MISSOULA, Mont. — With archery elk season right around the corner in many western states — and with temperatures still reaching into the 70s, 80s or even warmer — the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is offering tips for hunter preparedness in hot weather.
“Knowing how to get meat out of the heat and on ice is the first thing to consider,” said P.J. DelHomme, hunting editor of the Elk Foundation’s member magazine, Bugle.
Elk hunters are major supporters of RMEF habitat initiatives, conserving and enhancing over 5.7 million acres since 1984.
Six tips for hunting in the heat:
- Have an Ice Stash. Bring enough empty cooler space and plenty of ice. To keep meat dry, freeze a number of large plastic bottles rather than using bags of ice cubes. Dry ice, which can be purchased at icehouses and some grocery stores, can be placed between the frozen bottles. In a good cooler, this works as well as a home chest freezer for a week.
- Know Your Limits. Consider how far away from your ice stash you should be hunting. If the forecast calls for 90 degrees, packing in five miles in the morning might not be the wisest decision. Set a reasonable cut-off point, or time, and don’t hunt past it.
- Be Ready to Butcher. Carry the gear necessary to quarter the animal on the spot and get the quarters in the shade, hopefully hung in a nearby tree. If you are miles away from your ice stash, be ready to bone out the whole elk and get the meat out in one trip, which is a doable task for two hunters.
- Look for a Creek. If a creek is nearby, find a good pool in which to dunk the meat. Cool it quickly, then pat it dry and haul it out.
- Take Care of You, Too. If you’re hiking in heat, you’re sweating and losing nutrients. It is very difficult to pack enough water to maintain hydration once the mercury hits the 80s, so check maps and make sure you can reach water sources where you can use a filter to refill your drinking supply. Replace nutrients with sports drinks, bananas and peanut butter. Wear clothing made of light wicking material.
- Consider Fishing. Finally, if the mercury headed toward 90s or more, ask yourself if you should be hunting at all. A nice set of antlers and 250 pounds of spoiled meat is hardly a successful hunt. Consider fishing or scouting instead, coming back to the area when weather cools down.