The following information is not the last in many written texts of how to cape and preserve your very expensive trophy, however, is a starting point for those that have no idea where to begin. Be sure to contact your preferred taxidermist for his opinion and any additional questions or instructions.
Hunting in bear country can be a dangerous proposition and in no way are we guaranteeing that taking any of these preventive measures will guarantee your Safety or prevent the meat from being taken by a bear or any other predator. Some bears may ignore most precautions, but your scent and preventive measures will be a strong deterrent. "KEEPING PREDITORS AWAY" While afield there is no true safeguard against predators making a claim to your meat there are only preventive measures. Here are a few precautions to take while in bear country! More often than not a hunter is likely to shoot their animal late in the day then find themselves having to work late into the night and early morning hours.
If you gut and leave the carcass for the next day’s chore odds are you will not have your harvested animal the next day! Wolf and bear will surely zone in on the carcass and make their claim. Be sure to at least quarter and remove all edible portions of meat. Then, bag the meat and relocate the bagged meat no closer than 100 yards from the gut pile.
USE THE FOLLOWING PRECAUTIONS - IN BEAR COUNTRY
Scarecrows, The Wall, Human Scent:
Meatpole: locate your meat pole in a relatively open place. If your meat pole is in a brushy area, you're providing a hidden avenue for a bear to approach it. Make sure the meat is visible from camp. This will allow you to keep predators at bay.
Here are a few other helpful tips;
Around camp tie plastic bags to branches about head high, at camp perimeter. Tie the bags at the very end of the open end of the bag, this will allow air to make the bag sway in the breeze during the day and night hours.
Five feet back or so with branches or shrubs between the meat and the wall take a large piece of plastic or tarp and tie the top corners good and tight. Do not tie the bottoms! The bottom should be allowed to move in the breeze or wind-making lots of movement and noise discouraging encroachment of predators.
Human Scent (Body Odor)
Around camp and the meat hang (about head high) a couple of your soiled (smelly) shirts around the perimeter of the camp.
Human Scent (urine)
An added deterrent is to urinate on the brush at all the trails coming in the vicinity of the meat and or camp. The human scent may help deter bears from entering the camp or meat perimeter.
Capping your Big Game Trophy
Proper field care is extremely important because it affects the ability of the taxidermist to re-create your prized harvest. Your taxidermist can provide “their” specific instructions for their respective capping requirements. However, the following techniques are very useful!
Take pictures and measure a few key points of the animal:
1. Neck area (take a few measurements between chest and ears).
2. Nose tip to top of the skull.
3. Eye to eye. Be patient and be careful mistakes in capping are difficult to repair and may be an additional cost for repairs. "Be Patient"
NEVER CUT THE THROAT!
Instructions for proper capping: "Follow above Diagram"
1. Make a cut around the entire body behind front leg (about an open hands width apart).
2. Make a circle cut around both front legs just above the joint of the leg.
3. Join cut #1 and cut #2 by cutting through the armpit and down back of the leg.
4. From the back of each antler cut a line in a V-shape, until both lines meet, take the v-shape and start to cut it and peel it towards the center of the rack
5. From this point, continue to cut down the center of the neck and back until joining cut #1. Cut and peel the skin off the body until reaching the joint where the neck attaches to skull at this point cut or saw the skull from the neck.
Capping the skull "Be Patient"
On self-guided hunts, there are times that you may need to cape your own hard earned trophy, in remote regions of the Rocky Mountains or Alaska. As a capped elk or moose will surely lighten your load whether you're packing it out, drop camp or rafting, the know how will surely help!
The following is what has worked for me many times over and will or should work for you. Just take your time and be patient!
While in bear country be sure your back is being watched at all times as your total focus and concentration will be on the job at hand.
This should be done when you have the time it requires to complete the job, be patient and take your time. Or you may offer to pay someone in the party that has done this before; this tends to be a tedious job.
It is easier finishing the capping job with the head detached, over plastic or debris free area, if possible lay out the cape with the head upright. Begin from the center of the rack at the v-shaped created earlier cut and pull the hide back toward the nose. As you reach the base of the rack cut and pry the hide away from around the rack base called the (burr) cut and pry away the hide from the skull, go as far as you can.
The ears should now be in a position to be cut free, pull back the hide and expose the base of the ear, cut as close as you can to the skull bone at the base of the ear. Work both ears and continue to cut and pull the hide down and away from the skull until the head needs to be turned.
With the rack facing down begin cutting and peeling the area around the jaw, be sure not to cut into the lip area just yet.
Turn the head with the rack facing up, now take the skin that hangs from just above the eyes, skin down to the eyes, as you reach the eye area put your finger into the eye socket and make sure that the eyelid and lashes are away from the area being cut. Carefully cut into the area of the eye as you pull the skin away and as close as you can to the skull cut and pull. Do this from the outer portion of the eye towards the inner portion of the tear duct area, again being careful not to cut
the tear duct and as close to the skull as possible.
Work both eye areas turning the head from side to side as needed, working your way down to the mouth opening. Once you reach the jaw opening put your finger into the mouth area back along the area between the teeth and the cheek, again pull and cut into the opening of the mouth as close as you can to the skull and gum area, work the top and bottom of the jaws until you reach the nose cartilage. On moose, deer and all hunted animals the nose area of the skull is basically the same.
The difference is the size and shape of the nose on moose, the nose is a huge bulbous cartilage and meaty tissue.
Here again cut as close to the skull and as close as you can to the skull bone as you work this area cut towards the front upper jaw and into the gum area. Do this to the top and bottom jaw; from here you should be a few cuts away from completing the capping job. If you’re to remain in camp or hunt over an extended period of time such as the remote hunts of Alaska where you may possibly be in the bush for ten days or longer you will need to do the following to complete the job.
Lay the cape flat and remove the remaining meat attached to the cape here again take your time and be sure not to cut into the hide of the cape.
Salt the entire cape working the salt into the folds of skin, ears nose and lips. After doing this and using about three one pound containers of salt, fold the cape raw side to raw side (fur out), fold this in half and roll the cape towards the nose. You now have a neatly bundled cape, put the cape into the cape bag in your big game bag pack.
After a day removes the cape from the bag, lay it out and re-salt, let the water drain from the cape for an hour or so, then refold and put it back into the bag.
Treat the cape as you would the meat, keep it from getting wet and out of the sun!
The salt will dry out the cape and slightly shrink it, but remember this very process is what will preserve the cape long enough, that is until it can be taken to your taxidermist, this is especially good if you’re coming from the lower 48.
There are many variables and field conditions along with state laws, rules and regulations that exist while afield it is up to each individual to do their very best when preserving game meat, cape or hide and to abide by the local wildlife management. We at Caribou Gear cannot be held liable in any manner or form for the failure or spoilage of game meat, or the inherent dangers of big game hunting and fishing. The information given here is a courtesy to you, in helping you fulfill your outdoor dreams and goals.
"Good luck in all your Hunting and Fishing Adventures"
Congratulations on your purchase! We at Caribou Gear Outdoor Equipment Company would like to thank you for purchasing our Ultra Light Big Game Bags.
It's our goal to manufacture the finest innovative products available.
"No need to Condition" your Ultra Light Big Game Bags
Be sure to retain packaging card (Game Bag Packs) for reference while afield.
Label game bags as needed on the over-sized label at the side of each game bag, "Your Name”, "Species " - Deer, Moose, etc., then bag content according to bag dimensions ribs, cape, etc.
Note: Be sure to take special care of sharp saw cuts against the game bag, it recommended that all leg joints be knife cut.
After deboning and or quartering your harvested animal place the clean meat in the properly sized game bag.
When hanging the meat it is recommended that you place the desired length of rope (about 6 ft long), through and around the shank and tendon of the making sure that the knot is adequate as it will need to support a great deal of weight. Note: this step is only necessary if you intend on hanging the meat or quarters.
Gather the excess material of the game bag and wrap the bag a few times with the pull string cord. Place the end of the pull string back through one of the created loops and pull up on the cord making it tight. Do not use the lock loops for hanging game meat.
Fill out and attach the Big Game ID tags at this time with proper identification of the bag content, this is especially helpful if there are more than one harvested animal in camp.
When hanging your game bags with the meat content remember to place it 50 to 100 yards from camp and within clear view of camp. Take every precaution to place away from thick underbrush or game trails (be sure to read the Keep Predators Away Instructions).
Reflective attachment- Be sure that the bags are rotated in a manner that allows for best nighttime viewing of the reflective attachment from camp.
The small Camp Meat Bag in your game bag kit is for that backstrap or tenderloin or any other favorite cut of your harvested game for dinner back at camp.
WASHING GAME BAGS
While afield meat care is extremely important. Wash game bags in any available water be sure to remove any meat particles. After washing ring out excess water and hang by using the attach lock loops. Dry game bags approximately one hour to dry (pending weather conditions) and rebag the hanging meat quarters. This is necessary for game bags breathability and to help retard meat spoilage on extended hunts afield.
Washing after the hunt thoroughly wash the game bags with a detergent and light bleach in warm water until clean, rinse and hang dry. Although the game bags are stain resistant they are not stain proof, the game bags may retain some soil discoloration.
For continued years of field use it is important that you care for the game bags during and after each hunt, do not allow the game bags to remain dirty for an extended period of time.
Regularly inspect your game bags for small holes that could admit insects. Inspect the opening of the bag, paying special attention to areas likely to admit insects. Never use open-mesh game bags and then insert them in your ultra light big game bags as this will surely allow insect eggs (maggots) to infest the meat within the bags. Mesh bags are inadequate for protecting meat quarters from insects, dirt, and debris nor strong enough to support the weight of its content.
AGEING GAME MEAT
It is recommended that the aging process takes place in a temperature-controlled environment or conditions where the temperature is 35 to 40 degrees and should not hang more than 5 days.
Hanging your game meat in a garage or shed is again a situation that should be done with care and only if the temperature is below 40 degrees. We do not recommend aging your game meat if the temperature is uncontrollable or fluctuates greatly. We strongly suggest that you quarter and bone out all meat and put it in the refrigerator or cooler with ice as you cut and package for consumption.
Here are a few tips on keeping your harvested meat edible and keeping it yours
Lay a sheet of plastic a few steps away from the downed animal, as you remove the quarters and meat parts lay them on the plastic. Once on the plastic, bone out the quarters and store them in the game bags. Note: In some states it’s required that you keep the meat attached to the bone.
Regardless of where you live, it is a good idea to keep the meat attached to the bone if at all possible. This keeps the meat from drying out and skinning over or causing a greater area to become contaminated with debris resulting in wasted meat.
August and September can be some of the hottest temperatures one can expect while afield depending on the location of your hunt. It is up to you to make the best judgment of the current weather condition and do what’s best for the meat based on the temperature and location of the hunt.
If near camp it is likely that a cooler with ice is handy or available;
1. Hot conditions; bone out meat quarters, put into a game bag and then put the game bag with meat into a plastic bag. This works great on those hotter days, just be sure to rotate the meat and do not close the tops of the bags so that moisture is able to escape.
2. Freezing conditions; obviously a person does not have to worry about keeping the meat cool, just be sure to skin, quarter and bag the animal before it freezes.
In remote locations in the Rocky Mountains or Alaska, there is an added twist and lots of work in meat care.
Drop and self-guided hunts can be a challenge regardless of the cool to warm conditions. The harvested meat should always be kept in shaded locations if at all possible with tarp shading over the top.
a. If possible, hang the meat near the river under shade. Rivers have upstream or downstream breezes that will cool the meat and help wick away moisture.
As last resort – use method below:
b. Warmer temperatures produce yet another option placing the meat in the game bags then placing the game bags in heavy duty 55-gallon plastic trash bags and submerging the water tight bags in the water (lake or stream). Be sure to remove the bag from the water and re-hang the meat without the plastic bag at the end of each day.
c. If river floating be sure to keep the bags off of the bottom of the raft by using a cargo net. Place the meat in a fan shape trying not to stack the meat atop one another. Place the rack of the animal upside down (if there is no rack use branches) then place a small tarp over the top out of direct sun, be sure the tarp is allowing air circulation.
HANGING/LEANING - WITH OR WITHOUT TREES
Without trees? Get it off the ground!
If you’re in an area without trees large enough to hold the meat use deadfall or brush.
1. If shrubs are present lean the meat into the shrubs this will allow air circulation.
2. If narrow willows or the like are present cut a branch about 6 feet long and tie each end to other branches the same distance apart and just below the height of the leg quarters high, creating a figure "H" type shape. Take each quarter and lean them into each other, one on each side of the branch, tie each quarter to the other at the top. The rest of the meat parts bags can be blocked up off the ground with deadfall stacked and staggered, to allow air circulation. This is good for an overnight situation until the meat can be hung.
3. If trees are present however it's impossible to hang the meat, it is likely that there are fallen tree branches, broken branches or like debris. Take and stack the branches in a crisscross pattern, large and strong enough to hold the weight of all the meat bags, meat bags should be at least 6” inches or more off the ground to allow for best air circulation.
Rain, snow, humidity can result in wet game bags. Wet bags greatly increase the odds of the meat spoiling over a shorter period of time whereas dry bags extend this time. To ensure dry meat it takes great effort on your part. It is always best regardless of sun, rain, snow and or humidity to cover the meat in a way that keeps the tarp from making contact with the meat bags to ensure the best air circulation possible this also provides shade from direct sun.
Cover a meat pole by stretching a rope from tree to tree, about two to three feet above the pole and meat bags, drape the tarp cover over the rope and tie it down at each corner, again be sure not to make contact with the meat bags to allow best air circulation and not to close so the tarp does not trap the warmer air under it.
Caribou Gear can not be held liable in any manner or form for the failure of game bag use or spoilage of game meat, or the inherent dangers of big game hunting and fishing.