Keep Predators Away From Your Elk Carcass

There are ways to deter looting of your elk carcass. (Courtesy RMEF)

Black bears, grizzlies, cougars, wolves, coyotes — just some of the potential looters you may find skulking around the scene of your next successful elk hunt. These tips from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will help keep meat stealers away from your elk carcass.


“Deterring predators ensures all that hard-won protein ends up in your freezer, but personal safety is a factor, too. If you hunt in grizzly country, for example, it’s worth minimizing the risk of surprising a bear that has claimed your kill,” said P.J. DelHomme, hunting editor of the Elk Foundation’s member magazine, Bugle.

Here are five tips for discouraging marauding carnivores:

  1. Hang quarters at an unreachable height 100 yards or more from the entrails, etc. Parachute chord works well; it’s small, light, cheap and strong enough for the job. Bring way more than you think you need. Try to select a hanging tree in a relatively open area that can be glassed from at least 300 yards away. If no trees are available, you can hang quarters off a rimrock ledge, too. Prime cuts of meat should get the first trip out.

  2. When safe and legal, build a fire next to the quarters. Burn damp, pitchy wood that produces a good plume of smoke. This detracts predators and helps you locate the site on your return trip. Remember to mark the site in your GPS and take compass bearings as a backup.

  3. Leave an article of clothing with the quarters, preferably something that’s been close to your skin and absorbed your scent. A brightly colored item also helps you locate the site. Urinate nearby to further saturate the area with human smell.

  4. Many hunters won’t carry their rifle or bow once their elk tag has been punched. However, when returning to a carcass, consider carrying a handgun or bear spray for personal protection in case you encounter a defiant critter. Be as noisy and obnoxious as possible as you approach the site. Clap your hands. Sing as loud as you can.

  5. Be ready to back off. An elk carcass is never worth fighting over. If a looter is adamant that it needs the meat more than you do, or has rendered your elk unsalvageable, check the state’s hunting regulations. A game warden may issue you a new elk permit.

Additionally, if legal, you may have an opportunity to add the predator to your game bag. Remember that many predator populations need management via state-regulated hunting, same as elk. The Elk Foundation is a vocal supporter of this system for managing restored populations of gray wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, too.


Bugle magazine is a wealth of elk hunting and conservation information. An annual subscription is included with a $35 membership to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. For details, visit www.rmef.org.

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