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    How big of a cooler?

    How big of a cooler should I expect to fill (if I first fill my tag) with a bull elk? I'm heading out this year for the first time and I'm not sure how much cooler room I'll need. Definitely don't want to run out! Any idea how much I would need for quartered vs boned vs processes meat?
    Now therefore, please take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me.
    Genesis 27:3 (NKJV)

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    I Bring 3 150qt coolers and de-bone all the meat before I pack it out. I like to have some room for Ice hence the three coolers. You could get by with 2 with less Ice if you are not traveling far. I pack all my gear in two of the coolers and when I kill something take the gear out and put it in bags for the trip home.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 25contender View Post
    I Bring 3 150qt coolers and de-bone all the meat before I pack it out. I like to have some room for Ice hence the three coolers. You could get by with 2 with less Ice if you are not traveling far. I pack all my gear in two of the coolers and when I kill something take the gear out and put it in bags for the trip home.
    That's basically how we handle an elk out in Wyoming too. A good sized bull will bone out to over 300# of meat and you really need to take the meat off the bone for two reasons. First, it helps to quickly cool the meat that can sour near the bone, especially in the large hindquarters. Second, there aren't many coolers the size that will hold a bone in hindquarter. Storing things in two or three coolers on the way out and then using them for the meat on the way home if you tag out is the way to go.

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    I would say 2 - 120 qt sized coolers are going to be plenty good if you bone everything out.

    I use 1 - 120 qt cooler and then a couple smaller coolers just because I've had them around forever. If I was buying new coolers just for this a couple 120's would be perfect IMO.

    Here's my 2010 New Mexico bull - he fit fine in 3 - 80ish qt coolers.


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    I have to agree with ole quarter bore on this one... 2-3 120/150 qt. coolers will get the job done nicely. Pack your gear in them and that will help with space saving. I've crammed a raggie bull and some spikes into one 120 qt. cooler when it was all boned out but it was a short trip home and the meat was very cool already. In September I fill my Grizzly 75 with bagged ice and beverages and haul two cheaper 150's. The Grizz keeps the ice well and the other coolers hold any meat on the trip home when it is hot. If I were making a cross country trek trying to keep meat cold in warm weather I'd seriously look into the high end coolers on the market.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tdcour View Post
    How big of a cooler should I expect to fill (if I first fill my tag) with a bull elk? I'm heading out this year for the first time and I'm not sure how much cooler room I'll need. Definitely don't want to run out! Any idea how much I would need for quartered vs boned vs processes meat?
    Two, 120 qt coolers should work fine. No need to bone out if you cut the bones short. AZ and NM are close to a 30 hr trip for me and the coolers keep the meat plenty cool. I do set on one the back seat and the other in the camper, out of the sun.

    There is the odd chance that those 2 coolers will be just a tad small as I had one NM bull that filled both to the brim with boned out meat. That bull was the exception but there was 330# of boned out meat in those 2 coolers, weighed at the locker when we got to our hunting spot back in OR.

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    Throw a broken chest freezer in the back of your truck or trailer. Plenty of storage for you gear on the way out, will stay dry and the lid may be lockable or you can easily install a hasp on the lid. Throw your meat into the freezer with a couple blocks of dry ice and it will last many days. Last trip we killed two bulls and it filled the freezer about half full. Put a tarp down and put the rest of our supplies in the freezer and then locked the lid. My trips require an overnight stay at a hotel and its nice to know all my gear is locked up. Chest freezers are insulated really well. Works for us. You can probably find a broken chest freezer on craigslist for free if removed. I caution using a working one; compressors can lock up on really bumpy roads.

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    Thanks all. We are hunting in NM. it will be about a 14 hour trip for me but a buddy is coming from SD and we both have tags. We have several coolers so I think we will go that route. Any tips on boning out the meat? Never had to do it before. Quartering has always worked for us. If we can get it processed before would that be better? May take up more room like that is all I'm worried about.
    Now therefore, please take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me.
    Genesis 27:3 (NKJV)

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    You don't save much space on hind quarters boning them if you normally cut them off at the knee joint anyway. You save a TON of space (and weight) boning out front quarters. You'll need 120 - 150 quart size coolers for sure if you don't bone out the front shoulders, they are too long for an 80 quart bone in.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WapitiBob View Post
    Two, 120 qt coolers should work fine. No need to bone out if you cut the bones short. AZ and NM are close to a 30 hr trip for me and the coolers keep the meat plenty cool. I do set on one the back seat and the other in the camper, out of the sun.

    There is the odd chance that those 2 coolers will be just a tad small as I had one NM bull that filled both to the brim with boned out meat. That bull was the exception but there was 330# of boned out meat in those 2 coolers, weighed at the locker when we got to our hunting spot back in OR.
    I'd say 3 coolers that size, you want some extra space for ice. A good bull will eat up a lot of cooler space, unless it's boned.

 

 

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