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Hauling an elk out of the woods?

Discussion in 'Northwest Hunting' started by Atroxus, Feb 26, 2010.

  1. Atroxus

    Atroxus Marysville, WA Member

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    I have some questions about how one would go about getting an elk out of the woods. Lets say you hiked, or mountain biked a good distance into the woods to avoid competition from other hunters and bagged a nice sized bull elk. Assuming there is no motor vehicle access, and you are not an olympic weight lifter that could single handedly carry an elk out on your shoulders, how would you get the animal out of the woods?

    I am also curious how much a bull elk would weigh fully field dressed and quartered, vs a cow elk indentically processed. I am just looking for a ballpark weight range. I am thinking the meat and hide alone would be pretty heavy. This is assuming you are also bringing out the skull/rack if applicable, and hide to have a mount of some kind made. That would be what 300-600+ pounds for a bull, 200-500 for a cow? Or am I way off?

    This year will be my first hunting season and I just want to make sure I don't find myself out in the woods with a dead animal that I could never haul out on my own.
     
  2. SlickJoeSD

    SlickJoeSD Astoria, OR Member

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    1/4 it. hand saw, or a clean chain saw running vegetable oil for the bar oil.
     
  3. 2506

    2506 Seattle Well-Known Member

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    If you're by yourself, plan on 5 round trips. One for each quarter, one for the head/antlers and hide(if you keep it). A bull is going to be in the 600-650 pound range without the hide, head, or feet; a cow will be about 200 pounds less. So figure 100 to 150 pounds per load, four times. Then another trip for the head. And your gear. And rifle. And water.

    Those weights are a mean, wet-side elk tend to be larger than dry-siders.
     
  4. Platt05

    Platt05 Washington Member

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    Just made me think about Tred Barta after he shot the moose...I've never packed out an elk before, I'm interested for tips as well.
     
  5. 2506

    2506 Seattle Well-Known Member

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    I did it once, then I bought horses. I think that pretty much sums up the experience.
     
    clearconscience likes this.
  6. Atroxus

    Atroxus Marysville, WA Member

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    Hmm, how much lighter you think I could get that load if I boned the elk out on the spot and only hauled out the meat and hide? And maybe the head if it had a nice sized rack? I plan to hunt on the wet side btw. As near to Marysville as I can. If the areas I hunt and my tags allow for it I will probably be hoping for cows rather than anything with antlers btw. I am more interested in meat than trophies.

    I am also on a very tight budget, so horses or expensive gadgets are pretty much out of the question.
     
  7. deadeye

    deadeye Albany,OR. Moderator Staff Member

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    Hopefully you arent alone in this adventure that far in. If you bike in it is a good idea to buy one of those pull behind bike trailers they have for kids to ride in, better yet more than one and the kind you can attach a front wheel to and use as a stroller. These work great as a deer cart as well and I have bought the plastic shell style for as little as $40 (Craigslist). The type with the front wheel also have a stroller type handle to push with also. They can all be stiffened up or made stronger to support the added weight of an elk quarter/half.

    Next I would suggest that one person stays with the balance of the animal as it may not be there when making the second trip. Plenty of other predators wanting a free lunch in the woods. I would dress it out as much as possible on site to eliminate an uneeded trip and carting out what you would throw away anyway. If there is motorized access but limited size then a small 4 stroke dirtbike pulling one of these trailers works great and is small, quiet and faster than peddling.
    Another good idea is to buy a cheap golf cart off Craigslist or such and make a more usefull tail section to carry the elk.

    Just remember the real work begins after the BANG. It can be fun creating/building different modes toget the job done and you can also make some money hauling out someone elses if you dont need to do your own.
     
  8. kenr74

    kenr74 Oregon Active Member

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    We got a small spike last year that was only 217# on the rack. We halved it but it was a struggle getting up out of the hole he was in and then across a mile of rocky terrain. If you are alone you are looking at atleast quartering it. I'm building a cart for next year.
     
  9. Atroxus

    Atroxus Marysville, WA Member

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    Thats what I am hoping too. But as they say hope for the best but plan for the worst. There is a friend of my mother's that offerred to hunt with me to show me the ropes, but he is a bow hunter and I am not. I have also posted on a few forums looking for a hunting partner/mentor but so far had no luck, so I am not holding my breath on having anyone with me when I hunt.

    Someone on another forum mentioned that in some states it is illegal to bone out an elk where it is killed, and that I might be required to haul out the entire carcass. Anyone know if that is true of Washington?
     
  10. rmlarsen

    rmlarsen Seattle Member

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    I killed an Elk near the top of a 12000 ft mountain in Colorado. My truck was at 7500 ft . I boned it completly and left the hide. Took 4 trips by myself. 210 lbs of nothing but meat to the butcher. I brought the horns out ont the first load.

    As they say "The real work starts when the animal goes down"
     
  11. 2506

    2506 Seattle Well-Known Member

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    From pp 65 of the regs:

    3. Evidence of Animal's Sex:
    It is illegal to possess or transport big game
    animals unless evidence of the animal's sex is left
    naturally attached to the carcass until the carcass
    is processed or stored for consumption. Evidence
    of sex means:
    Male - head with antlers or horns attached or
    penis or testes naturally attached to at least
    one quarter of the carcass or to the largest
    portion of meat.
    Female - the head or udder must be
    naturally attached to at least one quarter of
    the carcass or to the largest portion of meat.
    Big game taken in antler or horn restriction areas:
    The head or skull plate, with both horns or both
    antlers naturally attached, must accompany the
    carcass while in transit or in possession.
    The feathered heads of game birds must be
    attached to the carcass when they are in your
    possession in the field or are being transported.
     
  12. Atroxus

    Atroxus Marysville, WA Member

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    So just to make sure I understand that correctly. In the case of a bull if I bring out the head, or even just leave the genitals attached to one section of meat I could bone it out and be legal?

    In the case of a cow all I would have to do is leave an udder attached?
     
  13. Spitpatch

    Spitpatch Forest Grove, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Ok, here's 42 years of elk chasing experience. (probably worth the going rate of 2 cents).

    2506 had it right when he said get horses. that's what I did after 25 years of putting them on my back. Some of us are slow learners, or financially challenged. Another guy had it right when he said boned out meat off a nice bull might go 250 lbs. Elk are generally way over-estimated to actual meat weight. Check your regs, but I don't think you need to put bones on your back. Make sure you leave his "lower unit" or udder attached, even by a thread of hide, to one quarter, or a good section of hindquarter meat.

    I still find myself putting elk on my back to get them to the ponies on occasion.

    Best pack on the market: Cabela's "Moose Pack", or they might call it the Alaskan now. Stout frame, collapsible shelf on the bottom. Comes with the nylon pack itself. This pack will last you your whole life if you take care of it, and I regularly can ride my mountain bike with it on my back. (I don't hunt off the horses much.) If you are in decent shape, you can easily walk with this pack with 75-90 lbs of load, and comfortably. Cheaper packs will not do this for you. On a big bull,boned out, figure three or four trips, including the head, horns, and cape.

    You need a good spool of rope, 3/8" manila is fine and cheap, and light. Parachute cord is good too, but harder on your hands. This is used not only for securing meat to the pack, but used for holding the elk in position (legs tied to nearby trees) for the quartering/boning process. You need a saw. The Wyoming kit is a good one for a foot-hunter. Contained in a pouch, very strong, and assembles like a little hack-saw. You can actually bone out an elk without one, but it sure makes it easier when you have it. Two knives, or a blade-trader with two blades (the best knife in the world will not be sharp halfway thru an elk, and time sharpening is time not quartering and packing---if you are by yourself and want to get done in one day).

    You need sheets, or similar ground cover to put your meat on when you take it off the bone, with cleanliness in mind. This doubles as a packaging wrap before you put it on the pack. Hit the garage sales and pick up used sheets for this purpose.

    You need water. Hydration will be a critical factor in keeping your mind right for the task, and cleaning yourself up a bit makes you feel so much better. This is a significant weight factor that many do not consider. A full quart minimum. Half gallon is better: put the remainder in your belly when you head out with the meat on your back.

    If your animal is not far from camp or rig, you can save a lot of time by quartering only, and not boning, and in that case you would take the frame of the pack only to the kill (not the nylon "pack" part of it). In this scenario, you should be able to pack two shoulders on one trip, then a hindquarter per trip, and then the head/cape. Four trips. The gentleman that said five is very prudent: do not discount his advice. I do not mess with ribs (and some may say I waste) unless I plan to cook them in camp when fresh. Horses make this decision easier, and there is nothing better than fresh barbecued elk ribs. There's nothing more useless than dried-out ones.

    An important side note here: I gave up almost completely on evening hunting for elk years ago. Yes, I sacrifice nearly half of my potential opportunity for kill, but when he's on the ground you have a full day's work ahead of you, and personally I don't like doing a day's work at night. Predators rule the night. If you leave him, you lose him. Even morning kills receive the attention of a urination circle around the perimeter, and a clothing item (sweaty) here and there.

    So, you have your Moose Pack, your Wyoming saw, your manila rope, your sheets, two knives, water, strong legs and the elation of the kill and a job well done to keep you going when you think you are completely exhausted. Now all you need is an elk! (and horses.) Good luck, my friend.
     
    Varmit and (deleted member) like this.
  14. Atroxus

    Atroxus Marysville, WA Member

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    Unfortunately horses are not an option for me. I am in that financially challenged category you mentioned. I had been waiting to learn to hunt "until I could afford it, and had someone to teach me", but last year I came to the conclusion that if I kept waiting for that I would never get around to it. I have been doing as much research as I could to prepare since around october or november of last year.

    I plan on trying for deer first. Depending on how things go during deer season I may or may not try for an elk this year but am going to get the license just in case. I am also toying with getting bear/cougar since it's only like $12 more than the deer+elk.(assuming the 2010 license fees are not much different than 2009) I only posted my question about elk because I figured whatever technique makes hauling an elk out easier should work for deer as well. Other than size the bone/muscle structure of the 2 are pretty similar right? I have watched a few videos on field dressing deer/elk and read even more walkthroughs of field dressing/deboning.

    I am still looking for a hunting partner/mentor, and am crossing my fingers that I will have one by deer and/or elk season. I plan to use spring/summer/fall to get into shape hunting small game, and scouting potential deer/elk hunting grounds. Hopefully by deer season I will have an idea of what my limitations are in terms of how far I could haul a full pack frame, and I will hunt within those limits.
     
  15. Pnutz

    Pnutz BEaverton Member

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    Friends of Mine in Idaho use Honda Fat Cat's or Yahmaha TW200 trail bikes fitted with Racks front and rear. Then they gear these bikes down to go extra slow and with lots of torque to climb hills. The extra wide tires help greatly with traction. They quarter up the elk into pillow cases and then tie'em to the racks and ride out.
     
  16. Dyjital

    Dyjital Albany, Ore Flavorite Member Bronze Supporter

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    When I was 17 years of age my cousin and I were hunting in Eastern Oregon (desolation unit) and he and I packed out a rather large cow in one trip.

    Why?

    1. We were young and full of energy
    2. No remote chance of horses
    3. We were 3-4 miles into some RUGGED terrain and didn't want to make another trip

    Our results: perfectly boned out, in trash bags and tied to very good packboards. Would I ever do that again? Nope. Was **** on earth for the walk out of the wilderness. (true wilderness.. ya know, where you go past the boundary sign)

    Benefits of the debone: packs nicer and saves weight. That means what we did leave, in terms of scraps etc, the coyotes, birds, and bears around there got their fill too.
     
  17. Jerry

    Jerry Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    boy, ain"t that the truth!!!
     
  18. pokobt

    pokobt N. Coast Oregon Member

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    Over the years I have seen parachute cable and pulleys, horses, and man power. It always comes back to man power for me. I have hiked and biked into places; as was said earlier- 5 trips for me. Boning, if you are stong, can cut out 2 trips depending on actual animal size. My father-in-law is excdeedingly stong- he can do a hind and a front, in his younger days 2 hinds- I am not that much of a man- I am only good for 1 at a time. I have went to a simple military ALICE pack, with the fold out tray and the good, upgraded straps- works great, is comfortable and lightwight, and fairly inexpensive compared to the big name brand specialty packs. I only use a knife and a hatchet/tomahawk- have gotten good at the joints with just a knife. Hatchet is for busting up ribs if close enough to a road. Long packs we strip the carcas of the meat, boned out- Do keep the head to easily identify sex- keep you out of any trouble- enjoy the work- in past times you would be considered a great warrior..enjoy the fruits of your labor.
     
  19. OPAWY

    OPAWY NorthCentral Wyoming Member

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    Yup, that's about it. Don't rule out boning either. Have a frame pack handy, and a plastic kiddie sled sometimes helps too.

     
  20. Elkaholic

    Elkaholic Milwaukie, OR. New Member

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    I shouldn’t let my secret out but what the flock.

    This year’s bull. Two guys one trip, 7 miles out.


    Picture037.jpg

    Whole cow from a few years ago

    Hunting200634.jpg

    I have brought elk out of heave timber this way. Some times it takes two guys to run the bike with half an elk

    Hope this helps and good luck with your hunt.

    Ps. Real men do it with pointed sticks
    :peace: