If your hunt is successful you’ll likely have game meat to deal with. From both ethical and legal perspectives planning to properly care for game meat is crucial to any hunt. It’s another element of the trip which you should discuss with your outfitter long before the hunt begins, or even before you decide to book the trip with him or her.
In addition to legal requirements, local customs also dictate how game meat is handled. For example, in Africa the disposition of the meat is usually up to the professional hunter. Often it goes to the trackers and camp staff first, then the locals, and if there is still meat left over, it can be shipped to nearby towns for sale in the markets. In Europe, the meat is usually owned by the owner of the property on which you hunted. This meat is frequently shipped to market.
Even in North America, some kinds of hunting (such as ranch hunting for bison) usually leave the meat (or at least a portion of it) in the ownership of the ranch unless you decide to buy it.
With so many localized customs, it’s essential that you communicate ahead of time with your experienced, trustworthy outfitter so there are no surprises up on the mountain.
Some states and provinces have strict wanton waste regulations. These require removal of harvested animals – bones and all – back to camp and then civilization. On game like moose, elk, mountain goats and sheep this can be an extraordinary undertaking for anyone not prepared for it. So ask your outfitter about how he handles the meat, how he is set up to deal with unusually warm weather, cold and snow, etc.
Ask your outfitter for references to trustworthy meat processors in the hunting area who can handle that part of the process and reduce your transportation expenses. Even after your outfitter makes recommendations, check out the processor’s policies, guarantees, prices and references. Just as in booking your hunt, in selecting a meat processor it’s important to trust but verify. Confirm with the outfitter who is responsible for getting the animals to the processor.
If the hunt you’re booking puts the responsibility of handling and transporting the meat on your shoulders (figuratively and literally), then come prepared with the gear and knowledge you’ll need to ensure that the bounty of your harvest is enjoyed to its greatest potential … and will keep you within wanton waste regulations.