Moose Field Dressing at Night

by Anonymous

If you shoot a Moose late in the day and you don't have the time or the light to finish moose field dressing at night, is it OK to just cut the throat or should you remove all of the gut?

Anonymous... this is a great question!

If you leave the entrails in overnight you are asking for trouble. It is extremely to gut your animal as soon as possible. Stomach acids, gases and bacteria will begin their work as soon as the blood stop flowing through the animals veins.

The vital thing is to cool the meat, which cannot begin while the entrails are still inside.

We had a bad experience just this year with not getting our moose cool soon enough. We did clean the moose using our headlamps and we propped open the body cavity to let it cool overnight. Watch our video of moose field dressing at night...

Our problem was this: It was cold that night, (you will see the steam rising from the moose) there was frost in the meadow, just 25 feet from where we were working. The moose however lay under a thick canopy of trees. The body did not cool enough and two days later at camp we noticed the meat starting with the shoulder he lay on was beginning to sour. Once we discovered the sour we were quick to act but the gases and sour had already spread.

We ended up losing about a quarter of the moose when we were done.

We did everything else right. As soon as we got him out of the bush we skinned, halved and washed the carcass. We hung it in a cool place, but it was too late.

We learned a valuable lesson this year, one we will never forget.

If we shoot a moose late in the day from now on we will:

  • Gut it as soon as we get to it... even in the dark

  • Cut open the entire chest to let it cool

  • If possible and practical, we will quarter it and hang the quarters on the spot with the hide on.

  • Get it out that night if we can

This year was only our second moose of 27 that we left in the bush overnight.

The other was out in a cut block at the top of a mountain. It was very cold, something like minus 10 degrees Celsius. After cleaning the moose was rolled up onto its chest which was on a stump. the only part of the moose body that remained on the ground was its legs. The chest cavity was also propped open.
We had no problems with that moose.

Comments for Moose Field Dressing at Night

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Moose Field Dressing at Night (bone sour)
by: Steve Kane(buckee)

Yes, Bone Sour is a common thing with large game such as moose, Elk, etc. Even though it is cool outside, and the moose is gutted, it is amazing how the heat of the animal is still retained deep in the meat at the bone. The thick meat acts as insulation to keep the heat in, even though it my be cold on the surface. The meat starts to sour and go bad from the bone outward.
Getting your large game opened up and quartered as soon as possible is very important. Even quartered, it is a good idea to slice the quarter along the bone, just to release the heat within.

Back to the original question of gutting or leaving overnight ...No way Hosea

Moose Field Dressing at Night(not gutted)
by: Steve Kane(buckee)

I would also like to add, that if by chance your moose is left overnight, because perhaps you couldn't find it in the dark and waited until morning, you will find it (like mentioned above) swollen & bloated & smelly in the gut from internal gases etc. This will taint some meat, but not all. My advice is after finding the downed moose (Elk, deer, etc.) gutting, quartering , cooling and skinning, remove the belly flaps, and discard them. They are the first to get tainted from the bloating, when the guts are left in for any length of time, like overnight.


Moose Field Dressing at Night
by: Mark - Site Owner

Steve, Thanks for your comments. You made some very good points.

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