So you finally get to go on your long awaited western big game hunt AND you’re successful, congratulations but you may not be out of the woods just yet. Are you CWD savvy? In other words, do you know the rules and regulations surrounding one of the hottest topics in hunting today regarding the transport of your meat, cape/hide and antlers or horns? You had certainly better know or stiff fines, upward of $1000, and misdemeanor charges could be in your future not to mention the possible confiscation of your prized animal.
How do you avoid being in violation of CWD regulations? Well for starters the days of field dressing an animal and transporting it whole across state lines are over. Even quarters and whole heads are subject to fines. You’ll need to do a bit more work or have your animal processed completely before you bring it home across state lines.
If you’re the DIY type you’ll need to do the following in order to be in compliance. (Be sure to check with your state and the states you’ll be traveling through on what you can and cannot bring back with you before you go. Most state game agency’s websites have rules and guidelines posted, if not, call!)
- Remove ALL bones from the meat of your animal. Deboning your quarters and remove backstraps from the spine, leaving only meat.
- No Lymphs/Glands! You’ll also need to remove the various lymphs from your meat and cape. There is one in each front quarter and one in each rear quarter, two in the throat and four in the face of most cervids like deer and elk.
- No eyes or brain matter. If you’re going to mount your trophy you’ll need a clean skull cap and cape. If you’re doing a European mount you’ll have to remove the brain and eyes and clean the skull thoroughly for transport.
If you have some extra time in your schedule the smart play is to have your animal completely processed before you bring it home. Consider having a local taxidermist do your mount whether it’s a Euro or traditional skin mount. This will add cost and time to your hunt as the finished product will either need to be shipped or you’ll have a return trip to pay for and you’ll most likely have to wait a couple days for a processor to butcher your animal.
The benefits to this approach are numerous; you’ll have more time to sight see, relax, hunt small game or fish on your western vacation, you’ll be supporting even more of the local economy with your hunting dollars and by spending more time and money you just might create relationships with local business and landowners that could lead to increased opportunities in the future. Not everyone will have the luxury of spending extra time or money but if you can it’s the right play.
A final option is to donate your meat to a local food bank. In Wyoming for example, the Food From The Field project in cooperation with the Wyoming Hunger Initiative, takes hunter donated meat and provides local families in need with high quality protein all for a donation to help offset the cost of processing.
Any way you slice it, transporting game in today’s CWD climate is tricky and takes extra planning on the hunter’s part. Take the time and perform the due diligence so you’ll stay on the right side of the law. Below are links to sources with excellent information on CWD transport rules.