When a moose hunter has to skin, gut and cut up a moose it can be a major problem if he is not prepared for the task. Just trying to hold up one leg can be a challenge with out help and trying to pull out 100 + pounds of guts is more fun than most people want in a day. Cutting up a moose can take 2 to 5 hrs depending on the size of the moose, your level of experience and the number of helpers. Knowing a few tricks can save you a lot of work I hope you find my information helpful.
Field dressing equipment:
Over the years I have been adding to a list of items I take when I go moose hunting. I do not carry everything on the list; I pick the items I need depending on method of hunting and number of hunters. I knew a hunter that could field dress a moose with only a knife so it can be done if you know what you’re doing. If I have someone to help hold the animal all I would need is a knife, sharpening stone and a saw.
Knife and sharpening stone or steel, you only need a 4 to 7 inch knife to process an animal. If you want to save
the hide, a skinning knife will put fewer holes in the hide.
14” Carpenter saw, this is the best saw I have found for cutting up a moose. For the average hunter I do not recommend using a hand ax because of safety reason.
String to tie off the penis and anus.
9 Game bags, 6 large and 3 small ones. On extended hunting trip removing and washing blood soaked bags is
essential to keep the meat from going bad. TAG game bags are the best bags for washing and drying in the
field. I use heavy cotton bags.
3 pairs of Gloves and rubber bands. The rubber bands help keep bugs out.
Light 1/8 inch rope 50 feet, to help tie back legs while skinning.
4ea., locking strap, one person can lift a moose hind quarter ham with one hand. The locking strap can also be used to tie meat to a backpack. http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v2...h/100_0961.jpg.
Tarp, >8x8, to keep the meat clean and protect the meat from rain and the sun.
Come-a-long and 50 feet of rope.
Headlamp and extra battery.
Chain-saw, for cutting brush and quartering a moose (use vegetable oil)
2 Candy bars
Water to drink
Fish j-hook, for pulling back the hide, or cut holes for fingers to pull back the hide.
Citric Acid and a spray bottle.
Golden Malprin fly bait and plastic bag for fly trap.
I use a zipper bag for small items, and I know I have everything I need in one bag.
A moose is a very large animal; a single hind quarter could weigh 200#. I weighed and measured a 3 year old bull moose ham it was 105#, 20 inches wide, 52 inches long and 10 inches thick, this was not a large animal. Manhandling an animal under all conditions and having meat fit to eat takes a lot of effort and experience. There are several videos and pamphlets on the care of game meat. I recommend you learn everything you can before that special day. Having the right equipment will make the job easier.
Skinning a moose:
1. The first thing I do when skinning a moose or caribou is to tie off the penis and remove the skin leaving the penis attached to the ham. The second thing I do is to cut around the anus and tie it off with string. The reason I do this is because this area can be very nasty and the possibility of contaminations is high. After I have finished working on the back end I wash my knife and hands or put on new gloves. I have also found if I start skinning a leg first, I will be tired and do a poor job when it comes to the butt end.
2. The next thing I do is to make a cut from the butt to the neck and up and around each leg. On a moose the hide is very tuff and can dull a knife. For this reason I carry a 2nd knife, or I sharpen the one I’m using. Cut the skin from the underside out to avoid getting hair on the meat. If your wanting to make a mount you need to cut the hide along the back bone.
3. When skinning an animal your hands become contaminated from touching the hair, do not touch the meat until you have removed your glove or wash your hands.
4. Once you have removed the hide from one side of the animal you need to decide on how you want to butcher the animal.
I prefer not to deal with the guts, if you have no choice you have to be very careful not to cut them. If you take the two fingers next to the thumb and make a “V” and use them to hold the guts down; place the knife between them (blade pointing up) you can cut the skin with out cutting the stomach. Be very careful or you will be sorry.
Method of butchering:
1. I personally do not like deboning the animal because you lose too much meat to spoilage and waste.
2. The best way to keep game meat in warm or wet weather is on the bone. For several years I would bring out the whole moose in 4 pieces. After skinning and gutting, I would split the moose in half at the third rib. I would then saw the back bone in half making a total of 4 quarters. This was the only method I used on over 10 moose. Most of these were solo hunts, how I was able to this by myself tells me I was a very motivated person when I was younger.
3. There is another way you can cut up a moose and still keep the meat on the bone for transport and hanging; and the pieces will be a lot smaller. After skinning and gutting the moose you will end up with 8 pieces.
Neck; the meat is left on the neck and is cut off just below the head and above the rib cage.
Ribs; the brisk is split in half and the ribs were removed next to the back bone.
Backbone; cut the back bone off above the back strap. You will have a single piece with both back straps and both tender loins attach to the back bone.
4. The method I prefer is called “flaying”, you do not have to remove the guts.
After skinning half the moose I remove a front leg and put it in a bag.
I debone the neck and I put the meat in a separate bag. The reason I do this is neck meat in a rutting bull can contaminate the other meat.
Next I remove the ribs. If you want to keep the ribs and meat together, using a small sharp knife or saw you can remove the ribs by cutting the joints at the top and bottom of the ribs or you can debone them. The best way I have found to debone the ribs is to remove “all” the meat in one piece. Yes it can be done and it is very easy to do on a moose.
I start at the bottom rib, let’s call it #12.
The first Cut is along the length of the rib.
Then cut under the meat next to the top of the rib, separating the meat from the top and then cut down the opposite side. You will also need to cut along each end of the rib freeing up the meat. The 12th rib is now clean of meat. Holding the meat up, cut under the length of 11th rib and down the opposite side removing the meat. Then cut along the ends of the rib. Continue process for rib’s #10, #9, etc.
If you roll the meat into a log it will help keep it clean.
You now can remove the back leg and put it in a bag.
Don’t forget the back strap and tenderloin and make sure they are put in a separate bag.
You now have to roll the moose over, lifting one leg you roll the moose over guts and all, it’s that easy.
Continue removing the front leg, neck meat, ribs, back leg, back-strap and tenderloin. If you want the liver and heart this would be a good time to get them, and don’t forget the tongue.
I process all my game meat for several reasons, the most important is I end up with the highest quality game meat, and it really is not that hard.
I want to say one last thing about caring for moose meat. Moose will cover themselves in Urine to help a track the cows, its very important to keep all the hair away from the meat.