enough to prevent the fluids around the bones from going rancid because of bacterial development. The growth rate of these bacteria varies greatly between 40F and 50F. I ran some numbers on this for my meat care seminars and discovered that bacterial growth doesn't enter the "danger zone" (the development of slime, which is over 10 million bacteria / gram) until around Day 9 (post kill) if the temps are 40, but you could be there by Day 4 at 50. So from here on out, I'm putting the meat in the water as soon as possible, if the temps are mid-40's or above. BTW, if the daytime temps are in the 60's, you enter the critical zone halfway through Day 4, and if it's 70, you're there halfway through Day 3. The second way meat spoils, from the outside-in, is typically a result of bacterial contamination. This can happen by handling the meat with bacteria-contaminated hands, but you're going to pick up bacteria from the air even, as soon as you pull that hide. Other contaminants are rut-tainted hair (which often contaminates the meat as hunters handle those lower legs and then touch the meat), feces, urine, digestive tract contents, dirt, and other debris. All of these contribute to surface contamination. The three remedies I know of for this are to first of all prevent excessive contamination through the observation of clean butchering practices (nitrile gloves, changing gloves after handling rut-tainted hair, etc.), keeping the meat dry, and the application of citric acid solution. I see citric acid as more of a remediation method than preventative, because if the meat gets wet, the solution runs off anyway (to varying degrees depending on how the meat got wet). In other words, citric acid is usually used AFTER bacterial development becomes apparent (usually by running your hand across the damp meat; if it feels slick to the touch, you've got a bacterial issue). I have all the numbers on this in my research.

    On that basis, whatever you're doing to prevent bone sour has nothing to do with what you need to do to prevent surface contamination. Granted, bone sour prevention means keeping the surface of the meat wet for longer than usual, but if you get it dry right away, you shouldn't have issues.

    On a related note, I checked average ambient air temperatures around the state over the last five years, and was very surprised to learn that on September 10th, the heart of moose season just about anywhere, the average temperature was close to 50F. Here are the numbers:

    -Bethel: 50
    -Anchorage: 50
    -Tok: 48
    -Galena: 47
    -Kotzebue: 46
    -Coldfoot: 51
    -Ft. Yukon: 44

    In that context, I would suggest the water cool method for moose meat just about anywhere in the state during the peak of the season. Especially on hunts where the meat will remain in the field longer than five days post-kill.

    To recap, I'm not convinced that leaving body heat in a quarter for the purpose of facilitating surface drying is a valid practice, even though I used to advocate it. I just don't think the heat will do the job. And the risks of leaving too much heat in the quarter are just too great for my liking. I'd rather get that meat chilled to the bone as soon as possible, get the meat out of the river, and get it dry as fast as possible. Use citric acid if you have to, and get that meat out of the field ASAP.

    Field conditions can change from year to year, and I think knowing all these tricks gives you an arsenal to use as you respond to the changes.

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

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