U n i v e rs i t y o f Wyom i n g
Agricultural Experiment Station • August 2003 • B-594R
Useful guidelines for elk carcass care are contained in
this bulletin. The amount of boneless meat to expect
was determined by processing hunter-harvested
carcasses. Factors affecting the flavor of elk meat and
the relationship between aging and tenderness are
discussed. The new knowledge obtained from this study
makes it possible to better utilize meat obtained from
In 2001, a total of 22,772 elk were harvested in
Wyoming by 57,314 active hunters, resulting in a 39.7
percent success ratio. The average amount of elk meat
available per successful resident hunter has been
calculated and is discussed in the following text.
Hunters, nutritionists, and those interested in
conducting risk assessments for elk consumption may
find this information useful.
Field-dressed carcasses of six bulls and six cows were
delivered to the University of Wyoming meat
laboratory. Each was split, and one side of each was
skinned immediately. The sides were placed in a 38-
degree-Fahrenheit cooler at 70 percent relative
humidity. Both sides were aged two weeks except for a
loin sample which was removed for tenderness tests.
This sample was taken from the skinned side of each
carcass the day after harvest.
Weight losses during aging were recorded. After aging,
one side of each carcass was cut into retail cuts, and the
other side was separated into bone, fat, and lean. Loin
roasts from both sides were saved for flavor and
tenderness determinations. Lean and fat from the boned
side were later ground together and sampled to
determine moisture, fat, protein, and ash content.
Ground meat samples were also taken for bacterial
Cutting an elk carcass
The cutting method for boneless retail-cut yield
followed the procedure described in University of
Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service Bulletin B-
The shoulder was removed at the natural seam and
boned. All remaining muscles were removed from each