The carcass-handling problems facing the Moose hunter are enormous - like the moose itself. For instance, the early season is field during open water and many moose are actually shot while in the water. Recovery of a 1,500 pound animal from a lake is a big job: it requires heavy rope and a good block and tackle or a winch. The hunter may find flies troublesome in the early fall. Handling a moose in the winter season when the temperatures are low and there are no flies poses a different set of problems. We’ll deal first with the early season.
After the shot, approach the downed animal carefully and do not get too close until your are sure it is dead. You may want to place a second shot in the base of the skull – for insurance. Remember a little caution at this stage may prevent a serious accident.
While bleeding and animal is traditional with many big game hunters, modern high-impact ammunition has reduced the necessity of this most cases. If the animal was hit in the lungs, or heart and has run any distance it may not be necessary to bleed it. But if you want to make sure it is bled out, plunge a six inch hunting knife to the hilt at the junction of the neck and the chest, tilt the blade downward towards the backbone and withdraw it with a slight slicing effect. This should cut the arteries. When doing this be careful of the cape if you’re going to mount the head.
Once the blood has drained out of the animal, place it on a slight slope with the head facing up hill. Tie the legs to the trees in a spread eagle position if possible. Sharpen your knife and make your cut along the center of the belly from the pelvic bridge below the tail to the breastbone. Keep the blade of your knife up-ward when you cut through the abdominal wall. By keeping your finger under the point of the knife blade you avoid cutting the paunch or intestines, At all times you should prevent the animal’s hair from getting in contact with the meat. Use your hand axe or saw on the breastbone; this makes it easier to cut loose the windpipe and gullet.
The next step is to cut around the vent and loosen the organs in the pelvic cavity. It’s a good idea to tie off the anus with a string before pulling it into the body cavity. Now cut the windpipe and gullet free at the throat. Hold these in your hand and pull backward at the same time cutting free from the carcass any parts that tend to hold. Take out all the internal organs to the base of the tail. Female reproductive organs are easily removed at this step. Male sex organs can be cut off while making the belly cut.
With a big animal like a moose it's a good idea to use your hand axe or saw to split the pelvis. This makes it much easier to clean out the pelvic area.
There is another tradition in dressing big game that should be brought out at this point: Do not wash the carcass with water. The reason for this is that a glaze of the animal's blood resists bacterial action and water removes the glaze. On the other hand, if you've gut shot your moose and the body cavity is filled with blood and gore you are probably better off to wash it out then dry the, cavity thoroughly and quickly rather than leave it unwashed. Prop the carcass wide open and let the meat cool off as fast as possible.
Finally you should trim away all parts of the animal that were damaged by the gun shot. Meat that is shot up tends to spoil and is likely to affect the meat surrounding it. It's better to cut enough off at the beginning than let clotted blood spoil the remainder.
Once the dressing part is finished you should start the work of skinning the moose. The weight of the animal makes this a difficult job but in the warm weather of the early season it is essential that it be done quickly because the heavy hide holds the body heat and sours the meat.
If you plan to have the head mounted you should take special precautions in skinning it out. First of all, do not puncture the skin. The figure shows how much hide to leave on the head if you plan to mount it. Cut around the body as indicated by the dotted lines so that as much hide as possible is left from the shoulder and brisket. Cut along the back of the neck and to the base of the rack as indicated in the figure. Peel the hide back from the neck and head cutting the ears off right next to the skull. Be careful around the eyelids - this is tricky work - as is the area around the nostrils and lips. Take your time here and don't spoil a good head by being in too much of a hurry. In most cases, it is good advice to take the whole head home and let the taxidermist do the skinning. But if you're far back in the bush and every extra pound counts the method outlined above will work, if you're careful.
Once you have taken the skin off the head, remove all the flesh and fat and salt it well. Several hours later, resalt the cape and turn it flesh side out to dry slowly in the shade. Be sure that there are no folds in it while drying.
When you're cutting off the antlers with a saw (and that's the only thing to use) be sure to include a generous portion of the skull.
Now that you've got the skin off the head you can start on the rest of the skinning. Most hunters do this on the ground because moose are too heavy to lift. Sharpen your knife and cut the skin around the lower part of the legs and then slit the hide down to the crotch. You'll find that once you've started peeling the hide off you can do it easiest by pulling with one hand and using the knife in the other to cut loose the places where it sticks. Try to avoid letting the outside of the hide touch the meat.
Once the hide is completely removed you should scrape it free of flesh and fat and salt it thoroughly. Roll it up with the flesh sides facing each other but salt it occasionally until you get it to the taxidermist or tannery. Don't let the hide stiffen up or it may crack and make tanning difficult.
With an animal as big as a moose or elk it is almost essential to quarter it so that it can be moved out of the bush. After hanging the carcass in the shade so it can cool off quickly you should remove the legs at the knee and hock joints and cut the carcass in half by sawing (or chopping) down the center of the backbone from end to end. Cut the sides in two with the floating ribs remaining on the hind quarters.
Once the cutting is done you should cover each quarter in muslin tubes and hang them in the shade. It is essential that you keep the meat as cool as possible. If you have to stay for a few days and can't get it to a freezer quickly, make sure the meat is hanging where it gets good air circulation. If the weather is quite warm. such as you get in an open-water moose season, you should wrap the quarters during the day and hang them up at night. The muslin or cheesecloth wrapping tubes should be available at sporting goods stores or perhaps at your local butcher shop. especially if he does his own butchering.
In the early season you'll be plagued with flies throughout the whole dressing and skinning operation. Once the meat is quartered and wrapped in muslin, flies can't do it much harm. But prior to that, when it is hanging out to cool, you must take precautions to keep the flies off. A liberal sprinkling of black pepper on the exposed flesh will keep the flies away. This can be trimmed away later. If the carcass is to be left on the ground for several hours. place logs under it to allow for air circulation and aid cooling.
Transporting the carcass out of the bush is often a major problem. Dragging it over the ground seems to be an accepted procedure by many hunters even though this can damage and bruise the meat. If you do this leave the hide on. Carrying it out on a backpack is highly recommended. Once you get the carcass to your car or truck you must still use good sense. Stuffing the meat into the trunk is a sure way to overheat it. Your best bet is to pack it on a car top or on a rack in the back of the truck. In either case it should be packed to allow free circulation of air around it. If you have a choice between traveling in the cool of the night or the heat of the day pick the night. You'll get better meat because of it.
Aging and Butchering
Many hunters let their carcass age for a while before butchering it. They feel that a week or ten days in a cool place or a walk-in refrigerator will bring about the desired kind of flavor and tenderness.
Now you must decide whether to butcher the meat yourself or take it to a professional butcher. The second alternative is the better one if you want well-cut meat with as little waste as possible. But if you do want to cut it up yourself, (illustration on page 43) shows the usual cuts and where they come from on the carcass of a deer. In cutting up a moose you are well advised to use a beef meat chart in conjunction with page 43. If you do the job yourself be sure to get a meat saw and cleaver. To save freezer space, the meat may be boned (bones removed) prior to cutting.
Moose in the Winter Season
Hunting moose in the winter season is quite different from hunting in the open-water season. Certainly handling the carcass once you get it is different. In the first place, it isn't likely to be in a lake or marsh and therefore retrieving it will be much easier. The cold weather of the winter season also helps cool the meat faster than during the warmer weather of the fall. At the same time, care must be taken to see that the meat doesn't freeze before proper aging.
Actual cutting of the carcass is the same - fall or winter. Once the animal has been cleaned out lay the carcass cavity downward on the snow and then cover the whole animal with more snow. This technique, in sub-zero weather, cools the carcass quickly but the snow cover keeps it from freezing. Some hunters skin and quarter the animal first. They cover the quarters with the hide or a tarp and then pile about two feet of loose snow over the whole thing. There are hunters who use this method of aging their animal, letting it stay under the snow cover for three or four days. Make sure that some cooling takes place before burying it in snow or the release of the body heat may melt enough snow inside the pile to form ice. The ice will conduct the cold into the meat instead of keeping the cold away from the meat.
You should also take care that the heavily meated sections of the rear quarters are not leaning against each other during this stage. When they do touch they often restrict cooling and may affect the meat.
Getting the carcass home unfrozen after it's been properly cooled is a tricky matter in the winter, just as it is in the warm fall. In winter your problem is to get it home without freezing it. Obviously a car top is out of the question. If you haven't got too far to go it is possible to pack a quartered moose in the trunk of a car and get it home unfrozen. Proper packing with blankets or snow will make even a half-ton truck okay for moving a carcass home without freezing, providing you get there within a few hours.
Some processors who handle frozen carcasses say they do better work on solid material. Others won't handle it because they say it is too hard on their saws.
Apparently there is no health hazard involved in freezing, thawing and then refreezing your meat but it can affect the texture or toughness of the meat.
SHORT RIBS OF MOOSE
Singe moose's nose over open fire. Scrape clean and scald. Wash again. B with added salt and pepper for at least 2 hrs. Slice and serve cold. Considered be a real delicacy.
6 pieces short ribs, cut in 3" lengths
1 tsp. salt
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 c. water
½ tsp. dry mustard
½ C. Celery, diced
3 tbsp. Flour
2 tbsp. Fat
¼ c. cider vinegar
2 tbsp. Worchestershire sauce
¼ tsp. Pepper
¼ tsp. Parsley flakes
Combine flour, salt, pepper and parsley. Rub the seasoned flour on the Heat fat in a skillet and brown the floured ribs. Lift into a casserole and add chopped onion to the fat in the pan. Stir until golden brown. Add all remaining ingredients and heat to near boiling. Pour this mixture over short ribs. Cover tightly and bake at 350°F for 2 hrs. or until tender.
STUFFED MOOSE STEAK
1 Moose Steak
½ tsp. Salt
1/8 tsp. Pepper
¼ c. flour
3 c. bread crumbs
¾ c. chopped onion
1 green pepper, diced
salt & pepper to taste
Mix salt, pepper and flour. Dredge steak. Pound on both sides to tenderize. Mix filling and place on steak. Roll and A with sting. Heat oil in a large clutch oven or skillet set on a rack and put into roasting pail or Butch oven Add water under rack. but not so Much that the water will actually touch the meat. Cover with -on strips. Cover tightly and bake at 325/F 1-2 hrs, or until tender.
1 lb. Ground moose or deer meat
1 onion chopped
½ c. celery, chopped
½ green pepper chopped
½ clove garlic, minced
1 lge. Tomatoes (19 oz. )
1 can tomato paste ( 6 oz. )
1 can ripe olives, sliced
½ lb cheese, grated
4 c. uncooked macaroni
¼ tsp. Allspice
salt & pepper to taste
oregano to taste
Cook macaroni according to pkg. directions. Brown meat (you may need a few drops of vegetable oil to prevent meat sticking to pan), onions and celery. Add tomatoes, tomato paste and spices. Simmer 45 mins. Add chopped olives and 1 c. cheese. Mix with cooked macaroni. Pour into greased casserole. Bake at 400°F for 15 mins. Add remaining cheese and bake another 15 mins. or until cheese is melted and lightly browned.
MOOSESTEW FOR A CROWD
1 dead moose cut into plate sized slabs
25 lb. dried pinto beans
15 loaves white balloon bread
1 jar garlic salt
20 lb. Sack onions
15 lb. Can coffee
1 box salt
1 can pepper
1 can 10-50 weight penzoil
5.5 gallons water
½ cord mesquite wood
1 wooden kitchen match
amith-wesson 44 magnum
280 semi jacketed hollow point bullet
Put bullet in Smith Wesson. Shoot the moose with it. Skin the dead moose and cut it up into steaks.
Stack the ½ cord of mesquite. Light with wooden kitchen match. Put the 55 gal. of water on to boil. Dump the 25 lb. of pinto beans in to soak while water heats. Throw ½ salt. ½ garlic salt. ½ pepper and all the onions into the beans. When water boils move to cooler part of fire. Throw 4' x 8' grill over hottest part of fire. Throw meat on. Slather rest of salt, garlic salt, pepper over steaks. Cook till outside is black as Earl of Hell's Riding Boots and inside is as red as a Honky Tonk Angel's cheek.
Drain off 5gal. of bean Water. Pour 5lb. coffee into the biggest sock of any of the hunting crew. Put sock into water to boil. If sock is clean boil only 2 min.. if not boil 35 min. Then yell "COME AND GET IT".
When everyone begins to belch and talk about the time that one old boy bloated like a cow on a hot day, bring out the white balloon bread so everyone can sop up their beans and steak juke. Put plates on the floor for dogs to wash up and don't nobody light a match!