How To Ship Elk Meat Home?

Evidently, inspecting antlers on a plane is not a practical option. United Airlines permits you to bring them aboard with the following conditions:

“Per ticketed passenger, United will accept one set of antlers or animal horns. For travel between the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, antlers are subject to a $150 service fee (either way) per item and a $200 service fee for any other travel. This fee is in addition to any applicable excess luggage fees.”

United also considers the size of the aircraft and the antlers. Your elk must not be more than 120 inches (L+W+H), which is considered a scrub bull. That is not exactly a great deal. Having a local taxidermist to work with in my situation was actually a blessing despite the shipping fee.

Although flying with meat is not quite as challenging as flying with antlers, it will still cost you money. Airlines have a weight restriction of 50 pounds, and the majority will impose exorbitant baggage fees. After that, you’ll have to pay to have it processed at home unless you do it all yourself. The only other choice is to have your kill processed by a native in the hunting region. This will save you the headache, but they charge a processing fee of almost $1 per pound and a shipping price of almost $4 per pound, and those costs add up rapidly.


Traveling by car can be exhausting, especially on the way back. But this is the most economical way to get meat home from the hunt for the expense of a couple tanks of gas, some meals, perhaps a hotel room, ice, and/or a portable freezer. There are several options available if you Google “portable freezer,” and the most of them will easily fit in the bed of a pickup truck. These can be used with an adaptor to plug into a cigarette lighter, eliminating the need for ice altogether. Heck, you could unload it and plug it back in to use as additional storage in your garage.

The sturdy double roto-molded coolers that we frequently see are also excellent choices. Wrap the meat securely. It works; newspaper is an excellent insulator. Pack the meat in the cooler on top of a layer of dry ice, then add more dry ice on top of that. If possible, leave the cooler outside for a day or fill it with ice and seal it. When you pack the ice with meat, this will increase its shelf life.

You’ll avoid a lot of hassle later on if you have a plan in place for how you’re going to transport the meat from your hunt.

By Car

The cheapest and most practical way to transport your meat home is by car. Purchase the best cooler you can afford and plan stops for dry ice if you’re traveling a long distance. You still need to transport your frozen hog from Florida to your final location. For a four-day voyage home in inexpensive coolers, dry ice should cost about $100. Because you will only need to replenish dry ice every 30 hours with better coolers, you will save money. To locate dry ice along your trip, visit Dry Ice Ideas.


A large bull will likely yield about 300 lbs of meat. Purchase coolers and freeze the food beforehand. That is perfect. Uncertain of airline dry ice policy. When you go to the airport, tape the coolers shut in case someone needs to open them and have a look. Some airlines have a 50 lb weight restriction per luggage and charge each cooler. Due to weight limits, some smaller planes won’t let you check in a lot of coolers. And small planes are frequently used by us hunters to fly into and out of relatively small towns and cities. FedEx is an option, however shipping costs will cost you several hundred dollars. If I recall correctly, my neighbor paid Fed Ex somewhere about $500 last year. Also keep in mind that the meat could not be cut up before your trip if you are using a professional processor and they are busy. I am lucky this yr. I’m flying, and my companion is driving. He’ll take some meat home.

How should meat be transported?

If your meats are prepared at a facility that has undergone federal inspection, you may mail or transport them outside of the state. If your meats are processed at a facility that has been inspected by the state, you cannot send or ship them outside of the state.

By employing overnight or 2nd Day shipping, frozen meats can be delivered safely by US Mail, UPS, FedEx, and other private carriers. To keep meats frozen, they must be put in a Styrofoam cooler. Additionally, dry ice must be added to the container to maintain the consignment’s temperature. Meats cannot be shipped using ordinary ice! The words “Perishable” and “Keep Frozen” must be correctly labeled on the packaging. Contact the USPS or the shipping provider directly for more information on how to properly package perishable shipments.

Most private delivery firms, like UPS or FedEx, offer pickup services. They might be able to give you shipping supplies, but you’ll need to bring your own dry ice, which you can buy from nearby vendors. They’ll probably be listed in the phone book under “dry ice.”

How do you take elk meat on a plane?

When given the option, the majority of elk hunters choose to drive rather than fly to their hunting locations. However, flying is sometimes the best choice. Say you kill an elk 2,000 miles from home and need to transport 200 pounds of free-range, organic meat that has been chopped and wrapped back home. How are you going to accomplish that? We’ll examine your alternatives now.

The meat can be shipped to you by the processor, which is the simplest approach. You’ll need to budget $300 for the most basic processing, plus an additional $200 for delivery, for a total of $1,000.

If you choose that course of action, you may as well carry a cooler with you to ship your elk home. Here is a hint. On the drive there, put clothes inside the cooler and a large duffel inside. You’ll then have a backpack and a cooler for the trip back.

You have choices after your elk has been processed and frozen. Prepare your calculator and scale.

For a standard luggage cost, which can range from free to $50 depending on the airline, you can check up to a 50-pound cooler with most flights. If you weigh more than 50 pounds, you may incur additional charges ranging from $50 to $200. You can also be assessed additional bag fees. Instead of checking your duffel bag full of gear with the airline, think about shipping it home to save money.

Learn about the weight restrictions and limitations of your airline. The cooler should next be weighed to see how much room you have.

How much elk can you fit in the cooler before weighing it? It’s likely to exceed that weight restriction. You’ll have to calculate. Has the airline set a weight restriction? Is it better to divide it into two coolers or pay the extra weight fees?

Not to mention the carry-on option. There are size and weight restrictions for carry-on bags almost universally across all airlines, which can be to your advantage.

The Hopper 30 weighs 7 pounds, which might be a little too much for some airline carry-on requirements, but it can store a ton of hamburger.

With a weight of just more than five pounds, the Hopper Backflip 24 cooler is light and suitable for use on any airline.

Although it won’t be as simple as driving it home, bringing your elk meat home by plane is still conceivable. Elk hunting is also rarely simple.

Can you send meat from wild game?

You have two alternatives for bringing your meat home from the hunt if you’re flying to the hunt. You can send it or fly with it. As stated by TSA, “Both carry-on and checked luggage are allowed to contain meat, shellfish, and other non-liquid food items. If the food is transported through screening with ice or ice packs in a cooler or another container, the ice or ice packs must be totally frozen. They won’t be allowed if the ice or ice packs are partially melted and have any liquid at the bottom of the container. Additionally, you can place dry ice in your carry-on or checked bags to protect frozen perishables. You are only permitted to transport five pounds of dry ice that is properly tagged, wrapped, and vented.”

The guidelines are simple. An ice-holding cooler like a Yeti or anything comparable is preferred for traveling. Have you ever seen a flight attendant load bags onto the conveyor belt so they may be placed in the plane’s belly? They’re not kind at all! A weak cooler or ice chest is unlikely to survive the first leg of your flight.

How is frozen game meat delivered?

  • Game meat should be firmly wrapped in freezer wrap.
  • Don your gloves.
  • The polystyrene foam container or cooler should contain half of the dry ice.
  • Using packaging tape, affix the cooler’s corners.
  • For ten minutes, keep an eye on your cooler.
  • Inside the larger cardboard box, place the cooler.

How should elk meat be stored in a cooler?

Purchase dry ice as soon as you have disassembled your elk. I begin the process with 60 to 75 pounds. The cooler should have a layer of meat about four inches thick on the bottom, followed by two blocks of dry ice (20 pounds each). To prevent freezer burn, wrap the dry ice in newspaper, towels, or old sheets. This will protect your meat.

How can you prevent elk meat from going bad?

And if you end up in a remote camp without access to ice to freeze an animal the size of a bull elk, you should have game bags on hand that keep your meat clean and free of insects while yet allowing air to circulate through. With the intention of removing them as soon as possible, hang them up in the shade. Never store quarters in garbage bags.

Can meat be sent via USPS?

Only when meats and meat products comply with U.S. Department of Agriculture requirements are they eligible for domestic mail (USDA). Packaging must be robust and tightly sealed in accordance with DMM 601.1-7.

Elk antlers—can you bring them on a plane?

This item can be carried on or checked in a bag. If you want to bring something on the plane, make sure it will fit in the overhead bin or underneath the seat by checking with the airline.

How long would elk meat last in a refrigerator?

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.

How long can raw elk be stored in the fridge?

Wild wildlife offers good, nutritional food, but it needs to be handled with care to maintain quality. Wild meat is perishable, much like domestic meat, so special care must be taken to preserve its quality. The most popular method for preserving premium quality in meat is freezing.

  • To avoid cross-contamination, keep raw and cooked meat apart.
  • Wash your hands, chopping board, and knife frequently with warm, soapy water.
  • When the carcass is sliced, remove all the fat and undesirable bits.
  • Combine 35% pig fat and fresh game sausage with 15% pork or beef fat when making ground game.

Refrigerator Storage for Immediate Use: Place the meat in a clean plastic storage bag or cover it in moisture-proof plastic wrap. Use the beef within two to three days after storing it in the refrigerator.

To properly freeze a game:

  • When meat is still fresh and in excellent condition, freeze it.
  • Meat should be cut into serving-sized pieces.
  • Use high-quality freezer paper to avoid “freezer burn.” Use moisture/vapor-proof packaging, such as freezer-weight polyethylene bags, laminated freezer wrap, strongly waxed freezer wrap, or heavy-duty aluminum foil.
  • Before sealing the packages, press the air out.
  • Indicate the date and the contents of parcels.
  • Place in the freezer and keep at 0°F or less.
  • Don’t fill the freezer to the brim. Just the portion that will solidify in 24 hours should be frozen.
  • Avert prolonged storage times. Fresh game should only be frozen for eight months, while seasoned or cured game should only be stored for four months. Most hunting laws stipulate that all wild game must be consumed before the following hunting season. Check the rules to see how much game you can keep and how long you can keep it.

In addition to curing and smoking, drying, corning, canning, and creating sausage are other ways to preserve game meats.

Frozen meat can be thawed in the fridge or the microwave. Bacterial content is frequently high in game meat. Bacterial growth is accelerated by room-temperature thawing. Foods that have been microwaved to thaw should be cooked right away. Meat thawed in the refrigerator needs to be consumed within a day or two.