Alaska Fish & Wildlife News
March 2004

Field Care of Big Game

By ADF&G Staff

Field Care of Big Game is a 53-minute, full-color videotape available through the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. In Field Care, an experienced Alaskan game biologist leads a first-time hunter step by step through the process of preparing for a big game hunt and field dressing a moose. One section takes the hunter through a complete list of equipment needed for field dressing. Each piece of equipment is shown and its use in the process of field care clearly explained.

The field dressing sequences in this video were filmed under actual field conditions - there are no simulations. The producers with Alaska Fish and Game researched more than 20 instructional videos about field dressing big game. They found that in many cases, the videos were filmed with 8mm or Hi-8 cameras, and as a result the image quality and lighting suffered. Field Care was videotaped by Stuart Aull of Moving Images Productions, using broadcast quality Beta format. The results are bright, clear pictures of detailed knife work.

Most field care videos involve deer or even elk, which can be "horsed around" to a better position for field dressing. Some even recommended you hang the animal from a tree limb to remove the internal organs. That's impractical when dealing with a large animal like a moose. Without block and tackle you won't go far with a moose, much less up a spindly black spruce.

The video leads the hunter through each step of skinning a large animal such as a moose or caribou, removing large sections of meat such as shoulders, hams, backstrap, and neck without removing the entrails. The video illustrates how to leave lawful evidence of sex attached to the hindquarter and the final step of opening the body cavity to reach and remove the highly desirable tenderloins.

Basics of field care and keeping the meat cool, clean, and dry are emphasized. Meat can quickly spoil unless it is removed from the carcass and allowed to quickly cool - cooling the meat retards spoilage and results in great table fare.

Meat must also be kept clean, and leaves, grass, soil, hair and body fluids must be removed from the meat. This means taking your time during field dressing to pick off foreign matter. Heavy-duty game bags that protect the meat are essential to the field dressing process.

Once the meat is cool and clean, it must also be kept dry. Keeping meat dry on a float trip requires keeping the meat lightly covered in the raft and then hung each night so that it can remain dry. When hunting from a base camp, erect a tarp over the meat bags to protect it from rain or snow.

Insects are often a problem, particularly in the early caribou and moose seasons. According to Field Care, the best way to deal with pesky flies is to spray the meat with a citric acid solution. Food grade citric acid is readily available at pharmacies and feed stores. A protective film is formed on the meat when citric acid is mixed with water and sprayed on the meat. Apparently flies don't like to lay their eggs on the acidic surface. Another excellent tip is to soak the meat bags in the citric acid solution and let them dry before the hunting trip. Even though the solution has dried it remains effective.

Field Care of Big Game is required viewing for unguided nonresident moose and caribou hunters in Game Management Unit 19B. The video is also required for Unit 17B moose hunters.

A copy of this video may be purchased by mail by sending a check or money order (payable to "Alaska Department of Fish and Game") for $15 to Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Hunter Information and Training Program, 333 Raspberry Road, Anchorage, AK 99518, or by phone by calling (907) 267-2187 to order with VISA or MASTERCARD.

Field Care of Big Game is also available in combination with the "Is This Moose Legal" video.

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