Keep it cool — Protecting the investment in hunting season

The Mesa County 4-H senior shotgun team shows off some of the blue ribbons won at the state shotgun competition. Team members (l to r) include coach Randy Stout,  Kyle Teal, Aaron Hicks, Conno Stout (high individual combined), Sheldon Cole (ninth high individual combined) and Jake DeGuire.

During a recent morning with local taxidermist Darryl Powell, I met a bowhunter from Pennsylvania who had killed a nice five-point bull on Grand Mesa and was having Powell do the taxidermy work for a shoulder mount.

The hunter had the elk meat in game bags, ready for the processor, and it seemed well taken care of, but 30 minutes later, while leaving the front and hindquarters and back straps with Rick Nehm at Old World Meat, Nehm said he feared some of the meat already was spoiled.

“You can smell it,” he said, putting his nose close to the hip joint. “There’s a faint sour smell, not too bad, and maybe we can cut that off.”

Later, Old World Meat owner Matt Anderegg called to say the entire hindquarter was spoiled.

“We couldn’t tell until we cut into it this morning,” he said. “It’s too bad to lose that much, but you wouldn’t have wanted it.”

Early-season archery and muzzleloader hunters may suffer more game spoilage because of the warm temperatures they see during their hunts, but Anderegg cautioned all hunters to be aware of protecting their investment.

“We haven’t seen too much of that so far this year,” Anderegg said. “Most guys have been pretty good at getting their animals chilled somehow.”

With no snow and freezing temperatures (at least until this week’s brief storms) with which to cool meat rapidly, Anderegg said hunters should put the meat where the heat will dissipate rapidly.

“Get it skinned and hang it in the shade, or spread it out so the heat disperses,” he suggested. “Even if it’s in bags, if you stack the meat, the heat won’t disperse.”

That might have been what happened with the Pennsylvania hunter’s elk. He had lost the animal after arrowing it just before dark the night before, and he didn’t find it until early in the morning I met him. Even though he was hunting on Grand Mesa, it wasn’t cold enough to ensure the meat wouldn’t spoil.

After cleaning the elk, the hunter piled the meat in the truck for the drive to Grand Junction, and the night out and two hours or so in the truck and sun was enough to ruin part of the meat.

“Plus, the hindquarters are usually the first thing to go,” Anderegg said. “Because they are so massive with so much meat and bones, it’s hard to get them completely chilled down.”

As always, the first rule is to get your game animal skinned quickly. As temperatures continue to cool into the autumn, it’s easier to make sure the hard work you invested in the hunt will be rewarded with good eating all year long.

4-H shotgun team wins state

The Mesa County 4-H senior shotgun team swept to the state title again this year, taking first overall in team 5-stand, skeet, and trap.

Connor Stout finished the competition as high overall for individual combined, with 139 targets broken. Sheldon Cole took ninth overall for individual combined (129 targets broken).

The Mesa County trap team of Cole, Stout, Jake DeGuire, Aaron Hicks and Kyle Teal finished at 239 targets broken, with Teal third in individual and Stout seventh.

The senior skeet team of Stout (grand champion), Hicks (reserve champion), Cole, DeGuire and Utter finished at 225, well ahead of runner-up Fremont County (214).

The 5-stand team — Stout, Cole, Jared Guillory, Tanner DeGuire, and Jacob DeGuire — also finished on top with Stout taking fourth in individual and Cole fifth.

In the junior competition, Ashley Teal took ninth in individual skeet.


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