The last thing any hunter wants is for his or her successful harvest to spoil. This is why Idaho Fish and Game (IDFG) officials are urging hunters out for early season big game hunting to take extra precautions during the current heat wave. With record highs in the mid-90s across Idaho and dry conditions sparking more wildfires, knowing how to process big game in the field – and keep it cool – is an essential part of hunting.
Prepared hunters know that once the kill is made, field dressing the animal, quartering the meat and cooling it are the next steps before packing it out. GOHUNT has previously covered these topics in articles: Meat Care 101 and The Best Way to Store Wild Game Meat.
“Having a plan in place to get meat out of the heat and cooled is the first thing to consider for early-season hunts,” Matt O’Connell, IDFG assistant enforcement chief, told the Idaho Statesman. “Hunters need to remember it takes more preparation, and there’s less room for error in handling game meat, than during fall hunts when the weather is cooler.”
Here are some additional tips to keep in mind courtesy the Idaho Statesman if you’re hunting during the heat:
If it is 40 degrees or cooler, hanging the meat should cool it; any hotter, be prepared to pack in a prepared cooler. “Meat can spoil in a matter of hours if the heat cannot escape.”
If you are not far from home or camp, fill the “body cavity of an unskinned antelope or deer with ice bags to help cool it.”
If you aren’t processing the meat yourself, know where to drop off your harvest so it can be processed properly.
Be prepared: take along an extra cooler packed with ice just in case.
Use game bags to keep meat clean and keep flies away. Bag skinned meat as quickly as you can.