To recap Part I, you recovered your harvest, skinned and quartered the animal. The next step is to debone the quarters, transfer the meat into game bags and load the bag into your pack or on your frame.
Meat rots from the bone out. This means that if you have a long hike or many trips to make, especially if it is hot outside, it is important to debone your meat. This will take some time, but the process of removing the bone is rather simple. For the hind quarters run your blade down along the bone by following the different muscle groups until you can remove it from the meat. The shoulder is a little more difficult but the same concept can be used. Run your blade along the bone and remove all of the meat from the bone. This may vary but the main objective is to remove the bone to eliminate weight and not worry about specific cuts for processing later. This can be managed once you are home and out of the elements.
Once the bone has been removed, the meat must be transferred to game bags. If you are making multiple trips it is best practice to hang the meat from a vertical structure that will allow air to pass through the game bags on all sides. This will allow the meat to cool.
The Right Pack
Choosing the right pack can be as difficult as choosing the right firearm or bow. This is due to the vast variety of brands and styles. Every hunt requires different qualities in a pack. The key quality to look for is comfort and versatility. Some packs can be modified for day packs and for carrying a large load, but the main things is to find something comfortable that can manage a minimum of 60 pounds for deer and 80 pounds for elk. These are by no means exact standards for there are a vast variety of animals and situations along with the capabilities of the individual carrying the pack.
When comprehending the amount of weight you will be packing out you must recognize your unique situation. The region you are hunting, the animal you are chasing, the time of year you are hunting, your physical limitations and the assistance you will be receiving. In general, a boned out deer will weigh about 50-100 pounds and a boned out elk can weigh anywhere from 90-270 pounds depending on age and sex. Gather this information and do your homework to make your decision. If further assistance is desired your local SCHEELS expert can walk you through choosing the perfect pack for your specific situation and build.
The Pack Out
How you load your pack is dependent on what pack you have and what animal you harvested. Keeping the weight as close to your back and centered on the pack as possible is very important, especially with heavy loads. With an external frame, load your meat bags on your frame laying flat on the ground. Tighten your straps bottom to top to hold the meat tight to keep it from shifting. The last thing you want to happen is to have your meat shift in your pack and tip you over with it. With a top loading pack, you can line it with a heavy duty plastic/garbage bag and place your meat bags into the pack to protect it from blood and smell. This can only be a temporary solution for the meat needs to get air so it does not spoil. Only use this concept with internal loading style packs. Frames that carry externally are more useful for they are easier to keep clean and scent free. Once loaded down use the compression straps to tighten down the meat to keep it from shifting.
Now that the pack is loaded down with meat make sure to load your other gear in available side pockets or any space available on the pack. To put the pack on, roll it to a location where you can sit into the harnessing. Connect the waist belt then the shoulder strap, then tighten the shoulder straps and the load lifters. Roll over to your front and stand up. Re-tighten the waist and shoulder straps, then the load lifters. Now you are ready to get it back to the truck and into the cooler.