Wild Game Handling, Processing & Shipping

Whether you are joining us for one of our guided hunts or a DIY’er renting our pack llamas, the process is going to be the same for managing harvested wild game meat. Simply put, keep meat clean and cold while getting it out of the mountains as quick as possible.

Montana Llama Guides takes fair chance and ethical hunting seriously and expects our clients to do the same. On our guided hunts, we are here to support you and your hunt. Weather and predators (grizzly bears, black bears, mountain lions, coyotes, wolves, bobcats and other animals like birds) will always play a big role in managing your harvest. Here are a few guidelines for us to follow. Please consult the Montana, Fish, Wildlife and Parks Hunting Regulations here.

Cool meat down quickly.
Once your game is properly tagged, its time to field dress animal by gutting and opening chest cavity. Remove hide. If gutless method, remove hide right away. Quarter animal.

Hang all meat and head.
Its important to get all meat and head off the ground and in a tree away from predators and other animals. Expect 2-3 hours to field dress, quarter and hang a mature elk. We estimate 190 lbs of boneless meat.

For game animals (excluding mountain lions), all of the four quarters above the hock, including loin and backstrap, are considered suitable for food.

The proper distance is 10 feet up and 4 feet out from tree trunk. 10 feet up is out of reach from standing bears. 4 feet out from animals climbing trees. Consider when the sun will hit your meat throughout the day from sunrise to sunset. Make sure to hang in the shade on the north side of a group of trees or hillside.

We recommend 6mm or large diameter rope/cord. Non-locking load-bearing carabiners can be helpful. Multiple nylon breathable game bags. We have game bags you can purchase that we recommend.  Stay away from the big Alaskan quarter bags made of cotton. They become heavy when moist. Hard to clean. Too big of a bag for boneless meat.

Do not bring meat, carcass, head, antlers back to camp
For your safety, the safety of your hunting partners and the safety of our llamas, please do not bring meat, carcasses, heads, antlers or any other animal parts back to camp. This act will attract bears, lions, wolves and coyotes and you do not want to deal with this at camp. There are horror stories of grizzly bears circling around camp trying to get to the meat pole. Please keep all animal parts at least 100 yards or 300 feet from camp, trail or trailhead.

Do not hang or leave meat on or near a trail or trailhead
If you happen find your kill near a trail, you must move it at least 100 yards off trail. Do not gut an animal on or near a trail. You’ll need to move the animal 100 yards off trail. You put other trail users at risk keeping meat, heads, hides, gut piles, etc.. near trails and trailheads. You should consider posting a sign at the trailhead indicating how far your carcass is from the trailhead for other users information. Safety for all on our public land.

Meat will always be packed out first.
As much as we like antlers, meat is the trophy and will always be more important to pack out first. The longer we wait the more our chances increase of spoilage. It’s the ethical thing to do.

Three llamas can pack out a boneless elk and cape in one trip to the trailhead. This allows you to drive meat straight to processor. When packing meat on llamas, we bone out all meat to reduce weight. We estimate 190 lbs of boneless meat. On average llamas will pack 60 lbs each thus requiring 3 llamas. Each llama will have 4 square buckets with covers to place boneless meat into. We recommend using smaller size game bags for each bucket.

Please do not pack intact elk antler heads on our llamas.
Elk antlers can be too big and dangerous for a llama to pack out. If you skin the skull, drop the jaw, the skull and antlers do not weigh much. Plus, its badass for you to carry your trophy on your back.

You are responsible for costs associated with meat processing, taxidermy and shipping of your harvest.
Whether you area DIY’er or use a commercial processor and taxidermist, you’re responsible for all cost associated with meat processing, taxidermy, handling, and shipping/transport.

DIY’ers please come prepared with several coolers to keep meat clean and cold for transport home.

If you are flying, your shipping rates will be less expensive if you treat as checked luggage. We highly recommend vacuum sealing your meat and making sure its completely frozen before shipping or flying home. This can be tricky if you plan to fly home the day after we get out of the mountains requiring you to ship meat back home.

Please visit Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website for Fresh Meat and Seafood information here.

United Airlines
High-value, fragile and perishable items here.

Delta Airlines
Perishables Tab here.

Frontier Airlines
Fragile and Special items here.

We’ll manage the process for our guided clients

For our clients joining us for a guided hunt, we’ll manage the entire process for you. Once an animal is down, your guide will help field dress and hang. Our wranglers will then help pack meat back to trailhead and drive your meat to our preferred processor in Butte, MT. It is up to you to coordinate with the processor on your meat.

Terminal Meats
100 W Park St, Butte, MT 59701
(406) 723-6548
Owner Chris

Terminal Meats has a variety of options for your game meat including salami, sausage, franks, bratwurst, kolbasa and standard cut, grind and wrap. Please visit their website for complete details here.

Here is some basic information for hunters and what to expect from Terminal Food Center.

  • Meat must be clean
    Free from dirt, hair, pine needles, etc. $50 cleaning charge.
  • $200 cash deposit
    This applies to all processing or cold storage. There is an ATM at Terminal Meats.
  • $100 cold storage only
    Up to 7-days. Meat only. No processing. No hides or head.
  • $0.85/lb cut and wrap
    Plastic wrap and freezer paper. You must provide direction on your preferred cuts. Expect roughly 180lbs of meat.
  • $1.30/lb vacuum seal
    Expect roughly 180lbs of meat.
  • $2.50 – $8.00/lb specialty meats.
    Salami, sausage, brats, kolbasas, and jerky’s. Visit website for complete details here.
  • Boxed frozen ready to ship.
    Processed and packaged meat will be boxed in non-insulated 16″ x 20″ x 6″ boxes frozen ready to ship. Boxes cannot exceed 50lbs.

If you plan to ship, Terminal Meats requires overnight FedEx as a shipping carrier. Terminal Meats will provide you with the exact number of boxes, sizes, and weights. You will then create a shipment with FedEx for pickup at Terminal Meats in Butte, MT. Chris, owner of Terminal Meats, commented he’s seen shipping prices as high as $1000.

Taxidermy for your trophy

Wildlife Artistry, LLC
413 Old Clyde Park Road
Livingston, MT 59047
(406) 222-0732

Located in Livingston, MT, Rich Bradberry at Wildlife Artistry is our recommendation for taxidermist. We’ve known Rich for years. He’s meticulous and very clean. He can help guide you on the best approach for your mount. We’ve always been fond of the simple euro mount. We can help facilitate getting your trophy to Livingston which is several hours from our hunting camps.