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Thread: Cow Moose meat (quality)

  1. #1
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    Default Cow Moose meat (quality)

    Okay I'm posing the question for cow moose hunters, what do you think would be better to shoot a big old cow which could be tough meat (?) or a young cow and not so much meat but maybe young and tender. What is everyones opinions.

  2. #2

    Default Veal

    Would you rather have veal or a gnarly old steer? I think shooting calves is the ticket, other than dealing with an angry mama. I bet a calf is some good eating. The calf probably won't survive the winter anyway.

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    Default Age it first

    I had the Bald Mtn. cow tag last year and it took me 3 mornings to find a cow without a calf- shot her and she ended up being 15-16 years old- and clearly had been barren for years. She tasted pretty good but was a bit tough. I call BS on killing a calf with a cow...our moose population is jeopordized enough with bears, wolves, cars, trains... why anyone would like to eliminate a calf-even if its odds of survival are low- isn't even a hunter in my book...JMO

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    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    GMU 22C has a cow hunt sept 15-30 each fall. Only cows without calves are legal to harvest. Friend of mine has harvested several cows over the time this hunt has been in effect. Adult cows without a calf get quite fat. Very good looking meat I thought. Very comparable to a fall bull. With proper meat care during and after the hunt I would say an adult cow would be preferable. Always a chance you could get an older animal thought could be tough and maybe not so fat tho. Cows don't have antlers to give an indication of age.
    I can't help being a lazy, dumb, weekend warrior.......I have a JOB!
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    Default Joke

    I was joking when I said age it first...of course cows don't have antlers, and in the case of the one I shot last year, she didn't have any molars left to help chew food. F & G said it would have been doubtful for her to make the winter, I probably did the poor old gal a favor.

  6. #6

    Default Calf kills

    Why not shoot calves? The person who planted that idea was a bio at F&G. As in all things, a balance is required.

  7. #7
    Mark
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    I was party to harvesting a cow so old she was more grey than I am now, and she had no teeth. She was pretty tough.

    I also found a calf (7 months old) that had fallen into a drywell ass end in, couldn't get out, and died. When I found him he was still warm. He was absolutely delicious and very tender.

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    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    Not to hijack but....the worlds foremost expert on ungulate herd dynamics, Dr Valerius Geist, would disagree with you sockeye.

    Healthy ungulate populations produce a surplus of offspring because of, and in service to predators. Sacrificing some of each year's calf crop both overwhelms and occupies predators, thereby allowing the others a better chance to survive. It's part of their overall survival strategy as a species. According to ADF&G's studies, in Alaska only about 25% of each new calf crop needs to survive for a herd to maintain its numbers. In other words 15 out of every 20 calves ends up feeding some meat eater.

    Assuming a healthy herd, there is no biological reason not to kill calves. Only sociopolitical ones.
    It's a proven fact older cows make better mothers who's calves enjoy higher survival rates. There is nothing wrong with shooting a truly old cow but I daresay most cows shot under antlerless hunts are amongst the 60 to 75% of prime breeders who lost their calves to normal predation.

    If shooting calves renders one less then a hunter in "your book" then maybe you should think about having "your book" edited by someone who actually understands moose population dynamics.

    Cliffie,
    My take on your question is when it comes to moose, especially on a meat hunt, the primary consideration is the ground upon which the moose is standing. If you have a choice of animals or the option of watching and waiting....choose good ground. If you find a legal cow on good ground shoot her. Getting a moose out of a bog or the water is pure misery.

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    Default Yump

    Quote Originally Posted by Erik in AK View Post
    Not to hijack but....the worlds foremost expert on ungulate herd dynamics, Dr Valerius Geist, would disagree with you sockeye.

    Healthy ungulate populations produce a surplus of offspring because of, and in service to predators. Sacrificing some of each year's calf crop both overwhelms and occupies predators, thereby allowing the others a better chance to survive. It's part of their overall survival strategy as a species. According to ADF&G's studies, in Alaska only about 25% of each new calf crop needs to survive for a herd to maintain its numbers. In other words 15 out of every 20 calves ends up feeding some meat eater.

    Assuming a healthy herd, there is no biological reason not to kill calves. Only sociopolitical ones.
    It's a proven fact older cows make better mothers who's calves enjoy higher survival rates. There is nothing wrong with shooting a truly old cow but I daresay most cows shot under antlerless hunts are amongst the 60 to 75% of prime breeders who lost their calves to normal predation.

    If shooting calves renders one less then a hunter in "your book" then maybe you should think about having "your book" edited by someone who actually understands moose population dynamics.

    Cliffie,
    My take on your question is when it comes to moose, especially on a meat hunt, the primary consideration is the ground upon which the moose is standing. If you have a choice of animals or the option of watching and waiting....choose good ground. If you find a legal cow on good ground shoot her. Getting a moose out of a bog or the water is pure misery.

    Thanks Erik, I didn't have a nice quote like that, but it was my sentiment as well. A producing, calf bearing cow is worth much more populationwise than a calf. I have been a fan of shooting young specimens of whatever I hunt...been called a bambi killer etc....but they all line up at the BBQ for that tasty cut.

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    Default Sounds good....

    Eric-

    Does Dr. Geist have any awareness of Moose populations in the Mat-su valley? I suppose it is simply a matter of opinion- but I wouldn't call the local Moose population "healthy". I realize that the only antlerless hunts around here are in various parts of unit 14- which has a "healthier" population than units 16 and 13, which border 14, my point is that Moose numbers in these units are FAR from healthy- most local biologists agree that there is a MAJOR IMBALANCE in the predator/prey ratio- unit 16 calf mortality rate is almost 90.

    If our "herds" were healthy, perhaps killing calves would be pertinent as Dr. Geist says- Its just my opinion- I appreciate the retort- its good to get another perspective.

    Sockeye

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    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    Default

    (new thread anyone?)

    (sockeye--sorry for the smart-alecky crack about your "book" but the notion that killing calves is wrong is purely sentimental)

    "Healthy" large ungulate populations typically have a 3:1 cow-to-bull ratio. The primary cause of unbalanced sex ratios is focused hunting on adult males. Bull-only seasons, especially pre-rut, eliminate significant numbers of dominant bulls which extends the rut. This has cascading negative effects on overall herd dynamics: Sexually mature but subdominant 3 to 6 year olds are pressed into service breeding cows which increases their age group's overall mortality, primarily through winter kill--they lack the body mass of prime bulls and exhaust themselves during the rut leaving them more vulnerable to winter stress. The long term impact on bulls is cumulative because as each year group comes into their prime years of 7-9 years old there are less and less of them which increases the recruitment of young bulls into the breeding pool.

    An extended rut also means an extended calving season. Instead of having 80-90% of moose calves born in one 2 week period towards the end of May, births are strung out though the summer. This exposes a much greater segment of the calf crop to predation. Assuming they avoid bears and wolves, calves born after the 4th of July have an almost zero chance of enduring their first winter due to a lack of body mass.

    Continued bull only hunting of normally low density species like moose can have devastating, and long term effects, especially in road accessible units close to populatio centers. I don't know that 14A or 13 will ever fully recover because public demand is just too high. IMO all F&G departments have units or populations that serve as "sacrificial lambs." These units absorb the bulk of the annual pressure so that a greater percentage of the remaining habitat and/or populations remain optimum (or as close as they can get).

    In the case of 16, IMO what is needed is a series of big fires to rejuvenate the habitat. More food equals more moose. The problem is there are lots of cabins and private holdings which make management-by-fire almost impossible.

    The answer? In short there isn't any single fix. The most efficient way would probably be to set the place on fire, and suspend hunting for a few years until the habitat and herds sort themselves out, but that's not going to happen. F&G management is a political minefield already and shutting down hunting is the A-bomb. In the intirim I feel the best compromise would be to 1) Eliminate/reduce non-resident tag fees for wolves and bears: 2) Eliminate the guide requirement for bears in affected areas: 3) Limit the general fall season to spike-fork/antlerless, including calves: and lastly 4) Limit bull hunting to a drawing permit AFTER 15 October. Bear in mind this is my opinion and it aplies only to those units with depressed and/or unbalanced moose populations.

    Thoughts?

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    Default

    When ADFG closed 16B to open season hunting, which had been for the typical 50"+ / 3 brow tine / spike-fork bulls, they tripled the tier-II permit hunt which allows killing ANY bull and extends the season to assure the kill-to-permit ratio is very high. Then they publicly blame predation for declining moose populations. Can somebody explain how that makes sense in a population management scheme?

  13. #13

    Default

    Been my experience that many factors affect meat quality. I prefer a early season animal, taken in high alpine terrain and fully mature. Swamp diets and late season harvest are terrible. Mature animals provide MORE meat and generally, moose having recently been eating willow as opposed to swamp grasses taste better. Much easier to properly butcher care for the meat in alpine terrain, as opposed to the lowlands. More often than not, there is a constant breeze to dry the hanging meat, fewer flies and cooler temperatures up at treeline.

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    Default Well Said

    Eric-
    I agree with most of what you indicated in your last post. First of all, I do get a bit attached to every calf I see- I own a cabin in 13E and we don't see too many calves anymore. Our 'unscientific' moose counts the last 10 years in October have consistently shown more bears (black and griz) than moose in the area- we have been able to cull many of the wolves through the state predator control program we participate in, and we are doing our best with the bear problem. Our low moose numbers can be attributed to predation since guiding isn't allowed and there isn't any other access to the drainage.

    According to Dr. Geist- and as you asserted, habitat is CRITICAL to the sustained health of a herd- although I agree that controlled burns would be difficult.

    On another note, it seems that Dr. Geist is reluctant to support using wildlife for economic gain, i.e. guiding, but more for putting food on the table regardless of income. This probably doesn't matter with moose in that guiding isn't allowed in 'low-density' areas, but the argument can DEFINITELY be made with other species- Dall Sheep for example...simply IMO.

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    Default Proper meat care = tender, good tasting moose

    It has been my experience the longer (with in reason) you hang moose meat the more tender it will be. Proper meat care = tender, good tasting moose meat. I have taken a 65 inch. bull in full rut and I could not tell the difference in taste over a 3-5 year old cow. (My wife said a cow tastes better than an old bull.)

    Proper meat care starts with where you shoot the animal, field care, transportation out of the field and processing of the meat.

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    Member akfishfool's Avatar
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    Default just my experience

    This is just my experience , but I have taken both prime bull and a winter cow of between 5 and 10 yr old. The winter cow was by far better eating. She was tender, extremely fat ( so fat the ribs had to be ground because there was more fat then meat) and of a decent size about 900 to 1000 lbs. The bull was good, but the flavor was slightly strong as he was a rutting bull. The flavor of the cow was so good we couldn't stop eating her, and ate moose night after night. Even low grade steaks were tender and juicy. I don't know if this was because it was winter kill ( february) or because she was a cow, or both. But I would rather have a cow like that then a bull in the fall anyday. By the way this was in unit 20a where the moose population is extremely healthy.

    Just my unedjucated observations.

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    Default kudos to Erik

    Just wanted to say kudos to Erik for his informative and educated posts. Indeed, Val Geist has long been a proponent of killing calves:

    "I have argued that no hunter should be legally allowed to shoot an adult deer until he has handed in the jaws of ten fawns!...Such a scheme [killing more subadults and fewer adults] generates, on average, an older population of females who, because of their age and acquired experience, make much better mothers, producing larger, healthier, and more fawns, while better protecting them against predation." - Val Geist quote excerpted from David Petersen's Heartsblood: Hunting, Spirituality, and Wildness in America

    Petersen goes on to explain the concept really involves enhancing trophy hunting by not trophy hunting. FYI, if you want to know more about moose populations and dynamics than you have time to read, check out Kris Hundertmark's page:
    http://users.iab.uaf.edu/~kris_hundertmark/
    You can view many of the pdf files. If you scroll down to the "Teaching" section, you can also view many of the coursework he teaches at UAF about moose biology, including pred/prey relationships. He also explains the entire SF/50" management scheme and both the good and bad aspects of that as far as genetic diversity and trophy quality antlers.

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