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Old September 7, 2011, 07:44 PM   #1
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Deer vs. Elk

I know this may be hard to do on a forum, but i'm wondering what the differences are as far as field care of elk compared to deer. I've skinned alot of deer, but never an elk. Thanks for the help...B
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Old September 7, 2011, 08:32 PM   #2
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Size ! While you might drag a typical deer for a long way that's not really an option with an elk that may weigh 3-4 times as much. More likely after you dress it out you'll quarter it then drag out the quarters. Best to have some help or bring a vehicle very close.
And Watson , bring your revolver !
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Old September 7, 2011, 08:44 PM   #3
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Yes, size is a major difference, also for the reason that larger pieces of meat hold heat longer. Quarter, bag, and hang to cool. Then, after they have cooled thoroughly, pack them out. Works best if you or someone you know has horses or mules, but I have helped pack out animals with frame packs (it'll make you wish you had skipped all those chips and beers!!).
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Old September 7, 2011, 10:42 PM   #4
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I always take a horse water trough to elk camp if I am not right on a river or creek.
A good trick for elk is to field butcher into the upper lags and saddle portions, and set them in salted water to leach out the blood. it keeps the meat from souring and cools it fast. After 1-2 days (depending on weather) in the water, you can then dry off the pieces and hang them in trees to case and you'll have good meat
I have handled a LOT of elk in the last 35 years or so.
I can give you a few tips on ground dressing skinning and field butchering. I have done so many that i am fast at it.
last year my friend Steve times my processing of a big cow buffalo he shot. From the time he fired to the time it was skinned and field butchered was 25 minutes.
If you know a few tricks, it's not hard to do, the skin is whole and the meat is perfect.
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Old September 8, 2011, 08:38 AM   #5
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When dealing with deer we gut on the ground and hang to skin. That is not an option with elk, everything is done on the ground. The other thing is that the hide on an elk is much heavier, I like to get it off ASAP to allow the meat to cool faster.
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Old September 8, 2011, 01:33 PM   #6
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Elks are big.
Plan ahead. There are carts special made to haul stuff out. One friend made a sled out of old snow skis. Others have used blocks from sail boats to haul elks up trees for skinning.

It really helps to have friends.
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Old September 8, 2011, 02:35 PM   #7
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Who is the deadliest!!! That's what I thought when I was tricked into reading this thread

Anyways I guess it is like comparing a cow to a dog. One is freaking huge compared to the other.
Two weapons that was designed by the same man still in use by the us military 100 years later...1911 and there anything that comes annd maybe perhaps a sig sauer p226 tac ops edition..
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Old September 9, 2011, 10:02 AM   #8
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When you think about elk, think about how you would clean and transport a horse. This is a "good bad example." The analogy isn't 100%, but the image will put you in the right mindframe.
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Old September 9, 2011, 11:37 AM   #9
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Learning how to bone out the elk would be handy if you do not have enough help or transport
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Old September 9, 2011, 12:02 PM   #10
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Probably old news, but I have been watching these to prepare for this year's hunt. I dragged a gutted deer 2.5 miles last year, and hope to never do that again. I would probably de-bone the elk, also, for further weight reduction.
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Old September 9, 2011, 05:33 PM   #11
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One thing you need to keep in mind when field dressing an elk - "Are there bears around?" Now I see the OP is from SD, so he may have gotten himself a tag in the black hills where there are no big bears, and if thats the case, this post is for the rest of you hunters traveling in bear country. I strongly suggest you have help, for the sole purpose of keeping an eye out for our fellow predators. Always cary bear spray and have your weapon ready. Elk are big, die in bad places (steep), and have a lot of smelly blood in them. You are not going to dress one in the field without getting bloody and doing so takes alot of concentration. You may not notice that big brownie sneaking up behind you. Bloody cloths equal good smells to grizzlies. Be carefull and again, always have a friend with you when hunting/field dressing an elk in bear country. Trust me!
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Old September 9, 2011, 06:53 PM   #12
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If you get an elk down in the backcountry, you're either going to need help getting it out, or you need to be prepared to make several trips to get it out. A downed elk is a lot of work, and keep in mind that leaving ANY edible part of the elk behind is very illegal in most states.

Quartering them isn't too hard, but you can also bone the meat out to lighten the load. Either way, if your hunting in very cold weather, you need to do this BEFORE you make the first trip back to the truck or camp. You never know when something (weather, maybe?) might delay your ability to get back 'till the next day.

It'd be heck to return and find your elk frozen to the point you couldn't cut it up very easily. Yes, I've hunted elk in the backcountry when it was cold enough to do just that.

Stop and think about what you're doing before you do it, and try to think of any problems you might encounter. Having friends to help is great, but if you're stuck doing it alone, you might want to be careful just where you shoot an elk to be sure you can get it out. A smart ol' elk hunter told me once to never hunt downhill from the truck; hunt uphill, and that way it's downhill getting the critter out.

It's good advice, but not always easy to follow. I do know of one fella who got an elk down in really rough country once. They lost one mule that was never found, and never did get the elk out.

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Old September 9, 2011, 07:08 PM   #13
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One thing you need to keep in mind when field dressing an elk - "Are there bears around?"
A man was killed by a bear a couple of years ago in Montana while working up his elk. There was a little bit of stink about it because it was a known problem sow bear that had already had a couple of strikes against her. They have a three strike rule for sows, one for boars. Or, did at the time anyway.
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Old September 10, 2011, 01:45 PM   #14
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I guess I am spoiled. I typically shoot my deer and elk from my back porch as they are grazing. I turn on the hose and wash them out as I am cleaning them. It all ways makes the wife made because it makes a mess in the back yard but I clean that up too after the deer/elk is sitting nicely in the freezer. I had hoped I would get a moose tag because there has been a bull moose hanging around but I did not draw this year, I hope he makes it to next year.

The main difference is size. I have a pulley system set up to hoist up the carcass and it works well for deer but for elk it is a lot of work.
Shot placement is everything! I would rather take a round of 50BMG to the foot than a 22short to the base of the skull.

all 26 of my guns are 45/70 govt, 357 mag, 22 or 12 ga... I believe in keeping it simple. Wish my wife did as well...
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