You start with an elk, which you hunt through thick overgrown timber or soggy open clearcuts with your single shot rifle.

elk1

You aim for the animal’s vital zone, as close to the heart as possible. You assess the shot to see what the elk does—an instant-death hit is rare—and you may take a second shot.

elk2

The herd is long gone, and you hike a couple hundred yards to your elk’s body. First thing you do is roll it on its back, cut into the belly, and remove the guts. Drag it—all 700 pounds—up onto a landing to start the process of skinning it out.

elk3rd

Cut the legs off at the lower joints, and hook a gambrel under the strong exposed tendons. Throw a line over a tree or use a hoist attached to a truck, and haul your elk up in the air.

elk3

Now you begin cutting away the hide with a knife and pulling it down the body.

elk4

Down it goes as you cut and pull, cut and pull, cut and pull. All the way to the head, which you cut off. Maybe you take the hide off the head and turn it into a European mount, or maybe you just keep the antlers. Up to you.

elk5

At this point you begin quartering the animal. Cut the spine in half as best you can, top to bottom.

elk6

Then cut off the hindquarters and front shoulders, until you’re left with six large pieces: 2 hindquarters, 2 shoulders, 2 racks of ribs.

elk7

Take it all to a big walk-in cooler, and let it age for about a week. Then assemble as many helpers as you can to spend a long, tiring day cutting the meat off the bones and wrapping up steaks and meat that can be turned into burger.

Now the meat is in your freezer, ready to be turned into dinner.

elklast

There: you’ve got a perfectly organic, grass-fed, free-range, sustainable, low-fat meal. No chemicals, no holding pens, no factories, no antibiotics, no corn feed, no hormones, no slaughterhouses.

Ready to start hunting?

Comments

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Jules
11 years ago

I served elk last night. My husband doesn’t hunt near enough to a road to hoist it like that, although we do our farm animals like that, so they skin one side on the ground. Then bone out that meat, flip it, and do the other side. It all has to be packed out on one horse and several men’s backs. They cut it smaller and wrap it for the freezer at the house. It’s by far my favorite game animal.

becky
becky
11 years ago

you are my hero for posting this. (i am also very jealous of the meat you must have in your freezer right now.)

Melissa
Melissa
11 years ago

Amazing. A humbling reminder that meat doesn’t just come in ready to use packages. That’s a great looking elk, props to the hunters!

Kirsty
11 years ago

Well, yeah, I totally get the anti-carbon footprint thing and what have you, but seeing those pictures churns my stomach and I know, just know, I would find it incredibly (and OK, totally irrationally) hard to eat something I’d once seen alive… To be honest, if there was a choice between hunting (and dealing with dead animals etc.) and vegetarianism, I’d say goodbye to meat in a second.
But I admire you guys for being able to do this, to really live the “wild frontier” thing…

Gertie
11 years ago

I had to look back at the banner twice, cos I thought for a minute I was reading a CowgirlJules entry.

that there was sure one big fella!

VirtualSprite
11 years ago

Nice elk! We just have whitetail deer here where we live in Wisconsin, but I’ve done that before. It stops turning your stomach about the third deer you do.

sara
sara
11 years ago

Thank you for posting this! I don’t even eat meat but I think it’s important to understand where the food you eat comes from and having worked for it makes you appreciate it that much more.

Jen_Ann_W
11 years ago

AWESOME. Elk are incredibly beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but good GOD do they taste incredible too. Kudos to JB!

Amy
Amy
11 years ago

I do agree more meat-eaters need to be aware of where there food comes from, but a warning for your loyal vegetarian readers would have been nice!!

Heather
11 years ago

It is what it is… My husband hunts deer a few times on his buddy’s farm in the Northern Neck of Virginia. I can’t say I enjoy the rows of deer hanging upside down, draining but I do enjoy the meat. Same with rockfish from the Chesapeake, can’t say I like gutting them but I do enjoy catching and cooking them up!

JCF
JCF
11 years ago

Thanks! I’m no hunter, nor is anyone in my family, but I appreciate the reminder of where our meat comes from.

Bon Appetit!

Kathy
Kathy
11 years ago

Hmmmm….. Though it’s hard for me, a non-hunter, to appreciate the thrill of it, I completely admire the respect that you show toward the animal. I am in complete support of knowing (and having my kids know) where their food comes from. Given a choice, I would support my kids getting to experience and appreciate this approach. As is, we settle for raw milk (that we have to travel to our farm for) and local organic protein, but thank you for reminding me that all hunters don’t fit my personal stereotype of them.

Andrea
11 years ago

WHOA nice elk! *fist bump*

We just enjoyed a 1/2 elk and 1/2 bison meatloaf for dinner tonight. Cool!

Why no organ meats? That heart, kidneys, LIVER, bones are very nutritious! And the blood! I remember my Grammie making sangrecita from the lamb’s blood each spring.

You guys are hardcore, processing it yourselves. That rawks.

Kris
11 years ago

Nice Elk. My husband and I are in Oregon, and will be hunting a couple years from now, since we can’t always beg our friends for their elk. We got some antelope from a friend the other day, JB should hunt for that.

Cassie
11 years ago

One of my favorite things about fall is walking into the garage and seeing a dead, skinless deer hanging from hooks beside my car.

Okay, I’m joking it’s not my FAVORITE thing. But I really think you should have kept the hide and made an elk costume.

Anonymous
Anonymous
11 years ago

Thank you for reinforcing the reasons I’m a vegetarian.

Anonymous
Anonymous
11 years ago

Oh, ahhhhnnnd, stay outta Eugene, we don’t want that here!

Harper Jones
Harper Jones
11 years ago

Paleolithic….it’s what’s always shoulda been for dinner.

rc
rc
11 years ago

no. that’s disgusting. glad I’m a vegetarian. you can have “No chemicals, no holding pens, no factories, no antibiotics, no corn feed, no hormones, no slaughterhouses” that way also, and no one has to be killed. oh, and I don’t have to eat corpses.

lisa
lisa
11 years ago

Well, yeah, actually. Never been hunting, but it looks awesome, in that get-in-touch-with-your-primal-side sort of way.

Laura
Laura
11 years ago

If people want to consume animal protein so badly, I think they should hunt with their bare hands. That would be a fair fight. Hiding some 200 yards away and shooting an unsuspecting creature with a gun is shameful. Yes, factory farming is worse, but that doesn’t make this right.

Amy Beth
Amy Beth
11 years ago

Tender hearted gal, so killing animals kinda makes me sad. But I’ll tell you what, I bet that is delicious. I would love to eat at your house!

Dawn
11 years ago

I can see you’ve already made some friends with this post. I’m not a hunter, so it was a little rough to see, but I agree that it’s important to know where your food comes from. Also, I am wickedly impressed at all the work that JB & crew put into getting that animal from “dead elk” to “dinner in the freezer.”

And I’ll bet that’s the best meat you’ve ever eaten, right?

anna
anna
11 years ago

Love this post. Love your blog.

Janet S
Janet S
11 years ago

Quite a change from the usual topics here. Getting a chuckle from that. And from the last part about it being ‘organic, grass-fed’ etc. Right on.

Trina
Trina
11 years ago

I am all for hunting if you eat what you kill. And obviously you do.

Did JB write this post?

Annie
Annie
11 years ago

My Dad’s a hunter and he’s fed my whole family (and all of our families) for quite some time. Can’t remember the last time I bought red meat at a store. My freezer is packed with elk, venison, moose, bear, and buffalo. (Buffalo is tastiest) It’s food people. That’s what it’s there for. Also, to my father’s credit, there isn’t an animal hide, nor an antler anywhere adorning the walls of his house.

Michelle
11 years ago

Reminds me of my childhood when we ate elk, duck, rabbit, fish….all killed and cleaned by my dad. It never phased me in the least when I was young but now it does freak me out a bit.

What a lot of hard work! What do/did they do with the rack?

sooboo
11 years ago

I love my meat wrapped tight in plastic, styrofoam and denial.

Kristin C.
Kristin C.
11 years ago

We’re a hunting family too…love this post. Whenever people whine about the horrors of shooting animals I ask if they eat meat. If they say no-totally respect that. If they say yes-I ask them if they eat conventional meat/poultry from the corner market. All do. I then paint the very bleak picture that is industrialized farming. And the terrible lives those animals live from birth to death. Then I paint the picture of an animal living wild and free as it was meant to and dying a relatively fast death. 99% see the light by the end of our chat.

Maxine Dangerous
11 years ago

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

Jenn
Jenn
11 years ago

Thanks for posting – I grew up on a farm surrounded by hunters and my parents run a small butcher shop so the pics were no shock to me, but I’m sure it was a good eyeopener for many! Congrats on the great elk JB!

Angella
11 years ago

I showed this to Matthew and he has Elk envy.

Kacey
11 years ago

So thankful the pictures didn’t load before I read the descriptions. Yes, carnivores should see what they’re actually eating, but like a previous commenter said a disclaimer for vegetarians would’ve been thoughtful.

Backpacking Dad
11 years ago

Well, THAT just happened.

This reminds me of one of the early scenes in the novel “Bone Game” in which a Native professor dresses a deer that was hit by a car, but does it over a tree in the front yard of one of the University buildings.

He has a good sense of humour.

Also: mmm…meat.

Also also: this is the post I finally stop lurking on. So…that’s a thing.

Natasha
Natasha
11 years ago

Jesus. Fuck. I think that is going to scar me. Not even kidding. Please warn us next time! Heh.

Rachel
11 years ago

You. Are. Awesome. And very, very ballsy, knowing the kind of comments you’ll get for this. (JB’s not too shabby either.) NICE elk, and an excellent point too.

ginger
ginger
11 years ago

“stay outta Eugene, we don’t want that here!” Because, you know, Eugene has no hunters. Just university students, all of whom fit a perfect stereotype of Oregon Country Fair vegan hippiedom.

Anonymous indignation, wounded offense – gee, it’s like ParentDish all over again.

Victoria
11 years ago

Hides in the corner waiting for the angry comments.

Giggles slightly.

HRJ
HRJ
11 years ago

Point well made. Would not have been as well made if there had been a warning, so well done you.

Michelle WS
11 years ago

I’ve been reading your blog for over a year and never commented until today. I love this. I have a son, Wyatt, who was born in February of 2008, so I feel a special bond with Dylan. But I love that Riley went hunting with his Dad. I don’t come from a hunting family, and neither does my husband, but we are up front with our son about where his food comes from. We have even considered hunting as a family sport just because we could teach him about life and eating and how it’s all sewn together. Thanks for pushing the limits a little to maybe open some minds.

heather
11 years ago

Sooo, yeahhh. I am one of your readers who (nicely, I hope, and without too much smug, I hope) let you know that I wasn’t all that thrilled with the infamous MILK post. And let me just say this, about THIS post: As a 20+ years vegetarian/sometimes vegan-sustainable living all the fucking way-buy only local- San Francisco-dwelling girl, I say BRAVO. Everyone, absolutely everyone, should know where their food comes from, should know what happens to turn an animal into a neatly packaged thing in the grocery store. If I had the balls, like my father and my uncles and my grandfathers, to kill my food, I would be a meat-eater. As a total foody nerd it often times bums me out that I don’t eat meat, but until the day comes that I’m the one holding the gun, pointing the trigger, prepping the meat, well, there won’t be any nicely roasted elk for me. I have no issues with folks choosing to eat meat (my boyfriend is one of them), but it’s a good thing to know about, and I’m stoked you wrote this post.

Penny
11 years ago

Geez people, it’s LINDA’S blog, she shouldn’t have to warn anyone about HER blog. Get the point? IF you are so upset over seeing a perfectly fine example of how to feed one’s family well on meat that is way better for them, don’t tune in. She shouldn’t have to warn anyone about anything she posts.
Nice Elk, Nice catch, great meals. Enjoy!

libbyfish
libbyfish
11 years ago

nice rack!

Star
Star
11 years ago

ooo. Very clever.

Last laugh? HAD.

yogamomma
yogamomma
11 years ago

……I have really enjoyed your blog, but I could have done without this post!

Pieces of a Sometimes Extraordinary Life

I’ve been a loyal blog reader up to this point, but these pictures are highly disturbing. Knowing that you rejoice in the killing and gutting and skinning of such a majestic animal sort of makes me dislike you.

And yes, I realize it’s your blog, maybe you were trying to make a point, and you have a right to post whatever you like. But seeing in such detail what your husband has done to a helpless creature has made me feel nauseous. I’m now almost in tears, and like previous commenters suggested, I really would’ve appreciated a warning.

Bruja
Bruja
11 years ago

I think there was fair warning with the first line “You start with an elk, which you HUNT”.

Caroline
Caroline
11 years ago

This is a great post. And… this is why I’m a vegetarian. If this is hard to read/look at, imagine how hellish an article and photo set of a factory farmed animal would be! If we are going to eat it, we should be able to face the process by which it got to the table.

warcrygirl
11 years ago

I’ve had elk and deer and found them both too gamey for my taste. If it works for you knock yourself out; as long as there’s a perfectly good butcher in town I’ll get my meat there. When all governments fall and we all fall into anarchy then I’ll pester my neighbor for fresh meat. I do enjoy fishing, though.

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