Know the field dressing and transport rules

We've compiled your harvest and transport questions and asked our wardens for some tips from the field. 

8/24/2017 3:30:57 PM

Cheyenne - One of the most asked questions from hunters planning this time of year is about field dressing and transport rules. We've compiled your harvest and transport questions and asked our wardens for some tips from the field. Don't miss out on this important guide when you're planning your hunt. Keep in mind, this is only a small portion of what you need to know when hunting. All hunters are responsible for reading and knowing the regulations.

How do I tag my game animal?

In Wyoming, a common violation is failure to properly tag a game animal. After an animal is harvested, the hunter shall sign the carcass coupon, detach it from the license and cut out the entire wedge or square for the day and month of the kill. The carcass coupon shall be attached to the animal in a clearly visible manner. During transport, the properly completed carcass coupon may be removed to prevent loss, but shall be in the possession of the person transporting the carcass or trophy game hide at all times. See a video of how it’s done or refer to page 6 of the 2017 Antelope, Deer and Elk Hunting Regulations booklet.

Is it legal to “quick quarter” or “gutless” field dress a big game animal?

Yes, it is legal in Wyoming to “gutless” field dress a big game animal. There are a few restrictions that need to be noted. When “gutless” field dressing a big game animal, you are required to bring all four quarters out of the field, whether the meat is “blood shot” or not, back straps and inside tender loins. When “gutless” field dressing a big game animal, cut slits along the back and reach in to remove the inside tender loins. It is not considered waste if you leave organs in the field (i.e. heart, liver). If de-boning after “gutless” field dressing, make sure you have all of the meat and evidence of sex (if required) while transporting your big game animal home. For more information refer to page 9 of the 2017 Antelope, Deer and Elk Hunting Regulations booklet.  

When do I have to leave evidence of sex on a big game carcass I harvest?

Wyoming regulations require evidence of sex must accompany the carcass taken in a hunt area where the taking of either sex is either controlled or prohibited. The evidence can be either the visible sex organs, the head or antlers shall accompany the animal as a whole or edible portion thereof.

If I shoot an elk and pack out a quarter at a time, what do I do with the tag?

Large animals like elk are frequently packed out in quarters or pieces. If this becomes necessary for you, the carcass coupon shall remain with the person transporting the meat from the field to your camp or vehicle. Remember that whenever a kill is made under any circumstances, the normal tagging procedure as outlined on your license must be followed. Simply detach the carcass coupon from the license, cut out the entire wedge or square for the day and month and sign the coupon. You may leave the large portion of your license with game quarters already packed to a vehicle or camp and retain your validated carcass coupon to transport the remaining portions.  

How much meat can I get from a deer?

We get this question every hunting season, usually from hunters who have had their animal processed commercially and don't think they've gotten all their meat back. The average mule deer buck has a live weight of 150-250 pounds. Dressed weights will normally range from 120-190 pounds. When the carcass is further reduced (skinned, head removed and boned) the weight is reduced again. If the animal was shot in a major meaty area such as the hindquarters, or if a lot of trimming is involved due to dirt or a dried crust on the meat, there is more loss. It is common for a young buck or doe to yield no more than 50 pounds of boned meat. Hunters can increase the yield by making better shots, keeping the carcass clean, and not skinning the animal until it is ready to be processed.

How much meat can I expect from my antelope?

Bucks average 75-80 pounds field dressed and does 65-70 pounds. The amount of packaged meat depends on how the animal is processed. Some hunters leave a substantial amount of bone, while others bone everything. If you bone the carcass you can expect about 30 pounds for does and 35-40 pounds for bucks. These weights can be affected substantially if the carcass has dried out due to excessive aging or if a lot of meat is lost due to shot placement.

Can I legally haul a friend's elk back to town if he isn't with me?

You can transport game within Wyoming for another person if the game is properly tagged with the carcass coupon of the person who harvested the animal. If the game is to be transported out of state by someone other than the license holder, an interstate game tag must be obtained prior to it being transported out of state. Interstate game tags cost $8 and are available from game wardens, Game and Fish regional offices and some taxidermists and meat processors.

I hear that only boned big game meat can be transported from Wyoming due to concerns about spreading chronic wasting disease. Is that right?

Game and Fish regulations are designed to minimize the possibility of spreading chronic wasting disease (CWD) by controlling the transportation of carcasses between hunt areas. Resident and nonresident hunters who take a deer, elk or moose in any hunt area must comply with the CWD transportation regulations. Hunters must ensure the head and all portions of the spinal column are either left at the site of the kill or disposed of in an approved landfill. Evidence of sex and species are required in accordance with the provisions found in the current hunting regulations. Only the following portions of any deer, elk or moose taken from any other state, province or country within areas designated as positive for CWD may be imported into Wyoming: edible portions with no part of the spinal column or head attached; cleaned hides without the head; skull plate and/or antlers cleaned of all meat and brain tissue; upper canine teeth; finished taxidermy mounts. For more information refer to page 5 of the 2017 Antelope, Deer and Elk Hunting Regulation booklet.

When would I need an interstate game tag? And where do I get one?
If the game is to be transported out of state by someone other than the license holder, an interstate game tag must be obtained prior to transportation out of Wyoming. Interstate game tags cost $8 and are available from game wardens, Game and Fish regional offices and some taxidermists and meat processors.

Do I really need to stop at every hunter check station I pass? What if I didn’t harvest anything?
Yes, that is true, you must stop, regardless if you have no harvested game in your possession. Every hunter entering or leaving areas for which a check station is established shall stop and report at the check station if it is on their route to and from the hunting area, even if they have not harvested an animal. These stops are usually very quick and you could be issued a citation for not stopping.

Hunters can often times obtain considerable information from our wardens and biologists who are working the check station. And likewise, you never know what good information you may have to share with us about your hunt.

It is important for Wyoming Game and Fish wildlife managers to gather information on species, age, sex and antler/horn development measurements and other biological information from your harvest in future hunting season setting development. We also may collect biological samples and sometimes conduct surveys regarding future wildlife management decisions. Wildlife managers also use information about unsuccessful hunting trips in future management decisions as well.

Anglers and trappers of furbearing animals also need to remember this applies to them as well as they travel to and from their fishing or trapping areas.

Expert tips from our wardens:
  • Tag your game animal as soon as you reach it. You’ll have clean hands and with the excitement of the hunt, you can easily forget, so do it right away.
  • Remember to SIGN, DETACH, and CUT DATES out of the carcass coupon at the site of the kill. This is vital to staying legal. Marking with pens, cutting a slit or poking a hole in lieu of cutting the dates out is not permitted.
  • If you don't have scissors, the notches can be a little difficult to cut completely out with a knife. But, you can place the carcass coupon on the animal’s hoof and use it as a cutting board. This reduces the possibility of cutting yourself.
  • Sit down and drink some water and eat a little something before you begin field dressing your animal.  You have had some adrenaline in your system, tired from the stalk, and you will be a little shaky from the excitement.  Rest, replenish your body with water and eat something to keep your energy up.  You do not want to be shaking when you are field dressing your animal as you may cut yourself.
  • Have some game bags with you to keep the dirt, flies and other critters off your harvested meat.  
  • Some people carry a garbage bag or tarp to set their meat on after they skinned or de-boned their carcass. This keeps the dirt and ground litter from getting onto the meat.
  • Make sure you have extra knives or a sharpening stone. Nothing is more frustrating than having a dull knife.
  • Have a plan for how you will transport your animal out and how you will cool it down quickly.
  • Take breaks and rest. While resting, drink plenty of water and snack on some food to keep your energy level up. If you get tired you may trip or hurt yourself.
  • Some people may pack a small portion of their harvested animal back to their vehicle and then grab a hard sided sled or animal cart.  This may help with bringing out a larger quantity of  meat to reduce the number of trips and not be as strenuous.
  • Remember to bring out all the edible portions of meat.  Even the meat the bullet or broad head went through. The hunter is required to remove all edible portions of meat (even shot up shoulders or hindquarters). This includes the tenderloins and backstraps.  Please see page 9 of the 2017 Antelope, Deer and Elk, Hunting Regulations brochure for examples.  You have 48 hours to remove the meat from the field.  People who leave a whole shoulder or hindquarter in the field when only a small portion is “bloodshot” can be issued a citation for waste of edible portions.  
  • For some species, we collect  biological samples to test for diseases.These samples can be collected by you or Department personnel you encounter in the field. If you get an elk blood collection kit in the mail,please get a sample of fresh blood from your elk immediately after harvest and follow instructions on storage and mailing.
  • Hunt with a buddy. It’s safer to hunt with a friend, and always better to share the experience...and you have a helper!.
  • Ask for permission to hunt on or cross private lands before you head out. If you shoot an animal and it crosses into private land, call the local warden or ask the landowner for permission before you retrieve the animal.
  • If you are hunting on private property, get landowner permission and have them sign the back of your license or receive a permission slip.

(Wyoming Game and Fish (307) 777-4600)

- WGFD -

Email Newsletter

Email Newsletter Sign Up

Stay up to date on all Wyoming Game and Fish news either by email or text message. Click the link below to get started.

Sign Up Today


Conserving Wildlife - Serving People