Deer, elk and antelope archery season opens Saturday, Sept. 1., with backcountry deer and elk rifle season only a couple of weeks away. Grouse and partridge season also opens Saturday, Sept. 1.
September big game and bird hunting normally is accompanied by hot weather. So it pays to do a little advance planning. How are you are going to take care of your wild game in this heat?
John Peterson, a wild game processor with H and H Meats in Missoula, has seen good hunts go bad because hunters underestimated what the heat can do to their wild game meat. Peterson has compiled some valuable tips for hunters that will help in protecting their game meat and the quality of that meat on the table.
Use a mesh cloth game bag. It will do a great job of keeping dirt, insects, and truck bed crud off the meat. Never use plastic. Plastic holds heat and can cause spoilage.
Peterson said heat is normally the cause of spoilage on wild game. To help eliminate this problem and speed cooling. He recommends skinning the animal in the field. If cold water is nearby, then submerge the animal in the water. If cold water is not available, take along 3-5 blocks of ice. Place as much ice as you can into the cavity of the animal.
Carry two sharp knives with you. Use the first to remove the legs and insides, and to cut the cartilage in the brisket to the pelvis area. Also make sure you remove the entire windpipe. Use the second knife to remove the hide. A three-or-four-inch-long knife should be plenty long for skinning.
Peterson also suggests carrying a small saw, because there are three places that should be split so that air can circulate and cool the meat. Those areas are the brisket at the bottom of the chest, the pelvic bone between the lower haunches and the ribcage from the front shoulder. Don’t separate the ribcage completely – just enough to get the heat out.
Also take along 3-coarse ground pepper. Sprinkle it on your game to keep the flies off.
Peterson says the hunt really starts after you bag your game. Follow these simple tips and the chances are good you will be enjoying your wild game on the dinner table all winter long.
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE – Rifle hunting season will be here soon. It might be a good time for you to join the Western Montana Fish and Game Association (WMF&GA). The local organization is a good supporter of hunters and is a loud voice to the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Commissioners and its Director Jeff Hagener. Plus an annual membership to WMF&GA entitles you to the use of the Deer Creek Shooting Range. You can sign up at Bob Wards, Sportsman Surplus and the Axmen.
LICENSES – One more reminder: If you plan on hunting on state lands you will need a license. You can buy the license at any Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks license agent. Age 12-17-year-olds can purchase a state lands license for $5, as can those 60 years or older. For those of us age18 years to 59 years, the license is $10 or you can buy a family pass for $20.