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Cold weather big game

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  • Cold weather big game

    Here's a question for you die hard winter big game hunters. How do ya keep the animal from freezing when the temps are waaaaayyyyy down there and it might take ya a day or two to get it back to where yer gonna hang/process it? I mean ya don't want it to freeze, right? I've taken Caribou and Elk/Deer (way back when in Montana) during the winter before, but the temps were no where near the temps currently up on the Haul road or Taylor HWY. At that time I just gutted and left the hide on until I got them home, but once wasn't sub-zero temps.

  • #2
    The meat is gonna freeze, but that's not a problem if you plan for how you're going to get it out of the field and what you're going to do with it back home. We skin and section it out into handling-size pieces. Back home it's sure a lot easier to thaw a quarter at a time for butchering, rather than skinning a whole frozen animal, then finding a warm place big enough to thaw the whole animal. It doesn't have to be sub-zero to force you to think it through. Even in the teens, a skin-on deer is going to freeze through in 24 hours.
    "Lay in the weeds and wait, and when you get your chance to say something, say something good."
    Merle Haggard


    • #3
      Freezing occurs quickly. Every one of the animals we have taken and then got flash frozen, were a little bit tougher meat to chew. I have experiemented on leaving the hide on quarters, so they freeze a little bit slower and it really has helped.
      "96% of all Internet Quotes are suspect and the remaining 4% are fiction."
      ~~Abraham Lincoln~~


      • #4
        Winter Moose & Caribou hunts that I've been on generally result in frozzen meat. Under nomral field conditions there is no way around it that I see. However there are some HUGE advantages, no bugs, no tundra and other vegetation to get in the meat that you gotta clean off general you get cleaner meat, easier, during a winter hunt.

        Biggest problem is that the meat tends to be a little on the tuff side cause it froze quickly and didn't have time to "age", which is the natural process of the meat breaking down.

        What we have found to work pretty good is to get everything back to the house and then hang the meat in the shop, above frezzing, for a few days-week, before butchering. Of course its going to be froze when you first get back, let it thaw out and hang for awhile before cutting & eating.

        ........most/all Winter hunts are "meat hunts", generally speaking it best to harvest cows (caribou) during the winter season verus bulls. Cows will carry thier antlers until Spring (right before-calving season), bulls drop thier antlers during late fall. Harvesting caribou w/ [small] antlers during the winter season assures that you're getting a cow, better eating, and generally you're contributing a personal effort for herd conservation.

        BTW.....a lot of people "can" fish (salmon). Have you ever tried "canned" Moose meat? Might sounds a little weird, but I can tell you from experince that its tasty & good! Hard to beat canned Moose brisket...yummmmyyyy!


        • #5
          We have never had a problem with having the meat freeze out in the field. We just came back with two moose last week in -30 temps. We experimented and left the hide on one and skinned the other one. Both were quartered right after gutting and left to freeze over night. If there is a significant difference in meat quality I'll let you know. I also prefer winter hunting do to the ease of keeping the meat clean and the ability to process at a slower pace as the meat thaws instead of the usual rushed feeling in the warmer fall temps.


          • #6

            Why does fish and game encourage the taking of bulls for the winter registration hunts?
            "Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything."


            • #7
              frozen meat

              I've never had a problem with frozen meat either. Very clean and easy to take care of when you are back. You can cut it when you have time.

              I have never seen where they encourage shooting cow caribou. All the hunts around here, they encourage the taking of bulls for the conservation of the herd.


              • #8
                I should have been more specific, never said F&G recomened, I was in a hurry typing and said in "general" and probably should have said, "area & herd specific"...

                For example, the Mulchatna Caribou herd has a huge disparity with bull-to-cow ratio and volume of mature bulls is very low right now. Its better to harvest some cows during the winter [meat] season.


                • #9


                  Thanks for clarifying. I guess it is herd specific. I do agree though, the cows are generally in better shape in the winter than the bulls.


                  • #10
                    Bury it!

                    If you're staying overnight, and don't want the meat to freeze, try burying it under the snow, like it's own snow cave. Works for water bottles, too. It'll keep whatever you bury cold, but it won't quite freeze unless you leave it there for quite a while.
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