Packing Out Your Trophyon Apr 10, 2013
So you just shot a buck on the fifth day of a seven day solo hunt in the backcountry, and you’re 6.5 miles from your truck. Now what? Well, unless you can find some horses running around…you’re probably going to need to get your buck broken down and start to burn some boot leather packing it out on your back. The old motto “releasing the arrow is the easy part, the real work begins after you get an animal down” couldn’t be more true. An ideal situation would be to have a friend help you take care of the meat and pack an animal out. However, sometimes you have to get creative and dig deep when doing it solo.
Before you get in this situation, you should plan ahead and before trying to tackle this task. Believe me…nothing is worse than experimenting on quartering out and/or de-boning an animal in below freezing weather conditions without the proper gear to get the job done. You want to get that animal properly broken down while taking the required steps to get all of the meat removed….all while doing it efficiently. Getting your meat ready to pack out in a timely manner, while minimizing contact with debris on the ground, will help ensure that you have tasty steaks for the dinner table.
There are many advantages to packing out your bow kill. However, there are just as many pitfalls to the process if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Packing out your own animal is all about knowing your physical limitations. Don’t try to bite off too much if you are not adequately prepared to pack a large animal like a bull elk out of the mountains solo during the early part of September. We all owe it to ourselves to get the meat out as quickly as possible. When in doubt, try to contact a few friends to help you pack meat, even if it means hiking to get cell service or heading back to your truck and driving to town.
Gear choices for packing out an animal are sort of like gear choices for setting up a new bow. There are a lot of options for each type of person. Personally, I have found the following items make the job easier on myself and have proven to work great throughout my bowhunting career. When it comes to knives, I prefer to carry the lightest knife for preparing my trophy in the field since I will be carrying this knife each day. You do not want to carry a heavy saw or giant knife in your pack if you don’t need to; just like all of your backpacking gear, you want it to be as light as possible yet still get the job done. The less weight you have in your pack, the harder you can hunt…the harder you hunt…the more successful you can be. (shop for backpacks)
The right game bag can make hauling your meat easier, as well as keep it cool, while also keeping your backpack clean of blood and odor.
I’ll be the first to admit…I don’t like carrying the extra weight of game bags in my backpack each day I hunt. But, I am hunting and therefore expecting to kill something, and even though I love the experience of the hunt, I am not just taking my bow out for a walk. It is for this reason that I pack game bags each day I am hunting, no matter if it’s a daytrip for antelope, a weeklong hunt for elk where I am moving camp each night, or a weekend mule deer hunt where I am headed back to the same tent location each night. Game bags prevent your hard earned meat from getting contaminated from a variety of sources such as dirt, sticks, and insects. I just keep thinking in my mind how miserable it would be if I didn’t have game bags with me when I make a kill. Like the old saying goes, “I’d rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.” It’s also a great idea to pack garbage bags if hunting during the hot early season, to give you more options for preventing your meat from spoiling. Placing your meat in garbage bags and then placing them in a stream will ensure they stay cool while you pack the rest of your meat.