FAIRBANKS -- Follow the rule of three ''Cs'' when it comes to caring for your game meat and you'll have tastier meals through the winter.
Keep it Clean, let a Crust form on it and keep it Cool.
There are as many ways to go about these three Cs as there are hunters, but here are a few things I've learned over the years:
CLEAN: Bring a small tarp or Visqueen sheet to place meat quarters on after they are cut from the animal. The skin can work as a temporary clean spot, but it's nice to be able to set meat far aside from your working area where you won't accidentally kick dirt or brush onto it.
CLEAN: While you skin, be careful to keep the meat over the hide and not to let it roll into the dirt or against the furred side of the hide. That's especially important when handling rutting moose.
CLEAN: Use heavy game bags. I've used heavy canvas bags and laundry bags. The laundry bags are a tight weave (almost like a pillow case) but they're not so heavy as the regular game bags, which makes them nicer for a fly in hunt.
CRUST: If flies or weather aren't a problem, it's nice to let the pieces sit out on the tarp and form a crust before you put them in the game bags. This makes the game bags less bloody and less attractive to flies later on.
CRUST: Bring as much tarp or plastic sheeting as you can. If you are caught in the rain for days, you may need to build a small shelter to keep your meat as dry as possible.
CRUST: Reduce the surface area of meat by leaving it in large pieces. Boning out meat just creates more surface area and therefore more meat to be lost to trimming later on.
COOL: Do whatever it takes to keep meat cool. You need shade and cool air. Pack the meat to the woods if you must. Building a shelter over a source of cool air, such as a mountain spring, can help, but it's not a long-term solution in truly hot weather.
COOL: Bring garbage bags or trash compactor bags large enough to hold meat pieces and submerge them in a stream or lake to keep the meat cool. Submerge the meat during the heat of the day and then remove it at night to hang it and let the crust form again.
COOL: If there are several hunters in your party, check with your guide or charter service about expediting meat to a butcher if you're successful early on and want to stay out while others hunt or want to pursue fishing or other opportunities. Some offer the service, some don't.
COOL: When it's really hot outside, the smartest thing to do is run for the nearest meat cooler as soon as the animal is dressed. Don't wait around for your partner to get another animal while temperatures climb into the 70s.
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