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2012-11-17 8:47 PM

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Subject: Hunting/meat safety question
My husband has been elk hunting in the mountains of Colorado all week. He shot an elk on Wednesday morning. Now, I know nothing about hunting terms, but what he told me was that he quartered it (did not gut) and hung it up in a tree. He is at 9000 feet, and the daytime highs have barely reached 50 degrees. He is just now (Saturday night) coming back into town with the elk to get processed, which I imagine won't actually take place until tomorrow.My question is: Do I dare eat elk meat that's been hanging untreated in a tree for four days? It sounds rather risky to me.

Edited by smarti 2012-11-17 8:48 PM


2012-11-17 9:23 PM
in reply to: #4502157

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Subject: RE: Hunting/meat safety question
The elk could very well be contaminated if the temps were getting close to 50, or even in the mid-40's, and it's been in that situation for almost 4 days. Typical rule is if it is higher than 40 degrees during the heat of the heat of the day, you want to get an elk into a cooler/refrigerator within the day. Anything over about 37 degrees and you can start to see spoilage quickly - even if the meat is dry, away from insects, and hanging up off the ground. The altitude helps because of the drier air, but not that much if the ground/air temps get too much above freezing.

One thing to note on your husband's kill, too, is was the meat boned? Quartered generally signifies that it still has the bones and the body has been cut into both sides of the front and rear leg quarters, with the backstrap removed separately. If it wasn't boned out (remove the bones) then it has a really good chance of "bone souring" due to the time out and the temps in the 40's. Elk meat is fickle at those temps with the bones still in the meat.

It's rough when you have an elk kill but are in a situation where the temps are well above freezing and you don't have the capacity to get the meat to a refrigerated storage quickly. I hope this meat will be ok, but I have to say that I think you're prudent to give caution to the reality that this meat stands a good chance of having spoiled.

Again, I hope not.
2012-11-17 9:36 PM
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Subject: RE: Hunting/meat safety question

sulross - 2012-11-17 10:23 PM The elk could very well be contaminated if the temps were getting close to 50, or even in the mid-40's, and it's been in that situation for almost 4 days. Typical rule is if it is higher than 40 degrees during the heat of the heat of the day, you want to get an elk into a cooler/refrigerator within the day. Anything over about 37 degrees and you can start to see spoilage quickly - even if the meat is dry, away from insects, and hanging up off the ground. The altitude helps because of the drier air, but not that much if the ground/air temps get too much above freezing. One thing to note on your husband's kill, too, is was the meat boned? Quartered generally signifies that it still has the bones and the body has been cut into both sides of the front and rear leg quarters, with the backstrap removed separately. If it wasn't boned out (remove the bones) then it has a really good chance of "bone souring" due to the time out and the temps in the 40's. Elk meat is fickle at those temps with the bones still in the meat. It's rough when you have an elk kill but are in a situation where the temps are well above freezing and you don't have the capacity to get the meat to a refrigerated storage quickly. I hope this meat will be ok, but I have to say that I think you're prudent to give caution to the reality that this meat stands a good chance of having spoiled. Again, I hope not.

I'd agree with everything said here.  Personally I wouldn't risk it.

2012-11-17 10:14 PM
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Subject: RE: Hunting/meat safety question
That's totally normal. We hung elk in the garage (at sea level) for a week before processing, never had any issues.
2012-11-17 10:43 PM
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Subject: RE: Hunting/meat safety question
I think it's pretty normal. Just make sure you cook it thoroughly.

Elk's good eating.
2012-11-18 5:41 AM
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Subject: RE: Hunting/meat safety question
If he quartered it he has gutted it. Don't worry about that part.


2012-11-18 6:22 AM
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Subject: RE: Hunting/meat safety question
i agree, its totally fine.  if its like here and the temps are mid 40's  then the nights are probably 19-23,  those quarters shoulod be almost frozen enough through the night time to make it through the day without warming up enough to worry about.
2012-11-18 9:07 AM
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Subject: RE: Hunting/meat safety question

I'm a little confused, you say he did not gut the Elk but it is cut into quarters.

Others who have more experience I would be interested to hear your thoughts. In the conditions the OP stated wouldn't it be best to leave the Elk complete with the hide on and just gut it until you were ready to pack out then quarter it?

To the OP, I would think any parts of the Elk that are bad would show up as real dark or discolored parts on the outside of the meat and be easy to cut off before final processing.

Here is a pretty good article.

Aging Game Shot in Warm Weather

 

                                                           A 65ºF temperature at the time of the kill will result in less toughening and hardening of the muscles due to rigor mortis than will a temperature of 34ºF. In addition, the action of natural enzymes which are responsible for tenderness increases is much faster at 65ºF.  Thus, aging at 65ºF for 3 days gives the same amount of tenderization as the more conventional aging temperature of 34ºF for 2 weeks.  Therefore, game which is killed when the temperature is near 65ºF and held at this temperature should not be aged. 

                                                           Game slaughtered in the cold months of November and December should be aged longer than game slaughtered in the warm months of September and October.  Alternating temperatures, such 65ºF days and 30°F nights speeds up the aging process.  Under these conditions aging game 1 week or less is recommended. 

                                                           During warm hunting seasons, special care should be taken to keep the carcass cool.  It should be kept in the shade and allowed as much air circulation as possible.  Transport the carcass to camp and skin it if the temperature is expected to be above freezing the first night after the kill.  Cheese cloth or light cotton bags should be used to protect the meat from insects and dirt.  Because they hold in heat and cause meat to spoil rapidly, airtight game bags or tarps should not be used.

 

2012-11-18 6:36 PM
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Subject: RE: Hunting/meat safety question

smarti - 2012-11-17 6:47 PM My husband has been elk hunting in the mountains of Colorado all week. He shot an elk on Wednesday morning. Now, I know nothing about hunting terms, but what he told me was that he quartered it (did not gut) and hung it up in a tree. He is at 9000 feet, and the daytime highs have barely reached 50 degrees. He is just now (Saturday night) coming back into town with the elk to get processed, which I imagine won't actually take place until tomorrow.My question is: Do I dare eat elk meat that's been hanging untreated in a tree for four days? It sounds rather risky to me.

As opposed to eating cattle in the market that's processed in a meet packing plant?

What you described sounds pretty standard for deer/elk camp.

2012-11-18 9:44 PM
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Subject: RE: Hunting/meat safety question

mndiver - 2012-11-18 3:41 AM If he quartered it he has gutted it. Don't worry about that part.

Yeah, I thought that was kinda funny.

2012-11-18 9:48 PM
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Subject: RE: Hunting/meat safety question

crusevegas - 2012-11-18 7:07 AM

In the conditions the OP stated wouldn't it be best to leave the Elk complete with the hide on and just gut it until you were ready to pack out then quarter it?

With an elk, there's enough body mass that you want to get the hide off as quickly as possibly to allow it to cool from body temperature. The meat will spoil pretty fast at body temp, but it'll last a good long time at most camp/hunt temps. Leave the hide on if you're dragging it out whole (but gutted), but if you're quartering it, it actually easier to skin it in the field and pack it out.



2012-11-18 10:52 PM
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Subject: RE: Hunting/meat safety question

I have hunted and guided hunts for 20 years and have only seen one instance where bone souring ocuurred and it was in September on a bow hunt and we weren't able to recover the animal for almost 24 hours.  Even then it wasn't a total loss.

If he was at 9000ft it was getting into the 20's at night and if you keep the meat in the shade during the day it will be fine. 

You can quarter an elk without gutting it (I actually perfer this method).

If he took it to a commercial processor they won't touch it if there's a chance it's bad becuase of the potential it has to affect everyone elses meat in the plant.  If they processed it it's fine.

Enjoy! We pretty much eat only wild game.  That meat is as organic as you can get, high in protein, and low in fat. 

2012-11-18 11:03 PM
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Subject: RE: Hunting/meat safety question
The meat from that elk will be fine.  Enjoy!
2012-11-19 8:29 AM
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Subject: RE: Hunting/meat safety question
chsdaddy - 2012-11-18 10:52 PM

I have hunted and guided hunts for 20 years and have only seen one instance where bone souring ocuurred and it was in September on a bow hunt and we weren't able to recover the animal for almost 24 hours.  Even then it wasn't a total loss.

If he was at 9000ft it was getting into the 20's at night and if you keep the meat in the shade during the day it will be fine. 

You can quarter an elk without gutting it (I actually perfer this method).

If he took it to a commercial processor they won't touch it if there's a chance it's bad becuase of the potential it has to affect everyone elses meat in the plant.  If they processed it it's fine.

Enjoy! We pretty much eat only wild game.  That meat is as organic as you can get, high in protein, and low in fat. 



Sounds like a ton of experience with this and good news for you guys - you'll be eating elk!
2012-11-19 9:50 AM
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Subject: RE: Hunting/meat safety question
Thanks for all the feedback. He's home now so I understand a bit more about what he did. Apparently they quartered the animal using a process that does not require gutting but the meat was taken off the bone. They hung it to drain the blood and then packed it in snow. It never got above 45 degrees during the day. I am feeling much better about trying the meat. It's been in a friend's freezer since Saturday and is being taken for processing today. Yay!

Edited by smarti 2012-11-19 9:52 AM
2012-11-19 11:46 AM
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Subject: RE: Hunting/meat safety question

smarti - 2012-11-19 7:50 AM Thanks for all the feedback. He's home now so I understand a bit more about what he did. Apparently they quartered the animal using a process that does not require gutting but the meat was taken off the bone. They hung it to drain the blood and then packed it in snow. It never got above 45 degrees during the day. I am feeling much better about trying the meat. It's been in a friend's freezer since Saturday and is being taken for processing today. Yay!

Glad to hear it!!!

Thanks for asking the question, this has been very informative. Especially the part about quartering it and not needing to gut it first.



2012-11-19 12:11 PM
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Subject: RE: Hunting/meat safety question

 

Check out Youtube for some good instructional videos on how to quarter an elk without gutting it. I planned to use this method for my elk hunt this year. They however did not explain an easy way to find and shoot said elk...

2012-11-19 12:19 PM
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Subject: RE: Hunting/meat safety question

smarti - 2012-11-19 10:50 AM Thanks for all the feedback. He's home now so I understand a bit more about what he did. Apparently they quartered the animal using a process that does not require gutting but the meat was taken off the bone. They hung it to drain the blood and then packed it in snow. It never got above 45 degrees during the day. I am feeling much better about trying the meat. It's been in a friend's freezer since Saturday and is being taken for processing today. Yay!

Ah, yeah... I would feel much better about this too..

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