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Prolonging meat life for packing out

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Old 03-18-2012, 09:00 PM
Bronze Member
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Posts: 82
Prolonging meat life for packing out

Hi there,

I'm planning a hunt this spring in the mountains in the south island of New Zealand, and am hoping to shoot a red deer for the freezer. The area that I am planning on going to is very very remote, and aircraft landing is not permitted, so it's a case of walking in, doing the business and walking out. The walk out will take 2 days at normal tramping/hiking walking speeds. Some of the walk will be at alpine altitude (crossing mountains), but most of it will be below 1000m above sea level. Temperatures at that time of the year would be between 18-25 deg C.

I normally cut the meat off the carcass once it has cooled and pack the meat out (without the bones) and then butcher the meat at home. Because of the long walk out, I am concerned about the meat going off, and was wondering what you guys suggest in order to prolong the meat life. I was thinking of using zip-vac bags to remove the air for around the meat and packing it in 1-2 kg packs.

Once out of the mountains, I still have to get a flight home, from the nearest town, but I will be able to re-pack the meat in ice for the flight, so that should not be too much of a problem.

Any suggestions on how to prolong the life of the meat, or on how much time I would have before the meat starts turning bad?


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Old 03-26-2012, 08:50 PM
Bronze Member
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Western North Carolina
Posts: 82
Re: Prolonging meat life for packing out

That's pretty warm. I've heard of people using citric or citrus acid sprinkled on the meat to prolong the life before refridgeration but have no knowledge or experience with that.
A quick Google search turned up this;
Why and How to Use Citric Acid on Game Meat by Larry Bartlett

Citric acid seems to preserve the surface agains flies and bacterial growth but I don't know if it will preserve the whole of the meat for two days at those temperatures. Of course getting it cool as quickly as possible and keeping it cool with some air circulation is key.

I've also heard of people using natural cooling through evaporation, i.e. putting wet cloths over perishables and as the water evaporates it produces a natural cooling process. Not sure how much it will cool but I'd also look into that.
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Old 03-26-2012, 10:22 PM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: West Central Idaho
Posts: 1,031
Re: Prolonging meat life for packing out

I backpack hunted for years in the coast range in California where a average day is 75-100 degrees. I have never spent two days packing meat out but learned that plastic bags is a bad deal. Meat gets warm and the plastic bag holds it in.

Here is what I would do. Once the meat is cooled and boned I would pack the meat in my pack using a cloth bag such as a pillow case. That night unpack the meat and lay it out on top of the meat sacks to stay cool all night. Repeat for the second day and get into a cool box or ice chest when you can.

I have taken Blacktail skinned them out and left them hanging for a couple days before packing them out in the heat mentioned above and have never lost a deer due to heat spoilage. If you get the meat into your pack while its cool your bag becomes a insulator along with the cloth meat sack. It will stay pretty good all day.

How you gonna get a Red Deer out in one trip by yourself? They are like our mule deer right?

There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man. Sir Winston Churchill.

Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom. Einstein
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Old 03-26-2012, 10:35 PM
Bronze Member
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Posts: 82
Re: Prolonging meat life for packing out

Thanks Jim,

I'm trying to convince a mate of mine to join me for the trip to share the load, but if he can't make it, then I'll probably pack as light as possible and just take out the deboned hind quarters and the loins (and shoot a smaller female or spiker). I just don't see how one could carry more than that for that distance ... thats most of the good meat anyway.

I'm also considering the time of year and thinking of going in spring while there is still snow on the mountain pass ... the only problem is that the risk of avalanche is higher at that time of year, so I'm trying to find out more info on those risks.

I was also considering drying the meat in the field for a few days ... a bit like jerky or biltong (South African version of Jerky), but I'm not sure if that would work.

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Old 03-28-2012, 10:09 AM
Gold Member
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 822
Re: Prolonging meat life for packing out

Treat the meat with a citric acid and water mixture to develop a crust for curing meat and to help keep the flies off. Then bag the meat in good breathable game bags, and then hang in the coolest and most well ventilated area available and let it cool as often a possible. The meat will collect and hold heat when it is in your pack. it is imperitive that you stop periodically to hang the meat and allow all the heat to escape.

Heat is the enemy. If you have your meat well treated and bagged, controlling the heat is the biggest chore.
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Old 03-28-2012, 12:13 PM
Silver Member
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Tri-Cities, WA
Posts: 129
Re: Prolonging meat life for packing out

I went on a hunting trip with my brother and he shot a nice mulie. We were in the high country and it was in the 70's F. We used black heavy duty plastic contractor bags stuffed inside pillow cases. After we deboned the mulie we stuck the whole sack in a creek overnight. We packed it out the next day. It was the best deer meat we have had to date.

I would say sack it up and cool it in a creek at the start of your trip out until all the meat is cooled. Then on day two try to find another stream or snow pack to cool it down in if you notice it getting warmer.
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Old 03-28-2012, 01:11 PM
Bronze Member
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Posts: 82
Re: Prolonging meat life for packing out

Thanks for all this advice. It all makes a lot of sense. I'll update you on how I go ... It's a few months off before I go (October/November), but I'll post an update here on what my experience is for anyone intersted in the future.

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