Fresh wild game meat is one of the most cherished byproducts of a successful hunt. Elk meat is no exception.
Elk hunting is an immensely popular endeavor enjoyed by countless hunters every year.
But how much meat from an elk can a hunter expect to be provided with if successful?
Field Dressed Weight Vs. Boneless Meat Weight
To adequately understand how many pounds of meat from deboned elk, you must first understand the particular details of the carcass handling process.
When an elk is harvested, it is typically field-dressed before any further processing commences.
The process of field dressing naturally reduces the weight of your elk, as all organs are removed from the body cavity.
The remaining weight is known as the field-dressed weight.
This is an important term to be aware of, as this weight is vital in figuring how much meat an elk will provide.
Once completed, and all meat has been removed from the field, further processing can begin.
As this takes place, the meat will be trimmed from the bones that are contained within the quarters.
The total weight of this meat is known as the boneless meat weight.
How Much Meat From An Elk?
Now that you understand the differences between field-dressed and boneless meat weights, we can dive deeper into figuring average elk meat yields.
The University of Wyoming conducted a study on elk meat yields and released the results of this study in 2003.
During their research, elk harvests from the state were tracked for both field-dressed weight, as well as boneless meat weight.
These figures revealed that the average field-dressed weight of a bull elk in Wyoming was 353 pounds.
It was slightly less for a cow elk, with an average field-dressed weight of 305 pounds.
The overall field-dressed weight average, factoring in both bulls and cows, was 328.2 pounds.
The average estimated boneless meat yield of 164.1 pounds per elk.
How You Can Apply These Results:
In the University of Wyoming's research, boneless meat yield estimates were based upon figures previously established by the Colorado Department of Game and Fish.
These figures indicated that total boneless elk meat yields averaged 50% of recorded field-dressed weights.
These findings were independently verified and included in the above-mentioned research paper.
During this verification, meat-processing plants were consulted for figures on average carcass weights, both before and after processing.
These numbers also indicated that average boneless meat yields were approximately 50% of the previously recorded field-dressed carcass weight.
By knowing that boneless meat yields average approximately 50% of field-dressed weights, you can apply this equation to the elk in your area.
If you know what weight elk in your area typically field dress at, simply divide this number by two.
For example, if the field dressed weight of your elk was 352 pounds, you would divide this number by two, yielding a total raw meat weight of 176 pounds.
This handy rule of thumb is universal and will consistently provide you with accurate estimates as to the total weight of elk meat that you can expect.
Cuts Of Elk Meat:
One of the most gratifying aspects of harvesting an elk is that you can have complete creative control over food items. Then you can bring them to a good meat grinder.
Every individual cut of meat has its specific uses.
A hindquarter comes from the rear hips of an elk. These are some of the largest cuts of elk, with a substantial amount of quality meat being present.
The loin, or backstrap as many refer to it, is located along both sides of the spine, on the exterior side of the rib cage.
This is one of the most tender and highly prized elk cuts.
Uses: Used almost exclusively as steaks
Tenderloins are located on the inside of an elk's rib cage along the spine.
When properly prepared, tenderloin can be cut with a fork due to its exceptionally tender qualities.
Uses: Used almost exclusively as steaks
The front quarters of an elk are the shoulders. These cuts contain a substantial amount of meat.
However, many difficult to work with tendons and ligaments exist in this area.
The brisket is located at the base of the neck where it meets the chest. This can be a rather tender cut if cooked to perfection.
An elk neck is a rather large cut of meat.
There are several potential uses for the neck, though an abundance of ligaments and tendons make this a difficult cut to work with.
It would appear that a significant amount of meat would be present on an elk's ribs.
However, this is often not the case. Though enough does exist to make its use worth the effort.
Nutritional Value Of Elk:
As with nearly any wild game meat, elk is inherently healthy in comparison to many domestic meat varieties.
Reports by the USDA (United States Department Of Agriculture) indicate that elk are abundant in protein and low in fat and calories.
The following are nutritional figures that were presented for lean elk meat in the above-mentioned report.
More information can be found in the above referenced study.
Elk On The Menu:
For any hunter, no more satisfying experience exists than consuming a dish of wild meat that they harvested.
This process begins by knowing precisely how much meat from an elk is to be expected.
Now you can make the most of your harvest. Feel free to comment or ask any questions that you have.