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Thread: So you've spotted a harvestable moose, now what?

  1. #1

    Default So you've spotted a harvestable moose, now what?

    Ok, after a few time consuming pm's I still have no responses to my pressing questions. Maybe they think it's a joke, but it is far from it. I drew an anterless tag for DM 408. If I cannot find a cow to my liking in this area I might as well give up hunting. But I am no expert moose field dresser, I have dressed moose in the past but not from start to finish and that was years ago. The "critical" parts were taken care of for me. Basically I am not confortable doing this by myself. There are a few people trying to spoon feed me advice but I am not buying it, mainly family that wants to go on the hunt.

    This leads me to properly bleeding a moose. Some of the people I have talked to think the only way to shoot a moose is behind the ear. After the moose is down it's time to come-along the monsterous animal up a tree to bleed it. "No blood what so ever should touch the meat," is what I hear. "Your hands should never ever be bloody when dressing a moose." From the sites I have read they claim a lung or heart shot basically bleed the animal for you. I am begining to think the entire "come-along the animal up a sapling" is a deer roots thing.

    So watcha think? Ear shot then come-along the moose up a tree? Or lung shot, dress, bag, and then head home? And most improtantly, WHY?

  2. #2
    Member PatrickH's Avatar
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    Default If you're hung

    No need to hang. I am not sure it is even possible in many situations. I have very limited experience in moose butchering. But I did do it by myself. First I did a lung shot. It did not seem to phase it. It looked like I missed. However after about a minute he went down. The last thing on my mind was to find a stout tree, climb up it with heavy gear, and then try to get the moose close enough and try to winch it up. And mine was a fork horn. Even if you had a front-end loader to hang it with, you would need a ladder to do the butchering.
    I split the hide down the back and down the back of the hind leg. I then skinned out the top side and took off the quarters on top. Removed the spine meat and neck meat. I did use a come along to turn the moose over. I skinned the other side and removed the other side meat. At that point I removed the guts and took the backstraps. That left cutting off the ribs and some final hamburger meat. Fish and game has a video of the process you can rent or buy.
    I did notice that the moose had bled out into it's chest cavity, which was full of blood. The meat was not very bloody at all. I think bleeding a moose once it is dead is futile. No heart to pump it out. I had a couple of years of good eating off of that animal.
    The most important thing however is to invite me over when you barbque the tenderloins! I like mine medium rare.
    Patrick

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    Once it's dead it cannot "bleed out" When the pump stops pumping the blood stays where it's at.
    Just take the best shot you have. I personally don't like head/neck shots unless of course it's the ONLY shot I have and the animal is not moving, close range, rest, etc. Go for the vitals (heart/lung shot). Just get the critter dead!

    Then, getting the meat cool as quckly as possible is the most important thing. Then you can either do the ol standard gut and quarter or my preffered method which is to skin it, take off the shoulder, hindquarter, backstraps, neck and rib meat. Roll it over and do the same thing, THEN, gut the animal, pull out the tenderloins, grab the flank meat, heart and liver if you want.

    I carry a 6x8 ft tarp and six large HD game bags. As you pull off the quarters you can lay them on the clean tarp and then bag them. Same with the other meat.

    Oh, and if your not bloody and worn out by the time your done you probably didn't really shoot one!
    A gun is like a parachute. If you need one, and donít have one, youíll probably never need one again

  4. #4

    Default B.S.

    Based on my experiences, the only person at the kill site without blood on their hands isn't doing anything. I have been on many kills and not all go the same. The key is to keep the meat clean, dry, and cool. We have winched moose up a tree and skinned the hide down as we raised the animal up. It works, but doesn't necessarily keep the meat any cleaner. My personal preference,(although not always attainable), is to have the spine of the animal up hill so that the guts can be rolled down hill out of the way. After that, skin the animal on one side and lay the hide out hair down. Gives a good clean area to put the quarters on while preparing them to be bagged. After that side is done, roll the animal onto the previously skinned side and do it again. Hope this helps and good luck.

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    Default basketball or tennis ball?

    At any given yardage, if money were on the line, which one would you shoot at? Same thing goes for a chest shot vs a head or neck shot. Chest shots will cause extreme bleeding which leads to a quick humane death. Like Snyd said, once they are dead you can't bleed them out anyway.
    I would not dream of trying to winch a whole moose into a tree. Your cross pole would have to be 20' in the air. Way too much work in my book.
    The blood in the chest cavity can be used to rinse off tainted meat in the event the stomach is punctured or intestines are cut.
    The biggest deal is COOL & CLEAN. Absolutely CLEAN. No hair, no sticks, no dirt. Yeah, that is tough. But whoever cuts it up later will be able to do a better job. I have seen too much bad meat at the butchers.
    Good luck.

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    Have killed many Moose, never tried to bleed one out, never even heard of doing that till a few years ago. Like someone else already said when the pump stops everything stops. The center of the shoulder shot I always take usually takes out both lungs and bleeds them out pretty good anyway. At least the body cavaity is always full of blood when I open it up. I usually end up with blood all the way to my elbows, the front of my shirt, the front of my pants, expecially the knees, are all bloody. The behind the ear shot is not for the average hunter, few people can really make that shot on an animal the size of a Moose. If you are off just a little all you will do is spook the animal so bad it won't stop running till it is long gone. I always recommend Center Of The Shoulder shot. Some people cry about all the meat I am wasting, hay whats two to three pounds out of 600 to 800 pounds of meat, really. At least with the shoulder shot they don't run and get into water(ie the nearest lake, pond, or river) They stay where they fall and are usually dead before you can get there. And like I said before both lungs are usually turned to jello. I've killed over 30 Moose and never had one get back up after being shot through the shoulder. They usually stand there with their head hanging low and wobbling for about a minute before collapsing, but when they go down it's for keeps. Yet I've seen heart shot Moose run over 100 yards and dive into the nearest river or lake and die. Then they have to be chased down with a boat, before they drift away dead.

    Also we are not talking rocket science here, just jump in with both feet and do it. If you make a mistake, you'll know better next time. If no one else is there who says it is a mistake anyway. Don't worry about it , just do it, and do the best you can. Take care and remember life is too short to not have fun.

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    Default F&G

    Fish and game has a video that you can but from them that is all about field dressing a moose. They also have the is it legal video. This might be a good start for you.

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    Another thing I like to do if it is shot in a swamp or wet areas is I just quarter it with the hide on and pack it out. Then get it hung quickly and skin it hanging. This keeps your meat so much cleaner it's crazy. It's worth packing the extra weight of the hide to have really clean meat in my book.

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    Member tboehm's Avatar
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    Default video

    UBWOODMAN is right. The alaska fis and game have a good video on the whole process and you can order it online. I had everyone telling me and had read a couple of books but this really answers all of the questions and is worth the price and worth watching.

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    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Default

    WG, advise you get the ADFG field dressing video. Don't have time now or I'd post some butchering how-to pics. You are getting some very strange advice there buddy! By the time you're done properly dressing and butchering a moose, your hands up to the elbow, and legs below the knees, is likely to be covered in blood. I invariably put on full rain gear before beginning to butcher, or have waders on and upper rain gear. Carrying the quarters or lifting them also gets you fairly bloody.

    Skinning/Butchering is much easier if you have someone there to help pull and lift. If no one has sent you butchering pics, let me know via pm; I may have some that better explain the entire process. Or get that F&G video. There are some definite dos and don'ts and tips.

    FYI guys, you can still somewhat bleed a moose after it is dead by cutting the jugular veins. Helps if gravity is working in your favor. Of course, if you lung shoot a moose, it will bleed out into the chest cavity. A lung shot, behind the shoulder, is imo your best shot to take and wastes little meat. Moose die fairly easily with lung shots. I don't advise a spine/behind the ear shot unless you have experience doing this or are very close and your rifle is sighted in for close range. That is just an easy way to wound a moose severely and have it run off. For those that do use that shot, it's best to immediately cut the jugulars afterward and let the moose bleed out as much as possible.

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    Lots Of Good Advice Given Here,graybeard,and Talkeetnakid Sound Like They Do Pretty Much The Same I Have.i Have Killed Six Mooose The First One I Killed I Had No Idea What To Do So I Just Jumped In And Got It Done It Really Is Not That Hard Just Takes A While And You Will Get Blood All Over Yourself,get The Guts,lungs,heart,liver And All That Other Stuff Out And Out Of The Way Fast So The Chest Cavity Will Start Cooling Fast.dont Hit The Moose In The Guts,good Shoulder Shot Will Work.be Carefull With The Pee Sack If It Is Full And You Spill It,the Stuff Stinks Just Like Pee On Your Meat,also I Would Bring A Friend Along Because It Is Nice To Have Help And A Big Ole Fat Cow Will Split Two Ways Easy,plenty Of Meat For Two Families.keep The Meat Cool And Clean Dont Put It On Anything Plastic Or Cover It With Anything Plastic You Would Be Surprised How Fast It Will Spoil If Air Is Not Moving Around It.also I Have Learned Not To Shoot A Moose If It Is To Far From My Truck,boat,4-wheeler Etc. Maybe I Am Lazy But Packing A Moose On Foot Sucks Been There Done It.good Luck Have Fun And Pop A Fat Cow I Was Never Lucky Enough To Draw A Cow Permit.

  12. #12
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Field Dressing a Moose

    I stayed out of this because we have LOTS of folks here who have done that many times, and I thought they would jump on it. Here's my take:

    1. Educate yourself. As was mentioned, ADFG has a double-feature DVD you can purchase, entitled, "Field Care of Trophy Meat". It goes through the entire process very well. The system they use on the video is exactly the way I've been doing it for many years. You are also welcome to drop me a PM and we can get together to talk about this- there's a lot to it. Finally, a shameless plug for Mr. Bartlett's DVD trilogy on meat and trophy care, "Wilderness Taxidermy". He got a taxidermist involved in the project and the results were really good. I bought it a while back and watched the whole thing through in one sitting, then called him and complimented him on doing such a good job (that ought to leave a few folks scratching their heads). I even wrote a review on it for this website- go figure! It can be ordered from Outdoors Directory AT THIS LINK. It has a lot of info you are probably not going to use (like caping your moose), but you will use it later. You might even opt to save the cape to sell to a local taxidermist. Good way to pick up some cash if it's done correctly. Anyway, the ADFG video will set you back about 15 bucks, but the Wilderness one is a bit more than that.

    2. Don't shoot one in the water! Once your moose is down you will not be able to move it, unless you have a front-end loader handy. Choose your shot wisely to ensure you have an acceptable work area.

    3. Take your time. After many years field dressing moose, it still takes me about four hours or more to completely process an animal at the kill site. This may mean you're out there after dark. Bring a headlamp. Don't hurry or you'll injure yourself.

    4. Get help. You can do it by yourself, but it's a lot harder. A hind quarter will weigh well in excess of 150 lbs. and it's hard to put one in a backpack by yourself.

    5. Use the right tools. Bring two knives. If you break one or lose one you have a backup. Bring a sharpening tool too. Make sure you have plenty of game bags (I usually use 6 large and 3 small game bags). Use parachute cord to secure the tops of your game bags immediately after putting meat in them. This keeps flies out. Use a plastic tarp to keep the meat clean. Finally, you may need some 1/4" braided nylon rope to hang the meat. Your permit hunt is somewhat close to the road system, so theoretically you could pack it right off the kill without hanging it. But you may want the option of hanging it and packing it from a meat pole. You will also need a small folding saw or hatchet for removing the ribs along the brisket bone and along the spine. I leave the rib meat on the bone so we can barbecue them later.

    6. Keep it legal. Notch your harvest ticket as soon as the animal is dead. Too many hunters forget this step and end up with a citation.

    7. Keep it clean, dry, and cool. As you remove meat from the animal, place it immediately in a game bag to keep the flies off of it. Your hunt period starts in August, so it will be fairly warm and you'll need to get that meat cool. You could cool it in water (put it in a contractor trash bag first), but since your hunt area is so close to the road system, it's conceivable that you could have most or all of it in a butcher shop the day you kilt it. In that case, they'll cool it for you. The animal has to go through the rigor mortis process before the meat is cut or it will be really tough. It changes the pH of the meat. If you have questions about this part of the deal, contact Doug Drum of Indian Valley Meats. He knows more about it than anyone I personally know.

    8. Cut the hide from the inside out! This will minimize the chances of cutting hairs that will get all over your meat.

    9. Gut the animal last! It is not necessary to remove the viscera until you have removed the hide, all four quarters, the backstraps and the neck meat. If you do it at the beginning, you will have a huge mess on your hands.

    10. Taking the animal apart. Remove all four quarters without using a saw or hatchet. Everything except the ribs can be removed with simply a knife. You will skin the "up" side of the animal (the side not touching the ground), remove the front and hind quarters and backstraps, place the tarp along the spine area and roll the animal over on the tarp. Alternatively, you can stick the tarp to the skinned carcass and then roll it. The goal is to keep the ribs from touching the ground. Skin the other side, remove those quarters, and the neck meat. At that point you will cut through the flank area, just aft of the trailing edge of the last rib. The viscera will subside out of the animal, allowing you to reach forward along the first rib you encounter, and sever the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a thin muscle wall that separates the heart / lung area from the abdominal cavity and it must be severed all the way around the inside of the carcass. With the diaphragm severed, you can reach forward inside the rib cage and sever the windpipe, esophagus and arteries that run forward into the neck. This should allow you to drag the rest of the viscera out of the animal. Then reach up under the spine, just aft of the last rib, and remove the tenderloins. There are two of them; one on each side of the spine. Set these aside in the same bag with the backstraps. They are your prime cuts and you don't want to toss them in with your burger meat. After the ribs are removed, trim the carcass of all meat that was left, including the brisket meat. Bag it all and get ready to pack.

    11. Packing. This is a really tough chore. Scout a route to avoid wasted steps. Pack the heaviest loads (the hindquarters) first, when you are strongest. Then do the front shoulders, ribs, neck, prime cuts and trim. If you're saving the cape, pack it out last. It is considered a trophy and must come out last or you can be cited. Use a strong pack frame for this chore. If you don't have one, I would be happy to loan you one of mine. I use Barney's moose packs.

    12. Finally, the answer on bleeding the animal. As others have said, bleeding makes no sense at all. As soon as the heart stops, blood pools in the low areas and coagulates whereever it is in the animal's system. If you cut the throat arteries (what most folks do when they bleed an animal), some blood will flow, but only for a short while. There is no pressure to push it out. Normally the wound channel from your killing shot is significant enough to bleed the animal. I have never bled a big-game animal with anything other than the shot that killed it. Now, there are some traditions that are important to some folks, some of which involve bleeding and even "blooding the hunter", giving the animal a last drink or bite of food, etc. I think those traditions are, for the most part, a good thing. They honor the animal. The animal benefits in no way from these things; they are for our benefit. They make us think about what we've done. I believe the taking of any life is a very serious matter. We are taking something we cannot give, and as far as we know, this ball of dirt and rock on which we live is the only place life exists in the universe. So life is a precious thing, and whatever we can do to remind ourselves of that is good. But the bleeding ritual does nothing substantive to improve the quality of the meat.

    CONCLUSIONS

    I apologize if some of this is academic to you. You probably already know a lot of this, but other folks reading these words do not. Field dressing a moose is not a hard process to understand, but it is certainly a physical challenge. I hope this answers your questions!

    Good luck on your hunt!

    -Mike
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  13. #13

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    A big thanks for the responses and pm's. Just what I was looking for. Ok, now that are hypothetical moose has been tagged and bagged, the jaw submitted to F&G, the meat is now home. I've processed moose in the garage and I have eaten wild game processed at a game processor. Our home butchered meat didn't turn out to be very tasty. The game processor's meat was excellent.

    Do you guys process your own meat or take it to game processor? Do you just dopped off the meat unboned in game bags and pick up the final product?

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    Default We are all students

    I have been hunting a long time, but am learning a few things here also. Looks to me like people find different ways to get the job done and meat in the freezer. It would be fun to be out there watching and helping while using a different method just to see what works best, or better. And I am one of those guys for whatever reason don't really mind packing out meat.
    One parting word of wisdom. I have talked to a lot of butchers who are also hunters. They all say the same thing:
    MOST SHOTS ARE TOO HIGH AND TOO FAR BACK TO BE REALLY EFFECTIVE.
    Knowing anatomy, and placing your shot accordingly will help in killing the animal quickly. We owe it to them to do all we can do to eliminate wounding shots, gut shots, and even liver shots, all which cause the animal a lot of suffering.
    For archery, and even rifle hunting on a broadside animal, we teach to look at a spot 1/3 of the way back from the front of the chest and 1/3 of the way up from the bottom of the chest. That should place your "X" just behind the front leg.

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    Member KRS's Avatar
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    You are going to be bloody when you are done.

    Shoot it and treat it like any other animal.

    Good luck with finding the right one.

    KRS

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    Wink So now you have spotted a moose.

    Be sure to ask the moose to put 1 or 2 of its feet into the raft or meat cart before you squeeze that trigger. It will be so much easier for you!

    The work really begins 30 seconds after you have that big beast on the ground! All of the excitement will fade into OH Shi.. as you realize how much work you have in store and how the rest of the day is shot! Have fun and enjoy your experience!


    Walt
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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Water_Gremlin View Post
    Do you guys process your own meat or take it to game processor? Do you just dopped off the meat unboned in game bags and pick up the final product?
    I do the initial processing at home. We de-bone everything and cut off as much fat and tendons as possible. At this point we set aside the better cuts for steaks/roasts/etc. A majority of the hind quarters and a bit of the front quarters, along with the tenderloins and backstraps go right into the freezer at home, no butcher necessary. The rest of the meat is seperated again, with the better quality meat going to burger, and the more tendon laden meat going to hot dogs and sausage. I've always had these three products made at Alaska Sausage (personal preference, though many prefer Indian Valley or other smaller scale processors), but last year my brother bought a meat grinder and we started making our own burger. Now we will only take in a small amount of meat to be made into sausage and hot dogs, otherwise everything will be done at home. It's a big job, but whenever I'm successful I call up 3 or 4 friends and offer them a pizza dinner and a few packages of meat if they'll come over and help butcher. Many hands make light work.

  18. #18
    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Default About butchering in the river

    Inre Mike's comments on not shooting a moose in the water, we've probably butchered a third of our moose in the river. It has some plusses (it's very clean) and some big negatives (moving the moose into shallower water). Moose near water tend to wander into it after they are shot in lungs. We don't like wasting shoulder meat. Here's a pic below of what a moose looks like with half the hide taken off. We cut the head off this bull so we could drag him into shallower water to skin and butcher. WG, note where the cuts are made just above knees, and how the hide comes off the lower legs. I'll either send ya or post some butchering pics.


  19. #19
    Member MARV1's Avatar
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    Don't make it more difficult as it seems. LMAO on hanging it up to a tree, they do that to small deer not moose. There are different ways to butcher a moose, and it will taste best if you do it properly. And there are different ideas as who's way is best.
    But along with a partner I've had a moose cut up into pieces that we can handle and in the boat in 25 minutes. And all with a knife, no axe or saw needed. I have no respect for those that think those are needed in the field except to cut some brush and the antlers off of the skull.
    The emphasis is on accuracy, not power!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan View Post

    ...2. Don't shoot one in the water! Once your moose is down you will not be able to move it, unless you have a front-end loader handy. Choose your shot wisely to ensure you have an acceptable work area.

    9. Gut the animal last! It is not necessary to remove the viscera until you have removed the hide, all four quarters, the backstraps and the neck meat. If you do it at the beginning, you will have a huge mess on your hands....

    -Mike

    Great post Mike although I don't totally agree with #2. Maybe "Don't shoot one in the water if you don't have a way to get to it or if it's going to float downriver and get hung up in a sweeper!".

    I shot one on the edge of a pond once, he fell into the pond dead. My first splash moose. When I got over there and started to skin him I realized he was in enough water for him to float. (for those of you who don't know, dead moose float!) I was about a 1/4 mile from my van which was parked on the edge of the pond, well, I had my hip boots on and just waded and dragged that floating bull around the edge of the pond right to my van! It beat multiple trips packing.

    I WHOLEHEARTIDLY agree with #9. By the time you get him gutted you can have half of him skinned and have the quarters and back straps off. Plus when you gut him first you have a HUGE gut pile that you can't hardly move that is in your way for doing what you should have done in the first place! I'll never gut another bull until I have all the meat off. The only exception I see is if you have enough muscle and equipment to be able to hoist entire quarters or halves with the hide still on, into a trailer and then get it hanging right away and skin the quarters hanging. We did one this way a couple years ago. Gutted him, cut off the head, cut him in half, hoisted the halves onto a trailer, took him home, hoisted the halves with an engine stand outside on a concrete pad, skinned em, cut em in half right down the spine with a chain saw with cooking oil for bar oil. Hosed em down and scrubbed em clean, hung em in a cool shop with fans for about a week. Crusted over nice and clean. We cut him up with a butchers meat saw. Oh man, we had the BEST T-Bones you ever ate in your entire life!! And the size of those round steaks looked like something off the Flintstones! And they were all about an inch thick. Perfect!

    For me this was an exception to have been able to do it this way.

    I have another friend who has a nice little Bombardier track rig with a HD tralier. When he knocks down a bull he guts it, quarters it, leaves the hide on, hikes back and gets the bomb, drives to the meat, heaves it onto the trailer, hauls it back to camp, hangs the quarters on a meat pole and then skins them. He also has a butchers meat saw that makes quick work of the rest of it.

    Bottom line is there are more than one way to skin a moose! It just depends on the type of hunt you are doing and the equipment and muscle you have.
    A gun is like a parachute. If you need one, and donít have one, youíll probably never need one again

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