How Many Trips To Pack Out An Elk?

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Yes, I attempted the same thing a few years ago. If you intend to hike one alone, I wouldn’t venture too far from trailheads. Depending on bone in/out, bull/cow, and how steep/far you have to travel, I’d estimate 3–4 trips. Remember to bring your trekking poles!


To ensure that you don’t leave empty-handed, go on a frame pack hunt. Bring quality knives and game bags with you. Go your pictures once your elk is down, and then get to work! The meat should be deboned right away, then placed in game bags (I like pillow cases). Place it where it will look the coolest. If the meat is off the bone and hanging in an area where the air can reach it easily, it can withstand quite a deal of heat.

On my first trip, I often leave with the head, back straps, tenderloins, and leftover meat (maybe the meat off a front quarter, too). Depending on your physical condition and the size of the animal, repeat as many times as necessary.

My biggest bull (a non-typical 6×6) came out in three trips because I had to lug the head and antlers out, but I’ve always gotten cows out in two trips.

The lack of assistance doesn’t change the rules of the game; it merely makes things a little harder.

Taking an Elk Packing Out Without a Horse

Down, Elk! Woohoo! What’s next? You can pack out a large animal like an elk if you have horses or several friends and family members ready to help you, and you’ve undoubtedly made plans for doing so. Just pray that it stays cool and that people don’t take too long to arrive.

This topic makes me think of a remark an Air Force general made in response to reporters during the start of the second Iraq war. He claimed that professionals begin with the logistics while amateurs (referring to a politician) always begin by discussing tactics. You must organize the logistics of packing an elk out before you go elk hunting.

Because most deer aren’t too huge to bring out by yourself, you have more options when one is down. An elk is too enormous to haul unless you are extremely close to a road. You should at the very least be able to quarter it (do you need a basic butchering kit to skin and cut it into quarters?) and an elk may need to be entirely deboned on numerous occasions.

Assuming we had an elk bull that weighed 500 pounds field dressed, we would have started by deboning the entire animal, yielding 250 pounds of flesh and leaving roughly 40 pounds for his head. It will require 3 trips at 97 pounds each, 4 trips at 73 pounds each, and 5 journeys at 58 pounds each. Of course, I would prefer to carry 58 pounds instead of 73 pounds, but traveling five times out and four times back can add up to a significant amount of mileage. The likelihood that the meat degrades or is stolen by predators (2 and 4-legged) rises with each lengthy travel. I’ll talk about packing techniques later.

I’m not in the prime of my life anymore. I am “over the hill,” but not far enough to prevent me from still being able to hunt alone. Since 2014, I’ve packed out three elk on my own and three more with assistance from one other person. The closest and farthest distances from the road, respectively, were each roughly a quarter mile apart.

I shot an elk right before it got dark, about 6:00 pm, and we put it in the vehicle six hours later at midnight for the longest pack-out. Sonia made me so happy, and I wish I could have taken a photo of her with an elk shoulder protruding from the top of her REI backpack, but it was too dark.

The Complete Guide to Packing Out an Elk

You’ve been hit hard by the adrenaline. You got your chance after working hard for days, months, or even years. The arrow sailed true as the chance wasn’t about to pass by once more. You were faced with a bull elk and a quick track job.

The encounter leaves you with an enduring recollection and is a bittersweet moment. But now that one thing is obvious, the work must start. This is a difficult undertaking for many, especially when hunting alone. But now, we’re going to share with you our advice on how to dismantle that bull and transport it securely back to your vehicle. There are numerous approaches to doing this, and views on the method may vary. We do know one thing, however: we have a method that has proven to be quite effective for us after carrying dozens of large game animals on our backs. We can confidently declare that this method is effective.

The two primary parts of our procedure are 1) quartering the elk and 2) packing the elk.

How much weight is necessary to transport an elk?

Field-dressed cow elk in the sample ranged in weight from 176 pounds for calves to 394 pounds for an adult cow. Elk belonging to the Roosevelt subspecies, which are bigger, are found along the Pacific Northwest coast, particularly in Oregon and Washington.

When you consider that even elk calves can weigh more than 4-and-a-half-year-old mule deer males, it is clear that packing an elk is a whole ‘nuther ballgame than packing a deer (See Table 3 below).

Despite numerous reports of elk weighing 1,000 pounds, and fortunately for packers, the bulk of male elk will weigh less than 800 pounds, and after field dressing, would be roughly 560 pounds.

Remember that the average elk head weighs 39 pounds and the hide 34 pounds, so you might find yourself with 250 to 300 pounds to pack out. You might be carrying as much as 350 lbs. or more if you were fortunate enough to slay that bull of a lifetime.

How much does a vacation to go elk hunting cost?

dispersion of prices Most cow elk hunts cost between $1,000 and $2,000, while a 5-day trophy bull elk hunt costs $5,000 and higher, depending on the area and length of the expedition.

For an elk, how many game bags are required?

Always have 50 feet of parachute cord on hand to hang the four game bags (one for each quarter). The bags with front shoulders also receive a backstrap, neck meat, and one or two loins in order to evenly distribute weight. It’s a good idea to remove the bones if it’s hot, and even if it’s not, you might want to anyway to lessen the strain. Check the rules carefully to see what game pieces you can discard. Take the emergency blanket the meat was covered with and drape it over the pole holding it to keep nocturnal precipitation off the meat. Scavengers will also be discouraged by the sound of the blanket or tarp fluttering in the wind.

How many coolers am I going to need to move an elk?

Elk: 200 gallons total in various cooler configurations (boned out)

For myself, I always bring a 105-quart YETI cooler for mule deer hunts, and if I have the space, I’ll also bring a 75-quart cooler in case I bag a bonus animal like an autumn bear or even a wolf in places where I can pick up a tag.

Also, be sure to read this article if you’ve ever been interested in soft-sided coolers. I discuss my experiences using a soft cooler while flying to hunting locations.

Since we frequently get more YETI coolers in stock, make sure to check back frequently.

How much meat does an elk yield?

Contrary to wildlife, which must consume other creatures in order to exist, the anti-hunter argument that having the option to hunt does not obligate one to do so is naive, limited, and poorly understood.

Many people in today’s society have an increasing lack of information regarding the sources of the food they consume and the crucial part that hunting plays in ensuring their own food security.

If there was no hunting and the millions of people who rely on it to feed their families were suddenly forced to buy beef, pork, poultry, or other meat from the grocery store to make up for what they can no longer hunt, it would seriously damage the U.S. agricultural infrastructure and lead to an immediate food security crisis.

For instance, resident hunters in Wyoming harvested 25,091 elk in 2018 in a sustainable manner. A University of Wyoming study found that an average bull elk produces 218 pounds of meat, compared to an average cow elk’s 169 pounds. If you do the arithmetic, those hunters were able to feed their family almost 4.6 million pounds of protein.

The equivalent of 4.6 million pounds of elk meat provides 12.2 million Americans with a healthy serving of protein, assuming that each meal is 6 ounces in size.

The quantity of meat can then be multiplied by the number of successful elk hunters in the country. Elk meat production, which currently stands at 4.6 million pounds, is growing dramatically and responsibly.

Then consider the over a million whitetail and mule deer harvested each year, along with pronghorn, moose, wild turkey, ducks, geese, upland birds, and other wildlife taken by hunters.

There would be a run on grocery stores, butcher shops, and other meat producers if all of that were taken out of the freezers of the more than 10 million hunters in the country. This would result in shortages of meat and sharp price increases for any meat that was still available.

My son and I harvested four cow elk, or roughly 700 pounds of meat total, between 2008 and 2016, and we processed it ourselves into steaks, roasts, stew meat, ground burger, and jerky. Additionally, we killed 10 to 12 deer, yielding a total of 700 pounds of meat.

We hunted within around 60 miles of our home to provide food for our family of six. And during the course of those nine years, we rarely, if ever, bought any beef products from the grocery store since we had so much organic protein on hand.

Now, increase that hypothetical situation by the more than 10 million hunters in America, many of whom also feed their families with wild wildlife they have successfully hunted, and you can once more see the effect.

Therefore, hunting is essential and crucial to supplying food for American dinner tables.

It becomes abundantly clear that hunting is conservation when you consider that it is the best method for managing wildlife, that hunter-generated funds are the main source of funding for state and federal wildlife agencies, and that over the past 75 years, excise taxes on hunting equipment have so far generated more than $12.5 billion for conservation.

How long is elk meat hung?

You should be able to leave the meat hanging there for 3–4 days as long as it has time to cool down first, and as long as overnight lows are in the 40s and daytime highs aren’t higher than the mid-70s.