Large Game - Managing meat condition during warmer temperatures.

Joined
Mar 21, 2015
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433
I've recently become aware of a couple of (large) chunks of state land within a few hours of me that feature paddle-in camping. The surrounding mainlands with be open for archery whitetail deer starting in September. This is very tempting, assuming my bow skills are up to snuff by then.

However: due to changing weather patterns, we haven't been getting properly chilly weather until well after the traditional gun season in mid-November. This means that we can't hang a carcass teh way we used to when I was a kid. At home, this isn't too much of an issue: we butcher and freeze immediately. Out in a canoe though, I wouldn't have that option. Also, unlike hunting from a drive-in basecamp, I wouldn't be able to carry a giant cooler full of ice.

For those who have canoe-hunted, or otherwise hunted off-grid, how to you manage carcass condition? What are the limits? Or is this just an all-around Bad Idea?

A couple of legal constraints that I'd have to work with:
- I can quarter in the field, but I can't leave anything but the gut pile on public land.
- Due to CWD containment measures, I can't transport the "Carcass" -Defined as the spinal column, brain, and tarsal glands- outside of the county, or one adjacent, -There is a public landfill that takes deer carcasses- so I'll have to quarter it out fairly quickly on the way home.
 
Joined
Jun 12, 2012
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Location
Appleton, Maine
How far will you be from your vehicle? Maybe just consider hunting early mornings or until the time of day you feel you could harvest/prepare for transport, then bring the deer out to your vehicle and to a cold storage/butcher nearby asap. It might mean sleeping in the vehicle that night plus the added expense of the storage fees but a canoe in deer camp is pretty special.

My canoe in deer camps where always the last week of October at Lows Lake in the ADK's. Temps ranged from snow/20's overnight to daytime temps of 70's once, average daily temps where 50/30's for most trips. I never did shoot a deer there, but a friend did and he high tailed it out with the buck, his group stayed. If he was solo he would have had to have a plan B
My camps where 14 miles in with a portage around the upper dam so if I had shot a deer I was prepared to bone it out and bag it on site, then if it was warm I would have had to keep the bags as cool as possible and move camp as fast as possible.
One idea I had was to leave the filled game bags in the bottom of my canoe, cover with a wet canvas and leave the canoe in the water to keep the bottom cool. Sounds ok on paper but who knows if it would have worked in real time.
I would give it a try anyway, maybe a nice deer shows up, temps predicted to drop in the evening, and your golden. Or, maybe it's 70's, heavy wind and rain and you wish you where home.:eek:
 
Joined
Mar 21, 2015
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433
Definitely some things to think about, and some research to do. Especially good point that I can, in fact, choose not to shoot if I think that conditions will be problematic -Just a mindset difference between "Need to come home with venison" and "Enjoy some focused outdoor time with possibility of venison."

The cover-it-with-wet-canvas(Blanket?) idea might well be worth considering, especially if it's not too hot. I suspect that you'd get more cooling from evaporation than you would from heat transfer through the hull. Would work best in lower humidity.

How far would it be practical to go in boning out in the field? Family experience is that it takes about 1.5-2 hours to break down a deer with two or three adults cooperating, but that includes individual freezer-wrap packaging, butterflying the backstraps into steak/chops, etc.

I'd be anywhere from 3-5 water miles from campsite to vehicle, depending on which landing and campsite I ended up with. (First-come, first served site access) Hunting locations might be a bit further, plus the need to retrieve my camping setup.
 
Joined
Feb 26, 2013
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Long island, ny
I haven't had the opportunity to do it myself, but the guys chasing Elk also have this challenge. They usually recommend quartering the animal as quick as possible, bag the quarters, and hang the bags in the shade in an area that has a breeze. I agree with the wet blanket theory. I also know that in a canoe, especially on a sunny day, that some sort of covering will be necessary to shade the meat. Try to keep the covering off the meat though. I'm sure that the hot wet blanket won't do any good laying directly on the meat conducting heat. Direct sunlight = spoiled meat. Just my thoughts Jason
 
Joined
May 4, 2017
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Woodland Park, CO
Am I missing something? How big are these deer? It seems a large cooler with some frozen water bottles should hold the quarters, back straps, neck and any flank you cut. Eat the tenderloins in the field.

I would put a 6 pack cooler filled with water in the deep freeze and when frozen, put that in a larger cooler.
 
Joined
Jun 12, 2012
Messages
3,692
Location
Appleton, Maine
Am I missing something? How big are these deer? It seems a large cooler with some frozen water bottles should hold the quarters, back straps, neck and any flank you cut. Eat the tenderloins in the field.

I would put a 6 pack cooler filled with water in the deep freeze and when frozen, put that in a larger cooler.

sailsman63 said: " Also, unlike hunting from a drive-in basecamp, I wouldn't be able to carry a giant cooler full of ice."
 
Joined
Sep 29, 2021
Messages
4
Location
Helena, MT
A couple of legal constraints that I'd have to work with:
- I can quarter in the field, but I can't leave anything but the gut pile on public land.
- Due to CWD containment measures, I can't transport the "Carcass" -Defined as the spinal column, brain, and tarsal glands- outside of the county, or one adjacent, -There is a public landfill that takes deer carcasses- so I'll have to quarter it out fairly quickly on the way home.


Forgive the late reply. Having to take the whole carcass makes things more complicated but should be doable. I'd bone out everything, which on a deer should yield ~40-50 liters of meat (assuming neck, ribs, shanks, etc). For longer pack outs with bigger critters like elk I bone out each quarter in one piece, not separating the muscle groups, which makes handling easier and lets you butcher with attention to detail once home. Game bag, then dry bag the whole deal and submerge in the river/lake. During a hunt in the New Zealand summer we had nightime temps that barely got below 50F, and daytime highs up near 90F. We kept the meat from a chamois shot on day one fresh for four days this way. The rest of the carcass you could bag in contractor bags, not have to refrigerate or anything like that.
 
Joined
Oct 4, 2021
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I have a similar restriction but have to remove the entire animal including gut pile. I have gone to the "gutless" method (see you tube- randy newberg) of removing meat as quickly as possible leaving the bones, skin guts etc. once I get the meat cooled i then go back and remove the trash disposing of it on the way home. The whitetail I get I can usually fit the meat in 2 medium to larger picnic coolers. I have stopped taking the neck meat unless it's a larger deer.
 
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