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Posted: 10/4/2009 1:12:42 PM EST
I am having a difficult time deciding whether or not to go hunting this year.

My wife and I have set up a real tight budget because I've lost a fairly large percentage of my income in the past couple months.

I have an offer to go elk hunting about three hours from where I live. I have never been elk hunting and have only been deer hunting.

I own the following:

1) Remington R-25 in .308
2) Winter camping gear
3) Two medium size coolers

I need to buy the following:
1) Buy license ( $46 )
2) Buy game ammo because can't use FMJ ( $30 )
3) Take rifle to range to sight in because I changed the scope mount a few months ago. ( $15 )
4) Food for 4 days ( $20 )


I am uncertain about how to butcher an elk although I'm told the guys that will be going have much experience. I try to always have a contingency plan and have looked into a game processor ($250 for an elk).

Also, depending on the outside temperature how much do I have to worry about the meat going bad? When I've been deer hunting it's always been crazy cold so I haven't ever worried about it.

The bottom line is that I'm looking at spending ~$200 if I do the processing (50 % confidence) or ~$450 if I have the processing house do it. How much meat would you expect to get for a moderate size cow? The only way I can make the case to go is that I can offset the food budget by bringing home the bacon (err.. elk).

Anyways, I'd love to hear any advice.

Also, I can't take the family car and have to take the honda civic.
Link Posted: 10/4/2009 2:09:19 PM EST

Originally Posted By kjensen_co:
I am having a difficult time deciding whether or not to go hunting this year.

My wife and I have set up a real tight budget because I've lost a fairly large percentage of my income in the past couple months.

I have an offer to go elk hunting about three hours from where I live. I have never been elk hunting and have only been deer hunting.

I own the following:

1) Remington R-25 in .308
2) Winter camping gear
3) Two medium size coolers

I need to buy the following:
1) Buy license ( $46 )
2) Buy game ammo because can't use FMJ ( $30 )
3) Take rifle to range to sight in because I changed the scope mount a few months ago. ( $15 )
4) Food for 4 days ( $20 )


I am uncertain about how to butcher an elk although I'm told the guys that will be going have much experience. I try to always have a contingency plan and have looked into a game processor ($250 for an elk).

Also, depending on the outside temperature how much do I have to worry about the meat going bad? When I've been deer hunting it's always been crazy cold so I haven't ever worried about it.

The bottom line is that I'm looking at spending ~$200 if I do the processing (50 % confidence) or ~$450 if I have the processing house do it. How much meat would you expect to get for a moderate size cow? The only way I can make the case to go is that I can offset the food budget by bringing home the bacon (err.. elk).

Anyways, I'd love to hear any advice.

Also, I can't take the family car and have to take the honda civic.


i say go for it if you can swing the cost.

$450 seems like ALOT of money to process the whole elk. Unless your giving it to the butcher without gutting it or anything.

i usually cut and pack the backstraps myself, and just give the quarters to the butcher to do what i want with it (steaks, burger sausage etc...) I think last time i payed less than $200 and got half steak and half burger.

Link Posted: 10/4/2009 2:51:23 PM EST
I usually take 3 deer a year to fill my freezer. It gets us thru the year just fine.
Wife is pleased with what we save at the store.

As for how much meat?
To know the expected yield of meat, you need to know how much the animal weighs before processing. The typical 1.5 year old elk is 350 - 450# live weight.
Some processors may have a scale to weigh your animal carcass with when you check it in.


www.biggamehunt.net/sections/Elk/A_Field_Dressing_Guide_for_Elk_and_Deer_09230301.html
So how much does all this weigh? Well, the rule of thumb is that a skinned and quartered big game animal usually weighs half of its live weight. If a bull weighs 600 pounds, then the shoulders, hindquarters, and backstraps (without the 50-pound ribcage) will weigh about 250. The hide weighs about 50 pounds and the head, skinned out, with a decent 5x5 rack, weighs about 30-40 pounds. The liver and heart can vary, but generally weigh about 15-20 pounds together.


I would say GO.
May be a once in a lifetime deal, may never get the opportunity to go with the same people, and if you do take an elk.
It will be some fine eating.
Elk is one of the best meats there is.
Based upon dollar amount you quoted, quick math says you will end up with meat for about $2.50 a pound average.
Link Posted: 10/4/2009 3:25:09 PM EST
Originally Posted By iluvguns:

i say go for it if you can swing the cost.

$450 seems like ALOT of money to process the whole elk. Unless your giving it to the butcher without gutting it or anything.

i usually cut and pack the backstraps myself, and just give the quarters to the butcher to do what i want with it (steaks, burger sausage etc...) I think last time i payed less than $200 and got half steak and half burger.



I was referring to the whole cost of the trip not the processing fee. The processing fee is $250.
Link Posted: 10/4/2009 6:44:56 PM EST
I would say GO. In Colorado you have a good chance of getting an elk. At least 200-300# of meat.

I would see if any of your buddies are willing to help you process it. At least one of them probably has all the gear, and maybe even a nice setup back home. We would process all the game together with all hunters in the party helping out, no matter how many deer or elk were bagged. It's a lot of work but with four or more guys and isn't too bad.

Even if you process it yourself, the trip and the processing would be fantastic experience. If you go again you will much more knowledgeable. You never know what might come out of hunting with a bunch of buddies. Most hunters would be very accomodating of a first time elk hunter. One of them might even share some of his meat with you if you don't bag one. Elk hunters have a lot of respect for each other. Deer hunters are a dime a dozen, but it takes a hardy soul to haul out a frickin elk, plus you tend to have to hump much rougher terrain. If you join the elk hunter fraternity I am sure they will help you out, IF you earn their respect (no whining, hunt hard, haul hard, and be a good sport).


Link Posted: 10/7/2009 6:09:21 PM EST
The roots of the sacrament of the hunt are far too deep for you to ignore, I'll give you a box of soft point 308s if it helps.
The meat will be fine if you keep it in the shade daily, it will get very cold at night.
PM me if you need the ammo
Link Posted: 10/8/2009 4:40:15 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/8/2009 1:08:23 PM EST by Iowaredneck]
GO! If you get one butcher it yourself. Dont know how your group works but we divide the meat by the # of hunters and every hunter helps when its time to cut up. Its a team effort.
Link Posted: 10/8/2009 7:09:54 AM EST
My bull was about 800 pounds hanging, and we ended up with 400+ pounds of steak and burger. Your cow will be smaller, and you'll end up with a fair amount of very lean meat.

Butchering isn't that hard, and with a friend you can usually break down and cut up an elk in 2 days for a big one, a day or so for a young cow. Borrow a meat grinder from a someone who owns one, or go in on one with a bunch of friends and grind your own burger. Packaging supplies will cost you about $30-50 for paper, tape, and saran wrap (or bread bags that I use, which are easier) for a large animal. Butchers can fly through an elk in no time, but they will likely use a saw to cut the meat, and end up imparting a lot of gamey flavor to the meat as they add bits of bone and marrow to your finished product. The bone and marrow are extremely gamey

On the burger, buy some fatty (27% fat) beef hamburger and mix that into your elk after the first grind. It will add fat and flavor. Every 25 pounds of elk I grind gets a 3 pound chub of 27% hamburger added in, making it about 6% fat content. You'll also find that few folks will be able to tell the difference with this mix, especially kids, who may be put off by a slight gaminess. Just make sure to trim off as much silver skin and sinew as possible before grinding.

There is a lot of satisfaction in taking your own game and then processing it yourself. Are you more satisfied by tight groups with a rifle you bought off the shelf using factory ammo, or building a rifle from scratch, then handloading the ammo for it? Same basic idea. Get involved in the process. Very rewarding, and less expensive in the long run.
Link Posted: 10/26/2009 6:18:32 PM EST
This may be a bit long-winded, but if you want to save lots of work and time and processing costs, try this technique vs. the traditional field dressing/hauling out the entire carcass, especially appropriate if you don't care about saving a cape for a mount or tanning for leather ––- important secret revealed!!!

Assuming the expired animal is lying on its side on the ground (if not, deal with it accordingly, as follows...), start with cutting the hide from nape of neck to root of tail along the dorsal surface, i.e., backbone. Then, skin shoulders, rib cage, hams, hocks, etc. on the "up" side, exposing all the muscle groups/meat on the upside of the animal, laying the hide on the ground/snow/mud/whatever to create a clean "apron" on which to place the boned out meat.

Carefully detach the backstraps from the spine, removing them (one on each side of the spine) as long, thick "ropes" of steaks. Keeping the backstraps intact as one recognizable piece will be helpful later in identifying these premium cuts. Then, using the membranes separating the various large muscles as guidelines, detach the big muscle groups from front shoulders and hams ––- these can be dealt with as roasts or ground or chunked for stew or whatever , depending on the age, tenderness, etc. of the animal in question. As you work, you can temporarily place the boned muscles on the inside of the skin "apron", keeping the meat clean until you've placed it in game bags, or etc.

Before you flip the carcass over to work on the reverse side, be sure to get the tenderloins, the best cuts on any mammal, which lie on the "inside " of the spine, and which are very loosely attached. This is delicate work, best done with a small, short knife blade, and careful tugging. The forward end of the torpedo-shaped tenderloins are attached by tendons about two ribs forward of the rearmost rib, and the aft end a little bit behind the last rib. Use one hand to depress the stomach lining away from from your work (do NOT puncture stomach lining!) and carefully, cautiously tug and cut out the tenderloins, which, unlike other cuts, do not need aging and can be consumed the very day of the kill, as a reward for your success!

Flip the animal over, using its by now rigor-mortised legs as levers, and repeat on opposite side. This technique does not involve eviscerating the animal, create a big, sloppy, fly and yellow-jacket infested bloody gutpile to work in, and salvages every bit of useable meat on any large ungulate save the scanty bit of meat on the ribs. Its neat, clean, especially sanitary, and lets the meat cool quickly. It does NOT preserve evidence of sex, so save whatever bits your state game laws require. This technique also essentially ruins the hide for taxidermy, but so what. A reminder ––- you may want to pull the "tusks" from elk or similar trophy parts from the carcass before abandoning it.
Link Posted: 10/29/2009 2:20:00 PM EST
Good field dressing advice above, how did your hunt go?
Link Posted: 10/30/2009 7:46:15 AM EST


Go for it and cut and wrap the meay with your friends.

If you get an elk that will be $500 worth of meat.
Link Posted: 11/2/2009 7:11:29 PM EST
Thanks for the advice.

I went out for a few days. My twelve year-old son and I went with three other people.

We camped in relatively cold weather but overall had a great time.

I ended up not filling my tag and only one of the five tags we had got filled. After I left one of the guys that was on the hunt was asked by a DOW officer if he wanted to trade his tag for a bull that was shot by a hunter without a proper tag.

We ended up cutting up the meat from that elk in my garage, packing it, and freezing it for future consumption. I really did not get to learn what I wanted to but we had a good time.

I really want to learn by doing the process of field dressing an elk. I know how to do it with deer, but they weigh less than 200lbs. I can carry a dressed deer a long ways. I can't pick up a dressed elk.

If I can find an easy to use site to host some pictures I'll toss up photos of my son and I eating lunch while watching a meadow.

Thanks

Link Posted: 11/2/2009 8:18:21 PM EST
[Last Edit: 11/2/2009 8:19:42 PM EST by Warhawk]
My son killed a cow elk his second year at the Air Force Academy. He was 19, and had killed two deer previously. He was far from an expert at field dressing and skinning game. But I did make him field dress and skin his own deer. The first one I did while he watched, the second he did while I watched.

His elk hunting technique was to walk, walk and walk some more until he found elk. When he killed the cow his GPS said he was six miles from camp. He was able to field dress, skin and quarter the elk by himself. He then made two trips back to camp with a quarter on his pack each time, before dark. The next morning another cadet went along and helped him bring in the last of it.

Since then he has been on many more hunts in Colorado, and assisted others with their game, including cutting and skinning a black bear. He ended up as cadet in charge of the outfitters club at the Academy, until he graduated this spring.

My point in telling all this ... if you want to do this badly enough, you'll make it happen.
Link Posted: 11/3/2009 7:06:02 AM EST
I just have to toss in a thought or two here.
I think it's great that you were able to get out to the woods and walk away with a little meat for the freezer.
Your time to learn will come. Perhaps next year.

The big thing that got me was your last line. You were able to spend some time eating lunch with your son while looking over a meadow. How cool and priceless is that?
I'm not trying to get all corny on you but that is pretty neat. I have a 5 month old son. My Dad took me hunting since I could draw a tag. Those are fond memories of mine and I hope to pass similar experiences on to my son. So yeah. That got me.
Link Posted: 11/3/2009 7:29:30 AM EST
Fo and process your own game. PB&J and water.
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